by C. Parker Thomas

Which Do You Occupy?
(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the May-June 1973 issue of the Midnight Cry Messenger.)
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” I Cor. 10:11.

All men, generally speaking, occupy one of three places before God. These three places are plainly set forth in the scriptures. You stand in one of them whether you realize it or not. Only one of these places, or positions, is safe. Every human being who fails to come to this place of safety will be eternally lost. These places are known to us in type and scripture symbolism as Egypt, the wilderness and Canaan. Though they were literal geographical places occupied and experienced by Israel, they are a type and shadow of the spiritual state occupied and experienced by all mankind.

You who read these lines and all who have a conscience capable of seeking after God are in one of these three places. This includes heathen, civilized, Christian and pagan.

Egypt is a type of the world system, order or arrangement. It is earthly, sensual and unbelieving. It is the state of being occupied with or obsessed with temporal things with little or no regard for the eternal. It is man being more concerned about earthly riches than heavenly riches. It is man being more concerned about earthly wisdom and knowledge than heavenly wisdom and knowledge. It is man being more concerned about temporal security than eternal security. It is man seeking his own advantage and not Christ’s. It is man more concerned about how he appears to man than how he appears to God. It is man simply living for self and time only.

Within the confines of the Egypt group you have the religious and non-religious. The religious includes both the heathen and Christian religion (so-called). The non-religious are those who practice no religion of any kind. Some of the non-religious may advocate some philosophy or way of life but they do not believe in a personal God. However, all of these occupy the same place and state before God. They are enmeshed in the world system — soul, mind and body. The society they are a part of may be as primitive as the Aborigines of Australia or as cultured as our most advanced civilization, but they all occupy the same place before God.

Satan has cleverly provided this Egypt group with a so-called Christian Church that offers them a salvation without leaving Egypt. It has a form of godliness but denies the power thereof. Their social gospel, though partly based on the scriptures, does not demand repentance nor insist upon the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the individual’s life. This social gospel uses such terms as the “brotherhood of man” and “the Fatherhood of God.” They tell sinners that they can accept Christ as Savior without accepting him as Lord. They make the plan of salvation so simple and attractive that the most worldly and sinful can come into the church without a change of heart. This is the kind of gospel that even Hollywood can accept. It is tailor-made for those who love the world and its ways. I John 2:15-17. This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not the gospel that transforms the lives of men and makes them new creatures in Christ. It is Egypt’s gospel of Egypt’s Church.

When Moses demanded that Pharaoh release the Lord’s people so they could leave Egypt’s confines to offer sacrifice unto the Lord, Pharaoh tried the compromise that is typical of the world church. “...Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land,” he said. Exodus 8:25. Pharaoh was really saying, “It is not necessary to turn your back upon Egypt (the world). Just stay here and have your religion, too. Religion is all right but let’s not be so fanatical about it. Don’t be so different from others that you become conspicuous. After all, we are all working for the same thing. We are all brothers headed for the same place.”

Now the Lord had instructed Moses that the children of Israel had to fully leave Egypt and go three days journey into the wilderness before they were to offer sacrifice. There he would meet with them and accept their sacrifice. It was there the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (God’s presence) would take over and lead them on through the wilderness into the promised land. We have no access to God except through sacrifice and he will not accept our sacrifice in the land. God’s call to the sinner is always, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.” Gen. 12:1 “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” Heb. 13:12-13. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” II Cor. 6:14-17.

Christ is always outside the camp of unregenerate human society regardless of how cultured and religious it may be. In fact, man’s religion and culture is part of the bondage of Egypt that keeps him from coming to Christ without the camp. Christ and those that most perfectly represent him always occupy a place of reproach without the camp. They are never accepted nor recognized by society as a whole, including the religious world.

Israel in Egypt is definitely a type of God’s elect in the land of bondage (the world) before responding to the call of God to meet him without the camp. Even as a mixed multitude of true and false believers followed the leadership of Moses out of Egypt, so it has been during the church dispensation.

This false element in the church under the control of Satan has been the cause of division, heresy and apostasy. They work to gain control of a religious movement and then they fill its membership with unregenerate people of the world. The few people of God who are left either leave or eventually die out leaving the system to a younger generation that knows little or nothing about the presence of God.

In this condition, it becomes a true church of Egypt or the world. It may still operate as a church and gain intellectual converts but the life and power of Christ is gone. It has nothing to offer the true elect or child of God. Apostate religious systems, churches or individuals never reform or turn to God. Apostasy is the result of going away from or rejecting light. It is God finally removing his presence completely. Since they have chosen the way of rebellion and darkness, God completely withdraws and leaves them to their own choosing. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “...yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.” John 12:35-36.

Though a multitude of people heard the message of Moses, were protected by the sheltering blood and the power that opened the Red Sea, they never went into the promised land. The wilderness experience brought them into contact with God, his power, his covenant blessings, his people and his ministry. And though they shared all this as his genuine covenant people, many of them were overthrown in the wilderness. I Cor. 10:1-5 says, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” Heb. 3:10-19 says, “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke; howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

From these scriptures and Heb. 4:2, we see that those who failed to enter the promised land were those who believed not.

These overthrown ones are typical of multitudes in the church today who will never inherit the promises of God. Paul’s use of the wilderness experience is being applied to the church in his day. His concern is for those in the church who have not entered into spiritual rest of which Canaan was a type. To stop short of this rest means to fail to obtain the promise and ultimately be lost. This is why he says, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. ... Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Heb 4:1 & 11. If this was true in Paul’s day before the pristine glory of the early church had faded out, how much more true is it today in the church that knows little of that glory. The tragic truth is, most of the people in the modern church have never left Egypt.

Those who have never left Egypt are actually in less danger than some of those who occupy the wilderness position. To fall away, or go back into Egypt from the wilderness, means to forsake all hope of ever being saved. It is impossible to renew again unto repentance those that fall away from this position. This is what Paul is actually teaching in Heb. 6:4-6 where he says, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance: seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” This is also the reason for Paul’s exhortation in Heb. 10:35-39 where he says, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them WHO DRAW BACK UNTO PERDITION; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

From these scriptures, it is evident Paul was afraid for these supposed believers. They lacked the witness of the Spirit characteristic of those who have entered into his rest through a living faith. Paul makes a distinction between the just which live by faith and those who draw back unto perdition. Perdition is the utter last estate of those who fall away after having come into the wilderness from Egypt’s bondage.

The wilderness experience, common to both those who enter into rest and those who fall back unto perdition, is a genuine experience that can either lead into the salvation rest of Canaan or deceive into a false sense of security those who do not fully trust Christ as Lord and Saviour. As wonderful as these experiences are, they are not to be mistaken for salvation.

In coming out of Egypt, all were beneficients of the ministry of Moses, a true God-sent man. Such a ministry is necessary to bring men out of the bondage of Egypt (the world). This is the very reason most of the church world fails to get people out of Egyptian bondage. They have no Moses sent of God.

We need to realize that all such true ministries are indeed expressions of Christ to man. It is God coming down by the anointing, calling, convicting, illuminating, blessing and saving man from his sins. And though many gravitate to such a ministry, partake of the loaves and the fishes, as well as the spiritual blessings, there is only a small remnant that go on and enter into rest.

Men can be enlightened, taste of the heavenly gift, be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, taste the good word of God and the powers of the world to come and yet fail to enter into his rest. None can deny great blessings are derived from contact and association with the body of Christ. They literally sit at the Master’s table, feasting with the saints. But for all this, these are a people who never take his yoke and learn his ways. This is really what Jesus is talking about in Matt. 10:28-30.

The fact that men profess faith in Christ, have various experiences and are a part of the visible church does not, by any means, prove they have entered into his rest. Paul is saying that the New Testament professor can fall away and fail to possess the promise even as the wilderness people did. This is why he says, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)” Heb. 3:7-11.

The man out of whom the unclean spirit went in Matt. 12:43-45 is an example of those who come in contact with the power of God through some anointed ministry. This unclean spirit didn’t just volunteer and leave the man he was dwelling in. Neither does Satan cast out Satan. This man came in contact with the power of God and the demon left because of the presence of Christ. If he wasn’t cast out by the word of faith, he was made miserable by the man’s association with the body of Christ and he left of his own accord. And though a great change was experienced in this man’s life, Christ never took permanent abode by the Holy Spirit. The work was never finished. The man was not sealed by the Holy Spirit. This is the rest he never entered into.

Peter refers to some who escape the pollutions that are in the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. II Peter 2:20. Beyond doubt, some experience temporary deliverance and derive other benefits from the knowledge of Christ and then fall away. In this case and the example Jesus gives, Matt. 12:43-45, the latter end of these apostates is said to be worse than the beginning. However, it is evident from the scriptures that neither of these two possessed the Spirit of Christ.

Though the evil spirit temporarily left the man in Matt. 12:43-45, he had no difficulty in repossessing his house (man) and bringing seven other devils in with him. It had been swept (cleaned) and garnished (religious reformation), but the house was still empty.

Peter calls these apostates “...wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” II Peter 2:17. In verse 22 he likens them to the dog that turns “ his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” Jude’s reference to these apostates is almost identical to Peter’s and he says in verse 19, “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

I would like to also point out that in every case of apostasy in the New Testament there is no record of those who fall away ever being considered a child of God or true believer. This includes Judas Iscariot, John 6:64; 70-71; 13:10-11, the foolish virgins, Matt. 25:12 and the worker of miracles in Matt. 7:22-23.

Let’s note some of the characteristics of these wilderness people who never enter into the Canaan land rest. First of all, they never really believe from the heart. Intellectual faith, yes, but not from the heart which is unto righteousness. Heb. 3:17-19, 4:1-13 and Rom. 10:10.

Secondly, they turn away from following the Lord because of their lust and desire for evil things — things of the world, money, pleasure, earthly prominence, sex and material things. Like Esau, they sell their birthright for a morsel of meat. Heb. 12:16-17. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” I Cor. 10:1-12.

Thirdly, they tempt the Lord, prove him and see his mighty works (miracles of power and grace) and yet continue to err and never learn his ways. Heb. 3:9-10. They are ever learning but never come to a knowledge of the truth. II Tim. 3:7-8. Though often in the center of things and very active religiously, they never become true disciples (learners) of Christ. They never really take his yoke and learn of him.

Fourthly, they are presumptuous, self-willed and despise government. II Peter 2:10. As result of this condition, they murmur, speak evil of dignities and in general resist the authority of Christ. II Tim. 3:8.

Fifth, there are also the ambitious, self-aspiring, would-be leaders that resist true leadership and exalt themselves. These are false prophets that lead astray God’s heritage and end up in great delusion. II Tim. 3:6-8, II Peter 3:1-3, Numbers 16:1-3.

These wilderness people invariably end up in a deluded state if they do not go on in and possess the land. Being associated with the body of Christ and taking part in the work of God, they often deceive themselves into actually thinking they are the people of God. Like Korah, Num. 16:1-3, they end up saying, “we are all the Lord’s people, we are all holy, God’s presence among us proves it.” II Peter 2:13 says of them, “...Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you.” Jude 12 says, “These are spots in your feasts of charity, while they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear.”

Let’s not forget that both Peter and Jude, though applying the truth to the church in their day, are using the wilderness experience as a type. These are a deceived people who are pure in their own eyes, yet they are not washed from their iniquity. They are actually partaking of the blessings of God and feasting at the Master’s table without fear.

In Heb. 6:7-8, Paul refers to two types of earth (man), one that bears thorns and briars and one that brings forth herbs meet (fit, good) for them by whom it is dressed. Yet they both received the same rain (Word, Spirit, blessings of God). The same ministry and power brought them both out of Egypt. The same blood protected them from the death angel. They feasted on the same manna in the wilderness and observed the same miracles.

Their experiences are genuine and they rejoice in hope right along with true elect of God that go in and possess the land. It doesn’t seem possible that people could have such a knowledge of God and yet fall back into perdition.

Either way the wilderness traveler goes his destiny is sealed forever. He must make a complete, unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ and be sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption, Eph. 4:30, or fall back unto perdition, Heb. 10:39.

We have a beautiful type of this seal in Deut. 15:12-17 where a servant sold into bondage six years chooses to become a bond servant because he loves his master and his house. Upon renouncing his liberty to go out from his master’s house in the seventh year (a type of the Sabbath rest) a hole is bored through his ear with an awl and he becomes his master’s servant forever. Wherever he goes, the hole in the ear (the seal) is a witness to this fact. It is the seal of permanent ownership from which owner and servant can never be released. As a servant of the household for six years, he has had ample opportunity to sit at the master’s table and fully try the bill of fare. He has tasted and seen that his Lord is gracious. He has tried and proven his master many times during these six years. Six is the number of man. Seven is the number of perfection or completeness. It is the number of God. Up until the seventh year, the servant was still master of his own destiny. He could choose to go out from his master’s house and live his own life completely independent from the headship of another, or he could renounce all rights to such a life and accept the Lordship of his master. Once this was done, it was out of his hands forever. Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29. By that last act he has fully committed himself into the hands of his Lord, not just for six years, but forever.

The question is settled and fixed. All strife, struggle and mental debate about ever leaving his master’s house is finally at rest. He has understandingly, deliberately and willingly — fully committed his life, his future and his all into the hands of his Lord. The hole in the ear is the seal of the permanent and complete transaction. Concerning this committal Paul wrote, “...for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” II Tim. 1:12.

This committal is not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It is not something that is done during a time of emotional stress or strain. The servant enters into this bond of covenant having counted the cost. This is exactly what Jesus is teaching in Luke 14:28-33 where he says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” This, beloved, is digging deep and building upon the rock. Luke 6:47-49. Only such as truly count the cost are sealed unto the day of redemption. These alone enter into his rest. All others fail sooner or later. They do not have what it takes to finish building the tower. They will be defeated when the enemy comes against them like a flood. Their house will fall because it is not built upon the rock.

Don’t believe Satan’s lie that you can receive Jesus Christ as Savior and not Lord. Only when we come unto him and take his yoke do we enter into his rest.

Let me point out that the first tenure of six years’ service is thrust upon the servant by circumstances beyond his control. He is sold into bondage to pay a debt, therefore, he doesn’t enter this relationship through choice. It is a situation that develops through necessity.

This is also a perfect type of how most people come to profess faith in Jesus Christ and join the church. They are motivated by a sense of need brought about through circumstances. It could be illness, fear of death, trouble, self-interests or social aspirations. Love for the master or his house has nothing to do with their decision. After fully acquainting himself with his master and his master’s house, he then chooses or refuses to become the bondservant.

Apostates are those who, through some necessity, try the master and his house but never come to appreciate nor love them. Through the goodness and grace of God, he has ample opportunity to prove and try his Lord even as the generation in the wilderness did. Heb. 3:9-11. The apostate is enlightened, tastes the heavenly gift, partakes of the Holy Ghost, tastes the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come and then falls away. Heb. 6:4-6. He is simply one who, after all this, cannot give up his own life that he might gain the master and his house forever.

Canaan definitely typifies the new covenant promise called “his rest.” To stop short of spiritual Canaan means to stop short of eternal life or the salvation rest. “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Heb. 4:11.

This is the rest prophesied by Isaiah (28:12). It is the rest Jesus gives to the weary and heavy laden who come unto him and take his yoke. Matt. 11:28-30. It is the crowning act of God in which he, by the Holy Spirit, claims and fills the vessel (man) with himself. It is union between God and man. Though the body has to await its day to change, nothing can compare with this ceasing from all strife as a man surrenders body, soul and spirit to God. This alone brings complete soul satisfying rest into man’s being. It is the reconciliation of Almighty God with his chosen elect. Nothing any greater than this will ever happen to man. This is entering the new covenant of perfection that Jesus is the mediator of. Heb. 7:19 and 8:6-12.

This is also the perfection that Paul says we are to go on unto in Heb. 6:1. This is the anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast that he is talking about in 6:19. The reason it is perfect is because it brings us into union with God. It enters within the veil into the very presence of God from which man has been banished since the Garden of Eden. We have this in type in the high priest Aaron, going behind the veil into the Holy of Holies once a year. When Jesus died on Calvary, the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom opening the way for us through the sacrifice of himself. No human being was allowed, except in type (Aaron), to come into the presence of God until Jesus gave himself as our sacrifice. Old Testament sacrifices, which were types of the true, could never take away sins.

This is the Canaan we must enter into to be safe. Only then are we sealed unto the day of redemption. Eph. 4:30. This is what Paul means to be perfected forever. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Heb. 10:14. We are complete (perfect) in him which is the head of all principality and power. Col. 2:10. We are saved to the uttermost because we come unto God by him and he ever lives to make intercession for us. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Heb. 7:25.

Not only do we have him ever standing at the right hand of the Father interceding for us, but he also writes his laws in our hearts and minds. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” Heb. 10:16. For these reasons, this perfect covenant brings us into perfect standing and relationship with God. We are perfect because we are in him who is perfection personified. Perfection is simply Christ. Are you in him? If so, in the mind and reckoning of God, you are complete (perfect). You have entered Canaan and the promise is yours. Perfected forever if you have joined this sanctified throng. If we are of this group, we are saved and safe only because God has, “from the beginning, chosen us to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” II Thess. 2:13.

Which place do you occupy: EGYPT, THE WILDERNESS, OR CANAAN?

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