I have a confession to make. Until my 2013 trip to Israel with Bridges for Peace, I questioned why God chose Canaan as the Promised Land. Many lands are far more beautiful and blessed with more abundant resources. Israel is hilly and with its arid conditions prone to drought. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth and is completely lifeless. While it may be a land of milk and honey what makes it so special?
Our guide, Yakov Romano, put a map in front of us and enlightened my feeble mind. Canaan sat at the crossroads of the old world for those traveling from Africa to Europe, the Middle East or Asia. It was a strategic gateway to major civilizations and for this reason it was essential in God’s planning to place His people there.
Psalm 33:11,12—The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh—the people He has chosen to be His own possession.
A walk through the Bible reveals God’s plans. Genesis 18:18 reads,“Abraham is to become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.” In Leviticus 20:26 we read, “You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine.” In Psalm 67:1,2, we read, “May God be gracious to us and bless us; look on us with favor so that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.” Jeremiah pointed out, “Many nations will pass by this city and ask one another, ‘Why did the LORD do such a thing to this great city?’” (Jer. 22:8). Ezekiel further reveals God’s intent, “This is what the LORD GOD says: I have set this Jerusalem in the center of the nations, with countries all around her” (Eze. 5:5). The prophet Zechariah wrote, “Many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the LORD of Hosts in Jerusalem and to plead for the LORD’s favor” (Zec. 8:22). Paul completes the picture by taking us back to Genesis, “Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you” (Galatians 3:8).
God didn’t choose Canaan because of its physical beauty, He chose it because it was a natural gateway—a centerpiece for revelation. As people traveled through Israel, they were to hear the good news of God’s love for people. They were to observe His blessings poured out on her so they would turn to Him. When Israel chased after foreign gods and turned her back on Him, God didn’t jettison His plan. He sent Jesus.
Modern transportation and shifting population centers negate the need to travel Israel’s ancient roads. Still she commands the world’s attention and as in the days of her kings she is surrounded by enemies. As we learn in Revelation 16:16, the nations will gather against her at Armageddon and He will punish those who refuse to accept His plans.
The Promised Land is the message of God’s love. I had focused on beauty and my own selfish concept of what I would like. God focused on winning hearts. His ways are so much higher and better. Lord, enlighten the eyes of my heart to see as You see!
©2013 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)