Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the forty-fifth chapter of the book. Within this particular chapter found within the prophetic book of Ezekiel, we find two distinct prophetic words given regarding the allotment and allocation of the land which would be given once more to the children of Israel. If you read the first six verses of this chapter, you will find the Lord providing clear instruction regarding a specific portion of the Lord which was to be allocated, set apart, and consecrated as “the Lord’s portion of the land.” When dividing the land which the house of Israel would return to after their captivity and exile, there would be a specific portion of that land that was to be reserved for the Lord and for Him alone. “And when you divide by lot the land for inheritance, you shall offer an allotment to the Lord, a holy portion of the land…It shall be holy within all its boundary round about. Out of this there shall be for the holy place a square round about…and in it shall be the sanctuary, the most holy place. It shall be the holy portion of the land; it shall be for the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, who come near to minister to the Lord, and it shall be a place for their houses and a holy place for the sanctuary. An area…shall be for the Levites, the ministers of the house, and for their possession cities to dwell in” (Ezekiel 45:1-6. Through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord decreed and determined that specific portion of the land be consecrated and reserved as holy and separated unto Him for His purposes and His design. This portion was to be known and understand as belonging to the Lord, yet there was so much more to this very sacred and consecrated plot of land within the territory, borders and boundaries of Israel.
If you read the first six verses of this chapter, you will find that this area which was consecrated and sanctified as holy unto the Lord was for the sanctuary of the Lord which would stand in the midst of the house of Israel. When the house of Israel divided the land by lot for inheritance, they were to offer an allotment to the Lord, which was to be a holy portion of the land. This portion of land would and could not belong to any of the house of Israel, but was to belong solely and completely to the Lord. They were free to divide the rest of the land by lot for the individual inheritances of the tribes of Israel, but this portion and allotment of the land was to be altogether separate and set apart for the Lord’s purposes. Within the first two verses of this chapter we find the declaration that this allotment was to be holy unto the Lord, and was to be holy within its boundary round about. The question that I am confronted with when I read these verses is what areas in my life are consecrated and set apart as holy unto the Lord. Have I worked within my own heart and life to consecrate and set apart a specific portion and place for the Lord? Am I willing to consecrate a very specific place within my life as holy, sanctified and consecrated unto the Lord? Moreover, am I willing to consecrate and set apart a specific area and place within my life as holy unto the Lord in order that His sanctuary might be established within the midst of it? When returning and restoring the house of Israel to their own land, the Lord made absolutely certain that there was a portion of the land that was consecrated and set apart as holy unto Him—a portion where His sanctuary and most holy place might dwell. The Lord wanted and desired to have a sanctuary for His name and His glory in the midst of the land, but He instructed the house of Israel to consecrated a very specific area of the land as holy in order that His sanctuary might dwell in the midst of consecrated and sacred ground.
What an absolutely incredible concept it is to think that there was a specific allotment of the land that was to be sacred and holy ground. Remember what the Lord spoke to Moses at the backside of the desert when he led his father-in-laws sheep to Mount Horeb in the wilderness? “Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned. When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, Moses, Moses! And he said, Here I am. Then He said, DO NOT COME NEAR; TAKE YOUR SANDALS OFF YOUR FEET, FOR THE PLACE ON WHICH YOU ARE STANDING IS HOLY GROUND.” A similar encounter was found in the life of Moses’ successor, Joshua, after he and the children of Israel had crossed the Jordan River and entered the land of Canaan. “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, Are you fore us, or for our adversaries? And he said, No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped and said to him, What does my lord say to his servant? And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, TAKE OFF YOUR SANDALS FROM YOUR FEET, FOR THE PLACE WHERE YOU ARE STANDING IS HOLY. And Joshua did so” In the lives of each of these men—both Moses who delivered the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt and led them forty years in the wilderness, and Joshua who led the children of Israel across the Jordan River, and in conquest and battle within the land of Canaan—each found themselves standing on holy ground, and were instructed to take off their sandals.
It’s incredibly powerful that when the Lord was about to bring about a supernatural deliverance on behalf of His people from their slavery, bondage and oppression, He came down and touched a specific piece of land on the earth, thus causing that to become sacred and holy ground. When the Lord was about to lead His people in conquest, in battle, in warfare in the midst of the land of Canaan, He again came down and touched a specific place of earth, thus causing it to become sacred and holy ground. Both Moses and Joshua found themselves standing upon sacred and holy ground, and both were instructed to take off their sandals. What’s more, is that before the children of Israel would engage in conflict, warfare and conquest within the land of Canaan, the Lord sent the commander of His army to encounter Joshua. I am convinced this is incredibly significant, for before Joshua would ever engage the enemies, foes and adversaries that were present within the land, he first had to encounter the commander of the army of the Lord. In other words, before he and the children of Israel engaged the enemy in conflict and battle, he needed to encounter the commander of the army of the Lord in order that he might know and understand who was leading the children of Israel in battle within and throughout the land. Though the Lord would use Moses to deliver His people out of their slavery, bondage and oppression within the land of Egypt, and though Moses would lead the people through the wilderness for forty years, the Lord wanted Moses to recognize and understand who was truly going to deliver and set His people free from their slavery and bondage. Neither Moses, nor Joshua could assume any credit for that which they had been called upon by the Lord to accomplish in the earth, for it was the Lord Himself who would go before them. They would be but vessels in the hand and will and purpose of the Lord, in order that He might accomplish His plan in the earth. Joshua was the commander of the army of Israel, yet this earthly commander needed to encounter the commander of the army of the Lord, for he needed to understand that there was a greater force at work on their behalf than what they could see with the natural eye. Joshua was the commander of the earthly army, yet there was a greater commander, who would lead and command the army of the Lord, and would direct them to act and move on behalf of the people of God.
David king of Israel would be captain and commander of the army of Israel when Israel became a nation and kingdom of the earth, yet there was a greater captain and commander—one who was the leader and ruler of the army of the Lord. Oh, I believe what we read in this particular passage in the Old Testament book of Joshua is significant, for it brings us face to face with the reality that the army of the Lord would fight alongside the army of Israel. IN other words, there was an eternal, heavenly, invisible and invincible army that would fight alongside the earthly army that would march in conquest and battle across the land. Though the army of Israel took their orders and directives from Joshua as their captain and commander, Joshua himself would take his orders and directives from the Lord of hosts Himself. Oh, there are far too many “generals” and “captains” and “commanders” in the earth today who fail to recognize and understand that they themselves are subject to the orders, the commands and the directives of One who is greater and far superior. There is a deep and underlying problem when men assume the mantle and responsibility of leadership over the army of the Lord upon the earth—those soldiers who engage in conflict and battle within and upon the earth. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words of the Roman centurion whom Jesus encountered almost at the very outset of His earthly ministry. “But the centurion replied, Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, Go, and he goes, and to another, Come, and he comes, and to my servant, Do this, and he does that. When Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who followed Him, Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” This Roman centurion not only acknowledged that he was a man under authority, but that he was a man who possessed authority, Though there were those who were under the authority that he had been given, he himself was subject to an authority that was even greater than that which he possessed. Oh, if only “captains” and “generals” and “commanders” in the earth today would recognize that they too are under an authority that is far greater than they are.
Joshua encountered the commander of the army of the Lord by the city of Jericho, and it was that encounter that thrust Joshua into a life of submission to the authority of One who was far greater than himself. Oh, I would dare say that Joshua needed to encounter the commander of the army of the Lord, for he needed to know and understand who was truly in charge and command—not only of the army of the Lord, but also of the army of Israel which would march throughout and across the land. Joshua needed to understand that the army of Israel—though under his command and instruction—needed to come into alignment with the army of the Lord which would engage in conflict and battle alongside them. I am convinced that there is an incredible picture that is found in this encounter, for as much as Joshua and the army of Israel would encounter physical enemies, adversaries, foes and armies within the land, and although they would engage them in conflict in battle, there would be a spiritual army that would fight alongside them, yet would engage the invisible and unseen forces that existed behind the scenes within the land of Canaan. Joshua and the army of Israel would engage in their own battles, yet the army of the Lord would fight alongside and for them on their behalf. Joshua’s encounter with the Lord was necessary for him to recognize and understand that there was an army that was far greater than the army of Israel. I am reminded of an encounter that Elisha the prophet had with his servant when the king of Syria warred against Israel. The sixth chapter of the book of Second Kings is absolutely powerful, for it’s within this chapter that we see the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord exposing and revealing the schemes, the tactics, and the plans of the enemy against the people of God.
“Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, At such and such a place shall be my camp. But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there. And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice. And the mind of the king Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel. And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom. And he said, Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him. It was told him, Behold, he is in Dothan. So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, Alas, my master! What shall we do? He said, Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. Then Elisha prayed and said, O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see. So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, Please strike this people with blindness. So He struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek. And he led them to Samaria. As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, O Lord, open the yes of these men, that they may see. So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down? He answered, You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master. So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel” (2 Kings 6:8-23). EXPOSING THE SECRET STRATEGIES OF THE ADVERSARY! VISION OF THE ARMY OF HOST OF HEAVEN! PREPARING A TABLE FOR YOUR ENEMIES IN THE MIDST OF THE INHERITANCE!
How absolutely incredible it is that instead of striking down his enemies and adversaries in the midst of Samaria, the king of Israel was instructed to set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master. Oh, there are times in our lives when we would wish to strike down those whom we presume and assume to be our enemies and adversaries, yet the Lord is instructing us to prepare a table and banquet for them. There are so many times when we would wish to take up the sword, or the spear, or the bow, and yet the Lord would call us to take up the table, the plate, and the jar—the banquet table, the plate of bread, and the jar of water. Oh, this is not an easy thing to do—especially when you feel within your heart that those whom you presume to be your adversary and enemy have been delivered into your hand. Remember that on two separate occasions David could have slain Saul king of Israel, and was even encouraged to do so, yet instead of slaying him, he showed him great kindness and mercy. When David wrote of the Lord preparing a table before him in the presence of his enemies, I can’t help but wonder if that table wasn’t for David at all, but was actually for his enemies. Remember that Jesus Himself spoke of loving your enemies, and praying for those who persecute you. The king of Israel would have slaughtered the Syrians in the midst of Samaria, yet the prophet Elisha instructed him not to, and to instead show mercy and kindness. This is incredibly interesting to consider—much less accept—for in the beginning of this passage you read that the king of Syria was warring against Israel. What’s more, is that the army of Syria came to seize and lay hold of Elisha, yet even Elisha himself interceded on behalf of those who sought to seize and destroy him. Oh, in these days and in this generation, I am convinced the Spirit of the Lord is calling us to prepare a table before our enemies and adversaries. I am convinced that rather than striking down those who ridicule, those who persecute, those who slander, those who maliciously attack us, we are to prepare bread and water for them.
It’s interesting to note that after the Syrians had eaten and drank in Samaria, they went their way and did not come again on raids into the land of Israel. What began as the king of Syria warring against Israel, and even attempting to lay hold of and seize Elisha ended with the Syrians not coming again on raids into the land of Syria. Oh, what tremendous power mercy and kindness have in the presence of our enemies—mercy and kindness that is shown even when everything inside us wants to strike them down. In the twenty-third chapter of the book of Psalms, David writes that the Lord prepared a table before him in the presence of his enemies, yet he doesn’t say that the Lord prepared the table for him. It is worth noting this reality, for so many times we think that the table that is prepared in the presence of our enemies is for us, when in all reality, the table that is prepared in the presence of our enemies is not for us, but before us. What’s more, is that we might even be instructed to serve at and around that table, which has been prepared for us in the presence of or enemies. I am convinced that this table which was prepared before David wasn’t for him at all, but was actually for his enemies. I am inclined to believe this to be so, for in the upper room where Jesus partook of the Passover supper with His disciples, He not only partook of this meal with one who would betray him, but he also washed the feet of the one who would betray him. WASHING THE FEET OF YOUR BETRAYER! PARTAKING OF SUPPER WITH YOUR BETRAYER! The king of Israel would have slaughtered and slain the Syrians in the midst of Samaria, yet he was instructed to show them kindness and mercy instead. There are so many times when we would want to lash out with the swords we hold in our hands, yet the Lord is not calling for war but a banquet. WHEN THE LORD CALLS FOR A BANQUET IN THE PLACE OF WAR! WHEN THE LORD CALLS FOR A FEAST IN THE MIDST OF CONFLICT.
I am convinced that we might have found David serving his enemies at the table which the Lord Himself prepared before him in the presence of his enemies. I believe the table was prepared in the presence of enemies so David could learn to serve them rather than engage them in battle and conflict. Oh, what would happen if instead of engaging those we presume to be our enemies in conflict and battle, we actually serve them around a table which the Lord Himself prepared. It’s fitting that David wrote that it was the Lord who prepared the table, for the initiative was not on David’s part, but was on the Lord’s. It is the Lord who sets the table before us in the presence of our enemies as an invitation to rise up and serve our enemies bread and water instead of lashing out against them.] I recognize that the text in the forty-fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel has absolutely nothing to do with this, yet I am convinced that this is the mandate, the command, the instruction, and the word of the Lord to us as the people of God in this generation. Oh that we would understand that the table which the Lord prepares before us in the presence of our enemies is not for us at all, but is for our enemies. The table around which Jesus sat with His disciples was one where He would be surrounded by one who would betray Him, one who would deny Him, one who would doubt Him, and all who would flee and abandon him. I would dare say that we might even find this table to be prepared for us in the very sanctuary of Almighty God, and that the Lord is calling us to serve those who have betrayed, those who have wounded, those who have bruised, those who have scarred, and those who have offended us. I think we have spent far too long being selfish with this table that is prepared in the presence of our enemies, thinking and believing that it has been prepared for us, when in all reality, the table has been prepared for our enemies, and we have been called to serve them with bread and water. Jesus Himself served those at the Passover table bread and wine, and He even served them with the towel and wash basin as He washed their feet. Oh, what will you do with the table which the Lord has prepared before you in the presence of your enemies?
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