Thursday, March 08, 2012

Return to Eden

Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land the LORD swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.... So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. ~ Deut 11:8-9, 13-15

Here is Israel, standing before the Jordan, only the river separating them from the Promised Land, when Moses shares these words from the Lord. Because of their stubborn refusal to trust in the Lord, and to obey Him, they wandered in the dessert for an additional 38 years, 40 in all, so that all adults who had left Egypt were dead at this time. These, standing ready, hearing these words for the first time, were the second generation.

As I read this passage this morning, I was struck again that God's desire for us is the Promised Land, and it's description here is reminiscent of Eden. Gardens planted for them, vineyards and cities, homes built and wells dug, fields of grass for their cattle, autumn and spring rain for their crops. Everything planted and done, theirs was only to cultivate and enjoy. Ah, Paradise!

There is only one catch. They need to obey. They need to love the Lord and serve Him.

But God is doing it for their good. It is in the wisdom of His Laws that there is peace. But they did not see it that way. As the Bible story continues we see Israel doing just what the Lord warns them not to do. They stubbornly insist their own ways are better. They selfishly look out for themselves and not others. In their abundance and peace, they forget about God and credit themselves for all they have.

Don't we do the same? Don't I do the same?

Father God, You have always wanted Your own to return to Eden! You first designed Eden for all men and women. Then You brought Your chosen people, Israel to the Promised Land. Now You promise the Kingdom of Heaven to all who would believe in Your beloved Son Jesus. And we who believe in Him, when we stay close to You and Your Word, when we love the Lord serve Him with all our hearts and with all our souls, then our world becomes like the world as You always intended. Like a good father, this was never only for You, to have Your way! It was also always for us!

Help me, Father, remember, love You and obey! Father, let Your Kingdom come, let Your will be done. And let it begin with me.