Summary: God’s promise for eternal life and neverending joy is before us but we can’t seem to just stop coming up with excuses for why we shouldn’t enter into it.
Our Bible passage for this morning opens with a promise. It wasn’t a new promise that the people had never heard before but instead, a promise that had been carried down generation by generation. Parents took time to pass the stories of this promise on to their children. The entire community of Israel longed and hoped for the day that the promise would be fulfilled.
The promise was first given to a man named Abram. In an amazing act of faith, Abram left everything that he had known behind Him and obeyed God’s command to leave his home for a new land that God would show him. Upon arriving in the land of Canaan, the Lord appeared to Abram and the promise was born. “I will give this land to your descendants,” declared God. And if once wasn’t enough, later on God repeated himself telling Abram to look around in every direction—north, south, east and west. “I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants.” It was here that Abram lived out his life as a foreigner in the land, heeding God’s promise that someday the land would be his families.
Long after Abram had died, his son Isaac began to contemplate leaving the land of Canaan and head to Egypt. Before he could pack up his belongings and head south, God appeared to Isaac and reminded him of the same promise that he had given his father. “I will give all these lands to you and your descendants.”
God repeated this reminder with Isaac’s son Jacob and then again with Jacob’s son Joseph. Joseph took this promise from God so seriously that when he died, he made his brothers promise him that when God lead the people out of Egypt, and into this Promised Land, they would bring his bones and bury them there.
As the Israelites’ slowly shifted from simply being foreigners in Egypt to slaves, God stepped in to deliver His people. God used a man named Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, across the dessert and towards the Promised Land. It is here that our text for this morning picks up the story. The Israelites have wandered through the land following God’s lead and now the people sit on the edge of the Dessert of Paran, just south of the land promised to them by God.
As the people waited, no doubt fully aware of what was ahead of them, God spoke to Moses telling him, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites.” God is so excited to finally give this land to the Israelites that He just can’t wait any longer. “Go and take a peek,” God exclaims. “I know it isn’t time yet but just go, explore and see how amazing it is! It is going to give you so much joy and pleasure living there!”
As we read through the promise that God gave to the Israelites, we need to remember our own promise. The story which leads to our promise is not unlike the story of the Israelites. As Paul tells us, we too are living as foreigners in a land that is not our home. We were created to be in paradise with God, being in perfect relationship with Him. Yet we have been separated from Him because of our disobedience to what He laid out for us in the Bible. Because of this disobedience, our punishment was declared as death.
Despite all that, even though we didn’t deserve it, God sent someone to lead us out of this slavery of sin and death. That someone is Jesus Christ. Christ took our punishment for us; dying on the cross in our place. He then rose from the dead, conquering death once and for all, allowing us to once again have a relationship with God.
The promise that is before us is that of life and an eternity in heaven with God: a life full of joy, provision, and blessing; better than anything else that we could ever imagine. It is a life where the Creator of it says He will never leave you or forsake you and that He will work for your good in everything. No where else will you find greater love or care, as He promises to come alongside of you and guide you home to heaven.
This is an amazing promise from God that not many would dispute. I think most people would not disagree that God says these things and promises them but our issue tends to be more so with actually trusting that God will fulfill them. We see but we don’t believe we can obtain them. This is much the same of what happened to the Israelite scouts as they explored the Promised Land.