Lessons from the Edge of the Wilderness

The bodies we live in now are tents constructed for a temporary sojourn through the wilderness of this present life.

View of Promised Land from Mount Nebo in Jordan

I am reading through the Bible chronologically. By the way, the “books” of the Bible are only roughly chronological. Following the chronology closely requires jumping around a bit. I didn’t realize to what extent that is true before taking this journey that I am on.

Presently, I am right at the point where Moses stands on top of a mountain (east of Jericho, on the edge of the plains of Moab) to survey the land that God promised hundreds of years earlier to Abraham and his descendants. Moses dies right before they go in.

Before he dies, though, he reminds the people of all that has transpired. He reminds them how God delivered them out of their slavery in Egypt and went with them every step along the way. The reminder of God’s presence was with them by fire at night and cloud during the day.

God revealed Himself in dramatic ways to these people and instructed them through Moses down to very particular details for establishing a relationship with God through the Tent of Meeting, Ark of the Covenant and the offerings they were to make through the intermediaries of the Levite priests, among other things. They had 40 years of wandering in the wilderness with God’s presence continually among them in visual demonstration and ritual reminders.

Reading through this history of God’s interaction with the people He chose to lead eventually into a land He promised many, many generations before through a modern, intellectual lens can be unnerving. The skepticism of the age echoes in my mind and unsettles my heart.

Of particular note are the times we read that people are stricken dead for ignoring or refusing to follow the instruction. For instance, the Sons of Korah, the sons of Moses’ cousin Korah led a revolt against Moses. They and all the people who followed them died when God caused “the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah”. (Numbers 16:1-33)

Incidences like this prompt a person of modern sensibilities to wonder, “Why would a good God do such a thing?!” It seems Draconian.

The stakes were high for these people, and even less intentional “slips” were sometimes met with the same fate. It’s hard to imagine living in those circumstances, especially in light of the grace that seems to color everything that Jesus said and did.

Continue reading “Lessons from the Edge of the Wilderness”

From There… God Changes Us

Red Rocks in Arizona by Chris Fraley


“But from there you will[1] seek[2][3] the LORD your God and you will find[4] him, if you search[5] after[6] him with all your heart and with all your soul[7].” (Deut. 4:29) From where? What is this verse speaking about? Continue reading “From There… God Changes Us”

Chosen in Him

11064616_10153289942939704_5359952661186289096_n


“[H]e chose us in him before the foundation[i] of the world….” (Eph. 1:4) God foresaw and foreknew us and had plans for us from the beginning.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them. (Ps. 139:16)

God has brought you to this place; or more accurately, God foreknew you in this place. Whether you feel like you have been following God, God has been leading you, or you are just wandering in the wilderness, you are where God knew you would be from before the creation of the world when God chose you.

We think in terms of home and destination, but the fact is that we are on a journey. We are not home, and our destination is not a place that we can get to on our own.

Continue reading “Chosen in Him”

Israel, the Promised Land

Panorama of Jerusalem, Israel


Israel is the only nation in the world that is living under the same name, speaking the same language, observing the same religion and located in the same place that they were 4000 years ago.

After a lapse of nearly 2000 years during which the Israeli people were scattered and often persecuted in the various places to which they were dispersed, the UN declared the reestablishment of the nation of Israel on May 5, 1948. The nation of Israel was ousted from their native land in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, 1878 years earlier. That UN decree brought 3.6 million Jews back to the historic land of Jews from over 90 nations in 1948, an unprecedented event.

This history is as remarkable as it is unprecedented.  Continue reading “Israel, the Promised Land”