Pray: Morning Prayer
Read: Deuteronomy 23:1-26:19
This is actually a word that I caught yesterday too but it wasn’t that word’s time quite yet; today is. The concept of a promised land isn’t just for the ancient Israelites, and it’s not just about heaven someday, did you know that it’s for you – today?!? It really is! Each and every one of us has a promised land, a place that God has promised us; whether it’s a physical land, material item, a calling, a career, a child, a dream fulfilled, you name it! I believe that in this life we can have many promised lands in many different areas of our lives, but honestly, there will be a main promised land. For me it is my calling, my ministry.
The promised land isn’t something that we originally seek on our own, rather it is something that God shows us a little peek of, promises it to be ours, and then we wait as patiently as possible while He prepares it for the proper time. The Promised Land, for each of us, is something different yet like Abraham waiting for Isaac, it may take many years to get to that place of promise, perhaps even generations. Abraham never lived to see all of his own promises from God completely fulfilled. Yes, he got to hold baby Isaac and watch him grow. He got to see, live in and walk through the promised land of Canaan but he never got to see his children live and thrive there; they moved to Egypt to be with Joseph before that could happen. But the promise was given to Abraham first then passed down through the generations until just the right time when Moses came along and God used him to lead their whole family out of slavery (plus a few Egyptians too)! The seed, or children, of Abraham had to wait a long time before their promised land was again in their sights, but God is faithful to His promises and He delivered them into it just like He said that He would; on the day that He said that He would!
In Genesis eleven when we first meet Abraham his father is traveling to Canaan with his son Abraham, Abraham’s wife Sarai and Abraham’s nephew Lot. Yet the traveling party never makes it all the way to Canaan, they settle in Haran instead, perhaps because Abraham’s father was sick, who knows. The Bible doesn’t say why they left in the first place or why they stopped short of their goal, but I find it very interesting that something within Abraham’s father inspired him to travel towards the land of promise and managed to get Abraham half-way there. After his father dies at Haran God comes to Abraham and says “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3) Notice here that God doesn’t point out that He’s going to take Abraham to Canaan, just to “the land that I will show you”, it just happens to be Canaan the land that his father had set out for years ago. The journey his father started Abraham finished.
In Genesis, chapter fifteen, God promises Abraham that He will bless him with a child to inherit the newly mentioned “very great” reward (Genesis 15:1). God also promises that this seed will be planted in the land that he is now standing. So while Abraham is in that place of promise as a stranger his child’s children will stand there as residents, deeply rooted in the rich soil of promise. Abraham carried on his own father’s dream of living in Canaan, his children will continue that dream of not only living there, but possessing it. They will not be foreigners, strangers in that land of Promise; they will live there, they will thrive there and it will be their possession. And what-da-ya know, low and behold a few hundred years later not only were the descendants (or seeds) of Abraham as numerous as the “stars in the sky”, but they were also the owners of their very own Promised Land! That place that generations ago God and Abraham stood and cut a covenant of blood signifying that God would uphold his promise to Abraham, they now stood in that promise, on that land, and it was theirs. They could hold that dirt in their hands and say “This is my possession”. They were able to plant seeds of their own into that dirt and watch them grow, bear much fruit and flourish!
Each and every one of us is filled with seeds of our own. Seeds of faith… seeds of hope… seeds of love… seeds of promise… the seeds of all the generations yet to come they are all within us. Being parents, mothers and fathers, we are in the process of tending to those seeds that have been planted and are now growing outside our bodies. As we tend to our children day in and day out we are filling them with new seeds. Seeds of faith, seeds of hope, seeds of love, seeds of promise, seeds that will continue to grow within our children to someday bear fruit to feed all the thousands of generations within them that are yet to come.
In today’s reading, chapter twenty-five verses five through ten, we read about the custom of taking your deceased brother’s wife and perpetuating his name. This section of scripture is special to me because it directly relates to the first Tamar’s story in Genesis thirty-eight. She was in this very situation where her first husband, Er, died before she had any children with him. So she was given to his brother, Onan, to bear a child in Er’s name. Only when Onan, went to “do his duty” he spilled his seed onto the ground denying her any hope of having a child with him in his brother’s name. Well, God really didn’t like how Onan was abusing Tamar and removed him from the picture. At the time Er’s youngest brother, shelah, was too young to fulfill his duty to Tamar; so Tamar’s father in law, Judah -great grandson of Abraham, sent her to live with her father. This was a huge disgrace to her. As Shelah grew of age Judah did not do what was right and give Tamar to him to be his wife so that she could bear sons in Er and Onan’s names through Shelah. At that point, when it became obvious that Judah wasn’t going to do the right thing, Tamar had every right to completely disgrace Judah and his entire household by publicly removing his shoe and spitting in his face. But she didn’t do that. She didn’t want to bring disgrace to the family that she had married into. So she chose to force Judah to do the right thing instead. In spite of having been disgraced herself, she chose to honor Judah and his household by slyly tricking Judah into sleeping with her, at just the right time of month no less, in order to ensure a child through Judah’s family line. She was not only standing up for herself and her own rights as a widow, she was standing up for the honor and the future of their family! Tamar stood up for those little seeds within herself that hadn’t had a chance to grow yet. She stood up for those little seeds of generations to come; Perez and Zerah – the twins she bore from Judah, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz – the husband of Ruth, Obed, Jesse – the father of David, King David – the father of the second Tamar and Solomon, Rehoboam, Abihah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manassah, Amos, Josiah, Jechoniah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthen, Jacob, Joseph, and even King Jesus. Each and every one of those ever-so-important people were within her womb, waiting to have a chance to live, to sprout and grow, to make an impact on this world and if she hadn’t stood up for them, they never would have been.
When we plant seeds of faith and hope and love into our children we are doing so much more than simply tending to the sapling sprouting in our little home garden. We are tending the mighty tree that will bear the seed containing fruit of all the generations to come! And who knows what those little generational seeds will do? We have the opportunity to not only carry on (or sever) the generational cycles that have been passed down to us, but also the opportunity to pass them down to the next generation. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says, “You can count the number seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” And it is so very true! God knows each and every apple that will come from your seed, He knows the fruit that each precious seed will bear, and plant and grow in its life and time and in all the lifetimes to come. God knows the plans that He has for you… and your generations to come. He knows the plans and He knows the promises and He will be faithful to fulfill each and every one of them just like He did with the Israelites and their own Promised Land.
When the LORD promised Abraham a son to inherit his legacy AND the land they were standing in; each and every one of those numbered starry-eyed children was in Abraham’s loins at the time the promise was given and sealed with blood. Beloved… when God made these promises… He wasn’t making them to Abraham alone, He was making them to us all. For, as believers, we are all Abraham’s seed. Oh my friend! WHEN, not if, not maybe, but WHEN you come into the land the LORD your God has promised you as an inheritance, take possession of it, live deeply rooted in it, love being in it, rejoice because of it! Because it’s YOURS, all yours, live in the abundant life that Jesus’ blood sealed for YOU. Like turning your nose up at a dinner your mother slaved over just for you, it would insult Jesus if you didn’t dig in and enjoy the freedoms and the pleasantries of this life full-well knowing that they are but a shadow of what is still yet to come. The future Promised Land of Heaven. May you live abundantly today under the promise of Him who is does exceedingly abundantly above all that you can hope or imagine! Amen!