Egypt, the wilderness and Canaan in our own lives

Higher topic: Divine Principle
Underlying topic(s):

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This page is part of two ERW courses, Divine Principle and Religious practice.
By John Eagles, October 16, 2009.

We all go through stages in our lives that are comparable to the course of the Israelites who after they left slavery in Egypt went through the wilderness to eventually enter the promised land of Canaan. Personally I find the account of this part of the history of the Jewish people one of the most meaningful of the Bible. The deeper we understand this story, the more we can recognize the stages of this course in our own lives.

We all go through a similar course as the Israelites once went. Also families, tribes and nations and even the whole world go through courses that are parallel to that of the Israelites long ago. I absolutely believe that God inspired Moses to write down the details of this history in order that we can all benefit from it.

Why would it be that our lives are resembling that of the old Israelites? We can understand this when we learn more about the background of that old tale.

What does the period in Egypt stand for? It stands for a time in slavery. The Israelites who believed in the one God the Creator had come under the dominion of Egyptian pharaohs who put themselves as gods and who worshiped evil deities in the spiritual world. The 430 biblical years of slavery in Egypt signify a period in which the Israelites were living in a realm spiritually controlled by evil. It doesn't mean that all Egyptians were evil, but it means that the culture was largely controlled by spirits who did not believe in the one God of Israel.

What was the meaning of the wilderness? Geographically it was a region in-between Egypt and Canaan. Also spiritually it could be seen as a kind of wilderness. There was no established culture there and therefore neither evil nor good angels and spirits were very interested in that region. No solid spiritual foundations are erected in a desert land. There are living few people and those staying there are traveling through. Therefore, a wilderness in a spiritual sense is an area where you can kind of escape evil attacks from spirit world by just moving to a new spot.

For the Israelites the wilderness period had two main meanings. The first was that they had to leave behind the traditions of Egypt. The Israelites had to separate from all that bound them to Egyptian culture and religion. The second meaning was that they had to prepare for entering the new land of Canaan. They had to make themselves ready to set up a culture and tradition centered on God.

Canaan is the land where God wants those who have received this responsibility to set up a people under God. Unfortunately, Canaan was inhabited mostly by evil tribes. The Bible mentions seven evil tribes, yet I am sure there have lived more. Canaan was the land where also could be found the oldest known city of human history, Jericho. We can imagine that many evil traditions had set foot in and gotten hold over this land. Yet, Canaan also was a land where no single civilization ever managed to get permanent control. It was located between the major antique empires such as that of Egypt and Babylon and Assyria.

Canaan is called the land of milk and honey, yet a fierce battle had to be fought in that land before the Israelites could hope to settle there and establish God's traditions. In fact, the old Israelites never really have managed to do so, but they have also never lost completely as there always have lived descendants of their father Israel who was Jacob.

How can we recognize the pattern 'Egypt-wilderness-Canaan' in our own lives? There are connected meaningful mathematical periods to this kind of course. We can find back these periods in our own lives or in the history of any culture that strives for goodness. Yet, when we or a group or nation fail to fulfill what is necessary, the time periods could get extended over very long time. For example, if you are in a kind of slavery by having a job for an employer who doesn't believe in God and who misuses your love and energy for his own benefit, then if you don't manage to get free from him spiritually, your time period in Egypt might be extended from, for example, 40 months, to 40 years or even 400 or 4,000 years. In the latter two cases, you will end up at the end of your life in a spiritual realm controlled by the spirits connected to that employer and you likely will never realize that you are in 'Egypt' during your physical life.

It is when we make victory by doing God's will that we can come to recognize the periods in our lives that are parallel to Egypt, the wilderness and Canaan. When you pay attention to this, you will see that many of the events that happened to the Israelites are also taking place in your life. In this way you can understand better where you are standing in your spiritual course. It also helps when you keep a diary because otherwise you might forget many meaningful details.


Question: How can we recognize the pattern 'Egypt-wilderness-Canaan' in our own lives?

It is important to realize that we are speaking in metaphors here, or at least most of the time. And this metaphor applies to many situations in our lives, not only to one overall course. For example, while an Israelite leaving Egypt with Moses went through that course with many others, at the same time he may have gone through a personal course in which his wife or his cousin or whoever represented a pharaoh on another level. He may have left the great Egypt but not the personal one that kept him in slavery on another level.

There may be a money pharaoh in our lives, and a knowledge pharaoh etc. When we pay attention to this we can recognize how several of these courses can appear in our lives at the same time. As for particular examples of time periods and miracles etc. in our own lives. I could show you many from my life and I think everyone who is seriously going a course toward God will be able to find them as well, provided that you more or less know what to look for and make effort to find them.

Jesus went through a 40-day wilderness period after he met John. Then, having fulfilled those 40 days, he went into Canaan by meeting his disciples and going out speaking to the people. This is an example from Jesus' life. Now we can try to find parallels in that part of Jesus' life with the course of the Israelites. For example, who was Jesus' pharaoh? What were the miracles Jesus showed. Etc. Of course, not all has been written down so we may miss several points but this is how we can get access to deeper meaning of Jesus' life. The same we can do for ourselves, provided that we are seriously going a course wanted by God.

Question: Can you explore on the slavery that an employer can impose on us? Personally, I have never felt being "misused" by an employer. However I do am enslaved in the sense that -in order to earn bread and butter I have to invest a considerable amount of my time and energy in activities that are peripheral and thus less meaningful from a providential point of view.

One employer is not the other, and we cannot just say that working for a worldly employer would be comparable to Egypt and therefore a 'bad' thing. We need to understand the meaning of it in respect to our own course of finding God and realizing our purpose in Canaan, both on an individual as a wider level. Therefore we need to examine our lives in prayer and study until we discover deeper meaning. The Egypt-wilderness- Canaan story is very helpful for this.

In general, if your employer is one out to make profit first of all, then he hires you calculating that he makes more profit by doing that. Besides that he may be nice and trying to give you the best, but if he is out for profit he is out for profit and that makes him to a kind of pharaoh to you. It must be seen in a spiritual context. The Israelites were not only working for the pharaoh, they were also religiously and spiritually more or less controlled by Egyptian culture and spirits.

Because of what we inherited from ancestors and our culture and because of what we did in our lives, we are going several Egypt-wilderness-Canaan courses, simultaneously and overlapping. The employer as 'pharaoh' can be in one of these courses, having a particular meaning for you as a person, but possibly having another meaning for others in a similar situation.

I see the period in Egypt as one that teaches us. In our course we can be confronted with pharaohs of many types, in order for us to learn about a particular type of selfishness in ourselves, but expressed more clearly by that pharaoh. Once we have learned more, the need for such a training is over and life will advance to a new, wilderness stage.

When you advance spiritually in your course, I am sure there will come up a new situation in which the 'bread-and-butter' issue gets a new meaning as new outlooks will become available. What you cannot see now will become visible and possible in time. All we need to do is to really grow in our own individual course and understanding this course from God's viewpoint is a great help.

Question: It sometimes feels overwhelming how much has to be analyzed, how much has to be understood, how much has to be developed... and how little time there is left to do all that during our physical life.

All that matters is to go our personal course. Yes, it takes loads of time, even more than that, it takes all our time and effort. That's the real meaning of life, to grow and grow and grow. It doesn't always matter what kind of physical activities we are involved in. What matters is how we understand the deeper meaning of it.

We need to overcome the separation between a religious part of our life on the one hand and the rest of our life on the other hand. There's only one thing: our life, the whole of it. It all has meaning. Things can bring us higher or pull us down. It's up to how we fill it in with our own understanding and our own intentions.

We are now in our physical stage of life: a tiny second compared to what follows after our deaths. Our growth continues into the billions of years to come for us in spirit world. The best is to learn how to do this while we are still in our physical bodies.

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