Entering God’s Promised Land
Our oft-stated goal is that each member of the congregation goes to heaven and takes as many souls with us that we can. When we compare our journey toward the Promised Land of heaven and the Israelite journey to Canaan we learn some valuable lessons.
Faith – We need to remember that faith is not just a mental assent of some truth; it is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The Israelites who left Egypt were provided with ample substance and evidence from God, but their lack of faith caused all those who left Egypt from 20 years old and older (besides Joshua and Caleb) to loose out on the promise (Numbers 32:11). We too must live by faith if we hope to enter into our Promised Land.
Forgetfulness – The Israelites lack of faith was brought on by their failure to remember what God had done for them. Time and again God demonstrated to His chosen people His love and power. While Paul said that there were some things we need to forget (Philippians 3:13) it is equally as imperative that we remember what God has done for us so that we do not lapse in our faith.
Following – One of the epic failures of the Israelites who were brought up out of Egypt was their inability to follow, or frequently challenge, the leadership that God had put in place. Their pride and arrogance stood as insurmountable barriers to the Promised Land. We understand the danger of pride (Proverbs 16:18) but struggle with the application. We need to remember to follow those who have been placed in authority and we also need to learn to be content with the position that God has put us in.
Contentment – The Israelites who left Egypt may be considered the most discontented people to have ever lived. Their incessant grumbling and complaining was a direct contributing factor to their failure to enter the Promised Land. The same danger exists for you and me as we press on toward heaven. We lack patience, we complain, we grumble, and generally live joyless lives. Paul gives us a great example to follow when he said, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11–13).
Courage – As the second generation of Israelites grew to maturity and prepared to enter into the Promised Land God reminded Joshua and the people to “Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:6, 9, 18; 10:25). We too need to be “strong and of good courage.” The Christian walk will be a difficult one at times. We will be faced with temptation, persecution, resistance, and direct attack from Satan and his minions. “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Capture – The final step for the Israelites was to go in and lay hold of the Promised Land. Their ancestors had failed to accomplish this when they refused to listen to Joshua and Caleb and instead followed the evil report of the other ten spies. We too need to follow through to the end. We must lay hold of the hope set before us and the eternal life that God has prepared for us (Hebrews 6:18; Philippians 3:12; 1 Timothy 6:12, 19).
Jesus made a promise to the disciples before returning to the Promised Land of heaven. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:1–4). Are you ready to enter in? Have you begun the journey? Hear, learn, and obey the will of the Lord.