“And the Lord spoke to me, saying: 'You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward’” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3).
Have you ever set goals for yourself and then found yourself struggling to achieve those goals? Instead of making progress towards those goals, you felt like you were just going around in circles?
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy Moses is giving his farewell speech to a new generation of Israelites. Moses recounts to this next generation of the children of Israel the events of the past 40 years during which the children of Israel had wandered in the wilderness. As he begins, Moses mentions what God had told their forefathers: "The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying: 'You have dwelt long enough at this mountain’” (Deuteronomy 1:6). It had been time for their forefathers to have left the comfort of Mount Horeb and journey towards the Promised Land.
However, although their forefathers had left Mount Horeb and journeyed towards the Promised Land, they did not reach their goal. Why? As Moses moves along with his farewell speech to this next generation, Moses reminds them of the failures of their forefathers and their lack of faith in God. He particularly points out the failure following the bad report given by those who had spied out the Promised Land. The Israelites allowed this bad report to cause them to lose faith in God’s power to enable them to conquer the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:19-46). As a result of this failure, their punishment was to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Instead of reaching their goal, they ended up going around in circles.
As Moses continues his farewell speech, he mentions how that former generation of Israelites had passed away according to God’s punishment (Deuteronomy 2:14-15; cf. Numbers 14:26-35). Moses mentions what the Lord told the current generation of Israelites following the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. As the opening verses above indicate, God says the time for wandering was over. Now it is time to go and conquer the Promised Land. The Lord says, “turn northward” (Deuteronomy 2:3)! Moses leads them through in conquering the land of Sihon, the King of the Amorites, and Og, the King of Bashan which were on the east side of the Jordan River (Deuteronomy 2:24-3:11). Now this next generation of Israelites is on the threshold of achieving their goal of conquering the land west of the Jordan River, the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:1-4). Throughout this farewell speech, he encourages them to keep their focus on achieving the goal God has set before them.
Do you ever feel like your wandering in a spiritual wilderness? I know at times I do. It is easy to get stuck in a spiritual rut. This is why we are admonished, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth’ (Colossians 3:1-2). We need to keep our focus on Christ.
As Christians, it is important for us to “turn northward” and be about the work and mission that God has set before us and not fall into the trap of wandering in the wilderness. Today, I will celebrate God’s guidance and direction in my life and “turn northward” and be about doing His Work. Have a blessed day in service to Christ!
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).