Friday, May 10, 2019
When I travel anywhere I really enjoy taking the scenic route. If I’m going someplace I’ve been before I will usually take the direct Interstate route. But if it’s a new destination I will take the scenic route, which may not be the fastest route. In fact, when the kids were younger, and we went on a family trip or vacation, they used to harass me about going on another one of dad’s “adventures.” We did wind up in some pretty remote places sometimes – just ask them about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
As the final leg of the 40-year journey to the Promised Land begins, the Israelites are faced with a trip-planning decision: do we take the freeway or the scenic route. The freeway led them through the territory of the Edomites, the descendants of Esau. The scenic route led them a long way around to the east of Edom and Moab. Moses thought it would be nice to go the direct route and save time, but God wanted them to take the scenic route for safety.
Numbers 20:14-17 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying: “This is what your brother Israel say: You know about all the hardships that have come upon us. Our forefathers went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our fathers, but when we cried out to the LORD, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king’s highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”
Moses sent out a message to the Edomites and asked permission to go through their land on the king’s highway, and made certain guarantees about the trip. He promised that the people would not use any of the rest areas, and would not stop at any of the McDonald’s for food, and would not stop at any of the convenience stores for water. Most of all, the people would not stop at any of the scenic overlooks or take time to visit any of the points of interest along the way, thus avoiding all contact with the people of the land.
Why would Moses make such promises? If you read the instructions of the Lord given to Moses in Deuteronomy 2:4-6 you will find the answer.
Then the LORD said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.”
God told Moses to avoid the people that were contradictory to God’s purpose. God knew that any point of contact would give the enemy a foothold from which to thwart His divine plan. Moses implemented a potential plan of disobedience. Fortunately, God intervened and used the Edomites to stop them.
There is a deep spiritual lesson in this for us today. God has called us to come out and be separate from all that is evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Cor. 6:17). We have been commanded to be pure, even as He is pure because of the higher hope of heaven that we have (1 John 3:2-3). We are urged to not let our emotions give Satan a foothold in our lives (Eph. 4:27). There is a consistent theme in Scripture that the people of God are not to turn to the right or the left in their temporary journey through this evil land on their way to the permanent residence of God’s presence.
We must take the time to evaluate our life’s trip planning. Are we taking the scenic route, turning off the main road at any location that looks appealing to our flesh, so we can indulge our appetites? Or are we staying on the Interstate, taking the most direct route to God’s presence? I am not talking about avoiding all contact with unsaved people along the way. That would be disobedience to God’s purpose for us until we reach glory. I am referring to the sinful attractions of the world’s activities that distract and disqualify us from accomplishing God’s purpose.
We must not take these side roads. We must not turn to the left or to the right. We must stay on the King’s highway and keep our eyes fixed on the Promised Land of God’s Presence. Be strong and be pure, for the Lord your God is with you.