Do you feel like you’re in uncharted territory? Does the future seem uncertain and hazy? While this is a somewhat new era for our country and our world, it’s not new to the history of the world. Many nations faced turmoil and uncertainty. In fact, in our study of Exodus, the Israelites are at the beginning of an unknown future. They had left behind all that they had previously known and were walking forward into uncharted territory. But God gave them a promise. And as we look back through the lens of history, we know that God kept His promise. Therefore, we can walk forward into an unknown future because we have a known God. And we can have confidence because the same God who went before the Israelites goes before us.
But what was God’s promise to the Israelites?
“But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.”
~Exodus 23:22, 31
God gave the Israelites what we call the Promised Land. However, at this point in history that land was already inhabited by different kingdoms and groups of people with powerful defenses. But God promised to go before the Israelites and wipe out their enemies. But this promise was two-fold. God would give the victory, but the Israelites needed to go out to battle. They couldn’t stay in their comfortable tents in the desert and expect God to hand them the Promised Land on a silver platter. No! They needed to march into the land, confront the peoples there, and drive them out of the land.
In order for the Israelites to see the promise of God, they had to obey. Obey the commands God gave in His Law, obey His voice, and obey the call to go and possess the land of promise. But the Israelites never completely obeyed these things. The first time they stepped foot in the land, they ran away in fear and spent 40 years wandering the wilderness as a result. They created gods for themselves and wandered from the commands God gave them. However, the LORD remained faithful and the Israelites did eventually enter and possess the Promised Land.
Yet Israel never realized the full promise of God. Their land never reached from the Red Sea to the Euphrates like God promised. Why? Was the LORD unfaithful to keep His full promise? No, it was because the Israelites didn’t fully reach out in faith and walk into His promises. They stopped short of their inheritance. They settled for less than God’s best and were happy with a portion of His promise. God had promised them so much! Yet, with complacency of heart and lack of faith, they never fully took possession of all that the LORD had promised to give them.
What a sad commentary! I wonder how world history would have been different had Israel claimed their full Promised Land? We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and change the future. Therefore, the question for us is this: are we fully stepping into the promises of God? Are we taking Him at His word and walking forward in faith? Do we believe God will do what He says and do are lives reflect that confidence?
During this time of fear and uncertainty, these are important questions to ask ourselves. This is a time of testing. Testing our faith. Testing our trust. Testing our willingness to let go of the comfortable and step into the unknown, relying on a known God. So will you take the step of faith? Will you let go of those things that might be acting as a security blanket in your life and rely fully upon God for each and every need, want, desire, and dream?
Let’s learn from the failure of the Israelites and not repeat their mistake. Rather, let’s be a generation known for seizing the promises of God, taking Him at His word, and running forward with faith, trust, and confidence that He will go before and give us the victory.
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