"Dwelling In Goshen" (December 2009)
It’s hard to believe that another year has ended and a new one begun. My hope and prayer for you in 2010 is that the Lord will make you prosperous in every area and bless you richly... Happy New Year!
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” (Hebrews 11:13,14) “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims.” (1 Peter 2:11a) “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3) “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8) The Bible tells us plainly that for those who are born again, for the child of God, for the righteous, for those who have become a new creation by putting their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and following Him as their Lord, this world is not their home. (John 3:3-5; John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17,21) We are just “passing through”. You have heard the saying, “We are in this world, but not of this world”. How true, this world is not our home.
This month I want to talk about dwelling in this world, and I would like to use symbolism from the Bible to make my point. I am going to use a parallel between Egypt and Israel and the world and Christians to help clarify what I mean.
Remember when the children of Israel were in Egypt? They lived in a city called Goshen. But when God delivered them out of Egypt they went to the land of Caanan. For the sake of clarity, I want to submit to you, in the context of what I want to talk about, that Israel represents the Christian, Egypt represents the world, Goshen represents the dwelling place of the Christian while he/she is still in the world awaiting the time of his/her departure, and Caanan (Israel’s homeland) represents our homeland- heaven; the place we go to when we leave this world.
Egypt was a temporary dwelling place for Israel; God never intended for them to have a permanent residency there. They went to Egypt during the time when there was a famine in the land and God raised up Joseph to provide for them in order to preserve their prosperity during the famine. “And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.” (Genesis 45:4-11)
The Israelites were in Egypt until the day of their deliverance. When they left Egypt they went to Caanan, the place God had already planned and promised to Abraham as their “home”. It is the same for us, we are here in this world until the day of our deliverance. God does not intend to leave us here in this world forever either. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. Like the old hymn says, “I’ve a home prepared where the saints abide just over in the glory land. And I long to be by my Savior’s side, just over in the glory land.” The day of our deliverance will happen either when we meet the Lord in the air or through death. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1:23,24)
So, if Egypt represents the world we live in, and Caanan represents our home in heaven, what about Goshen? What is it about Goshen that we need to know if this is symbolic of the place we are suppose to be dwelling in while we are here on earth awaiting our “deliverance”? I decided to look up the word Goshen to see what it meant because I know that names are very significant to God- whether it’s names of people or places, etc. As a matter of fact, God changed the name of several people in the Bible and renamed them to represent His plan for their lives. He even had the prophet Isaiah prophesy that Jesus would be born of a virgin and His name would be Emmanuel, which means- “God is with us”. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) When I looked up the word Goshen in a Bible reference book, I discovered that it meant- “drawing near”.
At first I thought the definition was very odd and I didn’t see much significance to it, but the more I pondered and prayed about it, the clearer it became and it was very understandable. The Israelites lived in a city while they were in Egypt called Goshen, which meant “drawing near”. Symbolically, it means that while we are living here in this world we are to live our lives in an attitude of “drawing near” to God.
When the Israelites lived in Goshen, they lived in houses, not tents. A tent represents a temporary dwelling; a house represents a more permanent one. Even though their stay in Egypt was to be temporary, the place they were to reside while they were there was to be a place of permanent residency. The dictionary defines the word reside as: to dwell permanently. It also defines a residence as: a structure serving as a dwelling or home. They lived in homes that were made out of brick, stone, clay and mortar. Symbolically, our place of permanent residency is not one that is made by hands, but it is one that covers and surrounds us as we draw near to God. As we draw near to God, His very presence surrounds us and becomes a dwelling place- a place of habitation for us. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8a) “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1) “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3b) So where is the Christian’s “Goshen”? It is the presence of God which comes as a result of drawing near to Him.
Just as the Israelites woke up in their homes in Goshen each morning and went to them when the day was done, our Goshen is a place we go to everyday as well. We should begin our day and end our day drawing near to God. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee. When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.” (Psalm 63:1a,6) It is not just a place where we visit once in a while or only on Sundays in church. It is not a place we recognize only on certain holy holidays. It is not a place we run to only in times of trouble. It is the place where we should “abide”, or reside, at all times.
Let’s look at some reasons from the Bible why is it important for the Christian to live in “spiritual Goshen”. As we have already said, when we draw near to God it brings us into His presence. Being in God’s presence gives clarity concerning His will, plan and purpose for our lives. “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up." When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am. The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:1-4;7-10- NIV) Moses saw a bush that was burning yet not burning up, so he “drew near” to the bush. The bush was where God manifested His presence. So when Moses drew near to the bush, he was actually drawing near to God. It was then that the Lord spoke to him from the bush and called him into his destiny. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13- NIV) God has a plan and purpose for each of us. It’s when we draw near to Him that we find out what that plan is so that we can fulfill it.
Being in His presence also brings healing and deliverance. The woman with the issue of blood drew near to Jesus getting close enough to touch the hem of His garment. When she touched it, she was healed of her sickness. “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” (Matthew 9:20-22)
Being in His presence brings a revelation of who God is. “And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.” (Exodus 33:18-34:1,2,4-8) Although Moses had already had a revelation of who God was through his experience at the burning bush, during the plagues in Egypt and at the Red Sea, as he drew near to God again by going up the mountain, God revealed Himself to Moses in a greater way. (Moses’ life is an example to us of a life that lived in “spiritual Goshen”- he was always drawing near to God and coming into His presence.)
Hannah’s womb was barren but when she drew near to God in prayer, the Lord answered her prayer and opened her womb and she bore a son named Samuel who was the greatest prophet/priest in Israel. “Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:1,2,20) God has ordained that we should be “spiritually” fruitful. “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16) Being in God’s presence turns that which is barren in our lives into something that is fruitful so that we might be productive in the work of His Kingdom and for His glory.
When we live in an attitude of drawing near to God, we will find help in times of distress like Hezekiah who drew near to God and the Lord healed Him and extended his life by fifteen years. (Isaiah 38) We will also find His power is present to calm the storms of life when they beat upon us and try to destroy us. (Mark 4:37-39) As we draw near to Him we will find encouragement in times of discouragement and strength to fight the enemy and take back all he has stolen from us like David did when he was at Ziglak. (1 Samuel 30) It’s in the drawing near to Him, because it brings us into His presence, where we find all our needs met, all our problems solved, wisdom, grace, strength, perseverance, joy, forgiveness, mercy, every good gift and anything else we lack. “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” (Psalm 34:10) “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
Lastly, when the Israelites were in Goshen, they were protected from the plagues that fell upon the Egyptians. All of Egypt was experiencing the effects of the plagues but the Israelites were safe in the place that had been provided for them to live. Our Goshen- the place of drawing near to God so that we can dwell in His presence- is a safe haven for us, not only when personal trials and afflictions arise, but when turmoil hits the land His presence will be our place of refuge and protection. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28,29) “O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.” (Isaiah 33:2) “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (Psalm 91:9,10) “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)