Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Taking possession of the Promised Land!"

Day #42

Scripture Reading:  Deuteronomy 1 - 3 ...

The gods people believe in today are myths, idols, figments of the imagination of people who are spiritually blind and dead.  All of these supposed deities lead mankind to the same place:  hopeless despair and judgment from the REAL God, our Creator, the One who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them.  Everything that exists today exists because HE made it, it ALL belongs to HIM and He can give it to whomever He chooses.  And He has set a day when He will do exactly that.  While rulers and nations fight for control over this world, it already belongs to God and to those whom He chooses to be His people ... heirs of His kingdom.  The God who created the world and everything in it has determined that there is one condition required to become an heir of the coming new world He will create:  FAITH in His promises ... faith in HIM!!

As we begin to read Deuteronomy ("deutero" = "second", "nomos" = "law" ... second giving of the Law), Moses is nearing the end of his life and the Israelites are nearing the end of their forty years of wandering in the wilderness and are thus about to enter the Promised Land, the land God had promised to the descendants of Abraham.  As they approached the border, Moses wanted them to remember the history of the past forty years, since their deliverance from slavery in Egypt by the mighty hand of God.  He reminded them that forty years earlier God had said to them, "See, I have given you this land.  Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore He would give to your fathers - to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - and to their descendants after them" (1:8).

Moses reminded the people that he had said to them at that time, "See, the LORD your God has given you the land.  Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, told you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (1:21). The spies had said the people were too strong, so Moses continues, "But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God.  You grumbled in your tents and said, 'The LORD hates us' ..." (1:26-27).  Was that why He chose them to be His people as a nation?  Was that why He delivered them from Egypt?  Moses and Joshua and Caleb tried to get them to enter the promised land.  Moses had said, "Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The LORD your God, who is going before you will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes" (1:29-30).

So what was their problem?!!  Verse 32 explains:  "In spite of this, you did not trust the LORD your God!"  They had no FAITH!  They did not believe God could or would keep His promise.   A whole generation died in the wilderness because of unbelief.  It wasn't that they didn't believe that God existed or that He was with them; they couldn't argue with the evidence.  But they still didn't TRUST God.  Faith, you see, is more than mere knowledge; it is total and absolute trust.  Now forty years have passed and another promise of God has come true:  that whole generation has died in the wilderness.  Not one of them entered the promised land of Canaan, just as God had said.  These people had seen God's hand at work in their own lives and in the life of their nation in a way that no other nation had ever witnessed, but their stubborn, rebellious hearts could not, would not trust the very God who had the power to save them, to give them all they needed.

Like those who trusted in God before him, Moses now declared, "The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.  He has watched over your journey through this vast desert.  These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything" (2:7).  God had given them daily food in the manna, and water to drink (even from a rock!).  The clothes on their backs and the sandals on their feet had not worn out.  God had led them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He was their God and they were His people.  Nothing could change that.  Now the time had come for Israel to enter the land that God had sworn to give to them.

When Israel had first come out of Egypt they were not ready to engage in battle, but now, as they began to face opposition from the neighboring kings, even before they entered the Promised Land, God said to them, "Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle.  This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven.  They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you" (2:24-25).  It was not really THEIR reputation that went ahead of them, but their GOD's reputation!!  God wanted to reveal His power through these people and as they marched toward the Promised Land He helped them to defeat all who came against them.  As God had been with Moses, He was now with Joshua.  Joshua would lead them into the Promised Land and they would take possession of it. 

But there is another Promised Land ... a land beyond our comprehension.
And the requirement to enter this Promised Land is still FAITH ... faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ!  You must believe that the Promised Land is yours and you must enter it by faith, trusting God to do all He has promised to do:  to forgive your sins and to credit the righteousness of Jesus to your account so that you are now holy, perfect in His sight.

Now the question:  "Do YOU believe?"  Have you placed your TRUST in Jesus, believing that He has and will overcome all your enemies and bring you safely into the land the Father has promised His children?  Will God do it??  I pray that your answer is, "Yes," because only then will you discover the peace and hope and joy that God gives to those who trust in Him.  

"O LORD, MY God, I believe that all Your promises are true and that You will keep Your Word.  I rest in the assurance that Jesus is my Savior and that His blood fully satisfied Your holy wrath against my sins, freeing me from the coming judgment and allowing me entrance into the future Promised Land.  Help me now to live my life as a testimony to the world that You alone are God, there is no other, and You are the faithful God, my Creator.  I give You thanks, Father, for choosing ME and making ME one of Your children by grace through faith!!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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