I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it. – Deuteronomy 34:4
9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.
10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
Hebrews 11:13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.
15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.
16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Great promises offer great hope
Within months of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the American forces on the Philippines were defeated and taken captive. It was a horrendous, dismal, dark day. March 11, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur climbed aboard a PT boat in the Philippines and under cover of darkness ran a Japanese blockade to Australia. He then made a confident promise, “I Shall Return.”
Some 2 1/2 years later American forces landed in Leyte in October 1944. MacArthur fulfilled his promise. Ultimate victory came over Japanese occupied Philippines at the battle of Manila, March 3, 1945.
Promise made; promise kept. Yet sadly this is not always so.
The Father has given us great and precious promises. Some will be realized in this life some will not. Great promises engender great hope. As children of the King we are to learn, believe, and rely upon the promises that the Father has made. It is our choice to keep working towards their fulfillment.
What we look for and aspire to is more important than where we end up.
2 Peter 1:4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
Unrequited longing creates a fragile, painful, emotional openness. Such longing may be a deep ache that defies description. Here dreams die and hope evaporates. We want more, but remain unsatisfied. It is an opportunity for both perspective transformation and perspective confirmation.
It is the Father who takes us through this amazing process. It is the death of a vision. When hopes and dreams are lost, it can be incredibly hard to cope with. It is difficult to know how and when to let go. But this is how the Father deals with His children. In fact, the death of a vision prepares us for what comes next.
The Father is teaching hard lessons that can only be learned via the difficult, often heart wrenching experiences He takes us through. Our response is of greatest importance. When we get it right, and accept His sovereign hand and recognize that He has only our best interest at heart, something incredible follows.
The death of one vision, in time and will give birth to another. Often, it is the same vision. Bill Gothard shared in his Basic Youth Conflicts seminars that time and time again in the Bible we see that the Father gives a vision that must die before it ultimately is fulfilled. Think of Old Testament characters such as Moses or Joseph. That is the Father’s way with the child of the King.
REFLECT & PRAY
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all beauty came from” (C. S. Lewis).
Dear Father, there was a time when I had no hope at all. But by faith You entered into my life. I had hope for a time. But then my vision died. I was left empty and melancholy. That is exactly where You wanted me. You wanted my confidence to rest upon who and what You are and find fulfillment that You alone provide.
After they left Egypt and reached the promised land, the land that would fulfill their hopes and dreams, they shrunk back and did not follow the Father’s direction. Because of unbelief and disobedience, the first generation of Israelites aged twenty and over all died in the wilderness, except for Moses, Joshua, and Caleb (Numbers 32:11-12). They never entered into the promised land. But now the children of Israel have come full circle. The next generation returned to the land of promise ready to follow the Father’s directive. The Father had prepared them to enter and take possession of the promised land.
The story of the wilderness wanderings began with the chaos, ungodly ribaldry, and the golden calf. It now ends with the culmination of the Father’s promise that He would bring His people safely to the promised land and they would take possession of it.
In Hebrews 2-4, unbelief and disobedience go hand-in-hand. These chapters have been referred to as the “cemetery chapters” of the New Testament. “It is a repeated burden of those sad chapters of Hebrews, which tell the story of the wilderness wanderings . . . ‘they could not enter in because of unbelief’ . . .. Because disobedience and unbelief are the two sides of the same coin – a coin of the devil’s mintage. They who disobey do not believe; and they who do not believe disobey” (F. B. Meyer).
Moses was able to see but not enter the land of promise. The Father would not allow him to enter the promised land because of his rash sin at Kadesh (Numbers 20). Was the punishment greater than the offense? Not at all. “Any offense of Moses cannot be a small offense” (Alexander Maclaren).
Moses was the leader of the Father’s own people. Moses knew that the greater the privileges, the greater the responsibilities. The Father in His grace forgives our sins, but God in His government allows our sins to work out their sad consequences in our lives (Wiersbe).
Moses did not die from old age. He was still vigorous and strong though he was no longer able to lead (Deuteronomy 31:2). He died at the Father’s command because he had completed his role in the Father’s plan. His life had spanned three generations (120 years) and was full and complete. His death closed one era and prepared for a new one. Israel was now ready to enter the land, and God had raised up new leadership in Joshua (Hall).
Many of the Father’s children are at the end of an era. They have experienced the death of a vision. This is not the beginning of the end; it is merely the end of the beginning.
Each child of the King possesses promises. We are to stand firm, being fully assured that what the Father has promised, He is able also to perform (Romans 4:21).
Abraham died having seen some, but not all, of the Father’s promises fulfilled. We stand in precisely the same situation. The Father will certainly fulfill all His promises, but the greatest of them await the next life (Stanley).