Each year I begin reading the Bible through, inevitably visiting the same scriptures over and over again. But with the Holy Spirit as my guide, I get a little fresh perspective each time.
Take the Exodus story, for example. Here we have God’s people, the Hebrews, having come under slavery to the Egyptians for many years. But God’s got somebody in mind to deliver them: Moses.
You remember Moses? He was born at a time when Pharoah had ordered all the Hebrew baby boys killed, so his mother put him in a basket in the Nile and he floated to where Pharoah’s daughter was bathing and she drew him out and raised him as her son. When he grew up, he saw his own people at hard labor and one day killed an abusive Egyptian soldier. When it was found out, he fled.
Fast forward to when he was about 80 years old… I mean, have you ever noticed how God does not seem to get in a hurry? In our time zone, the days drag on, but to the God of eternity, a lifespan is less than a flash in the pan.
Nevertheless, the time had come. Moses was tending a flock near Mount Horeb when God appeared to him out of a burning bush. It was burning, but not being consumed. So Moses went to check it out.
When he got near, God called to him from within the bush: “Moses! Moses!” Naturally, Moses said, “Here I am.” That’s when God told him to remove his sandals because he was on holy ground. And God identified Himself as “the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Struck with fear, Moses hid his face.
This is where it gets cool. God comes out with this AWESOME PROMISE. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. It’s who God is.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hittites and Jebusites.” (Exodus 3:8)
First, God says, “I have seen….” We have a God who sees! He was not blind to their suffering.
Then, He says, “I have heard….” His ears were open to their cry!
“I am concerned about their suffering….” God cares!
In response to the above, God says, “So I have come down to rescue them…” (He rescues!) “…and to bring them up…” (He reaches down to rescue and pull them out of their bondage!) “…into a good and spacious land…” (Sounds good!) “…a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Even better!)
Oh, man. What a promise! But wait. God was still talking. He tacked on a little description of that good, spacious, milk-and-honey-flowing land—“the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”
And when I was reading that again this year, I just threw back my head and laughed. God gives this powerful promise, but mentions, as if in afterthought, that the land already has inhabitants. Knowing the rest of the story, we know these “-ites” are the worst possible people.
They don’t know it yet, but there’s going to be some trouble on the trip.
The pathway to the promise is paved with peril.
It’s the same way with us today. God gives so many wonderful promises to us in His Word. But we tend to think it comes without a fight on our part, albeit a fight of faith.
The pathway to the promise is paved with peril, producing patience. (I know, enough alliteration already!) James 1:2 says “the trying of your faith produces patience.”
Ah, well, that’s not the exciting part, is it? Depends on your perspective.
The promise is necessary to give hope and faith to reach the desired destination. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a little trouble on the trip.
Jesus was telling his disciples about some upcoming tough times. “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Yes, there will be some trouble on the trip, some peril on the pathway, but with Jesus we can have peace because He has already overcome it. In Him, we have the opportunity to overcome!