It’s TIME to stop WANDERING & turn NORTHWARD to GOD
February 21 Bible Reading: Deuteronomy Chapters 1-3
"Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness of the Way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spoke to me, and we skirted Mount Seir for many days. And the Lord spoke to me, saying: 'you have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward...For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.'" (Deut. 2:1-3, 7)
In the Book of Deuteronomy, we read the farewell address of Moses to the people of Israel, whom he had led faithfully for the last forty years. Moses and the people of Israel were camped in the plains of Moab, on the eastern side of the Jordan River opposite Jericho (Num. 36:13; Deut. 1:1). Besides Moses, only two men, Joshua and Caleb, were still alive who had stood at Mount Sinai as adults when God originally made a covenant with the Israelites. The rest of the grown men and women from that time forty years before had died in the wilderness because of their rebellion at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 14:26–35).
Moses had desperately wanted to cross over the Jordan River and enter The Promised Land, and had even pleaded with God regarding this matter, but God had denied his request vehemently (see Deut. 3:23-27). Now knowing that the Israelites would soon enter Canaan without him, Moses reminded them of the binding covenant that their parents had made with God at Mount Sinai. Most of the people listening to Moses had not even been born when the original covenant was made, but now they needed to know what was expected of them as they entered the Promised Land!
Thus a new generation was taking over, and was about to enter the Promised Land. Like their parents before them, they needed to agree to the terms of God’s covenant. Moses’ address in Deuteronomy gave them that opportunity. Deuteronomy is actually the summary of a godly heritage, a record of God’s faithfulness during more than forty difficult years, and the final pronouncement of a great leader. God had wanted His children to stay faithful and distinctive, so through Moses God gave them a second hearing of the law, and the word Deuteronomy means ‘second law’. We may recall that the ‘first law’ was previously given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19–31, 35–40; Lev. 1–7, 11–27).
Through describing the incidents in detail that has happened over the past forty years, Moses desired that the new generation commits to following God wholly as Joshua and Caleb did, as well as be socially responsible as they share God’s blessings to their neighbors. This would be in line with the great promise that God gave their great forefather Abraham in Gen. 12:3.
However, what they had done with their lives so far was to ‘wander’ through desert wastes, waiting for their parents’ generation to expire. The word from Moses that “the Lord your God … knows your trudging through this great wilderness” (2:7) must have come as a tremendous encouragement as God had not forgotten this new generation. God had blessed and prospered the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings so much that they had “lacked nothing”. He was mindful of the “work of their hand”, and now God would faithfully lead them forward to their Promised Land.
In the same way, let us remember always that God is mindful of us even if we have been toiling away for years with little or no recognition, through tough times and good times. God knows what we have been through, and whether we have been recognized or not, has been there with us every step of the way. It is time for us to stop wandering aimlessly in the ‘wilderness’ maze of daily living activities. Instead, we should turn northward to God who alone can lead us through to our ‘Promised Land’ as well. Our exaltation ultimately comes from the north alone, where God has set up His throne on high for "He (God) stretches out the north over empty space." (Job 26:7)