Day 33

Boundaries of the Promised Land

from the reading plan

Numbers 34:1-29, Numbers 35:1-34, Numbers 36:1-13, Psalm 16:6, Hebrews 4:1-7

Some of my favorite books as a child were massive fantasy novels with intricate filigree covers and an Old World look to them. Think of The Lord of the Rings or Eragon, stories set in magical lands that a brilliant author’s imagination constructed from nothing. The inner cover was usually a map of the magical world inside the book, and I used to spend those first few minutes orienting myself with the places that would be the backdrop of the great adventure I was about to read. And of course these maps always had the most unusual, unpronounceable names!

Reading places like “the Wilderness of Zin” or “from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt” made me think of those maps. What’s even more impressive is that the names in Numbers 34 aren’t from the mind of a whimsical author—these are actual cities and communities, real forests and deserts, well-known roadways and borders. As Israel wandered through the wilderness, they may have passed by these boundaries and wondered when it would be their turn to step into all God had promised. They may have been filled with impatience as they sat across the river, seeing the good land the Lord was waiting to give to them. And can you imagine being a child born in the wilderness, now grown into adulthood, hearing Moses speak the words your parents had said would come? From this sea to that mountain, from one city to another, this is your home. What sweet relief in seeing God’s promise on the brink of fulfillment!

And yet there’s still an inescapable tension to hold as I read this chapter. I don’t know why this land was chosen specifically or how to unravel what was to happen to the people already inhabiting the places given to Israel. I don’t know what the Canaanites thought when they saw a massive army and nation on the other side of their borders. I don’t know how I would feel if I were a Moabite or an Edomite and it was my home being taken by a foreign invader.

When I read Numbers 34, I see a lot of my own inner turmoil at living in the now and not yet of God’s promise. In the present day, my home is in Christ and the peace of being in relationship with God because of Jesus. Thanks be to God for that! But I also wonder why non-believing friends I love fiercely are still far from God or why the injustice and pain in our world isn’t just stopped once and for all.

What I do know is that our God is good and His love extends to all of His creation. Because He is good, He will do the things in His timing that make the most good for His beloved. While there’s so much between the lines and in the untold stories of history that we don’t know, I have faith in God’s goodness.

And thanks be to God for that, as well.

Written by Kayla De La Torre

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