Fire in my Bones

When it is not yours to possess | Pst. J.O. Lawal

Date: October 20, 2021 | Series: Youth for Jesus | Number: Vol. 4, No. 23

“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.'”” (Deut 2:2-6NIV)

Before God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, He had made it very clear to them that it was the land of Canaan that He was giving to them as their inheritance. But it was obvious that before getting to this land, they would have to pass through some other lands, which may also be very good lands. And while passing through these other lands, they may be tempted to want to possess them for themselves. So, through Moses, God had to warn them in advance of the futility of wanting to take for themselves what He had chosen for them. That is the reason for what we have in our opening text.

As we see in that text, God makes it very clear to the Israelites that they would certainly pass through the territory of the descendants of Esau on their way to possessing the land He had promised to give them. But that land is not for them but for Esau. In fact, God specifically says that He has already given that land to Esau. Therefore, they are not to covet it or try to fight for it. Otherwise, their effort is going to be in futility. He Himself will fight against them and make sure they do not succeed in taking even a foot of that land.

Furthermore, He warns them not to covet or try to fight for the lands of the Moabites and the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot. As He points out, they will surely pass through the territories of these people too on their way to taking their own land and may be tempted to want to go for their good lands. But if they should do so, what they will meet with is utter failure. And the very one that will be behind this failure is God Himself, who loves them and cares for them. (Cf. Deut 2:9-12&16-19)

Now what is the point of all this? It is that it is not every good thing, place or position that we see or come across in life that is for us. Yes, we may feel that we possess the ability, resources or wisdom to possess something good that we see. But if it is not what God has chosen for us but for someone else, we can only pray or labour in futility to have it. And even if we manipulate or force our way to have it, it won’t be without grievous consequences.

Remember what happened to David and his household when he took another man’s wife and killed the man. Remember also what happened to Ahab when he took another man’s vineyard and killed the owner. God did not act unconcerned in any of these cases. Instead, He moved in justice and dealt with those involved. (Cf. 2Sam 11-12; 1Kings 21)

In like manner, if we manipulate or force our way to possess something or someone God has not given to us but to someone else, we can be sure to have Him as our enemy. And remember that it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of God (Heb 10:31). So, we will do well to regularly pray that God will fill our hearts always with the perfect and exact knowledge of His choice for us in all things and that He will also make us content with whatever He has chosen for us. This is so that we will not destroy ourselves or lose what He has chosen for us, which is always the best for us, in our quest to have what He has not chosen for us.

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