Redeemed for a Purpose
Arlen L. Chitwood
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
“Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”
So Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel. . . .
Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountain,
and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many;
whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds;
whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage.
And bring some of the fruit of the land.”. . . .
(Numbers 13:1-3, 17-20a).
Israel’s arrival at Kadesh-Barnea under Moses was preceded by numerous preparatory events. Everything that happened to the Israelites, beginning with the death of the firstborn in Egypt (Exodus 12), anticipated their arrival at this place, ready and equipped to go in and, under God, take the land to which they had been called.
The death of the firstborn was the tenth and final judgment in a series of judgments that fell upon Egypt (Exodus 7-12). This also marked a beginning point for Israel in Egypt (Exodus 12:2), typifying the beginning point for a person in the world today when he appropriates the blood of the Passover Lamb (believes on the Lord Jesus Christ) and passes “from death to life” (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:1).
The Israelites had seen the Lord’s supernatural power manifested in the judgments upon Egypt, terminating with the tenth and final judgment, the death of the firstborn. They again saw the Lord’s supernatural power in their departure from Egypt and deliverance through the Red Sea (Exodus 13-15). Again, they saw the Lord's supernatural power through His provision of the Manna and the Water in the wilderness, followed by their victory over Amalek (Exodus 16, 17). Again, they saw the Lord’s supernatural power at Sinai (Exodus 19ff). And there was a continued manifestation of the Lord’s supernatural power as He led the Israelites from Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 10-12).
All these things were preparatory for what the Israelites faced at Kadesh-Barnea in an anticipated conquest of the land and their subsequently realizing an inheritance therein as God’s firstborn son. God had a redeemed, prepared people at Kadesh-Barnea. They had been redeemed in Egypt, they had seen the Lord’s supernatural, miraculous works on their behalf time after time, and they were in possession of the theocracy and the old covenant (i.e., they were in possession of the tabernacle, resting in the midst of the camp [the dwelling place of God in the midst of His people, allowing the theocracy to exist (on the basis of who the Israelites were — God’s firstborn son)], and they were in possession of the rules and regulations governing the people within the theocracy).
Within a spiritual frame of reference, the Israelites under Moses had been brought from a knowledge of the various things surrounding their salvation in Egypt (Exodus 12) to a knowledge of the various things surrounding their calling, to be realized in another land (Exodus 13-Numbers 12). And the latter knowledge — along with their being in possession of the theocracy and the old covenant — was of a sufficiently mature nature that the Israelites could now begin focusing their entire attention upon that which lay ahead, with a view to shortly entering the land, conquering the inhabitants, and realizing the inheritance to which they had been called.
This is the type of position and background that the people of Israel held when they arrived at Kadesh-Barnea. Everything that God had brought to pass surrounding His people was with a view to bringing them to this point. Now the Israelites were ready to move on and deal directly with matters surrounding their calling.
(Note in the preceding respect that the march of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan was not directly to Canaan. Rather, the march was first to Sinai, where they received the Word of God and where the theocracy was established. Only then were they in a position to march on to the land, conquer the inhabitants of the land, and realize the rights of the firstborn in that land, within a theocracy [refer to the author’s book, From Egypt to Canaan].
Also note that everything – from the death of the firstborn in Egypt to the conquest of the land – had to do with their being established in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob within a theocracy.)
Twelve Sent to Search the Land
God instructed Moses to send twelve men — one from each tribe, each a ruler in his tribe — into the land to which the Israelites had been called in order to search the land and bring back word. The men chosen were all “heads of the children of Israel,” and each is named, with his tribe (Numbers 13:1-16).
This is in perfect keeping with the instructions God had given Moses before the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, while he was still in Midian. Moses, at this time, had been instructed concerning the manner in which God’s message of deliverance was to be given to the people. Moses was to “gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them . . . .” (Exodus 3:16, 17). He was to gather the leaders of the twelve tribes together, relay God’s message to them, and they were, in turn, to deliver the message to the people.
This was God’s order then, it was God's order at Kadesh-Barnea, and it remained God’s order throughout the history of the nation during Old Testament days, leading into the time Christ was on earth the first time; and it remains God’s order in the Church today, separate from Israel. The elders were then and remain today the ones called, placed in the position, and given the responsibility to convey God’s message to His people.
(This is evidently the reason Christ began His public ministry by teaching in the synagogues [Matthew 4:23; cf. Matthew 9:35], for the synagogues were places where the religious leaders could be found. Christ sought to first convey His message to them. And, from that point, the religious leaders followed Him as He went out among the people. They were continually present, listening to His message, seeing His miraculous signs, and seeking to convey a message to the people concerning that which had been said and done [though, in this case, they conveyed a false message (e.g., Matthew 12:14-24; 15:1ff; 16:1ff)]. And Christ brought His public ministry to a close after a similar fashion — by going up to Jerusalem, specifically to the temple in Jerusalem, where the religious leaders would also be gathered [Matthew 21, 22].
The Scribes and Pharisees, in this respect, sat “in Moses’ seat” [Matthew 23:2]. Christ recognized this, though He also recognized that the Scribes and Pharisees, rather than carrying out the responsibilities of their office and properly leading the people, had misled the people and were prostituting their high calling [vv. 3-7]. And because they had misled the people relative to Christ's proclamation of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel over the preceding three and one-half years, resulting in the nation rejecting the message and the Messenger, Christ condemned their actions in no uncertain terms.
Christ’s condemnation of the actions of the Scribes and Pharisees takes up an entire chapter in the book of Matthew [chapter 23]. The Scribes and Pharisees had “shut up the kingdom of the heavens against [‘before,’ ‘in front of,’ ‘in the presence of’] men.” They themselves had no interest in entering the kingdom, and they had done everything within their power to see that others in Israel didn’t enter either [v. 13]. Thus, Christ’s words to these religious leaders were of a condemnatory nature without precedent in His ministry up to this point [vv. 14ff].
And carrying matters over into the present dispensation, God has placed pastor-teachers [elders] in the Church today for the same purpose that He placed spiritual leaders among the people of Israel in the past dispensation. They are the ones whom God has called to be knowledgeable concerning the message that He has for His people [contained in His Word] and to, in turn, impart this message to the people placed under their care, in their respective ministries. This is the central task of a pastor-teacher [Ephesians 4:11-14].)
But for the most part, the pastor-teachers, the elders, whom God has placed in the churches today are doing about everything but proclaiming the Word. And this is particularly true concerning the central message that is to be proclaimed to Christians throughout the dispensation — the salvation or loss of the soul.
And when someone does dare to come in and proclaim this message in the churches today, he is invariably spoken against, looked upon askance, etc. It is exactly the same picture seen 2,000 years ago in Israel, transposed over into the Church today. Exactly as seen with the Scribes and Pharisees in Israel, the religious leaders in the Church today, in the main, rather than leading the people are misleading the people, prostituting their high calling in the process.)
1. Israel, God’s Firstborn (Past, Present, Future)
God’s command to Moses, instructing him to send “twelve leaders” into the land — one from each of the “twelve tribes” of Israel — is filled with spiritual significance. “Twelve” is a complete number, and it has to do with government. It is the number of governmental perfection. Other complete numbers (three, seven, ten, and forty) each place the emphasis elsewhere, though often related to or connected with government.
The number “twelve” is connected with Israel’s standing before God in relation to the rights possessed by firstborn sons. Israel was, remains today, and will always be God’s firstborn son:
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD: Israel is My son, My firstborn.”
Israel, at the time God made this statement in Exodus, chapter four (at the time God commissioned Moses to return to his people in Egypt), was the one nation that He recognized (among all the nations of the earth) as the nation in possession of the rights of the firstborn — rights that, among other things, had to do with rulership. Israel, because of a special creation in Jacob (Isaiah 43:1), was recognized as separate and distinct from all the other nations, allowing this one nation to occupy a standing of this nature before God. As stated by Balaam in his prophecies, Israel was not to be “reckoned among the nations” (cf. Exodus 19:5, 6; Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 7:6).
Moses, at the time the Lord sent him from Midian back to his brethren in Egypt, to deliver them, had been instructed to go to Pharaoh and declare to him that which God had stated relative to Israel’s firstborn status. And Pharaoh was to understand from this declaration that God recognized, not the powerful nation of Egypt, but the lowly nation of slaves under subjection to Egypt, as the nation possessing the rights of primogeniture, which included the right, among all of the nations, to hold the scepter.
Israel’s status in this respect was the underlying thought behind there being twelve tribes of Israel to begin with (emanating from Jacob’s twelve sons [descending from the one in whom God had wrought a special creative work], separating the nation that would emanate from Jacob and his descendants from all the other nations of the earth); it was the underlying thought behind the confrontation with Pharaoh and all that followed (Pharaoh was to let God’s son go, and God’s son was to serve Him in a place separate from Egypt, in another land); and it was the underlying thought behind there being twelve leaders sent into the land at Kadesh-Barnea (it was with a view to God’s son ultimately serving Him in the land to which the nation had been called, within a theocracy, within a government under God).
The whole of God’s revelation surrounding Israel centers around this one major thought, expressed in Exodus 4:22, 23. That would be to say, the crux of the matter has to do with Israel exercising the rights of the firstborn in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
2. The Church, God’s Firstborn (Future)
Insofar as the Church is concerned, exactly the same thing can be said, though in a futuristic sense and relative to a heavenly calling and land.
There are first the “twelve apostles” forming the nucleus of the leadership in the early Church, with their very number portending regality, rulership. And, as in Israel’s case (twelve tribes, twelve spies, a firstborn status), the number “twelve” is connected with the Church’s standing before God in relation to the rights possessed by firstborn sons.
The whole of God’s revelation surrounding the future of the Church centers on a coming adoption resulting in a firstborn status (cf. Romans 8:18-23; Hebrews 12:23). And the crux of the matter is the same as it was/is with Israel. The future firstborn status of the Church has to do with Christians one day exercising the rights of the firstborn in another land — a land separate from the earth, a heavenly land.
Christ and His Church (which will be His wife, His consort queen in that coming day) are destined to rule from the heavens over the earth. They are destined to rule from the realm presently occupied by Satan and his angels, the incumbent rulers in the kingdom of the heavens.
3. Satan and His Angels, Present Ruling Sons
And the number “twelve,” as well, occupies a place within Satan’s present kingdom, among those forming the present order of ruling sons in the kingdom (all angels are “sons of God” because of their special, individual creation). And the whole matter portends a position that the Church will occupy yet future — a new order of ruling sons in the kingdom (Romans 8:19).
From what Scripture reveals about Satan's kingdom (past and present), it is presently in disarray, though it has not always existed in this state. His original kingdom (prior to his rebellion against God’s supreme power and authority) was established in a perfect numerical symmetry, shown by three sets of twelve. Then it became in the fashion in which it presently exists.
“Three” is the number of divine perfection, and, again, “twelve” is the number of governmental perfection. In this respect, within the original structure of Satan’s kingdom, established by God in the beginning, there was divine perfection (shown by the number “three”) within the government (shown by the number “twelve”).
And to see this, note several things revealed in the book of Revelation. The disarray in the governmental structure of the present kingdom under Satan can be seen in the fact that only one-third of the angels originally ruling under Satan followed him in his rebellion (Revelation 12:3, 4). And that this one-third is represented by one of three sets of twelve within the original structure of Satan’s kingdom is evident from that what preceded this in the book.
Scripture must be allowed to interpret itself. The only completely reliable commentary on Scripture is Scripture itself, a truth that becomes very evident at this point in the book of Revelation.
In Revelation 12:4, the Spirit of God revealed that one-third of the angels remained with Satan so the reader could properly understand something that had previously been revealed in chapter four. And, only by understanding that which had previously been revealed in chapter four can a person understand that the one-third in chapter twelve is represented by one set of twelve. Both sections must be viewed together — Scripture must be allowed to interpret Scripture — in order to see and understand the complete picture.
The two-thirds who refused to follow Satan (represented by the other two sets of twelve) are shown by the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4:4-10. They are shown relinquishing their crowns (willingly) in view of others (Christians, having previously been shown qualified at the judgment seat [refer to chapters 1-3]) wearing these crowns during the Messianic Era (cf. Matthew 25:19-23; Revelation 4:4-10; 19:12).
But this relinquishment of crowns by the twenty-four elders has to do only with crowns represented by two sets of twelve. An orderly arrangement in the government of the earth can once again exist only by Christians also wearing crowns represented by the other one-third as well, represented by a third set of twelve (i.e., crowns worn by angels presently ruling under Satan, seen in chapter twelve and completing the triad of twelve’s). And that’s exactly what will occur. These crowns, along with Satan’s crown, will be taken by force at the time Christ returns.
Christ will wear the crown presently worn by Satan, Christians (shown qualified at the judgment seat) will wear crowns presently worn by all of the angels originally ruling with Satan (represented by all three sets of twelve), and divine perfection will then once again exist in the structure of the earth’s government.
(See the author’s book, The Time of the End, chapter 7, “Crowns Cast Before God’s Throne” for more information on the past, present, and future government of the earth as it relates to the twenty-four elders, to angels presently ruling with Satan, and to Christians. Also see the author’s book, The Most High Ruleth, for an overall view of the government of the earth, past, present, and future.)
Go Up into the Mountain
The twelve spies were given specific and quite simple instructions by Moses. They were to go into the land of Canaan, learn all they could about the land and its inhabitants, and bring back word concerning their findings to the people. They were the ones appointed to carry out this task, and Moses (their leader) and the people of Israel (who they themselves led, under Moses) were relying upon them to carry out that with which they had been commissioned and entrusted.
1. The Mountain, the Kingdom
The twelve were told by Moses to depart the camp of Israel a certain way and “go up into the mountain” (Numbers 13:17). “The mountain,” as Moses used the word, refers, contextually, to the whole of the land that they were to search (cf. vv. 21, 22); and “a mountain” in Scripture, used in this respect, signifies a kingdom (cf. Genesis 19:17; Isaiah 2:1-4; Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45; Matthew 17:1; Revelation 17:9, 10).
(The KJV wording in both Genesis 19:17 and Numbers 13:17 is exactly in accord with the Hebrew text. The Hebrew word translated “mountain” in both texts is har [which means “mountain,” as translated]; and in both texts the word is singular and articular. The rendering by some translations, “the mountains” in Genesis 19:17 and “the hill country” in Numbers 13:17, is damaging to the type.)
“The mountain” in Numbers 13:17, associated with a kingdom in the land, would be associated with two facets of the kingdom, both present and future:
1) The present kingdom under Satan (a kingdom comprised of the Gentile nations in the land, ruled by Satan and his angels from the heavens [cf. Daniel 10:13-20]).
2) The future kingdom under God about to be established in the same land (the ruling nation being God’s firstborn son, a nation not reckoned among the Gentile nations ruled by Satan, a nation possessing a different, separate heavenly “prince” — Michael, an angelic prince not connected with either the Gentile nations or Satan’s kingdom [cf. Daniel 10:21]).
The land of Canaan had already been given to the people of Israel through/by an unconditional covenant during Abraham’s day (Genesis 12:7; 13:14, 15; 15:18-21), though the Israelites had yet to possess the land. And at the time of the Exodus and the Israelites’ subsequent arrival at Kadesh-Barnea, the land was inhabited by those who no longer had a right to be there.
And the manner in which the Israelites were to effect a change in the government, in accord with God’s plans and purposes, was very simple: The present inhabitants were to be driven out, destroyed, with a view to the rightful heirs moving in and dwelling in the same land within a theocracy (cf. Exodus 19:5, 6; Numbers 1:1-46; Deuteronomy 7:1-6).
In anticipation of this being brought to pass, the twelve spies were to “go up into the mountain” and find out all they could about two things:
1) The people presently in the land.
2) The land that they were to inherit.
And, again, learning all they could about both was with a view to one thing — a conquest of the inhabitants of the land, followed by the present kingdom being replaced by a theocracy, with new ruling inhabitants.
Thus, the command to “go up into the mountain” really had to do with the complete scope of the kingdom — both present and future. Apart from a present conquest by the Israelites, there could be no future realization of the kingdom in the land.
2. Under Moses, Under Christ — Type, Antitype
In the type, earthly Gentile nations dwelling in an earthly land were in view. The antitype though, as it pertains to Christians, has to do with a heavenly land and the rulers therein. Rather than Gentile nations in an earthly land, it has to do with Satan and his angels in a heavenly land — the incumbent rulers over the Gentile nations on the earth, ruling from a heavenly realm.
Christians have been called to this heavenly land presently occupied by Satan and his angels. And their warfare is there, against Satan and his angels, not here against the earthly rulers. As Israel’s warfare was against those dwelling in the land to which the nation had been called (an earthly land), so is the Christians’ warfare against those dwelling in the land to which they have been called (a heavenly land).
That’s why Ephesians 6:12 states:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places [against spirit forces of the evil one in heavenly places].
This is a spiritual battle that is specifically stated to not be against “flesh and blood” opponents, but against the spirit forces of Satan in heavenly places. And Christians concentrating their efforts in the spiritual warfare against the correct enemy in the correct realm, apart from distraction, is exactly what Paul had in mind in 2 Timothy 2:4, 5:
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
A Christian expending his time and energy in the wrong realm — which often involves warfare against the wrong enemy in this realm (i.e., warfare against “flesh and blood” opponents on the earth rather than against “spirit forces” in the heavens) — is not striving lawfully (i.e., “according to the rules”). It is impossible to overcome in the warfare in which Christians are to be engaged if one becomes wrapped up in “the affairs of this life.”
That’s why Christians will not be crowned apart from striving lawfully. They will have separated themselves from the only place where one can overcome and gain the victory — the spiritual warfare; and if any warfare was carried on at all in their lives, it could only have been against the wrong enemy in the wrong realm (again, separate from the only enemy and realm where one can overcome and gain the victory).
And warring against the wrong enemy in the wrong realm is something being carried on among Christians today on a scale that encompasses, after some fashion, almost the whole of Christendom (e.g., Christians opposing governmental leaders among the Gentile nations, who all hold positions under Satan and his angels in the present kingdom of the heavens [cf. Daniel 10:12-20]). Christians, not understanding the true nature of the spiritual warfare have turned things completely around, have found themselves warring against “flesh and blood” opponents, and have placed their crowns in jeopardy.
Why is this the case? Why is something of this nature — completely contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture — so prevalent within Christian activity today?
The answer can be seen through viewing what has happened, in the antitype, relative to the commission that Moses gave the twelve elders from the twelve tribes before they were sent into the land of Canaan.
That is, the answer can be derived through:
1) Understanding how the elders under Moses were supposed to heed his commission during a past dispensation, in the type.
2) Then, seeing what has happened when this same commission is supposed to be heeded after exactly the same fashion by elders under Christ during the present dispensation, in the antitype.
In the type, the twelve elders that Moses sent into the land were told to go up a certain way, and that way would lead them up into the mountain (Numbers 13:17). Then, while in the mountain, they were to learn everything they could about the land and the inhabitants therein. And, after learning all they could, they were to bring back word concerning their findings to the people in the twelve tribes.
The message of the twelve was to involve the strength of the people dwelling in the land, how the Israelites could move in and overcome them, all the various things about the land itself, etc. In other words, they were to find out everything they could about the kingdom — both the present kingdom under Satan and the anticipated future kingdom under God — and they were to proclaim these things to the people of Israel upon their return.
This message would provide knowledge about the hope set before them — that of going into the land, conquering the inhabitants, and realizing an inheritance therein. And this knowledge would not only provide them with an incentive to move out and be victorious over the inhabitants in the land, but it would also provide them with information concerning how this was to be accomplished.
Then, bringing this over into the antitype, the elders, the pastor-teachers, those whom God has called to lead and feed His flock, all have a central commission. They have been commissioned by the Lord to look to the land and go up a certain way, which will lead up into the mountain. And, once on the mountain, they are to find out everything they can about the things of the mountain and then proclaim these things to those under their ministry.
This is central! Everything in the pastor-teachers’ ministry should revolve around this, for it involves the hope set before every Christian, which centers on the very reason for their salvation.
And the only place which God has provided for those whom He has called to go up into the mountain and learn these things for this particular purpose is His Word.
Looking to the land and going up a certain way, which will lead up into the mountain, is looking to and delving into those things in the Word having to do with the kingdom; and, so doing, the person is to traverse the Word from one end to the other, learning all he can about the complete scope of the kingdom.
Then he is to take this message to the people, providing them with a knowledge of the hope set before them — that of going into the land, conquering the inhabitants, and realizing an inheritance therein. And this knowledge will not only provide them with an incentive to move out and be victorious over the inhabitants of the land, but it will also provide them with information concerning how this is to be accomplished.
But a major problem exists. The elders under Christ — the leaders whom God has placed among His people, the pastor-teachers — have not followed the command in Numbers 13:17. They have not looked toward the land and gone up a certain way, which leads up into the mountain.
They, not having followed the Lord’s command, don’t understand the true nature of the spiritual warfare, how it is to be fought, what is at stake in the fight, and all the various things about the kingdom — both present and future. Not having been there themselves and not understanding these things, they can’t bring back a message to those under their ministry concerning that which is there, the hope set before Christians, all the various things about victory over the enemy, etc. Such would be impossible.
And the pastor-teachers’ failure to heed the Lord’s commission after this fashion has produced far-reaching ramifications seen throughout Christendom. Christians, because of the failure of pastor-teachers in this realm, are not knowledgeable concerning the various facets of the Word of the Kingdom. And this is the reason so many Christians find themselves wrapped up in “the affairs of this life” and, within such actions, often also find themselves engaged in a battle against the wrong enemy in the wrong realm.
And what will be the end result of the present state of Christendom (which is not far removed, though after a different fashion, from that of the Israelites at Christ’s first coming after the Scribes and Pharisees had finished their work)? It was given by Christ himself, almost 2,000 years ago, before the Church had even been brought into existence.
Because of the working of the leaven that the woman placed in the “three measures of meal” (apparently very early in the dispensation) — which will work until “the whole” has been leavened (Matthew 13:33; cf. Matthew 16:6), resulting in the “lukewarm” condition in Christendom at the end of the dispensation (Revelation 3:14-21) — Christ asked:
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith [the faith] on the earth?
The expression, “the faith,” is peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom (cf. 1 Timothy 6:12-15, 19; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8; Jude 3); and the way in which the question is worded in the Greek text indicates that a negative response is anticipated. The Son of Man is not going to find “the faith” on the earth at the time of His return. He will not find the true message surrounding things pertaining to the kingdom being taught among Christians in the churches at this time.
Why? Again, because the pastor-teachers have not heeded the Lord’s commission. They have not looked toward the land and gone up a certain way, which leads up into the mountain. They know little to nothing about the land and its inhabitants; and, resultantly, the people under their ministry know little to nothing about these things either.
And that’s where we are. That’s the way matters surrounding the Word of the Kingdom exist during the closing days of the present dispensation.
Will conditions improve? Not according to Scripture! In fact, according to Scripture, deterioration will continue. Matters can only get worse, for “the whole” is to be leavened.