January 02, 2008

Lessons From History: the Gift

Deuteronomy 1:6-8

"See, I have given you this land."
Deuteronomy 1:8


It had been hundreds of years since God promised Abraham the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-7), but his descendants still didn't possess it. God's timetable sometimes requires patience. Still, though Israel had not yet received the land, it was truly theirs: "I have given you this land." The gift was secure.

Moses reminded the people about the report of the team that had spied out the land: "It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us" (Deuteronomy 1:25).

How could it not be good? The gift reflects the Giver. God creates space for comfortable living in his presence. In the desert, Israel experienced God's daily goodness: food, water, and protection from enemies. Now, on the edge of their future, the people could see the good land.

Moses also reminded them that their disloyal parents had been here too-almost 40 years earlier. That generation had rebelled, but God does not hold his anger forever. And now God was honoring the promise made to Abraham. The gift of land is yours, Moses explained.

It's not really about the gift, of course, but the Giver. It's not about the good land but God's gracious presence. God can be present anywhere-in the desert, on the plains east of the Jordan, and, yes, also just beyond the river. Look to the Giver, receive the gift, and enjoy him forever.

For forgiveness of sins and the gift of life eternal, through Jesus Christ, I thank you, Lord. Help me to be continually aware of your presence in my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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