A couple moths ago I was driving in a comfortable air-conditioned coach with 25 other people through what can only be described as a desert. To my right a rocky dry mountain heading 1000ft up. In front of me the road stretched forward begging us to come to southern Israel. Behind me I’d left Jerusalem for the day.
To my left was part of the dead sea, with more mountains beyond, in what we now call Jordan. A lecturer from La Sierra University, and an archeologist in the area, came over the microphone, and pointed us to a particular part of these Jordan mountains, and asked us to imagine standing up there, and looking out over Israel and all the places we were touring. This, he said, is where we think Moses might have stood… and looked out at the promised land he was forbidden to enter.
Deuteronomy 3 has an uncomfortable start. God is helping the Israelites kill whole kingdoms - where we are told that not one person survived. “Not a single town escaped our conquest” - including the well fortified ones. The upside for this was that God was helping his people, who were getting their land back, along with all the plunder from the battle victories. The downside for me is that I see a side of God and history portrayed that I’m not completely at peace with - especially in my comfortable modern life.
After 400 years of slavery, and 40 years wandering around the desert, this is a very exciting time for Israel. And we can all relate to this. There are many difficult things in this life. Many of us know hardship in various forms. And the thought of the good life at the end of it often keeps us going. Romans 8 calls it hope.
In Romans 8.23 - we are told that believers groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit in us!
In Romans 8.24 - we are told that when we accept Jesus we are given hope - meaning we do not get everything right away, for if we had everything, we would not need to hope for it.
In Romans 8.25 - we are told to look forward to our future, and to wait patiently, and confidently.
The Israelites had waited for sure - albeit not exactly patiently and confidently at times. But after Moses divides up the Promised Land they had conquered so far, he asked God to “please let me cross the Jordan River and see this wonderful country on the other side.”
But God said “That’s enough, don’t speak of it any more.” God had made his decision, and Moses was not going in. Instead God told him to get Joshua ready to lead the people across, but that he Moses, should take a good look at the land from here.
But as the story goes on in the Bible, we know that Moses still kept the hope, even to death. And that he traded one Promised Land in this world, for another Promised Land in a different world.
No matter what you are going through today, keep the hope. Despite even what you might be headed for tomorrow. God has a plan.