Promised lands - Hope 103.2

Promised lands

By David ReayMonday 12 Dec 2016LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Deuteronomy 34:1-5

1 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”

5 And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. (NIV)

Moses didn’t make it. He came close, but didn’t make it. The Promised Land, which was the destination of the long journey out of Egypt, eluded him. There is something terribly sad about Moses dying on Mount Nebo in sight of the land which had preoccupied him for so many years. The land he worked so hard to make a reality for the people. The land he prayed for and no doubt dreamed about. He almost got there but not quite.

And yet there is no sense of failure here. No sense of despair. We read elsewhere of Moses having disobeyed God at one time in the wilderness and that this non-entry into the land was some sort of punishment for that breach. Many of us shake our heads at that and wonder if the punishment here fits the crime. However, we might conclude there is more to it than that, and that the Scriptures don’t give us the full story.

What we can be sure of is that Moses wasn’t some loser who tripped at the last hurdle. He may not have entered the literal Promised Land, but he enjoyed a companionship with God that any of us would envy. The presence of God was the essence of his life, not inhabiting a place. Whatever ‘promised lands’ we aim at, whatever goals we have, nothing compares with the presence of God.

And for many of us, the things we work for, the things to which we aspire, the hopes and dreams of our lives, do not all come true in our lifespan. We plant the seeds but may not see the flowers. This is no failure: it is recognition that we are in the hands of a God who alone sees things through infallibly from beginning to end. The promised lands of our imagination or aspirations may or may not be inhabited by us. We may see them only from a distance or maybe not at all.

And yet whether we reach them or not, the crucial matter is that God goes with us. My promised land is not ultimately what I plan for, what I hope for. It is an ongoing experience of the presence of God who reminds me that there is one promised land I will surely and gladly inherit.

David Reay

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