Ways of God With His Earthly People

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
God's purpose concerning the children of Israel was to bring them out of the land of bondage and into the glorious land of Canaan (Exod. 3:88And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. (Exodus 3:8)). It was only an eleven days' journey from the border of Egypt to the threshold of Canaan (Deut. 1:22(There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea.) (Deuteronomy 1:2)), but the journey required forty years in the ways of God with His earthly people. There were lessons for them to learn which could only be learned in the wilderness, for it was there that their faith and obedience were specially tested.
Deut. 8 gives us the secret of the trials of the way. In it, God rehearses His ways with them, as the trek was coming to an end. He said to them, Thou shalt look back and "remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no." v. 2. There they proved what was in them-unfaithfulness, murmurings, turning back in heart to Egypt, and many other sore evils. God knew beforehand what was in their hearts, but they had to prove it by bitter experience.
Then there were other things they learned by the way. He suffered them to hunger so that He might feed them. They proved His bounteous store and the goodness of His heart. Not once in all the forty years did the manna fail in its appointed time. They proved that without a human commissary, they could be supplied with food and clothing. Their raiment did not wax old in all that time. Their health was also an object of His solicitude, for even their feet did not swell with all their walking. They were also to consider that His chastenings were for their profit, as when a man corrects his son.
After God thus recounts the lessons of the wilderness to them, He tells them of the beauty and bountifulness of the land into which they were about to enter. "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass" (copper). vv. 7-9. Could they wish for more? Unbelief kept them from the enjoyment of it years before, but what lessons they learned in the delay!
Later on, after they had taken possession of that "good land," and Joshua had divided the land unto them, he said, "There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass." Josh. 21:4545There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:45). Then as he was about to die, he called the elders of Israel and, in retrospection, said, "And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof." Chap. 23:14. This was the realization of what faith knew in advance. How could anything fail of all the good which the Lord promised?
Yet, strange as it may seem, men have called in question the accuracy and correctness of God's description of the land, while the people to whom the promise was made (and who should know if anyone would) could affirm, after making it their own, that it was true in every respect. Perhaps no statement in the description of Deut. 8 has been more challenged than that they could dig copper out of its hills, and that it also contained iron ore. For centuries it was contended that neither copper nor iron was to be found in what is generally spoken of as Palestine. And this was in the face of another account in the Word of God. In 1 Kings 7:45, 4645And the pots, and the shovels, and the basons: and all these vessels, which Hiram made to king Solomon for the house of the Lord, were of bright brass. 46In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarthan. (1 Kings 7:45‑46) we read: "And the pots, and the shovels, and the basins: and all these vessels, which Hiram made to king Solomon for the house of the Lord, were of bright brass. In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarthan."
Now, at long last, men are ready to concede that copper and iron are to be found there. Why? Because they are now ready to believe God's unerring Word? because faith is operating more now? Sadly, NO. But rather, because men have now found the copper and iron, while the Christian who believes God never troubled himself about the matter, for he knew that if God said it was so, verily it was.
Over twenty years ago, Professor Nelson Glueck, an archeologist of the Hebrew Union College of Cincinnati, found a spot in the plain of Jordan which the Arabs called "Copper Ruin," so he excavated there and found the old smelters of Solomon, with some pottery from his time. There was copper-bearing ore nearby. Israeli geologists estimated that there was perhaps enough ore there to yield 300,000 tons of copper, and not far from Beer-sheba, millions of tons of low-grade iron ore, and some excellent quality ore. Thus another charge against the unerring Word of God has been proven false, but for all that, men will still go on in unbelief. What man needs is to be brought consciously before God where he will discover that he is a guilty sinner. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." When Peter saw the immense draft of fishes, he caught a glimpse of the glory of that Person who stood before him; then he fell down at His feet, saying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord." Luke 5:88When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (Luke 5:8).
We are about to enter our own promised land, and God has set before us some vivid pictures of that wondrous scene of glory. The book of Revelation closes with the Bridegroom and the bride in the grand fruition of the hope set before us, and the Lamb as the blessed center of the heavenly Jerusalem.
"The Lamb is there, my soul-
There God Himself doth rest,
In love divine diffused through all
With Him supremely blest.
"God and the Lamb-'tis well
I know that source divine
Of joy and love no tongue can tell,
Yet know that all is mine.
"God and the Lamb shall there
The light and temple be,
And radiant hosts forever share
The unveiled mystery."
May the brilliant luster of the coming glory so captivate our poor hearts that the things of this world will grow strangely dim while we earnestly long to be there.
Our experiences, in many ways, parallel theirs. We have been redeemed from the power of the enemy and are just waiting to be received into the heavenly land of which Canaan is but a type for us. God could have taken us to glory the day we were saved, for we were just as fit for it then as we ever will be, but we have lessons to learn while in transit through this world. Here we discover what poor, failing creatures we are in ourselves, and here we prove a Father's love and care. As the poet has so aptly expressed it:
"At every step afresh we prove
How sure our heavenly Guide;
The faithful and forbearing love
That never turns aside.
"Thou weariest not, most gracious Lord,
Though we may weary grow;
In season, the sustaining word
Thou giv'st our hearts to know."
We may well ask, Why should God, after telling of the coming glory into which we soon shall enter, have said, "And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." "Write: for these words are true and faithful." "These sayings are faithful and true." Rev. 19:9; 21:5; 22:69And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. (Revelation 19:9)
5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:5)
6And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. (Revelation 22:6)
. Is it not because of the natural incredulity of man? and because of the slowness of our hearts to lay hold of these blessed truths? May God graciously grant to us to lay hold of these blessed coming realities in the affections of our hearts, and not in mere intellectual exactness. Our Lord has said, "Surely I come quickly." May our souls respond, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."