The old man begins to speak, his voice strong and resonant. Everyone can hear him clearly. No one needs to strain. The atmosphere is electric with excitement—you’re finally going to enter the Promised Land! Yet the reality of this being the old man’s Swan Song covers everything with a wet blanket. No one speaks or even dares to whisper. The people are as still as the air around them. The silence sharpens everyone’s attention, including yours. And the first slide illuminates the screen…
“While the Israelites were in the land of Moab east of the Jordan River, Moses carefully explained the Lord’s instructions as follows. “When we were at Mount Sinai…”
Deuteronomy 1:5-6a NLT
Did you catch that? I almost read right through it. That is, until God threw on the brakes and lit it up in neon…“When we were at Mount Sinai…”
Now, wait a minute! I thought the Israelites’ history started with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What about Egypt? The Exodus? The Parting of the Red Sea?
Yes, this all part of their history as a people—but not as a nation. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all had an intimate relationship with God; but for them, a nation with people as numerous as the stars was still a promise yet to be realized. And, even though their numbers rivaled that of modern day Chicago; at the time of the Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea, they were still a people group. Not a nation.
They didn’t become a nation until God met with them at Sinai. Here He offered be their God and them His chosen nation. And in order to complete this contract (covenant) the Israelites had to accept His offer, agree to return His love, follow Him, and obey His commands. And they agreed, allowing this group to be born again—to become something they weren’t—God’s Holy Nation.
Some of you need to hear this today. When God calls us to look back, we’re often afraid He’s going to make us relive the time we were in bondage to sin, before we were His. But that’s not usually the case. He typically wants us to review our history as His Child—from the time we accepted Jesus as our Savior AND chose to follow Him.
God does this to encourage and strengthen us—especially when we’re facing transition. He knows it’s easy to allow fear and anxiety to overwhelm us, to keep us from living up to the potential He’s drawing out of us. He’s also aware of the giants and fortified cities in the land. So He gives us confidence in His ability to get us past the gates or through the walls. As for the giants, He promises to go with into battle and defeat them.
How do I know this? Because this is where I’ve been recently. As a new writer trying to break into the publishing world, there are many giants and countless fortified cities I need to conquer in order to accomplish the task God has given me. It’s terrifying. But when I look back at where God has been faithful despite my faithlessness; where He has lead and guided me when I’ve been lost; how He’s blessed me when I wouldn’t dare ask…I chose to believe Him and His calling. I chose to trust His leading and control.
So in this barren land overlooking your Promised Land, take time to reflect. To remember. Relish the moment. Reminisce of when you first fell in love with Him and entered into a relationship with His Son. Be in awe of when the Holy Spirit came on you, indwelled you, and sealed you—marking you as a Child of the King. Then when God exposes your defeats and times of disobedience; take ownership of your sin, repent and rededicate yourself to Him. Then your trust will be made stronger in your future uncertainties, and you will find security in His promises to guide you and not abandon you.
Just so you know, like the Israelites, God isn’t neglecting your past bondage or discrediting it. He still uses that period of their history to encourage many and draw them to Himself. And, if you let Him, He will use your story to reach others with His gospel as well. But this is not that time. This is your time to reflect on your personal relationship with Jesus Christ—The One who pursued you with His unrelenting love, rescued you from bondage, and offered for you to be one of His chosen. How are you doing? Are you learning about who Jesus is and how to follow Him by studying your Bible? Are you spending time in prayer seeking Him asking Him for wisdom, discernment and insight? Are you making wise choices to guard our heart and mind against things you know are outside of the will of God for you? Are you obeying His instructions on how to live and treat others? If you’re not following Jesus as you should (if we are honest, none of us are), accept the gift of this time to repent and rededicate yourself completely to Him.
May Joshua 1:1-9 be the banner we march under as we claim our Promised Lands. Tuck it’s promise and instruction inside our heart for those times you feel afraid—like a soldier taking out a photograph of those he loves. Without taking this time to reflect we will be weak and discouraged. But God says, Be Strong and Courageous! I’ve got your back! I’ve got you! Let’s do this thing!
Journal: What had God done for you? Reflect back. Where do you need to confess and rededicate? Do so now. Let Him fill you with strength and courage.