As we saw in the days of creation, first a separating process, then a perfecting one, so we see this also in the fourth great stage of man, typified by Abraham. After the failure of Noah's line, God moves again and calls the son of an idol-worshipper. The Lord would make of his life a wonderful type of the spirit of faith who learns to walk--not by sight--but by faith in the word of God. This was his call:
"...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. 12:1-3. This call has not changed in our day. It is still that separating word: "Get thee out!" First, we are to depart from our country, where we were born and raised. Looking at this from the inward sense, after the spirit, we were, as Abram, born in Ur of the Chaldees. Chaldea is another name for Babylon, that place of confusion; of false and perverted worship and self-exaltation. The Lord calls us out of that system that makes bricks for stones, using slime to cement them all together!
We are called next, to leave our kindred. The Spirit gave me understanding that our 'kindred' are the things that help us to have 'confidence in the flesh'. Paul pointed to his "circumcision, ...(being) of Israel, of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee; ...concerning zeal, persecuting the church; righteousness of the law...blameless" Phil. 3:4-6. These are all those things that Paul counted but dung that he might win Christ. So, for us, anything that would cause us to "make some fair show in the flesh" we are called to leave behind and "Get thee out" from it!
To leave 'our father's house' is quite necessary, but it cannot be done all at once, because the ties to the 'old man Adamic nature', even our natural birth, are very strong. Even though the Lord said of Abram, "I called him alone, and blessed him" (Isa. 51:2), Abram attempted to take his father and some of his father's house with him. The Word says, "Terah took Abram" (Gen. 11:31), so the flesh man gets excited about going to the Promised Land and strikes out with zeal, not knowing that faith cannot take the old man into the place of promise! Our corrupt mind has never been called to spiritual things--it has been called to die.
Journeying with his wife, his father and nephew, Abram gets half-way to Canaan when he stops at Charran and dwelt there. The 'old man' cares not to go so far as 'some land of promise' and is willing to settle for much less than God's best. Abram makes no further progress until 'his father is dead' and then "they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came." Nothing could stop Abram now that the hindrance of the old man nature was dead in him, and the mind of Christ was in its place!
What is meant by "the land" that would be shown unto them--a land that they had to find by being led of the Spirit every step of the way. (Heb. 11:8, "...he...obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.") This land is a realm of spirit where you walk by faith in the strength of the Lord who leads you to that realm where He abides and where you, like Jesus, can "do only the things I see the Father do." This is the place where the mind of Christ is ruling in men of faith and they enter into the Rest of God--"the perfecting stage" of receiving their full inheritance.
The New Covenant promise says: "I will show thee a land; I will make thee fruitful; I will bless thee." This PROMISE was "the GOSPEL (that) was preached to Abram" Gal. 3:8. The gospel is:
(1) a promise of God
(2) a report concerning future glory
(3) an inheritance
Both grace and truth are in this call, for God's "I will" must be followed by a "Get thee out" by obeying that separating word of truth. God's purpose is to separate His saved ones unto Himself, so He says: "I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall by My people: wherefore come out and be separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you" 2 Cor. 6:17, 18.
Up to this point, Abram has separated from Ur (Babylon) and from Terah (the old man nature) and now finds himself in the land of Canaan, that land that was promised him by the Lord. Before he can be perfected, he must experience two more separations: from Egypt, and from Lot. We will consider Egypt first. Abram has, by faith, entered into a realm of spirit but finds it difficult to stand in that realm. There are Canaanites in this land who hinder him from entering into heavenly things. Canaan, the son of Ham, represents the outward religiousness which prevents us from abiding in a purely spiritual place (Gen. 12: 6, 10).
Then, a grievous famine came upon the land and Abram "went down into Egypt to sojourn there". Nothing was said about him entreating the Lord to "provide a table for him in the wilderness", nor enquiring at His mouth to provide his "daily bread". No, he simply turned away from that realm of walking in the Spirit to go down to Egypt. Egypt means "straitness" (narrow, limited, confining), the ground of sense, of the carnal reasoning mind which believes only what it can see and walks not in faith. This mind but darkens and perverts the truth, which we learn to our sorrow. Well do we know, when trials come, what a temptation arises to cease from giving the Lord "our all" and to take back some of our own dominion; (we go down to Egypt!) for this trusting the Lord fully seems, at times, to be fraught with danger.
When they neared Egypt, Abram asked Sarah to say that she was his sister, rather than his wife, for his own protection. To understand the inner spiritual truths portrayed here, we need to understand the significance of their names. "Abram" represents "the spirit of faith" and thus could stand for any believer--you or me. Women are certain affections. Sarah is the affection or principle of spiritual truth. Abram is seeking to find a safe place in this outward, sense realm so he must deny his union with spiritual truth in order to walk there. Has this not happened to us all in our walk with the Lord? We have compromised truth, even denied we held certain spiritual truths when to acknowledge that we were one with them would be to invite attack upon our reputation or good name.
Yes, we have likely all denied Sarah at one time or another! And, if we would recall, it was at a "dry" time in our lives; a time of famine when we felt we had to go back to running our own lives, or, outwardly go back to the church system for "food" because we knew not how to be fed at the Lord's hand.
By so doing, we risked mixing or defiling the holy seed. Our spiritual principles were in the hands of an Egyptian and he would become one with her and cause her to bring forth a carnal seed. Can Sarah be a mother of Egyptians? Can our spiritual truths be defiled by carnal thinking, by compromise with the truth, by being led by reason rather than by the Spirit? Yes, they can be defiled, but the Lord, in mercy, moves in and troubles the Egyptians with plagues (Gen. 12:17-20) so that Pharaoh rebukes Abram for hiding the fact that Sarah is his wife.
Abram had been faring well, for Pharaoh had given him gifts and provisions for Sarah's sake. Yet, the grace of God (divine assistance) moved in to deliver Sarah from bringing forth a carnal seed. Spiritual truths can be one only with men of faith! Egyptians have no right to embrace them and make them theirs! So grace restored Abram when he was thinking only of preserving self, and ignorantly placed his spiritual truths into the hands of carnal men (or carnal ruling with). The Lord permitted him to be rudely cast out of that low ground of the outward, sense realm, and told to go back to his own place (in God)!
This can happen to us, both inwardly and outwardly. For one season in our journey, we made our own decisions, and took our own counsel. The results were so devastating that we fear to do anything like that again. We guard ourselves now that we are not tempted to compromise our spiritual principles. The answer seems to be: water your garden diligently with the Word and prayer and avoid the famine that could tempt you to go "down to Egypt".
At this next stage, Abram must separate from Lot. It is not until Abram does so that his eyes are opened to see that land (realm of spirit) that God has promised. "...after that Lot was separated from him, that the Lord said unto him, "Lift up now thine eyes, for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it." (You can have what you can see!). To learn the spiritual lessons here, we must know what Lot signifies. Abram, the spirit of faith, represents the spiritual mind, whereas Lot stands for the upright natural mind.
For some time, these two minds in us are so closely united that we can tell no difference between them. Our upright natural mind chooses also to walk toward the good things of God. Our Father alone discerns the difference, for He shows us that Abram, "walks with God", but Lot "walks with Abram". Eventually, the spirit of faith in us finds this outer man to be, like Lot, though "righteous", yet earthy, desiring things that Abram had willingly separated from. Outwardly, Lot represents those whose outward mind rules their life, for their souls delight in religious outward things.
Abram left Egypt to return "to the place where his tent was at first". Places figure certain states. "State" means "a standing place". So, Abram had to return back to where he was in God before he went down to Egypt, the sense realm. He returned in stages, for each step of unbelief he had taken had now to be retraced in faith. When he reached Bethel (the house of God) he raised an altar and worshipped again. Abram had no altar in Egypt, for communion with the world spoils communion with the Lord. He goes on from there to Hebron (fellowship) and henceforth knows restored communion.
In your walk, have there been periods when you have felt the famine and have gone down to Egypt and didn't know how to return to the place in God where you used to walk? The way back is always by worship and communion. Build an altar! Place on it all your hurts, your expectations of God that He didn't fulfil, any accusations toward Him or brethren, yield up every offence that troubles your walk and keeps you in "the low ground" of Egypt and out of communion with your God. Personally, any time I could not freely draw nigh unto God, I found that I was harboring hurts or rejections, or believing a lie that God really didn't love me (or "such and such" wouldn't have happened!). When I began to sigh and cry, I found no way back. I had to rise up to higher ground; retrace my steps to higher ground in the spirit where worship and communion are found.
In every age, the Lots--the worldly-minded Christians choose the lower ground. This is the pattern:
(1) First, he "chooses" by sight, not by the spirit.
(2) Then "he journeyed from the east".
(3) Then "he pitched towards Sodom".
(4) Then "he dwelt there".
Clearly, he walked by sight, then by self-will, then away from the light, then toward the wicked world, at last to dwell there. As Lot was "saved so as by fire" so also are those believers who are "righteous" and "saved", but who desire to remain in outward things which keep them from ever finding out what is in them!
What finally caused Lot to separate from "walking with Abram"? Basically, the desire of each man's heart guaranteed a separation, for one sought higher ground in God, and the other desired the things of the world. As I look back on my life, I can see that I have made many separations from brethren whose eyes had not caught the vision I had seen. They made it clear that they did not want to walk with me any longer. I felt, of course, that they did not love me, only to find years later, that that was not the case. They confessed that they were afraid of me because they did not understand what I had, and it was not taught in their religious circles. Each time I continued on, I made a new set of friends who were journeying also to the high places in God. We knew no lack, or famine, or desire for Egypt as we continued our upward climb. I have learned to thank God for every separation that He has brought into my life, for it has been for my good.
God's Word tries us, as it did Abram, as we walk with Him. We also have gone forth "knowing not whither we went", separating from the old man till at last, we saw him buried. We also rejected the King of Sodom when he came to tempt us--taking from the world not "even a shoe-latchet" to make us great. The journey has been long; we are tired and weary. Diligently have we sought for that promised "seed", even Christ, to be fully formed within. We begin to long for fruitfulness, for the image of God, the spirit of sonship, to come forth in us.
At this point, we require a fresh word from God to take us the rest of the way. We ask Him earnestly, "Lord whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" We bow low at His feet, adoring Him for what HE IS, for the beauty of His nature, and the desirable attributes of His Person. Our hearts melt at the overwhelming desire to be like Him in every respect. We love Him no longer selfishly--for what He does for us, or gives to us, but for Himself alone! I fancy I see angels hovering over those who have come to this place and they are crying in great joy, "They really love You, Jesus! They really love You! You are loved for Yourself alone!" How long has He waited for a people to arise in the earth with the longing to bear His nature within!
Our Father's answer to our cry, "How shall I KNOW...I shall inherit it?" is the same as it was to Abram: a command to worship. The Lord calls us yet to offer Abel's offering, which figures Christ's sacrifice. The forms of "bullock, goat and turtle-dove" speak to us of His service, sin-bearing, and innocence. The sacrifice is divided into parts--the head, legs, inwards, and fat all being separated. These signify the thoughts, the walk, the affections and the strength being offered to God. This is our reasonable service (or worship), presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (Romans 12:1).
Christ's sacrifice for us, and the knowledge that we must die to have His life shown forth, answers all our doubts and questioning fears. As we stand by the altar of sacrifice yielding up all to the One Who gave all for us, we receive the key to the secrets of our Lord's heart. The word is opened up to us and we understand His ways with us.
As soon as the animals are offered, "the fowls come down on the carcasses". Fowls speak of evil spirits who try to interject subtle distractions into our communion with God. We rise up in the spirit and "drive them away". Then comes "darkness". "And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him" Gen. 15:12. In that darkness we learn some details of the cross that is working in our life, and come to understand that it shall be "through much tribulation" that we shall enter the kingdom and possess it.
"...when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces." The "smoking furnace" tells us, "I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" Isa. 48:10. His way in our lives is shown forth, for He is ready to purge away the dross.
The "burning lamp" passes between the pieces of the offering. God Himself is enacting this sacrifice even though Abram provided the animals for the sacrifice. "To walk through the pieces" signified the cutting of a covenant with another person so strong that not even death could break it. The burning lamp, the expression of the light of the sevenfold spirit of God (Isa. 11:2), is shown standing along side of us as we endure the refining of the furnace. He is watching that the furnace is not one degree hotter, nor one second longer, than it takes to bring the gold to the top and to take away the dross. He is showing here that He will not leave us comfortless; He will be with us every step of the way!
This was His answer to our cry: "How shall I know that I shall inherit it?" We can know of a surety that holy thing that is born of God within us, that "seed" of the Lord, shall come forth, because He has covenanted and He stands beside us all the time we are going through the refining in "the smoking furnace" until we come forth as pure gold! Rest in that assurance, my brethren! God has written this truth indelibly upon the lives of His patriarchs, even His friend, Abraham!
Written on Abram's life are the ways that a man of faith tries to be faithful, and through them we see our own ways and have to acknowledge that the first fruit of faith is carnal. Abram takes Hagar, who stands for the natural self-will, or the law. Sarai speaks of the submissive spiritual will, or grace. Abram had been one with Sarai for a long time, but still she is barren and unfruitful. The man of faith does not cast out his spiritual principles, but he begins to look elsewhere, even to the energy of the flesh, to bring forth. He knows not that self must be "as good as dead" before Sarai will bear fruit. While we are strong, the Lord cannot grant us fruit from the spirit.
Hagar was an Egyptian--her roots are in the sense realm, the outer world. She is also a bond-woman and gendereth to bondage (Gal. 4:22-25). Our unsatisfied longing to "bear the image of the heavenly" drives us to seek for fruit through our own energies united with the law. We try one scheme after another, doing rather than dying in order to obtain the promised seed!
"When Hagar saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised." Sarai, who had hoped to be "built up" by Hagar, is rather dishonored by her. We see here the principle of law exalted out of its place of being a servant to grace. Sarai or grace, is best-loved and should never lose her place of being a servant to grace. Sarai or grace, is best-loved and should never lose her place in the believing heart. There are so many "Abrams" (men of faith) who have been counted "righteous" because they "believed God", who are told that to be fruitful they must keep this church law, or do those prescribed duties that will cause them to receive approval from God. Sarai has been set aside and Hagar (some energy of the flesh or the law) has taken her place. We must "do something" to "keep" our salvation! Hagar rules over us!
The inner affection of spiritual truth, in God's order, has the principle of law waiting upon it as a servant. As a handmaid it has its place in Abram's house. Because she was exalted out of her proper place, Sarai treated Hagar harshly until she fled from her. The Lord sent her back to take her true place--to submit herself unto grace, for the law is good, if it be used lawfully. The problem comes from exalting it out of its proper place.
Hagar brings forth a son, but he is not the promised heir. "Ishmael" means "wild-ass man", for he is produced through self-will mixed with faith. Isaacs are not born thus!
ABRAHAM (MAN OF FAITH)
HAGAR (LAW) SARAI (GRACE)
Viewing these things historically, we see that before gospel times (before Sarai -- spiritual principles--conceives), the actions of faith are united with law for a full dispensation. When the fullness of time arrived and the true Isaac (Christ) was born, Ishmael mocked and rejected Him. Ishmael, that seed according to the flesh, has since been cast out. In the Church we look for fruit from spiritual principles, but Sarai remains barren until the flesh of God's elect is dead. What is brought forth is still a wild-ass man that has the mark of the beast (carnal nature) upon it! In vain do they look for the mark of the beast outwardly ("It's this man; it's this machine," etc.) and know not that it is a carnal, fleshly mind. If, as men of faith, they have tried to bring forth fruit through self-will, the mind of Christ is not their portion, for the mark of carnality is there.
The denominational churches have not yet learnt that the true seed comes only out of death and barrenness through the resurrection power of God! Yet, there is a remnant company who are learning this, and are coming through death into that life of Christ that is pictured in the life of Isaac, even the spirit of sonship.
"How does 'bringing forth an Ishmael' apply to my life?" you might ask. The story of Howard Pittman will explain it well. Howard was a minister for 30 years. He was in the throes of a heart attack when he was caught up to God. God told him that he had been worshipping an idol all the time that he thought he was serving God! The Lord showed him that SELF was the idol in his heart, for he had ordered his own program, and done everything his own way--to please SELF. God said He was not in any of it! His own energies had brought forth an Ishmael and he had not known it. After this stunning revelation, his life returned to his body and from that point on, he preached death to self all over the world.
Abram's life shows us very clearly how we shall bring forth the seed of Christ, even the image of God in us. When Abram is 99 years old, "as good as dead" as far as the energies of the flesh are concerned, God comes to him with a fresh revelation of Himself. He reveals a new name--another aspect of His nature: "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect. And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly" Gen. 17:1, 2. God is declaring that the promised seed depends upon His "I will" because He is God Almighty and He alone is able to bring forth life in the midst of death. All He requires of Abram is that he have an eye single toward God--to be perfect (sincere, or unmixed).
God needed no Ishmael--that mixture of faith and self-will--to help Him out! Abram is told that his energy cannot come from Hagar--"not by blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man", for only because of God's "I WILL" shall he have the seed, even sonship. And the inheritance shall not be because he has deserved it, or because he is of "the right tribe", but only because "I will give it thee". Our reaction is the same as Abram's: We cry, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before thee!" We are reluctant to believe that what we have brought forth by self-will and our own energy cannot be the heir of promise!
Next, the Lord changes their names from Abram to Abraham; from Sarai to Sarah. The Lord imparts an "H" from His own name; that sound that is made by an out-breathing, even the breath of the Holy Spirit. A new name denotes a new character, a new dimension of the nature of God, depicting the Baptism in the Spirit. After we have been "breathed upon" by the Holy Ghost, the Lord tells us that now we must be circumcised. For Abram to perform this "cutting off the flesh" at his age could endanger his life, and if he lived it is doubtful that he could father a child. There is suffering and death involved in circumcision, because it speaks of "judging self"; of bringing "to death" the will of the natural man. We are now commanded to no longer "hide from our own flesh," but bring it to death so that we may obtain the promise. This is our spiritual circumcision: "counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus". All that the flesh can produce is willingly cast aside if only "the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection" be ours!
A friend recently asked, "How could believers (men of faith) who have been saved and have received the Baptism of the Spirit, ever fall for New Age teachings, or Eastern cults, or go into deception? We find the answer to this in the light of Abram's experience. Like Abram, long had they waited to be fruitful by Sarai (spiritual truth), but in time they became impatient and could not wait any longer. They looked to self-will to bring forth an Ishmael, something from their own strength. They had eagerly accepted the "in-breathing" of the Spirit's power when it came unto them, but they refused in their hearts the command to be circumcised. In self-will, then, they try to bring forth the promised son, but what comes forth is SELF seated on the throne of the heart saying: "I AM GOD". Sin is denied as being real -it is but an illusion, and where there is no sin we have no need for a Redeemer, but may be our own god. They can say: "I AM", for they have never known Him! Oh Lord, deliver us from this great sin of presumption and exaltation. Help us to bow before thee and yield to our circumcision, that the true seed might be ours!
Before the promised seed of sonship (Isaac) is given to us, we must come to the end of Lot. Abraham is the type of those who walk by faith; Lot stands for men who are outward rather than spiritual. Lot, inwardly, is the mind in us that leans toward outward things. Sodom is the ground of self-love in us. After Abraham is circumcised and receives a greater understanding of the Lord's will, there must come a full separation from the outward mind. Divine judgement is coming to overthrow all the plain of Sodom!
Their differences are seen when each of them entertains angels. Abraham's visitation came at midday, at the highest degree of light (spiritual understanding). Lot was visited at evening, in declining light. Abraham saw three persons whereas Lot beheld only two, showing an incomplete understanding of the Godhead. The angels found Abraham "in the plains of Mamre, in his tent-door". "Mamre" is Hebron, which speaks of vision or communion with the Lord. Outward men, refusing to face the death of self, are sitting in the gate of Sodom, seeking to judge the defiled world. To "sit in the gate" is to take the place of authority; so Lot, unjudged himself, is trying to correct the faults of others who live in self-love. In other words, he is trying to reform the world!
Bill and I have been asked at different times to join some group to fight against some evil in the world. We agreed that the evil was there, and we hated it, but was it our place to "go down to Sodom" and fight against it? We were perplexed about this matter until, in communion with the Lord, we learned His heart. He showed us that the world would not be changed in this manner. Only by a changed people, a people in whom self has been judged, would the world be changed. We should be content to be still under His Hand while He does that hidden work in us. Our call is not to cleanse the world, but to lift man out of it to dwell in spiritual places.
Compare the communion the two men have with the angels. In Abraham's case, communion is granted at once: "...let me fetch bread". "So do as thou hast said." Lot entreats the angels to enter his house, but they refuse at first and afterwards yield to his entreaties. It shows here that in Lot there is a struggle in prayer before his request is granted. Abraham has sweet, unbroken communion, whereas Lot's communion is rudely interrupted by the men of Sodom who "compass the house". He is serving two masters and thus has no peace.
Abraham slays a calf and adds fine meal, signifying a poured-out life and a life "ground to fine powder" typical of the burnt offering and the meal offering. Lot's feast is simply "unleavened bread and wine" which, though acceptable, shows a much lower appreciation of Christ. One, in fact, sees the power of Pentecost; the other, only Passover. The question concerning the place of the wives, too, is significant, for women speak of spiritual principles. Abraham's wife was safely in the tent. Lot has offered his women to the men of Sodom--compromised his spiritual principles in hope of preventing a worse abomination (as the Sodomites threaten to defile the angels!).
The Lord instructs Lot concerning the judgement: "Hast thou any here? Bring them out." Lot's preaching to his family was changed, for he said, "Get thee out!" He could not bring them out because he still had some lingering desire for the world. Abraham's prayer shows his heart; in intercession he yields his will to God's will. Lot, full of self, struggles in prayer to get his own way when the Lord tells him to go to the mountain. He says "No" to the Lord and pleads grace as a reason for self-indulgence and self-will. "Not so, my Lord, for thy servant hath found grace in thy sight" Gen. 19. Lot chooses his own refuge, then leaves it in dissatisfaction, and finally falls through wine and his daughters. Moab and Ammon are born out of this incestuous act. They are a seed which is a thorn continually in the side of Israel, and they are forbidden by God to enter the congregation of the Lord. They abide still at the edge of the wilderness, short of the land beyond Jordan. Such is the end of Lot, the upright, outward man!
Abraham's life portrays to us (as men of faith) the various stages and trials we shall face before we are manifested as sons (Christ being fully formed in us). At first, we tarried long before Terah, the old man, died. We were tempted to deny Sarah (our spiritual principles) in Egypt. After that, we saw Sodom (self-love) judged in us. Then Lot, the outward man, is overcome in us and tries us no more. All these steps are clearly seen but there is one more trial before a man of faith can bring forth an Isaac, the spirit of sonship. He must yet overcome the Philistines in his life! (Please read Gen. Ch. 20 now.)
Once again famine causes Abraham to journey away from his place in God. This time he goes into the land of the Philistines where, as he did in Egypt, he denies his true relationship to Sarah, out of fear. And, as happened in Egypt, the king sent and took her. (Now bear in mind that Sarah is a 90 year-old woman, so the Lord must have wrought a mighty change in her by His "out-breathing", if kings sought to have her!) God, once more acting to save Sarah from being defiled, warns the king in a dream that he is "a dead man" if he touches her. Sarah (spiritual principles of truth) cannot mix with a carnal seed and bring forth "uncircumcised Philistines" any more than she could be a mother of Egyptians! Abimelech rebukes Abraham for denying Sarah and bestows upon him many gifts to atone for taking his wife away. Abraham then prayed for God to heal Abimelech and his wives, for they had been made barren and unfruitful by the Lord as long as they held Sarah unlawfully.
Now, what is there in men of faith that makes them so prone to deny their spiritual principles and let them be taken over by some fleshly power? Isaac also, in turn, falls in this same manner, so it is important for us to learn the lesson shown here. The origin of the Philistines will instruct us. They are children of Mizraim or Egypt, which is the realm of sense, or seen things. The Philistine is a further extension of the worldly realm as is found in worldly knowledge or philosophy. It is a knowledge derived from the sense realm which seeks to enter into heavenly things without death and resurrection. Their land lies close to the land of Canaan, and they feel they can enter that Promised Land without circumcision.
Inwardly, we see that faith, after it has been delivered from outward hindrances, discovers that even the knowledge that aims at heavenly things may be a snare unto it. Full of worldly knowledge and sure that they have God's "program" down pat, and know what He is going to do and how He is going to do it, they stray from the simplicity that is in Christ. They think that knowledge may be made one with the spirit of faith. The New Covenant, or spiritual truth, belongs only to men of faith. If faith does not hold firmly to its spiritual principles, worldly knowledge (the Philistine) may rule and deceive one into thinking that if you have "a knowledge of sonship" you may enter in to it! Not so! It is ever through faith--the cross--death--burial--and resurrection. There is no other way!
Outwardly, fallen men have been shut out by God's Love, from seeing heavenly things; not because God grudges giving understanding to them, but because of their unfitness to deal with it. For this cause, Love has given light to a dark world, little by little, under thick veils and shadows, for thousands of years, because mankind could only bear a little light. In His Incarnation He came under a veil of flesh and blood, allowing only a few to see His true brightness. We must trust God's reasons for dealing with man in this way, not permitting him, by worldly knowledge, to enter into spiritual realms.
At the manifestation of Isaac, the promised son, we see Abimelech come
to Abraham to seek a covenant of peace with him, for he acknowledges
"God is with thee in all that thou doest." This is how the world
shall be reached! Not by human persuasion, or great campaigns, but
by the world seeing that God is with us and we have brought forth
new life, not after the manner of the natural man, but after
God, and through his power. All men shall be drawn by the birth
of this son!