Advent, Advent Devotional, Christmas, Promised Hope

Everything Is Harder in the Desert

Exodus 15 – Joshua 1

NARRATIVE

Moses and the Israelites left Sinai and headed to the promised land. With them, they carried the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the law given to Moses, and it signified God’s provision and His presence.

But a journey of two months stretched into 39 years because the Israelites believed the giants of the promised land were mightier than their God. They took on the fear of a few and wore it as their own, a fear that was larger and louder than their faith.

Moses led the people in the wilderness for thirty-nine more years while they whined and complained, blaming him for dragging them into freedom.

The one rescued from the river had rescued his people. The shepherd of sheep was a faithful shepherd to the people.

Moses buried many in the desert. But he prepared many others, teaching the same truths he had instructed the generation before them, reminding them of who they were once again. Reminding them Whose they were. And he blessed them by tribe.

Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo. He saw with his eyes what his feet would never know; the promised place. He closed his eyes for the last time in the valley of Moab, buried by God. In anonymity.

With the death of Moses, Joshua would lead. His given name was Hoshea, which meant salvation. Moses had changed his name to Joshua — salvation is of the Lord. A reminder not so subtle.

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you. Be strong and courageous. For you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

JOSHUA 1:5-6

The journey to the promised land would continue.

Hope continued.

REFLECTION

Can we address the elephant in the room? Moses missed the promised land. The man who was used by God in such an incredible manner — following, trusting, leading — and still missing the promised land? Does the punishment seem too harsh?

I am forever grateful that this story of Hope didn’t end with Moses and that he had prepared Joshua to carry on after him. And I know that none of that took God by surprise. But I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me that Moses never touched the soil of the promised land.

There’s plenty of commentary on the subject by people more intelligent than I am. But here’s a little nugget tucked in Numbers 20.

Because you did not believe me and did not keep me holy in front of my people.

NUMBERS 20:12

God said Moses did not believe Him. Moses’ disobedience was rooted in his unbelief. (Echoes of Eden?)

God also said Moses displayed his unbelief in front of these people still struggling to trust God. Struggling to trust God to bring them to the land He had promised and to know that God was holy.

In punishing Moses, God was reclaiming His holiness. His rightful place in the sight of His people. Not even Moses could be allowed to share in God’s holiness.

But God. There it is again. God’s punishment of Moses did not diminish His love and mercy towards him. At the end of Moses’ life, God was with him, and it was God who buried him.

PRAYER

Father, I have done things my way and expected You to bless them. And I am sure there have been times when I have distracted others from Your holiness. Intentionally or not. Father, I am grateful for Your mercy. And forgiveness.

But Father, I never want to lose sight of Your holiness, for You are alone are worthy of all my praise. Amen.

WORSHIP

I wonder how often I have taken what God asked of me and determined that I could handle things my way—perhaps taking too much credit. In front of people still struggling to know God.

Oh, how grateful I am for God’s grace and mercy. Thankful that I will not miss my ultimate promised land.

Let’s reflect on this today: how can I best reflect God’s holiness? How can I be the best representative of God to people still struggling to believe in Him? Trust Him? Know that this God loves them?

Treat them the way God has treated you.

3 thoughts on “Everything Is Harder in the Desert”

  1. I absolutely love this!! I never get tired to learning and reading on God’s redemptive work in the OT, in the mere lives of faulty humans, and being able to apply indirect principles to my life….especially to people that re already struggling to know or get close to him. That’s so good! Thank you for expounding on this!!💕

    Like

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