Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore he would give to you fathers –to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob –and to their descendants after them. (Deuteronomy 1:6-8)
Many see the Bible as a book that is becoming increasingly antiquated. What with cars, lasers, and the internet, what can some book about a bunch of desert people and their deity do for us today? Yet, after thousands of years, this command still applies to us today: “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the rest of your life.”
Maybe you’re not a Christian, maybe you are, but chances are you’re stuck somewhere in your life. Today God is telling you to move on. What is your mountain? Are you and your housing standing on a mountain of debt? Have you built for yourself a mountain of sin? Perhaps you’re coping with mountains of emotional problems. Today, the Bible says, “You have stayed at this mountain long enough.”
For those who’ve never read the Bible, God’s command seems basic enough, “move on.” But if one has read the scriptures a few times, then the startling nature of these words might be clearer: Horeb is the mountain of God. You don’t believe God would chase his own people away from his place? Check it out in Exodus 3:1,
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
Why would the Lord tell his people to leave this most holy of places? It’s like the owner of a Starbucks getting on the intercom and saying, “You’ve had enough coffee, get out!” Why does God do this? It is because we’re not meant to stay in one place.
If you look at the rest of the above passage, God evokes what is referred to as the “promised land,” a land God swore to the people of Israel for their inheritance. For those of you who are Christians, you’re probably keeping up fine, but we’ll back up a little for those less versed in Scripture.
Long before a whole race of peoples are told to get away from God’s mountain, there was a promise made to one man, Abram. One day, God out of nowhere calls this 75-year old man out and says “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I show you (Genesis 12:1).” So, having no reason not to, he goes. The Bible recounts,
Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were living in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. (Genesis 12:6-7)
After this, the Lord renewed his promise to each generation. Maybe we’ll get more into the details of the journey some other time, but to summarize: after 400 years of slavery in Egypt and 40 more years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites are on the banks of the river opposite of the land promised to them by God. God told their fathers (whom all died in the desert) about this land sworn to them in Exodus 3:17,
And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites –a land flowing with milk and honey.
Right across the river stands the land that was promised to their ancestor Abram. Now the Lord tells them that they’ve been at his mountain long enough, and it’s time to take their land.
You too are probably closer to your destiny than you realize. Maybe you know exactly what is waiting for you, like the Israelites, maybe you have no idea. One thing is true though, you’ll never reach your destiny just waiting for it to come to you. It may not be easy, but you have to get off whatever mountain you may be on, and take your promised land!
For those of you who are Christian, or, for those of you who are ready to take a leap of faith and trust the Lord to guide you’re life, let’s take a moment to pray. If you aren’t ready to pray yet, that’s fine; you’ll probably have more chances later (plus you can always come back to this). Don’t worry about closing your eyes, but just read out loud the following prayer and God will hear you.
I have not taken advantage of all that you’ve put before me,
Whether it was a lack of faith, or a lack of understanding.
Today though I ask you to take my hand,
Forgive me for not trusting and listening to you before,
And lead me to my promised land.
I’m ready to get off of my mountain, with your help,
And experience all that you have prepared for me.
I thank you for this opportunity,
And I can’t wait to see all that you have in store for my life.
In your name I pray Lord,