On the few occasions that I have stated to Christians that the Church is still in the wilderness, I have met with protest. One lady stated emphatically, “Well I’m not!” It is true that we are seated ‘together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,’ that is our legal and eternal position in Christ. It is all ours ‘by grace through faith.’ However in our experience we have not yet entered into the fullness of Kingdom authority. What is ours legally has to be brought into our experience if it’s going to change the world.
Even Jesus had to do spend time in the wilderness. As Man He had to walk the walk that we are called to walk. Jesus came out of the wilderness ‘in the power of the Spirit’ and began to tackle the Enemy’s strongholds – casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, preaching the good news to the oppressed and bringing people out of bondage.
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
Israel was called ‘The Church (or the congregation) in the wilderness.’ For forty years they wandered in the wasteland until a new generation emerged under Joshua and then they went to war. After a few preliminary battles east of Jordan, they finally crossed the river and brought down the towering stronghold of Jericho. Then they went on to possess the Land.
We will start bringing down the Enemy’s strongholds when we come out of the wilderness. Do we even know that that is what we’re supposed to be doing? Much of Christendom seems to believe that Jesus will do that when He returns; but the Bible says that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God ‘waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.’ (Hebrews 10:13)
On the Christian radio station just recently, a converted Muslim was giving his powerful testimony and sharing the amazing things that are happening in the Middle East, with thousands coming to Christ through dreams and visions. For years Christians have been targeting the Muslim world in prayer, especially during the month of Ramadan. We are beginning to see the results. This speaker closed with a challenging statement that; just as a few decades ago it was time for the Communist strongholds – the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtin to come down, so now is the time for the Muslim strongholds to be brought down. Amen to that!
Instead of looking to the skies for the Rapture Rescue ‘any moment now,’ we need to be tackling the strongholds of Islam with the certainty that in Jesus’ Mighty All-conquering Name, the walls will fall. Imagine the effect of millions of ex-Muslims doing jihad for Jesus against the devil. Then imagine every stronghold of the Enemy that holds humanity captive, falling like dominos, till every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. That’s the Lord’s plan for the Church. ‘I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not stand against it.’
What was the wilderness experience about really? Largely it was about a question of identity. God had said of Jesus, ‘This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.’ The Devil tempted, ‘IF You are the Son of God……..’: God had said of Israel, ‘Israel is My son, My Firstborn” (Exodus 4:22). Their faith confession was ‘We’re just a bunch of grasshoppers.’ Tackling giants and their strongholds was way beyond them. When they finally did cross Jordan, they found that all the hosts of heaven were waiting to join the battle.
Are we still in the wilderness? Well the vanguard of the Church is emerging. The rest will be playing catch-up till finally God’s mighty Army brings down the gates of hell and possesses the Land and King Jesus will reign on the Earth.