For the Lord your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wandering through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have not lacked anything.Deuteronomy 2:7
The wilderness journey of the Israelites took place an as example for us (1 Cor 10:6). The verse above is a picture of the Christian journey as pilgrims in this world (1 Peter 2:11).
This brings us to the question: why do we obey the Lord? How do we live our life here on earth as aliens and strangers?
The Lord never promised a wealthy and abundant earthly life. The promise is this: His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9). If our Redeemer has no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58), should we expect that we, the redeemed, will have a comfortable life here on earth?
God has given us all portion of blessings. We must be good stewards of what He entrusted to us. But material blessings have nothing to do with Christianity. There is no guarantee that abundant earthly possessions will follow once we obey the Lord. If it is, then the wealthy people in this world can be considered as the most blessed people and the true followers of Christ. But no, that is not true Christianity! When God is with us, He will supply our needs according to His riches, enough that we may continue to trust in Him.
Earthly treasures can never give satisfaction. We do not need so much wealth. If by God’s wisdom and providence we possess riches in this world, it is not for our personal consumption but for the church and the advancement of the Kingdom. Our goal is to store up treasures in heaven, lasting and incorruptible (1 Peter 1:4).
Let us see the three (3) descriptions of the Christian life based on Deuteronomy 2:7
Israel was to cross the wilderness to get to the promised land. There is no other route appointed by the Lord.
Like what Israel was to the wilderness, so Christians are to the world. They were not attached to the wilderness so we are also not to be attached to this world. God provided manna from heaven daily and water from the rock in time of great need and they lacked nothing. All of it came from God alone. They must learn to trust God daily. There’s no food for our souls which comes from this world that can satisfy us. We must look to God’s word daily that our souls may be satisfied daily. May we not replace the lasting treasures in heaven with the fading possessions in this world.
For Israel, the wilderness is full of danger. They are exposed to the perils in the wilderness. Paul, in Ephesians 6:16, describes the devil’s flaming arrows as pictures of danger so that Christians may take up the shield of faith in all circumstances. We are exposed to the threat of the enemies of our souls. In 1 Peter 5:8, Satan seeks to devour us not to play with us. The enemy of our souls wants our eyeballs wide open to all that pertains to worldliness: its lust, and pride. We must be careful and carry the full armor of God.
The journey is tiring. Our life is not a bed of roses. If it is, it is a bed of roses with thorns. When we think of our journey as convenient as living our best life now, a simple problem might cause us to blame and stop trusting God. Acts 14:22 describes our entrance to God’s kingdom with much tribulation. So, do not delude yourself into believing that you can live your best life now! This is the lie of prosperity gospel preachers! They say that Jesus’s atonement extends to the “sin” of material poverty.1
Despite the thorns along the journey, we have peace and we rejoice because the Lord is with us (Phil 4:6-7). We do not know where to go in the wilderness, so the Lord must be our guide through His word. For the Israelites, they have pillars of cloud by day and fire by night (Exo 40:36-38). In this world, the word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a lamp unto our path (Psalm 119:105). Many professing Christians are lost in this world because they do not love the word.
Our text says He has known your wandering through this great wilderness. In Hebrew, this literally means walking in the wilderness. Our journey on earth is not a joy ride.
They all walked. All were required to walk. None is to run or stop walking whenever they want. They are under the direction of God. In the Scriptures, walking is to order and frame the course and actions of our lives in humble submission to God’s word (Psalm 1, Genesis 6:9, Micah 6:8). It was a very rough journey in the desert. There was no royal road. So, we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), not minding the rough and narrow road of life. We must walk as Christ walked (1 John 2:6). Jesus walked and depend on His Father alone, so should we.
They carried their things in the wilderness, so we also carry our cross (Mark 8:34-38). The cross refers to shame and persecutions as we follow the Lord. Our life must be self-denying. Are you now seeing how difficult the Christian life is? Christian life seems to be impossible, but it is possible with God as salvation is (Luke 1:37). Jesus is not only what we need, but He is all that we have in our Christian journey.2
They walked together. There’s no lone ranger. The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone (2 Tim 2:22). The Greek word literally means to run away. Does it say to run away alone? NO! But in running away we should also pursue holiness along with those who call on the Lord. That’s why Paul says in Gal 6:1-3 that we should carry one another’s burden. In all dangers, temptation, and trials, we should walk together.
We do not know what tomorrow holds, but we should trust Him who knows tomorrow. This is biblical church life. In our walk, the Lord never fails to walk with us. We may be tired in our journey so we should rest at times like Elijah (1 Kings 19) but we have no reason to be discouraged.
But in good times and bad times, the Lord is faithful and He is walking with His people.
God watches over us every moment. The text says the Lord knows the wanderings of the Israelites and for forty years the Lord God has been with them. The Lord knows our walk, when we sit down and when we rise up (Psalm 139:2). We are not here by chance but by God’s appointing.
Our comfort is His company. The Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not be in want (Psalm 23). The Lord’s constant care and comfort is with us daily though we may not feel it. In Hebrews 4:15, the author says that Christ is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Yes, the journey is tough, and the road is rough, but His grace is enough.
Here is the challenge: what is the world for you? Is it like a beach resort, a desirable and attractive place to you that you are so attached to it? Do you love the world so much that you spend more time with it than with the Lord of glory? Or do you consider it as a dangerous desert that you must overcome in order to reach the promised land?
Remember this: Attachment to earthly treasures distracts a believer from persistently fixing his eyes upon Christ. As God watches over us, we must also watch and pray that we may not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41). Our daily battles on earth are won through prayer. Our hidden life determines our triumph in this war. We are the church militant, we must carry our weapons daily. As we prepare ourselves for the warfare through prayer, remember God’s abiding care (Heb 13:5).
My beloved brothers and sisters remember that friendship with the world is being God’s enemy (James 4:4). Where is your loyalty? Don’t settle your heart down here. Look forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10). For our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to himself (Phil 3:20-21 ESV).
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
Note: This post is based on our pastor’s sermon during our midweek service at Bella Vista Outreach.
*Cover photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay.com
1 Joe Carter, What You Should Know About the Prosperity Gospel
2 Paul Washer, The Impossibility of the Christian Life
2 thoughts on “The Christian Journey”
Praise be to God!
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Amen. Thank you pastor.