Once More Around the Mountain

Deuteronomy 2:3 “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north…”

Observation: The nation of Israel was near the end of their 40-year exile, and Moses was recounting important passages from their journey. Early on they had licked their wounds from defeat at the hands of the Amorites, and they had retreated to the safety of Mt. Seir, which they circled for many days (2:1).

This repeated a pattern already established, with one important difference. This time they would hear and obey the Lord as He led them safely through enemy territory: Step by step, turn by turn they moved as the Lord directed; in doing so, they proved victorious in every battle.

But it hadn’t always been like that. Earlier the Lord had spoken similarly: “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set your journey to the hill country of the Amorites…” (1:6). It was a call to go in and possess the land that the Lord had sworn to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (1:8). Only this time they chickened out. They got to the border of the Amorites, dug in their heels, and were condemned to forty years of desert wanderings.

Application: But I am struck by the phrase, “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn…” The Israelites heard it twice. The first time led to disobedience and a very long exile, while the second time they obeyed and experienced the Lord’s protection. They were still in exile…that part of their lives had not changed; their circumstances still bore the fruit of disobedience, but now, even as they had to walk out His disciplines, at least they would do so with His protection and favor.

“You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn.” How many times have I heard that? Caught in some seemingly intractable hard place, a way of escape has been promised, yet I continue to wallow in fear or remorse. Excuses for disobedience pile to the ceiling as I imagine all that could go wrong. I fear doing the one thing God bids me to do and I hang back, mired in the mud of apparent fleshly circumstances when all along God offers a way of escape if I would just fix my mind upon Him and take the steps He has proscribed.

Prayer: Father, You say in Galatians, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” (5:1). And then, “You were called to freedom…” (v. 13). Upon my response hinge the next 40 years. Grant me courage to respond wisely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


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