When God delivered His kids from captivity, He said residency in the Promised Land was conditional. That’s a timeless truth. The promised land is nothing like the world, and dwelling in it requires a total change. In the Promised Land, God is the caretaker and our trust must be totally in Him. Look at how Moses described it to those about to enter in:
“it is a land that the LORD your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year!” Genesis 11:12
It seems like that would be a glorious reality, but the temptation Adam fell to in the Garden of Eden is ours as well. Living in the Promised Land requires faithful obedience. Our human nature…which we have been delivered from… still tempts us to redeem ourselves. It is a dead-end temptation.
When Adam abdicated his responsibility as caretaker in the Garden of Eden, a curse on the ground was part of the result. As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, God’s word revealed that He alone redeems from the consequences of sin. Even the curse of the ground will be taken care of for those who obey God…because walking in His ways reveals our love for Him and our trust in Him. That was God’s desire at Creation and it remains His desire. There is no other way to a full life than following the Creator Redeemer.
Those who enter the Promised Land through faith in Christ but turn away to worship and serve lesser gods (ie pleasure, power, wealth, knowledge, performance) will find both the heavens and earth shut up. There will be drought and barren-ness even in the Promised Land. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you do not have to live in a sun-scorched land. Jesus came, suffered and died so we could have abundant life!
“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b
Moses told the people God sets before them a choice: blessing or cursing. Because of Jesus, we have the same choice…and even better, Jesus is the power source for fulfilling that choice. In our natural state, we are sold into the slavery of sin. We are created beings designed to worship. Either we worship what ‘seems good to us’ or we worship the Creator Redeemer. There is a way that seems good to man–many of them. But Proverbs says that way is the way of death. The only choice natural man has that leads to life is Jesus Christ. When that choice is made, all things are possible and the choices are vast! Jesus is the way to abundant life!
But it is not the ‘easy way.’ Again, we can learn from the words of Moses.
And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Deuteronomy 12:3
When we enter into eternal life–which begins here on earth the moment we accept Christ–there is work to do. We enter in with baggage; we enter in with altars that need to be tore down, pillars that must be smashed, and groves of places we have worshiped false gods. All of that must be removed. Our earthly life is to become an altar to the One True God.
The altars are the places we have sacrificed. It is different for each of us. Some have sacrificed to altars of comfort, some to altars of the praise of men. We each have our stumbling blocks. God will reveal them. The pillars are the beautiful things we decorate our idolatry with. (‘I need this fishing boat to relax and hear God.’ ‘I need this car so I can go help others.’ ) Jesus is our only need. Some translations use ‘asherah poles’ instead of groves. Those relate to the ‘fruit’ we claim from our idolatry. God alone gives increase without trouble; we never need to deviate from His ways to produce good. (‘I have to get mad to be heard.’) God will lead every step of the way if we keep our heart soft to His look, to His pressure. He is cheering us on not berating us for our failures.
Those are battles that must be fought to take possession of the Promised Land. God is the one who fights for us. He will destroy our enemies, but we must seek His face continually. He loves the weak and inadequate. In fact, that is who He chooses. There are great and precious promises we must discover in the Scriptures and make our own by living on those promises. Jesus is the Living Word.
As we read the Word and seek to put it into action in the dusty details of our days, the very presence of God surrounds us. The heavens and earth open up as we walk in confidence of God’s goodness. It is not our perfect adherence to the Word we read…it is our heart desire to do what He asks that brings the Kingdom to God to the broken world.
If you are a Christian not experiencing the abundant life, here is a great passage to begin feasting upon.
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[a] his own glory and excellence,[b] 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[c] and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities[d] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers,[e] be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter – ESV)
You, reader, lack nothing! He promises He will be found by those who seek Him with all their heart. He is always faithful to His promises. Our Father owns it all and has great plans and purposes for us. Those plans and purposes will not always look like we envision but the truth holds fast: His plans are good and for our benefit. May our hearts be like Jesus, so confident in the power and goodness of the Father, we always say, “Not my will but thine be done.”
And one last thing…how will we know we are living the abundant life? We will rejoice in worshiping God alone! We will bow before the Cross with a heart that rejoices!