|Cradle Mt. Tasmania.|
The Nation of Israel was on the verge of entering the land promised to Abraham 470 years approximately before. In the book of Deuteronomy Moses gives some snapshots of it. Listening to it must have stirred the hearts of the people. The land was in sharp contrast to that from which they had come, the furnace of Egypt. Canaan was a good land, flowing with streams and with springs and underground water. The land had hills and valleys and fruit trees, pasture and minerals.
There were, however, certain obstacles and conditions to be faced before they could successfully possessed their promised possession. The land was occupied by godless and depraved Nations intent on keeping Israel out. Wandering throughout the land were also wild animals as we read about from David’s encounter with a lion and a bear. The Lord through Moses gave the people a strategy for victory. In one word is was ‘Obedience!’ By being faithful to the Lord’s commands, judgements and statutes the nation would prevail. Disobedience meant failure.
The historical experiences of the Nation can be transferred to the international and spiritual identity called the Church. We are called out of the ungodly world scene to live a lifestyle in sharp contrast to that of the World. When a person hears then heeds the call of Christ to take up their cross and follow Him it sounds idyllic. Sins forgiven, heaven beyond death’s horizon, a transformed life with purpose, hope and fellowship excite and bless. Then we face opposition, often from family and friends. Then from out of our soul the equivalent of the wild beast emerge to terrorise and make us doubt. There wouldn’t be a disciple of Christ who hasn’t felt the tread of sins past or the breath of guilt and shame producing a sense of unworthiness. How are these slain or chained? Through the grace of God, knowledge of His word, deliberately sharing them with the Saviour so that He can deal with such ‘creatures of the soul!’
The intent of the opposition is to turn our attention away from worship and fellowship with the Lord to the uncomplicated but ungodly life before salvation. Psalm 73 is a record of this temptation. It also offers the steps to refocus.
The mention of hills and valleys associated with the land is instructive. Once again they have their spiritual counterparts within the Christian life. For us the important hill is that of Calvary. There our redemption was secured. Included in what the Lord Jesus achieved for us was our own death. We have died to our old life and destiny. We have died to the impossibility of keeping the Mosaic Law. (Romans 6. Romans 7:1-6. And Galatians 2:19-20). Within our walk with the Lord He will bring us to experience the Mount of Transfiguration where we discover new dimensions to our Lord. These two lead us to a mountain where He has a challenge for us. Matthew 28:16-20 expresses the challenge by the word “GO!” We are not told the how. We are simply given the command. It is out of our circumstances, personality, training, abilities, and maturity that we are to seize opportunity to share our faith in Christ.
Mountains and hills mean that valley’s also exist. Reading the Old Testament reveals quite a number of them. Each has its spiritual and moral relation in our walk of faith. It is in the valleys the reality of our trust in the Lord becomes evident. The valley of Achor was where Israel failed (Joshua 7 is the account and its aftermath). However, when dealt with God is able to turn failure into testimony through repentance according to Hosea 2:15. As disciples of the Lord we will fall over and the ungodly will laugh at the ‘mud’ which covers us. There isn’t any value in denying it or ignoring it. When we apologise to the Lord and accept His discipline, He washes us though His poured out life and intercession. Then He lifts us up and gets us on the narrow way again. Our testimony is not of being perfect but of being forgiven. We boast not of our goodness but of Christ’s grace. Other valleys we will walk through. The Lord wants to turn them from tears to triumph, from conflict to conquest. The final valley we will face is of course recorded in Psalm 23. For a Christian it is a valley to pass through but not alone. The Good Shepherd walked it first and has promised to walk it again with His people, His ‘sheep.’
In closing, the wonder associated with the physical land and its spiritual foreshadowing is this promise. ‘The land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land…that the Lord your God looks after. The eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.’ Deuteronomy 11:11-12.