How To Inherit God’s Promises

Canaan

Numbers 33:50 – 56

The Israelites were so close to the Promised Land, they could look across the Jordan right into it. Up to this point in Numbers 33, Moses recalls the past for the sake of his people and of the inspired record he set down. If you were to read Numbers 33:1 – 47, you would be struck with the seemingly never-ending patience of God as He preserved His people during their travels, beginning with their Exodus from Egypt. The trip from Mount Sinai to the Promised Land should have been quick and simple. Thanks to the people’s rebellious, sinful attitudes, God forced them to turn back from the Promised Land and He made the walk around the desert for almost 40 years until that sinful generation died off. Essentially, God would start fresh with a new group of people entering into the Promised Land. During the 40 years, God preserved and put up with almost constant complaining, murmuring, often thankless people until He led them right back to where they started: the border of the Promised Land.

The Israelites learned a lesson, and so should we. The life we Christians enjoy in Christ, our “land of rest,” depends on the same grace of God. If you are serving the Lord, you may experience supernatural provision, happiness, and peace in the here-and-now thanks only to God’s grace. The children of Israel were often discouraged because of God’s will – their wilderness wanderings. God’s will may not always be exciting or something that you particularly enjoy either, but it is God’s will none-the-less and rather than “kicking against the goad,” it’s best for you to submit to His will and enjoy all that His grace has to offer. It’s a lot less work, a lot less frustrating, and a lot more rewarding experience.

They left the mountains of Abarim and camped on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. There on the plains of Moab they camped along the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim. (Numbers 33:48, 49 NIV)

So here are, after four decades, Israel found itself standing on the plains of Moab, directly across from Jericho and the wonders of “the land flowing with milk and honey.” The Jordan River was the only thing between the people and the promise. The tens of thousands of Israelites were occupying an area of about five miles square; plenty of room for them to wait for the word to enter Canaan. Ronald Allen, in his commentary on Numbers, makes six keen observations of what was going on in Numbers 33. Of those six, two are worth noting here.

First, in the midst of Moses’ account of the Israelite’s travels, he abruptly pauses to mention something else:

While they were at the foot of Mount Hor, Aaron the priest was directed by the Lord to go up into the mountain, and there he died. This occurred during the fortieth year after the people of Israel had left Egypt. The date of his death was July 15, when he was 123 years old. (Numbers 33:38 – 40 TLB)

Moses was dying and he knew it. Much of this chapter may be regarded his obituary, written ahead of time by himself. In the midst of his obituary, Moses memorializes his brother Aaron. It’s a small point but a remarkable one that speaks to the character of both Moses and his brother. Moses, the reluctant hero, deliverer, and leader of a nation and his brother, Aaron, the nation’s spiritual leader, were both significant men of God and significant men in the history of Israel. They were not sinless. They were far from perfect. And, when God called them into service, Moses and Aaron had already lived half a lifetime; these were not young men. But they both rose to their callings. They both, no doubt, got more grief than they deserved, and yet both men kept on, walking the road God had put them on. Neither man would be allowed to enter Canaan, but they were men of God.

Secondly, as you read Numbers 33, there is absolutely no mention of the rebellion of the people; no mention of the 40 years of judgment and punishment. If all you knew about Israel’s history came from this chapter, you would rightly conclude that Israel marched faithfully, from one staging point to another, from Egypt to the Canaan. Why is that, do you suppose? In God’s records, the new generation had replaced the old one. As far as God was concerned, there had never been a previous rebellious and sinful generation. The people who arrived at the banks of the Jordan were regarded by God as the people who had left Egypt.

What do we take away from this? God’s will; His eternal purpose and plan for His people will always be realized, despite the loss and disappearance of an entire generation. Or, in other words, with or without your help or co-operation, God’s will is going to come to pass.

That Land of Promise, like all of God’s promises, could only be received and entered into by faith. Like the children of Israel, let’s take a few moments to look into the Promised Land.

What was it like?

From all the songs and hymns we sing, you might get the impression that Canaan Land was just like Heaven. In fact, it probably wasn’t. Canaan Land, far from being like a place, was like a Person: the Lord Jesus Christ. Think about this: Canaan was the following things.

A land of plenty

Remember how God Himself described the Promised Land:

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 (Exodus 3:8 NIV)

Remember what the spies saw when they spied out the Land:

When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. (Numbers 3:23 NIV)

They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” (Numbers 3:27 NIV)

Canaan was everything God said it would be. Would it have been anything else? It was something – some place – God had given to them. God only gives good things to His people. Even during their time wandering around the desert, God was still giving them good things (whether they fully realized it or not!).

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. (Deuteronomy 2:7 NIV)

Even when you don’t deserve it, God will provide for you. What a foreshadow of what Jesus Christ does for His people.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

A God-given land

Canaan was a piece of property God gave personally to His people. It was a Land of Promise for every Israelite to enjoy. All they had to do was receive it. Jesus Christ is a Person given to every human being:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned (John 3:16 – 18a NIV)

But just like the Promised Land, Jesus is a promise waiting to be claimed. Until the Israelites went in to possess the Land, it really didn’t belong to them even though God gave it to them. Until a lost soul reaches out in faith to possess the gift of God in Jesus Christ, He doesn’t belong to them, either.

How to possess the promise

Believe

If you, like the Israelites before you, want to “possess the land,” or possess the promises God has in store for you, you need to remember what a “promise” is. The promise of God must be accepted by the one God made it to. The promise He has promised man is eternal life in Christ Jesus. You must believe, not only in Him, but in what He accomplished for you. It was unbelief that kept Israel out of the Promised Land for 40 years and it is unbelief that keeps eternal life elusive to so many lost souls.

Possess

Canaan could not be claimed and owned by the Israelites until they were IN it. They had to claim it with their feet!

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. (Joshua 1:3 NIV)

Don’t think this is another “name-it-and-claim-it” message, because it isn’t. Nobody can claim the promises of God until they are IN Christ. If you are in Christ, you will receive the promises of God in due time.

Confront

Sometimes, as in the case of Israel, possessing God’s promises may take a little bit of work.

“When you pass across the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there and destroy all their idols—their carved stones, molten images, and the open-air sanctuaries in the hills where they worship their idols. I have given the land to you; take it and live there.” (Numbers 33:51 – 53 TLB)

There may not be people in between you and your promise, but maybe you may have to deal with some sin in your life. Or maybe some doubt or faithlessness. Whatever you need to “drive out” in order to receive your promise, it will be more than worth the effort to do it. There is an enemy determined to keep you away from the promises God has given to you and you may have to deal with him, too.

A warning:  You may fail

God had given Canaan to Israel, but it wasn’t a done deal by a long shot. Failure was possible.

But if you refuse to drive out the people living there, those who remain will be as cinders in your eyes and thorns in your sides. (Numbers 33:55 TLB)

It’s hard to imagine, but living in disobedience to God’s revealed will can literally turn the blessings of God into small curses that make life hard for you. Israel had to do exactly what God told them to do, otherwise they would forever be plagued with aggravations and irritations all the years they lived in the land gave them.

How many Christians are genuine, true believers, yet live miserable lives because they are just slightly out of His will?

Disobedience is fatal

If failing to do all that God wants you to do results in you living a sub-standard Christian life, then outright, continual disobedience is deadly.

And I will destroy you as I had planned for you to destroy them. (Numbers 33:55 TLB)

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1 Response to “How To Inherit God’s Promises”


  1. 1 valary April 17, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    thank you for changing my mind set your encouraging words is building every minute


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