The Purpose of Promise
“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward’.” Genesis 15:1
I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase then thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you. I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” Leviticus 26:6-13
“And [God] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34:6
“And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:18
“The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you’.” Galatians 3:8
Over Halfway Home
I can hardly believe we are finally moving into our last segment of this study. No doubt there is much more that can be said where Moses is concerned, in fact, we could go on for a year and still not exhaust all the spiritual relevance from this man’s relationship with God. However, the purpose of our study is to reveal God as “I AM” for all we are not. I am so excited to move into the area of our study where we can finally discuss how to live the abundant life by shedding off the shackles of Egypt. I pray as we have studied God’s Beauty, His Sufficiency, and His Fame that you have begun to accept the fact He has an abundant life waiting for you if you will simply step into it. Sometimes He has to take us far enough away from our Egypt so it will be farther to travel back there than to fight it out to Canaan. (Exodus 13:17) Oh how I hope you are more than halfway home!
The Confidence of Canaan
What is it that appeals to us about living physically and spiritually free? As I have prayed about the true implications of living a life unbound and unhindered in any way, it occurred to me there are four desires of (wo)man that are echoed in the promises of God to the Israelites in Leviticus 26. Society may have changed in the past several thousand years, but the basic needs of of an individual have not. I believe we can reduce most life issues down into a need for these things:
1. A sense of self-worth – I love the imagery in Leviticus 26:13 where God expresses his desire for His people to walk with heads held high. To me this embodies the need we all have to be unashamed whether because of sin, social standing, or appearance. The Hebrew phrase literally means ‘heads held upright’. In my own life, I know the times when shame or guilt has made it impossible for me to hold my head upright and look at others, especially God, in the eyes. This doesn’t mean we are to cultivate pride, but rather find our worth in the One who has worked mightily in our behalf and who is faithful to forgive sin.
2. A Feeling of Peace and Safety – When was the last time you were anxious, afraid, or worried? A woman’s mind is constantly racing with thoughts of caring for our families, being a good friend, keeping up with finances, and completing the things on our never-ending ‘to do’ lists. If you are like me, you worry about the safety of your children (if you have them) much more than you do your own. When I think of my own safety I typically don’t fear for myself other than in relation to what my husband and children would do without me and the sadness of not being there for the important moments in their lives. The Israelites were going into a hostile territory and no doubt were fearful for their mortal bodies because of the threat from the peoples they were displacing. God assured them their borders would be safe so there would be no need to occupy the mind with endless worry over the safety of home and family. It would be wonderful to think God has placed an inpenetrable boundary around our families which would protect us from all harm, however, this is not the promise. God’s promise to us through Jesus Christ is that we do not have to fear those who can harm the body, but only the One who can kill the soul. As Paul stated, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Our assurance of peace and safety is to be delivered safely home – even if by means of death – into the arms of Jesus. (2 Timothy 4:18) That may sound a bit gloomy, but it is a huge comfort to me!
3. Assurance of provision – The Israelites lived from crop to crop. These days we live paycheck to paycheck. God promised His people provision of necessities just as He continues to do today. Psalm 37:25 reads, “I have been young, and [now] am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Again in Matthew 6 we are assured God is aware of our needs and as long as we are seeking the Kingdom, our necessities will be met. I believe much disappointment often comes in this area because we do not recognize what a true necessity is. Jesus did not have a place to lay his head and yet we find ourselves grumbling because our homes are not big enough or as pretty as the one next door. We overspend and when the bill comes due, become indignant with God because He didn’t provide the money to pay them. Many ‘health and wealthers’ will tell you God wants you to be prosperous. This is simply not a concept taught in Scripture. Any gospel that can not be taught in the places of deepest poverty in our world is no gospel at all. Be assured your God will meet all your needs in Christ Jesus – just don’t be dismayed if that doesn’t include a BMW and house in the ‘burbs. Let’s make knowing Him our greatest possession!
4. To Be Loved – Ahhh..love, sweet love. I would venture to say the majority of the mistakes women make are in some way related to trying to manipulate affection in our favor. What else could God have done to prove his lovingkindness towards Israel? He destroyed those who hurt them, parted seas, set mountains on fire, rained manna and quail from heaven, sent water from a rock, guided their way by the Angel of the Lord, and finally made His dwelling place among them. And yet, they wanted more. Though it seems so simplistic, how our lives would be forever secure if we could truly wrap our minds around the heighth, depth, width, and breadth of the love of Christ towards His children. One of the most freeing things God ever taught me was that I am forever safe in His heart because He loves me and is for me. There may be days when I say to God, “why am I your target?” (Job 7:20) But, this thing I know. Satan is the one who plays with darts – God alone has Swords and He is using those for my protection and Satan’s destruction. You are safe, Dear One, because He is your shield.
Blessed To Be a Blessing
Our culture teaches us we can either manufacture within ourselves or purchase all of these basic things, but God created us to need the things only He can fully provide. There is a huge difference between pride and righteous confidence. Pride fools one into thinking we can create our own Promised Land. The other recognizes, just as Abram did, God is our Portion, our shield, and our very great reward.
I believe we can define living in a spiritual Canaan as being in a place of righteous confidence in the Father. A place of our identity completely being wrapped inside of His. A place we can live with our faces turned unashamedly towards the sky. A place of faith in the means of God’s provision and being satisfied if what we receive is a huge portion of Him. In this place is where we will be able to operate in a mode of full effectiveness for the Kingdom unbound by the carnal baggage Satan continually piles on our shoulders. As we evaluate the experiences of our lives, it is time we process those with the covering of God’s Word so we can move into the Promise – the place where we can use our blessings to minister to others. As Galatians 3:8 says, this is how the Gospel is spread!
There are times when I am praying about a certain way to present what is on my heart and I will hear a song that packages my thoughts and wraps them in a gorgeous bow. To complete our lesson today, I leave you with a song by Mercy Me called, “The Place Where I Belong”. It is my deepest desire for each of you to be able to repeat these words for yourself.
That place where we’re complete
The one that occupies our dreams
That place we’re lucky to call our home
Well I have arrived
And I can’t keep this inside
So I raise my hands
And shout Your name
To praise You with my song
My dream’s at hand, I’ve found my place
The place where I belong
To find the purpose for their life
In hopes that one more day is justified
But once you truly see
The very reason why you breathe
It becomes so much more than getting by
That maybe somewhere down this road
We’d finally find that place where we belong
I have arrived – And I can’t keep this inside.
1. Do you struggle with a sense of self-worth? How do you perceive this has affected the way you are able to ‘keep your head upright’? If not, do you know someone who suffers in this area?
2. What are you most afraid of? Does this fear affect the way you move through life? (Ex. Are you overprotective with children? Afraid to take risks?)
3. What is one of the most marvelous ways God has provided a need? I can’t wait to hear your stories on this one!
4. Steve Brown, a Moody Broadcasting Bible Teacher, is one of the first people I ever heard teach the concept that God was not mad at me. I grew up in a denomination that led me to believe He was in a continuous state of disappointment over my failures. How about you? Though in your heart you know God says He loves you, does Satan in your mind ever try to convince you otherwise?
5. How close are you to your own Promised Land? Not at all, 1/2 way, almost there? By this I mean the place of abundant living and effectiveness here on earth, not the ultimate fulfillment in Glory! Though I hope you are going to heaven, I don’t want it to be today! :)
I look forward to our discussion this week!