The Quest for the Promised Land
Throughout thousands of years, the nation of Israel found itself, multiple times, displaced from its homeland, and in bondage to others. Their greatest desire was to “go home,” and fulfill their destiny in God.
In the past 50-100 years, we see the same spiritual quest, and desire by many in America to find their Promised Land. How can they, as well as others seeking a future dream land, learn from the Israelites, and learn from those ancient mistakes? How can they quicken their sense of arrival, and find their destiny. And where is the REAL Promised Land?
All of us actually feel a sense of time running out, and we question ourselves as to whether we are where we should be by now, doing what we were destined to be. Many need that sense of arrival, a sense of completion – that they finally “made it to their Promised land.” Maybe the Promised Land is a certain location, or just a level of accomplishment that they have not yet achieved.
This desire can be more painful if one has a history of being held back unfairly. Then, the desire to rush ahead, and push hard, is stronger than most, because they have been denied for so long. But, are they rushing in the right direction? Are they doing it God’s way, or man’s way?
Do they feel abandoned by those who should help, and reach out to those who may, or may not, help, or may use them unfairly, for their own gain? This seems true of many in America, because of the history of discrimination and slavery in this country. As they reach out for help and hope, they should find the right people there to respond.
Jesus said in the last days, there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing, leading people astray. These wolves would exploit this passionate quest for finding one’s “promised land,” leaving people hurt, and empty, and back in bondage. How can people avoid being exploited, when they have been made vulnerable by past offenses?
Learning from the Jews – the most mistreated people in history
1. Mistake # 1 – staying too long when the welcome, and protection, is gone. Originally, the nation of Israel ended up in Egypt because Joseph, son of Jacob, had become administrator to the Pharaoh. The government changed on them when Joseph died. The rulers who followed Joseph’s Pharaoh did not know Joseph, and the country became more hostile to the Jews.
They ended up in slavery. In hindsight, they should have left when the government started to change. This mistake was repeated in Nazi Germany. The Jews, in both cases, were too trusting in the government, and believed what the politicians told them. Being too trusting of politicians, or mankind in general, can be unhealthy.
2. Mistake # 2 – worshiping the wrong god. The Israelites rejoiced when they crossed the Red Sea. The Land of Promise was only 11 days away. But somehow, on the way there, they stopped to receive the 10 commandments, and worship the golden calf (god of Egypt) at the same time. What a mistake!!!! We should never worship the god, or gods, of this world.
Many were killed that day for idolatry. Worshiping the wrong god might make you temporarily feel good, but you will get not get any concessions from the real One, who will pass judgment on you. These days, the gods are government, the political parties, money and prosperity, nice cars, false doctrines, false preachers, Hollywood, rock stars, and oneself, etc.
All through out Israel’s delicate history, idolatry was the one sin the true God, Yahweh, had no patience with. Once someone abandoned Yahweh God, and his commandments, then all the rest of the sins just followed. The punishment was sword, famine, and captivity to one’s worse enemies. They had terrorists back in those days also.
3. Mistake #3 – During a period of freedom and ease, or a time of relief, they assimilated into the other nation, adopting its values, instead of keeping their own. When the Jews were in Egypt, Babylon, and other nations, many adopted the culture and values as their own. They started worshiping other gods, and abandoned Yahweh, their one true God of Israel. God almost rejected the entire nation over the incident of the golden calf in the desert.
It is a natural desire to “fit in” with others, and strange customs may be appealing because they are different. But rejecting God for a statue shows how foolish people can be.
They had forgotten how unique they were. They were like no other nation on earth. They were chosen by God. In a land of others, one must remember one’s own uniqueness, and seek God’s special plan for oneself. Low self esteem, due to abuse by others, can damage one’s identity, and lead to compromises that get you exploited. Aren’t you special too? What are your unique contributions to the kingdom of God? Do not assimilate and give up who you are. Be unique, and be proud of it.
4. Mistake # 4 – Do not doubt God when he tells you something. This mistake changed a short 11 day journey from Egypt into a 40 year wilderness experience. The Israelites believed the bad spies, instead of God, so they got stuck out the desert for 40 years. They had no faith. This is a long time to think about one’s mistakes. Do not waste 40 years of your life, or even 40 minutes, doubting the Word of God, and listening to stupid people.
5. Mistake # 5 – forgetting what God has done for you. Yahweh, God of Israel, had just split the Red Sea for them and took them out of Egypt. They had already forgotten what God had done to show His love for them. Just because challenges arose in the Sinai desert, did not mean God had abandoned them. God was using challenges to make them grow up. They were quick to forget and complain. If you have to, make a list of what God has done for you, and show gratitude to Him. Give thanks even when things seem wrong.
6. Mistake #6 – listening to false prophets and teachers. False assurance will reinforce negative behavior, instead of stopping it. False teachers are liars. Sinful lifestyles results from this. Prosperity teachers, and those in the homosexual agenda, contribute to the downfall of foolish people who prefer man’s doctrines over God’s. Bad leadership encourages carnality, and selfish thinking, instead of spirituality.
7. Mistake # 7 – do not forget Jerusalem. When the Israelites split into a northern and southern division, the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and Levi stayed in Jerusalem. The others went north to Bethel, but they were supposed to return on feast days to the ONLY place God had indicated had his name on it for worship. They were to bring all their sacrifices there.
But they chose to worship in their own place, and ended in idolatry, picking up Canaanite practices, and falling into serious sin. This included the horror of child sacrifices. If they had stayed joined to the temple in Jerusalem, instead of doing their own thing, the influence of the others and the law, may have helped them stay united in worship, and free from sin.
If Christians do not worship in the way God has commanded, they will pick up more secular thinking, and behaviors, and compromise their holiness. Today, the acceptance of violent music, “growling praise (it sounds like demons screaming),” rebellion, sensationalism, homosexuality, abortion (child sacrifice) has crept into churches, who also support corrupt politicians, and bad spiritual leaders. The people in these churches are essentially lost, unless the attachment is broken, and they return to holy worship.
8. Mistake # 8 – Not destroying the enemy completely when God tell you to. The Israelite leaders had been told by God to completely destroy the Canaanites. They were vicious, savage, murderous, blood thirsty pagans. Even their children were wicked. God warned them, that if they did not completely annihilate these Canaanites, they would be a perpetual irritant.
They disobeyed God again, and permitted a “few” to hang around. With time, they grew and grew, influencing the Israelites to sin, and eventually the sinful influence led to their downfall and captivity, where they lost their land. The Assyrians and Babylonians were their worst nightmare.
If people wanted to have peace and security, they could not settle for a partial victory. Only a complete victory, and annihilation of the enemy would give them peace. For thousands of years, their enemies have continued to grow, and become more vicious. Now, the enemy outnumbers the Israelis.
On a more spiritual level, Satan is alive and well, because there are so few that persist until they have a total victory over Him in their lives. Partial victories only give the enemy time to collect itself, so it can attack again.
Now is this what we want – a slow torturous future where the enemy keeps growing, eventually takes over, and puts us into captivity? This is because we did not fight hard enough, until we won?
9. Mistake # 9 – Do not go back to Egypt. As soon as the Israelites experienced trouble during the desert, they wanted to go back to Egypt. What was real bondage actually started to appeal to them. They wanted security so badly, they were willing to give up their freedom. It did not occur to them that bondage is not security.
Also, there were times, like when the invasion of Jerusalem was imminent, that they wanted to go back to Egypt also, for safety. However, they could not escape the enemy, who followed them to Egypt. Then the experience was even worse. The Jews were then dispersed for 2000 years.
There is a saying that they could not leave Egypt, because Egypt was still inside of them. We all have to resist, wanting to rest in what is known, rather than taking a change on the unknown. When we can trust God completely, then we can leave Egypt behind forever. There is no sense in going from one bondage situation to another.
So, what Promised Land do you want?
If you are looking for something temporary and defective, look to this world. It will be happy to make many empty promises to you.
If you are seeking the most perfect, Promised Land, then you will need to look up, WAY UP. Only God can give you what you ultimately need and desire.
Our results are only as high as our aspirations.
So choose high, or choose low.
If you ask, you will receive.
If you seek, you will find.
If you knock, it will be opened to you.