Today’s reading includes Deuteronomy 2:1-3:29, Luke 6:12-38, Psalm 67:1-7, Proverbs 11:27.
As we continue reading through Moses’ recap of the journey through the wilderness, we see more details which we may have missed in previous books. As would be the case if we were given an audience to recap our past forty years, we would skip over the majority of the details and find our words in those we feel our audience would most benefit from hearing. Moses does the same. He skips over a good portion of 38 years and seems to fast-forward through parts which were significant for his audience, God’s people, to focus on and remember.
One of the accounts which caught my eye was found in Deuteronomy 2. We see that Moses recounts God’s instructions regarding the boundaries of the land. As they passed through certain areas, God made it clear that there were some areas that were off limits to the Israelites. Yes, they were God’s people, but like all good fathers, God was not giving them spoil-inducing free reign of whatever they wanted. He had plans, boundaries, and good spaces and places especially for them. But He also had given other groups good spaces and places, and He instructed the Israelites to be respectful and humble. An attitude of entitlement would not be allowed. Let’s take a look at three examples.
2 “Then at last the Lord said to me, 3 ‘You have been wandering around in this hill country long enough; turn to the north. 4 Give these orders to the people: “You will pass through the country belonging to your relatives the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. The Edomites will feel threatened, so be careful. 5 Do not bother them, for I have given them all the hill country around Mount Seir as their property, and I will not give you even one square foot of their land. 6 If you need food to eat or water to drink, pay them for it. 7 For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.”’
“Then as we turned north along the desert route through Moab, 9 the Lord warned us, ‘Do not bother the Moabites, the descendants of Lot, or start a war with them. I have given them Ar as their property, and I will not give you any of their land.’”
17 the Lord said to me, 18 ‘Today you will cross the border of Moab at Ar 19 and enter the land of the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot. But do not bother them or start a war with them. I have given the land of Ammon to them as their property, and I will not give you any of their land.’”
There are simple, practical lessons we can learn in these passages. First, though we can confidently and truthfully proclaim we are special, called, chosen children of God, that does not mean we should be entitled, arrogant, and selfish.
Secondly, God has good, prosperous plans for us. Many people claim Jeremiah 29:11-13 as their life verse.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
These are good, hopeful, truthful promises for us. But they are not for us only. We are not above those around us. God’s has an intricate plan for each of us. And they are good, hopeful, prosperous plans. They are as unique as each of us are. And we do not need to borrow or steal the plan of others. Ours is perfect for us. We don’t need to look longingly at the plan God has for others. We simply need to follow His direction for our perfect plan. This can be tricky when we see others advance before our time, when we see others obtain what we have desired and worked diligently toward. But we need to keep our eyes on our prize. We need to keep our eyes forward to our own, personal promise land, remembering He will be faithful to us. He will not forget us. His timing is perfect.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.