October 16, 2009

Egypt, the wilderness and Canaan in our own lives

We all go through stages in our lives that are comparable to the course of the Israelites who after they left slavery in Egypt went through the wilderness to eventually enter the promised land of Canaan. Personally I find the account of this part of the history of the Jewish people one of the most meaningful of the Bible. The deeper we understand this story, the more we can recognize the stages of this course in our own lives.

We all go through a similar course as the Israelites once went. Also families, tribes and nations and even the whole world go through courses that are parallel to that of the Israelites long ago. I absolutely believe that God inspired Moses to write down the details of this history in order that we can all benefit from it.

Why would it be that our lives are resembling that of the old Israelites? We can understand this when we learn more about the background of that old tale.

What does the period in Egypt stand for? It stands for a time in slavery. The Israelites who believed in the one God the Creator had come under the dominion of Egyptian pharaohs who put themselves as gods and who worshipped evil deities in the spiritual world. The 430 biblical years of slavery in Egypt signify a period in which the Israelites were living in a realm spiritually controlled by evil. It doesn't mean that all Egyptians were evil, but it means that the culture was largely controlled by spirits who did not believe in the one God of Israel.

What was the meaning of the wilderness? Geographically it was a region in-between Egypt and Canaan. Also spiritually it could be seen as a kind of wilderness. There was no established culture there and therefore neither evil nor good angels and spirits were very interested in that region. No solid spiritual foundations are erected in a desert land. There are living few people and those staying there are travelling through. Therefore, a wilderness in a spiritual sense is an area where you can kind of escape evil attacks from spirit world by just moving to a new spot.

For the Israelites the wilderness period had two main meanings. The first was that they had to leave behind the traditions of Egypt. The Israelites had to separate from all that bound them to Egyptian culture and religion. The second meaning was that they had to prepare for entering the new land of Canaan. They had to make themselves ready to set up a culture and tradition centered on God.

Canaan is the land where God wants those who have received this responsibility to set up a people under God. Unfortunately, Canaan was inhabited mostly by evil tribes. The Bible mentions seven evil tribes, yet I am sure there have lived more. Canaan was the land where also could be found the oldest known city of human history, Jericho. We can imagine that many evil traditions had set foot in and gotten hold over this land. Yet, Canaan also was a land where no single civilization ever managed to get permanent control. It was located between the major antique empires such as that of Egypt and Babylon and Assyria.

Canaan is called the land of milk and honey, yet a fierce battle had to be fought in that land before the Israelites could hope to settle there and establish God's traditions. In fact, the old Israelites never really have managed to do so, but they have also never lost completely as there always have lived descendants of their father Israel who was Jacob.

How can we recognize the pattern 'Egypt-wilderness-Canaan' in our own lives? There are connected meaningful mathematical periods to this kind of course. We can find back these periods in our own lives or in the history of any culture that strives for goodness. Yet, when we or a group or nation fails to fulfill what is necessary, the time periods could get extended over very long time. For example, if you are in a kind of slavery by having a job for an employer who doesn't believe in God and who misuses your love and energy for his own benefit, then if you don't manage to get free from him spiritually, your time period in Egypt might be extended from, for example, 40 months, to 40 years or even 400 or 4,000 years. In the latter two cases, you will end up at the end of your life in a spiritual realm controlled by the spirits connected to that employer and you likely will never realize that you are in 'Egypt' during your physical life.

It is when we make victory by doing God's will that we can come to recognize the periods in our lives that are parallel to Egypt, the wilderness and Canaan. When you pay attention to this, you will see that many of the events that happened to the Israelites are also taking place in your life. In this way you can understand better where you are standing in your spiritual course. It also helps when you keep a diary because otherwise you might forget many meaningful details.


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