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Reaching the Promised Land

    After forty years in the desert, the Israelites again came to the southern door of the promised land, but it was time for a change in leadership. Moses was at the end of his life, and many new challenges lay ahead for God’s nation. Before the baton of leadership was passed to Joshua, Moses reminded the people of their covenant agreement with God. Moses knew the people well; he warned them that when they settled into their new houses and grew comfortable in their new land they would forget their God who had provided it all. He knew these people would once again grow more complacent and self-reliant and less aware of God’s presence, and less willing to keep their agreement with God. In the midst of their excitement about their new homeland, Moses was deeply concerned about their ability to remember whose they were.

Look, today I offer you life and success, death and destruction. I command you today to love the LORD your God, to do what he wants you to do, to keep his commands, his rules, and his laws. Then you will live and grow in number, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to take as your own.

But if you turn away from the LORD and do not obey him, if you are led to bow and serve other gods, I tell you today that you will surely be destroyed. And you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan River to enter and take as your own. Today I ask heaven and earth to be witnesses. I am offering you life or death, blessings or curses. Now, choose life! Then you and your children may live. To choose life is to love the Lord your God, obey him, and stay close to him. He is your life, and he will let you live many years in the land, the land he promised to give your ancestors Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.

    In an attempt to protect them one final time, Moses spent his last days preaching passionate sermons, reminding them of God’s deliverance, singing a ballad of hope, blessing their journey, and asking them to renew their covenant with God. Then, after he blessed each of the twelve families of Israel, Moses hiked his last mountain — this time Mount Nebo. From here, Moses could see beyond the Jordan River into the fertile land that awaited them. After a lifetime of following the Lord on earth, Moses died in the arms of his God. He bypassed the promised land to go straight home to God.

    The task of leading God’s people into the land promised long ago to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob then fell to Joshua. In a scene reminiscent of crossing the Red Sea, God held back the waters of the Jordan so his people could cross on dry land. To remind the people of God’s power over the river and his provision for them, Joshua had their leaders build a memorial at Gilgal, their first campsite. The twelve rocks were to remind the parents to tell their children about how God had brought them out of Egypt, through the desert, across the Jordan, and into this place they would now call home.

    And for as long as Joshua lived, the people remembered their God and their promise to him.

Reflection: Moses’ final words held both promises and warnings, blessings and curses. Promises of God’s bounty and protection. Promises of a land full of cities and fields for the taking. Promises of a centuries-old dream about to be fulfilled. But for this fickle nation, reaching the promised land held a new threat to their trust in God. God would be faithful, but once they became comfortable in their new land, would they remain faithful to him? When we’re comfortable are we as faithful?

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Related Heartlight Resources:
The Discipline and Mercy of God
Stepping Out of the Shadow of a Giant
Today's Verse - Deut. 3:28
Related External Pages:
Faith in Families

About the Author...
Ron Rose is a noted author and Director of Faith in Families. For more details, click here.

Title: "Reaching the Promised Land"
Author: Ron Rose
Publication Date: June 13, 2000



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