For many years my husband and I dreamed of having a place in the country and building a house with our own two hands. For along time it just seemed like a pipe dream, but it served as motivation for us to “put one foot in front of the other” during some difficult times. I’m not sure either of us really thought that it would happen as we had it planned, but often any version of that dream kept hope alive.
Then in 2020, like many all over the world, the COVID pandemic created circumstances that served to disrupt our life in ways that made us let go of things most of us hold onto for stability. We moved away from our home of 27 years and away from friends and family members. We did not have property or a place to live other than our travel trailer wherever we could find to park it.
During this time, I couldn’t help but think of how the Israelites felt as they wondered around in the wilderness for 40 years waiting for a time when they could go into the land promised to them by God. It became very evident that during times like that they had to depend on God and God alone for stability because everything else in their world was liable to change if God said move, or if there happened to be no water, or if food sources became a problem. We had to learn this lesson as well, until God brought us to a different place.
We finally found some land and were able to secure it and move our travel trailer there seven months after we had left our home. We were so excited to ponder that God had provided a piece of land and the means by which to secure it and immediately began the process of building a house. Over the next year and a half, every free moment was spent building our house. We were so in awe of God’s provision of resources, strength, and help of friends to make it all come together. Since moving into our house, we are almost daily overwhelmed with gratitude for such a wonderful place to call home.
One night, as I was pondering my gratitude, my mind wandered back to the children of Israel again and what it might have been like for them as they entered the promised land and settled their families there. I’m sure they thought of all the difficult times they had endured and the gratitude they had for all the provisions from God’s hands. But I couldn’t help but think about Moses, who had endured all the years of hardship and dealt with the complaints of the people against God and against Moses too. The consistent intercession he made on behalf of the people when even God was weary of their rebellious hearts had to take a toll on him. And yet, he did not get to go into the promised land due to his public disobedience to God’s command in a moment of anger.
I can’t imagine working and enduring for so long and not getting to receive the fruits of his labor. God showed Moses the land and told him about it, but when it came down to it, God said he could not enter. But as I continued to read in Deuteronomy 34:6, scripture says that Moses died, God buried him, and no man knows the location of his grave.
Moses entered into the same “promised land” that you and I have been promised to inherit, because the promised land is not merely a plot of dirt. It never was.
The history of the Israelites is an ongoing demonstration of God’s character, and the people and events are a consistent foreshadowing of securing a new covenant by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It occurs to me that Moses’ death could serve as a foreshadowing as well.
While God did give them a land to call their own, that land was only temporary. All that we possess on this earth is temporary; lands can be sold, possessions will perish but our true hope is in a kingdom not built with the hands of men. Moses went from the edge of the plot of dirt that the Israelites would inhabit and straight to our eternal “promised land”. When I consider this, my feelings of regret on Moses’ behalf change to feeling that he was blessed to have bypassed the temporary, even though it’s what he wanted at the time.
While we can certainly be grateful for the provision and blessing God gives to us as we journey here on earth, we must maintain our focus on the promised land to come. Just as the children of Israel became discontent and pursued temporary things they wanted in their wilderness journey, when we continue pursuing things of this world in an effort to satisfy our desires, we find that temporary things only satisfy us temporarily.
We must keep our perspective. A plot of dirt can grow food to sustain us, provide a place for shelter, and make us feel like we have stability, but our “promised land” in heaven provides eternal life, peace with God, no more pain, no more death, and permanent joy and contentment. All of this provided by God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. He paid the penalty for our sins, so that we could receive these promises.
Heaven is so much more than a plot of dirt!