Read time: 3m 30s
Read Deuteronomy 1:34-40
Intro: The Lord, through Moses, told the people to “see…go in and take possession” of God's blessings. But they wouldn’t. They were afraid. Despite Moses’ arguments, they refused. Our story picks up with God’s response.
First, “the LORD was angry and swore: ‘Not one of these shall see the good land’.” (vv. 34-35) The journey that began when Israel cried out to the Lord in Egypt, that saw the glory of the plagues visited on Egypt, that entered the wilderness and saw the Lord’s grace and provision, that saw deliverance over and over again, and that brought them to the edge of a beautiful, well-stocked, fertile land…that journey was over for them.
Because this is the reality: we are always journeying. If we will not enter the Good Land and rejoice, then what? We will step away from it. We will step into the desert again. Away from goodness and joy, back into dryness and dread.
This is the way things are. If we won’t be pleased by the LORD our God, then we will be enslaved by the demons howling in the waste. (Deut 28:47) The journey to something is always away from something else. Refusal to enter one land is a commitment to enter another.
Second, “except Caleb…and Joshua…and your little ones who you were so worried about …they shall possess it.” (vv. 36-39) Those who would enter it, will. The door, in other words, is always open. If you won’t enter it, then you won’t. If you will, than you shall.
We hear this turn of the story as some sort of dark, smoking petulant Zeus-like steroid-enraged god taking his ball and going home. But that’s not true. Not even a little. In fact, rather than being petty and vengeful, this God who has just been spurned by the very same people He just brought out of Egypt (Hello!) just promised that their children will, guaranteed, enter the land. What this sounds like is a God who is more than fair, who is, in fact, gracious, just as He said. (Exod 34:6)
The borders of the Promised Land are littered with generations of bones. The valley filled with bones in Ezekiel 37 came to be because generation after generation of God’s people stood on the borders of Grace and look at the honesty, repentance, discipline, and faith required to take possession of what God’s King offers us, and they refused. They got their “get out of hell” card; what other use for Jesus is there? “Further up! Further in!”
Third, “as for you, turn and journey into the wilderness.” (v. 40) In 1:7 God said, “take your journey into the Promised Land.” Now He says, “take your journey into the wilderness.” In other words, “Okay.”
Not what you want to hear from this God!
Here’s what “okay” means. It means, okay, you don’t have to experience grace and mercy; okay, you don’t have to know My love; okay, you don’t have to get to know the Spirit of Life; okay, you don’t have to get to know The Father’s Love or your King’s pleasure; okay, you can live in anxious skepticism of My people; okay, you can stand outside of the sweet fellowship of those who live for My Kingdom, taking possession of the Good Land; okay, you don’t have to enjoy the protection of accountability and friendship; okay, you don’t have to benefit from the many dozens of faith-strengthening graces I meant to give you; okay, you can live with a constant sense of fear and anxiety, just like the world, plus bitterness because you think it’s My fault; okay, you can enjoy slow enslavement to your favorite sins; okay, you can become the devil’s chew toy; okay, you can experience the same disillusionment and despair the world apart from Me does.
That’s what this “okay” means. It’s not okay.
And, really, it’s not okay with God either. That’s why He’s given us this story. So we learn. Are we learning? Then let’s go. The Good Land is ours; the victory to secure it is accomplished; the flag of the peace of our King waves over His Kingdom. He it is who beckons us in.
Keep journeying in; don’t take the journey of disobedience again.