Everyone knows about the biblical concept of a promised land; the arrival place for people who seek freedom, relief from bondage, and the joy of a blessed life. The original Promised Land was a gift that God gave to ancient Israel — a literal place called Canaan, a fertile land bursting with oversized fruit and flowing rivers. It was the stuff of dreams for the Israelites, a people who had been beaten down and exiled for generations.
When the children of Israel arrived at Canaan’s border, God made an unusual statement to Moses: “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you … for you are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:3).
This may sound harsh, but in context, it is anything but harsh. God had freed Israel from four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. Now, on the cusp of their entry into the Promised Land, God made the surprising declaration that he would not go with them. Even after all the miraculous things God did for the Israelites, they complained every time they faced a new hardship — the miracles God performed for them never translated into faith. Every time Moses turned around the people were threatening to reject God and abandon his leading.
But Moses’ faith was different. He knew the goodness of God, as demonstrated in all his supernatural works for Israel. In fact, the Lord’s favor toward his people seemed bottomless, never ending, unlimited. No matter what obstacle they faced or how impossible it seemed, God brought them through every time. Moses marveled at the character of God who mercifully performed all these things on their behalf and he said, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15).
Moses had discovered a valuable truth; he knew that even though God had provided manna from heaven and water from a rock, these vital blessings were not the point of these experiences. Rather, trusting God’s compassionate love — knowing him intimately — was what really mattered.
“Please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight” (33:13).
What does your heart long for? Is your main dream for material things? Or is it the hope of God’s glory? Don’t let anything — even good things — blind you to the glory of his presence.