May/June, 1998 Volume XII Number 12
The Land of "Iíve Got Mine"
by Thea Spitz
In a time long ago, in a faraway land, a nation prepared to receive the fulfillment of a promise. They were on their way to a land so bountiful, it was described as "flowing with milk and honey." The promise was given to them by the God they had come to know as Jehovah Jireh (the Lord who Provides) as well as Jehovah Nissi (The Lord my Banner) for He gave them victory over the fierce inhabitants of the land.
When the people believed and obeyed their God, blessings and victory were assured but when they rebelled, desolation and death followed as a consequence. Although God could have delivered the promised land to His people by peaceful means, He commanded the people to form armies and prepare for war. The land would surely be theirs, but it would be taken by means of battle in which they must participate.
The previous generation balked when asked to go to war, choosing to discount the word of God, in favor of the negative report of a majority of spies who, impelled by fear, saw only the giants in the land. Every child born into that nation knew the outcome of the story, and each one knew in his heart that he would never be like the unbelieving spies who caused judgment to fall on an entire generation.
During the subsequent wilderness journey, two tribes became able cattlemen, and were delighted when the wandering stopped on the east side of the river they were commanded to cross. This was good grazing land, just right to raise up fat and healthy flocks and a wonderful place for the many tender women and children in their care who would not fare well on an extended military campaign. When it came to a promised land, the tribes smiled at each other and said, "I've Got Mine." Why should they cross over the river to look for something to surpass what the Lord had already given them? The two tribes decided they would petition the prophet to ask God to grant them their inheritance right where they were - in the land of "I've Got Mine."
The prophets' response shocked them.
"Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? Why do you discourage the hearts of the nation from going over into the land which the Lord has given them?
"You are truly your father's descendants, you are just like them. You are seeking your own interest and you will kindle the fierce anger of the Lord. If you turn away from following all the Lord has given you to do, He will again leave you in the wilderness, and you will be responsible for destroying all these people."
Was the prophet really putting them into the same category as those fearful spies that brought judgment to previous generations? How was it possible that their staying in the land of "I've Got Mine" would discourage the rest from pursuing what the Lord had promised them? Surely they would pray for their brethren as they went forth into battle, they just didn't feel called to the western side of the river. The selfishness of their request having been exposed, without exception, the leaders repented and vowed they would go to war and fight until the whole nation's inheritance was secured. The prophet agreed that this was the right thing to do and charged them, before the nation and before God, to carry out their promise.
"If you will do this thing, if you will go armed before the Lord to war, and if all of you will go armed across the river until the Lord has driven out His enemies and has subdued the land, then you will be guiltless before the Lord and before the nation. At that time, the land you desire shall become your possession. But, if you will not do all you have said you would, you will have sinned before the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32 paraphrase)
In this present time, the Church prepares to receive the fulfillment of Jesus promise to return and gather his own to our promised land.
Like the nation that wandered in the wilderness, the church has been called to be warriors. God's people have always needed to go to war, but the tragedy is that in our day, so few are willing. All Christians have been charged with the same assignment given to the nobleman's servants in Luke 19 -- "Occupy till I come." Occupying is a military term and refers to what a conquering army does to maintain order in a conquered land. The church, however, refuses the responsibility of an occupying power, and so is losing its' effect on society at a breathtaking pace. The land has occupied them instead.
Church leaders expend all their energy encumbering themselves with building projects, and programs geared to entertainment, keeping their congregations content to dwell in the land of "I've Got Mine."
If anyone calls for the church to take a stand against abortion, they are told that confrontation and controversy have no place in the life of believers. Leaders truly believe that instead of the "peace of God ruling the heart" (Colossians 3:15), that peace with the world should rule the Church. They restrict themselves to activities that will not ruffle any feathers, and exhausts themselves trying to please all of the people all of the time, instead of pleasing the One whose body they are supposed to lead. Leadership has forgotten that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4) Go to war against unrighteousness? No way! I dwell in the land of I've Got Mine!
Church leaders are oblivious to the deadening effect they have on those who are willing to risk confrontations in order to make a stand for righteousness, they choose instead a false and temporary state of peace.
In the time of the wilderness wandering, the tribal leaders repented of seeking their own inheritance to the detriment of their brothers. They sacrificed their personal goals to serve the Lord's greater purpose. Today, Church leaders allege they have flocks to tend and cannot get involved in the battle for the lives of the unborn. They are too busy with those already born and confrontation is just not their calling, nor is it anything that will benefit their image in the community. They placate pro-lifers with a promise to pray, but then condemn them when any conflicts arise. What their actions really say is "why should we get involved in the abortion issue - that is not our battle. Our business is sheep - lots of sheep!" The focus is always on the flock and never on the One whose sheep they are. Flocks grow fat grazing on the tender grass which grows where there is little real opposition from outside sources. Confronting unrighteousness in the community is like allowing weeds to grow in the pasture, the sheep may grow ill from controversy. Keep controversy out of the feed and the flocks will surely multiply in number, and multiplication of the sheep is the prime directive in the land of "I've Got Mine."
Rather than train lambs to become soldiers in the occupation force, Church leaders like to keep them weak, under unquestioning submission to the authority of the leadership and engaged in subtle forms of pastor worship. Any service to God outside of the control of the pastor or his organizational designees is deemed highly questionable. Real soldiers of Christ are looked upon as trouble makers and malcontents, and "occupy till I come" does not fit the Church in the land of "I've Got Mine."
Where is the prophet for our day? Unfortunately not behind the pulpit. Who will tell the church leadership of the judgment they are bringing on the entire nation? Who will tell them they discourage the hearts of the nation from going over into the land of promise because they will not even stand up against a sin so heinous and so obvious as the murder of the unborn. We Christians are quick to feel superior to those of Old Testament times, yet the leaders of these two tribes have shown themselves to be more righteous than those who smugly sit in the land of "I've Got Mine." If the church refuses to repent and show up for the battle, they will soon find that the war has found it's way to their very doors - even to the land of "I've Got Mine."
The Lord does not change, and His Word is established forever. To those who live in the land of "I've Got Mine," your sin is not only against your brethren but also against God. If you ignore the charge of the Lord "Be sure your sin will find you out."
Of Titanic proportions
The land of "I've Got Mine"