The Promised Land
These verses have been on my mind lately.
Deuteronomy 4: 5-7: See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?
As I continue in a season of preparation, waiting, and transformation Deuteronomy 4:6 keeps coming to my mind. For a long time, I couldn’t make sense of the verse or its applicability to my life at first glance Deuteronomy is outdated, but finally, I dug deeper.
The book of Deuteronomy is written in the form of a treaty. It calls Israel to remember who God is and what he has done following their exodus from slavery in Egypt. The message is clear and the life application bible explains it this way, “Because of what God has done, Israel should have hope and follow him; because of what he expects, they should listen and obey; because of who he is, they should love him completely. Learning these lessons will prepare them to possess the promised land.”
Sidebar: The bible is the “living word of God” it continues to amaze me how a book written in 1407/6 BC to a nation of God’s chosen people could apply to me a 31-year-old mom from Minnesota in 2022. But alas, here I am reflecting on the glory of God and his omnipresence and allowing his word to take root in my heart, transform my life, and share it with you today. Mind blown.
Anyway, as I read this, I can’t help but reflect on how this applies to me. About 8 months ago, God convicted me to give up alcohol. At first, I didn’t see the purpose in it. I just felt the conviction and (with a little reluctance) obeyed. When I was at a wedding recently someone asked me, “Can’t you just have one drink?” At the time I wasn’t sure how to answer but as I reflected on it, I realized that sobriety was my new beginning. It was my exodus. See, alcohol had gotten to be too big. I grew up in an environment where drinking on the weekends, parties, and happy hours were commonplace. On my dad’s side of the family, it has been something that has been passed down generationally. A culture and a life built around socializing and drinking. And it took cutting it out from my life to see it. God tends to see the bigger picture when we can only see the right here and now. I don’t know if I’ll be alcohol-free forever, but in this season of my life, it is helping me to reprioritize and to grow. Alcohol had become the thing I looked forward to at the end of a long week. It became the staple of my hobbies, my celebrations, and my culture. When I asked God how I could draw closer to him and serve him well. He was clear, “You must have no other Gods before me-SOBRIETY.” In choosing obedience, God was able to free me from the prison I didn’t even know I was in. This brings us back to Deuteronomy, in chapter 5 God says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Alcohol was my captor. Outside of my pregnancy, I hadn’t even gone two weeks without an alcoholic beverage. Attempts at dry January had failed. So, all glory is given to God for my ability to go 8 months. Now, through the strength of Jesus Christ, I am no longer a slave to my sin. I am set free. I am redeemed. And I’ve found new life. When I chose obedience, God revealed promises that were within my heart: a marriage, children, a home, and a business that glorified him. These promises are my promised land. See, I thought that my exodus was my end, but this is just the beginning of my journey.
After, the people of Israel left Egypt, and before they entered the promised land Moses outlines the rest of the 10 commandments. It may have been a while since you’ve brushed up on these so to make it a little simpler, loving God with all of ourselves is the first and greatest commandment. This command combined with the command to love your neighbor encompasses all the other Old Testament laws. He tells us to write God’s commandments on our hearts. Impress them on our children. Talk about them. Tie them as symbols on our hands and bind them to our foreheads. (6:6-8)
This is my revelation; this isn’t a season of waiting. It is a season of preparation. It is a time to learn what he expects so that I can listen and obey not only today but when I enter my promised land as well. Today is important. These small moments, (these seemingly mundane moments) matter. I am and will continue to be shaped into a woman that was created to live out God’s purpose in my life. And that purpose starts today.
In Chapter 8, it says:
The Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your feet did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full and you shall bless the Lord your God for the food and land he has given you. Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes.
Israel’s journey through the desert for forty years was a period of preparation. A period of testing. A way for God to prepare them for a period of affluence. Affluence is a period when things are going well. Supplies are abundant, successes are frequent, and money is readily available. In those times, we tend to think we can be independent of God. We forget how we got to paradise. We forget captivity. We forget God’s steadfastness and all that he’s done. So, this season of waiting, this season of preparation is meant to cement that I am dependent on God. He controls everything. And he has chosen to bless me (and you, if you let him) the way he blessed Israel. Because of what God has done, I have hope and will follow him. Because of who he is, I will love him completely.
Learning these lessons and allowing them to be cemented onto my heart, forehead, walls, and gates will prepare me to possess my promised land and embrace my every day. And through my obedience/keeping the commands, through my journey, and through the possession of my promised land, I have a chance to honor God. This renewed life. This change that’s occurred in me. The blessings that have been bestowed on me may just cause someone to say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near. (Deuteronomy 4:7). And perhaps they will choose to leave their Egypt too.
Lord, I thank you for the living word that guides me and teaches me in all things. I know that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. I will continue to put my faith in you all the days of my life. -Amen.