What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “The Promised Land?” As western thinkers, many of us have been taught to think of this statement in a spiritual, heavenly sense. It is someplace that we are headed at the end of our lives. We are thinking of a heavenly city, with a mansion in it, that we hope to occupy when we die. As we take our last breath, we will be transported to the Promised Land. Our focus is on that destination. Our earthly experience is just a preparation for an eternity in the Promised Land.
While I am sure this thinking is accurate in some sense, the Promised Land as seen in the Bible is an “in the present experience” as opposed to “in the future.” The Promised Land experience in the Bible is in the form of and focuses on the journey rather than on the destination.
God gave the children of Israel the Promised Land so that they would live on the crossroads of the world. Daily, they were supposed to live in such a way,”that the world would know” that there was a God named YHVH, that was the one, true God. The “walk” was what got you to the destination and was the key element. The “walk” started in Egypt and came to the Promised Land. They went in and possessed it. Their faith, or lack of it, was constantly on display.
As westerners, we have a tendency to separate our walk with God from our responsibility to the world in which he has placed us. Our emphasis seems to be on our personal experience rather than on our responsibility to the world in which he has placed us.
We see the Israelites Exodus experience as a metaphor for salvation. We see that they were hopelessly mired in slavery and bondage (sin) and that they were on the banks of the Red Sea with no way out. Their backs were against the Sea and the Egyptians (Satan) were closing in. God saved the Israelites by opening up the sea and transporting them safely to the other side (salvation). The Israelites contributed nothing to being saved, it was all God (grace). But he didn’t leave them standing on the other side. He required something out of them. He immediately led them out into the desert to start working out their salvation experience (faith walk). If we continue the parallels, the Israelites went in and possessed and lived in the Promised Land. By faith, they trusted God to fight for them and give them rain, etc. to live in and possess the land on a daily basis. The life of faith was not some vague, philosophical goal that they strove for in their mind. It was being faithful to God in the place and time they were in, in the present. They were on the crossroads of the world for all to see and observe. We are to love the Lord with all our heart,soul and mind as we go about our daily walk in the area of the Promised Land that we live in. The Promised Land , in a very real sense, is right now , in the present as we walk and live in such a way that “the world may know that there is a God in Heaven” and we are his witnesses as we daily live our lives.