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Holding On To God’s Promises | A Look At The Israelites Not Entering The Promise Land

Sometimes it’s hard to hold on to God’s promises and a prime example is found in Deuteronomy 1 when the Israelites were afraid to enter the promised land. There is so much we can learn in this story when we have doubts and begin to lose sight of God’s promises.   

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God’s Promises In The Bible

The Bible is filled with God’s promises to us that remind us of who God is, what He will do for us, and why we can trust Him, let’s take a look at a few of them.

God Will Will Be With You

One of the many promises of God to you is that He will never leave you or forsake you. God will be with you on every step of this journey, even when you feel abandoned, insignificant and wonder if God even cares. He is with you! You will never be alone. Nothing you do could make God abandon you or put you out of His reach.  

God Will Protect You

Another one of God’s promises is that He will protect you. The Bible tells us that He will be our shield when the storms come and our refuge. He will help us in times of trouble and protect us. 

God Will Be Your Strength

God promises to be your strength when life is hard, and see you through. Even when we feel like we can’t go on, when we are reeling with loss or pain, and we’re spent, God has promised to see us through. 

God Will Answer You

God has promised to always answer you, it may not be in our time frame but God will not ignore us. Sometimes it feels as if God is silent, but the truth is sometimes we can’t hear Him because of the storms we are going through, and others the choices we’ve made makes it hard to hear God’s voice

God Will Provide For You

Another of God’s promises is that He will provide for you, there are so many stories throughout the Bible that remind us of this promise. From Naomi and Ruth to Elijah being fed by the ravens. God’s provision doesn’t come in ways we would expect but He will always be there for us. 

God Will Give You Peace

God promises to give us peace even in the worst circumstances, God’s peace isn’t like that of the world. It transcends all earthly peace and allows us to rest in the knowledge of who our God is when our world feels like it is falling apart. 

God Will Always Love You

Another of the promises of God is that He will always love you, you are his treasured child. He knit you together in your mother’s womb and knew your name before the foundation of the world was set in place. Nothing you can do can separate you from that love.

God Never Changes

God is good and incapable of changing so He will always be good. He is incapable of being anything less than good which means you can always trust Him.

God Is In Control

No matter how out of control the world or our lives feel God is always in control. He is God on the mountains when life is easy and He is God in the storm when life is crumbling around us. 

God Is Always Victorious

God is victorious, so one of God’s greatest promises is that we are fighting from victory, not for the victory. Our God has already struck the victory blow, the devil has been defeated. 

Holding On To God’s Promises

Holding on to God’s promises can be hard, so often our situations drag our eyes from Him and place them on the waves threatening to overwhelm us. Quickly we forget what we used to know and find ourselves sinking. It’s in these moments when it is important to hold on to God, and His promises to see us through. The Israelites ‘ not entering the promised land is a wonderful example of what happens when we lose sight of God’s promises. 

The Israelite’s Forgot God’s Promises At The Promised Land

The Israelite’s are way into their desert journey toward the promised lands. They’ve faced battles and witnessed His promises come to fruition, and have seen the glory of God come to rest on Mount Sinai in Exodus 24. They’ve got some experience under their belt, so it’s little surprise when God gives the word to move on and enter the promised land.

I picture a scene from the end of Wagon Train episodes where the wagon master tells them to “Load ’em up and move’em out”. Can you tell I watch a lot of old westerns? So quickly their focus slips to what they physically can see and away from God’s promises.

This is it! The end is in sight, they’re almost there. Like pulling onto your street after a  long trip, relief begins to flow. The trip is almost finished! How sweet those words must have felt! This journey is almost over! But, there always seems to be a but. Because the truth is life isn’t easy, and the home stretch is rarely a cakewalk. What lays between them and everything they have been promised is scary. It tests what they’ve learned along this whole trip. The bible doesn’t go into great detail about this stretch of the trip, but it describes it as a terrible wilderness.

Learning From The Israelite’s Not Entering The Promised Land

How many of us, thought we had had it made, and just when we thought it was over, the battle was finished, we found ourselves in a terrible wilderness? We weren’t expecting it and so it blindsides us, and it begins to chip away at everything we thought we knew. The experience we’ve earned seems small and everything we’ve been through up to this point pales in comparison to this place.

Holding On To God’s Promises When We Have Doubts

They can see their destination, what they have been fighting for, for so long is nearly in their grasp, and maybe in their heads, they thought this was going to be easier. Maybe they are still living off the high of winning the last battle, and they expect this place to be easy but when it’s not their confidence wavers.

We’ve won the last battle, we’ve seen what God can do, and then suddenly our focus shifts, and what we were so sure of begins to waver. Maybe we aren’t even sure what caused it, but something’s changed and we can’t put our finger on just what it is, but it feels different.

We’re tired, and just want it to be over. We want to be done and move on, we are sick and tired of trekking through the desert. If the devil can’t make you quit along the journey and run back to what God’s led you out of, then he will try to poison the very thing you’ve waited so long to reach. He’ll try to make you forget God’s promises. I think this is where the Israelite’s found themselves, so close and yet so far and they just want to be done.

Like after a really long hike, your legs hurt, you’re tired, you can see your car and you just want to get there. You don’t want to have to fight your way up one more hill, you just want to be done. But here they are traveling through yet another wilderness. They finally reach the threshold of the promised land- the Bible says that God had set apart this land for them, it had their name on it, all they had to do was follow Him in- but they hesitate.

 

The Israelite’s Forgot God’s Promises

No sooner has the Lord told them to go take possession of what He has given them than the people come to Moses begging to send some men ahead to scout out the land. They want to send some people on ahead to find the best route and some nice cities to visit (Deuteronomy 1:22), they are done roughing it, no more off-roading, no more hills to climb, no more wondering if God’s going to come through. The pillar of fire they’ve been following is no longer good enough, they want more, and just like that the lessons they have learned slip away. The truth is they have forgotten God’s promises.

They start to follow what they see, instead of trusting the one who has sustained them every step of the way and trusting in God’s promises that He’s reaffirmed over and over. It’s easy to fault them, but I think we often do the same thing. We refuse to move until we ask everyone’s opinion. Needing our friend’s seal of approval before we can go any further. We need the whole agenda not just the next stop on this trip. Seeing the giants that stand before us. We set our focus on the walls that must be brought down and we doubt that He can do it. Even when He has been doing it this whole time.

Sure He came through back there… God’s promises held fast… but what about this time? The age-old question pops back up, “Why didn’t you leave us in bondage? It would have been better than dying out here trying to beat something we can’t beat.”

 

Their focus has changed and they are relying on their own understanding to guide them, and forgotten God’s promises. Their eyes tell them it’s too hard, the scout’s report isn’t what they wanted to hear, and doubt creeps in. Have you been here? You were so sure, you thought you were prepared but then the doubt creeps in with all of the “What ifs” and “I can’t”. Trying to shift our focus from what is promised and crumble our faith.

The Israelite’s Stopped Trusting In God’s Promises

They stopped trusting the Lord to lead the way. Believing that He knew the best route trusting in God’s promises to see them through. That He would pick the best place for them to camp each night and so they strike out on their own and then blame the Lord when they don’t like what they hear from the scouts. Where are you, God? What were you thinking? So often we find ourselves in this place. Because of our own foolishness when we try to run ahead instead of trusting that the Lord will yet again provide.

We come to verse 30 and find Moses trying to reassure the people. He is reminding them of who God has revealed Himself to be. That they should stop trusting their eyes and trust in God’s promises. He reminds them of all the times God has provided for them but it’s all in vain.

We Must Keep God’s Promises At The Forefront Of Our Minds

The people have been piggybacking their faith in God on Moses, relying in Moses faith in God’s promises, but that can only last so long. At some point, it has to be their faith. Anytime we place people in a role only God can fill, we are setting ourselves up for defeat. We can’t survive off of the faith of others. God doesn’t have grandchildren, only children. We can’t trust our own eye to guide us but fully put our trust in God and in God’s promises. 

What started out as a simple “Here it is, go move in” has come to a screeching halt. Not even the reminder of everything they have gone through or all of God’s promises can get it moving again. How often do we react like the Israelite’s? Reacting off of what we see instead of trusting in God’s promise to make a way? We don’t want to dive into the deep end, we want to dip our toe in first and check to see if the water is to our liking. And we look back to see how it compares to our life before while we were in bondage

We allow our focus to slip from the firm foundation that we’ve been building. Each time we’ve witnessed God’s promises come through to the shifting sand. Suddenly we need to see the whole path instead of just the next step. We want to do a little sightseeing, maybe make a reservation or two so we don’t have to camp out anymore. The pillars of cloud and fire just aren’t good enough now, God’s promises fall flat. If He can make the Israelite’s win the battle because Moses is holding his staff over his head, why is it so different here?

The Israelites Are A Reminder To Hold On To God’s Promises

God provides over and over again, what makes us think that it will any different this time? Look at the callouses you’ve earned, the battle scars that mark the battles everyone said you couldn’t win, but God saw you through. Rember all of the times you have survived. Feel the saltwater clinging to your skin as you walked through the parted sea on dry ground and remember. Look back and see all the places that God has come through and then recenter your focus on Him.

It doesn’t matter what people think. Why worry about how tall the walls are. You need not be concerned about how hard this leg of the journey is because He’s already promised to go before you. He is bigger than anything you are going to face. Not one thing is going to touch you that hasn’t already passed through His hands.

 

Scriptures On The Promises Of God

Here are some of our favorite scriptures on the promises of God to keep them fresh in your mind. Try writing some of these down and placing them where you can see them. 

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. Psalm 10:17 

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Psalm 116:5-6

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. John 14:16 

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 

 Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1

 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3 

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

For You, O Lord, are kind and forgiving, rich in loving devotion to all who call on You. Psalm 86:5 

You are good and do good. Psalm 119:68 

 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. Psalm 10:17

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Psalm 116:5-6 

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. John 14:16 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 

 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

 Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17 


 

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4 thoughts on “Holding On To God’s Promises | A Look At The Israelites Not Entering The Promise Land”

  1. What an enlightening post. I love how you said we like to dip our toe in first and see if it’s to our liking. I know I’ve done that more than once. Thanks for the reminder to stop doing that!

  2. This spoke to me on a really personal level. It really touched my soul! Thank you for the reminder of who He is and has consistently been in my life! Today I chose to keep my eyes firmly on His promises, despite how my eyes be analysing things. Thank you

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