Marching to Zion Part 1: Turn & Burn

Read time: 2m 33s

This is the first devotional in a short series on Deuteronomy 1-2. We begin with Deuteronomy 1:5-8. Consider reading this short passage before reading the devotional below.

God tells Israel, through Moses, to “turn and take your journey.” (7) “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.” (6) It was good to be there, but it’s time to move on. “Turn,” because there’s something we must leave in order to go where we must go. “Journey,” because the good God has for us, He doesn’t hand to us but invites us to come explore. Grace isn't a trophy; it's a journey.

What does this journey involve? “See” what God has set before you: “the land.” (8) And then? “Go and take” what God has sworn belongs to you. (8) There’s a seeing, an understanding, an appreciation for, and then--also necessary--a taking, a getting, a decision to make it mine. The journey God has for us always involves both aspects. Of course, every journey involves seeing and moving. So too our spiritual journeys.

Though this describes the historical journey that Israel needed to take to go from the wilderness of Horeb into the Promised Land of Canaan, it also describes the journey we take from where we are into the Gift of the Promises-Fulfilled which is ours in Jesus. It is not to be claimed by Christians or churches in a physical or programmatic way--i.e. "We should host this big event because we need to take the Promised Land!" Rather, it is a type of the journey that is most truly hiked by believers in Christ. It is our journey, from our dryness and selves and sin, into the Quench of Grace.

Notice the phrase in v. 5, “Moses undertook to explain this law.” “This law”: this journey is a journey that, as believers, we must take. The character Jewel, in C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle, repeatedly says, upon entering the Heavenly Country, “Come further up, come further in!” This is the law of the Christian life. Do you know Jesus? Then come in, and know Him better! Has He saved you, there and there? Then let Jesus save you there and there too!

Lastly, v. 6, “The LORD our God said to us…” This is a journey we take together. We take it together, or not at all. Now, we may travel; we may “journey.” But it is not this journey. We can know Jesus by ourselves, but we will not turnsee, and take all that Christ has for us, alone. “Better good shoes on a long walk / than a good friend.” (W. Stafford) But God says, “You will never have shoes good enough for the length of this walk; you will need friends.”

The journey before Israel was a good journey--to go to the Land of Promise, receive what was sworn to be theirs, take what was given, together. The journey before us, as a congregation, is the same--to enter the Kingdom, explore the grace, enjoy our King.

So what must you and I turn from? "Turn and burn" and come home to Christ.