“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: but the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” Deuteronomy 11:10–12
2020! Time speeds by on our journey to our everlasting inheritance. It is important that we keep our focus on the goal toward which we run. We travel to another land. Our faithful Jehovah, by the word of His revelation, would direct our attention to that land, as He did His people Israel in the days of Moses.
The promised land is glorious! The gift of God to His people in the promised Seed, the Messiah. Look for the riches of this land not in earthly things, in the earthly land of Canaan, but in Him who is the fulfillment of the law and all the sacrifices. Tasting God’s goodness, understand that He has prepared another heritage in heaven, worth more than all the world. Fix your eyes upon that land.
The land of contrast
The land to which we go is totally different from the land of Egypt.
For more than 400 years the Israelites had sojourned in the land of Egypt, a land that only produced food for its inhabitants by the laborious task of irrigating its fields. In Egypt, there was hardly any rain at all. The watering of the land was dependent upon the overflowing of the banks of the Nile, which occurred twice a year. The way in which this water was made available for the whole year was by irrigation; not by modern-day irrigation as we know it, but by actually carrying the water in buckets or clay vessels up to the fields. Large pumping wheels often were used, which were worked by the feet, and over which a long rope passed with pails attached, for drawing up the water. Those pails were then carried to the fields and poured into ditches and trenches dug out by hand.
Thus, the Egyptians were conscious of the need for hard labor in order to see the fruits of the land. They saw the fertility of the land as being far more dependent upon the labor of human hands than upon the rain of heaven or the gift of the God of heaven.
But here Moses tells the Israelites that it shall not be so in the land of Canaan.
The land whither you go to possess it is a land directly dependent upon the Lord from day to day throughout the year.
Dependence upon the Lord is a blessing. We like to be independent. But we must see clearly that dependence upon Jehovah is a blessing indeed. Canaan was a land peculiarly adapted to Israel, which was to live in conscious dependence upon their Creator-Redeemer and upon His grace alone. Moses calls attention to this direct dependence upon Jehovah. Though in Egypt the river and the hard labor of men provided for the needs of the land, in Canaan you could do nothing but look to Jehovah for your salvation.
The land of Canaan is a land of hills and valleys, where God must be willing to send rain, not just once a year but from the beginning to the end of the year, in just the right measure. So Moses would point out to the children of Israel that all year long God calls us to Him, by making us have need of Him.
The land of Canaan is a land where the people of God are shown their distress and needs, in order that they might look to Jehovah and His goodness, and to thank Him for all His benefits. Moses would call the people to live in awe and holy fear of Jehovah, that they might call upon Him continually, submitting to His providential care and that from the beginning to the end of the year they might say, “Lord, what will become of us, if Thou bless us not?”
It is in this way that the Lord gives the land prosperity.
The land of prosperity
By the prosperity of the promised land, God’s people were pointed to spiritual prosperity, for the physical prosperity of the land overflowing with milk and honey was but a picture of the spiritual prosperity of those who dwell in this land.
In the coming year, the man or woman who lives in spiritual Egypt will have many cares. Frequently, those cares will be so heavy that they will drive a person to despair. Man lives a life of anxiety, sorrow, and disappointment, knowing that there is no happiness, no earthly comfort and provision, if he does not wear himself out in pursuit of it. Even then, any happiness he will find is but false and passing. They who dwell in Egypt, in the bondage of sin and death, will make their idols out of whatever they see as beneficial or pleasurable to them. For their own bondage and death and judgment must be pushed as far away from the consciousness as possible.
But the child of God has another land for his home. His faith, his connection with Christ, makes him a citizen of another country.
It is true, the elect remnant in Israel would face the same toils and tribulations as did the ungodly. But always those tribulations came to them as manifestations of God’s abundant mercy working toward the salvation of His people. By faith true Israel cast their cares upon Jehovah, knowing that He was always caring for them, even though it was often necessary that He show His wrath toward them. They knew that Canaan was their inheritance, and that the blessings of the inheritance were, in a measure, already their possession. For their faithful God, Jehovah, had led them out of Egypt by His mighty hand and outstretched arm. Every step they took was a step guided in His infinite wisdom by the cloud and the pillar of fire. He had given them the sacrifices to point them to their Messiah yet to come. Canaan belonged to them. It was only a matter of their arrival.
No, that was not true of all the children of Israel. For all are not Israel which are of Israel (Rom. 9:6). But it was true of the elect remnant.
The same is true with us as we enter the year 2020. We continue our earthly sojourn toward the Canaan that is heaven. Apart from Christ we were in the bondage of Egypt, dead in trespasses and sins, enslaved to our father the devil. The land of our inheritance was hell. But when we came to Christ according to God’s sovereign election of grace, drawn by the Spirit through the powerful Word of the gospel, we crossed the Red Sea and left Egypt behind. We crossed the Jordan and entered the heavenly Canaan.
As the apostle writes in Ephesians 1, we sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The state of salvation is no longer a land of promise, but a land possessed and enjoyed. Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). The inheritance is already our possession with a multitude of blessings.
It is true, there are enemies yet in Canaan, enemies yet to be driven out. Perhaps the greatest of those is the enemy of indwelling sin, which is sometimes entrenched in our hearts like deeply founded monuments and forts. There are fleshly lusts and temptations that war against the mind. There are the enemies of the devil and all his hosts.
But the land is ours, and those foes who would keep us from it shall be forever conquered by the sword of faith as the power of the victorious Christ is seen in His people. As Joshua was the leader of the Israelites when they finally came into Canaan, so Jesus is our victorious Leader now. He shall not put away His sword until He has taken all His people unto Himself and has given them the full possession of the land to which they go.
The earthly land of Canaan was only a picture of the heavenly. The picture fails, according to God’s purpose. Entering into the earthly land of Canaan was not only the true Israel, the spiritual seed of Abraham, but the reprobate ungodly as well. Entering into the land were those who would defile it and bring the judgment of the righteous God upon it. The barrenness of Canaan gives evidence of God’s judgment and punishment for the sins of the ungodly. But there awaited a rest for the people of God, a land where “there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).
The spiritual elect remnant in Israel understood that too. The land of Canaan was to them a sure pledge of the heavenly life that they longed for as well as we. They, too, “looked for the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). So the purpose of this prophecy of Moses was not that the Jews would look for nothing else but earthly things, but that by tasting of God’s goodness in this earthly, transitory life, they would understand that He had prepared for them another heritage in heaven, of more worth than all the world!
The land of Jehovah’s care
Moses speaks of Jehovah “thy God.” Do you enter the new year with that comfort? What a word this is! He who is watching me is my Shepherd. He who cares for me is my heavenly Father.
Though He be so great that the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, yet in the nature of a man He came to lead us forth from the bondage of sin and death, though the price be the blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish, the eternal, only begotten Son of God.
By the preaching of the Word He points us to the cross where we see the everlasting arms of Jehovah laying hold of us sinners and picking us up out of the mire of sin and filth unto the beauty of holiness. He is Jehovah-salvation, thy God. He points us to the land toward which we travel.
Notice, “the eyes of Jehovah thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” Read Psalm 65:9–13. Think of God stooping down to do the work of a husbandman, a caretaker, for His people—and delighting to do it!
When we read that “the eyes of the Lord are upon it,” that means that the Lord looks upon His people in love! The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, sings the psalmist. They are upon you from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.
Jehovah is the keeper of the garden of His people, the vineyard of His elect. Isaiah prophecies, “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” Lay hold of that truth as we enter the year 2020!
And as if that needs emphasis to us weak sinners, the text has it not only “from the beginning of the year to the end of the year,” but “always.” What shall the Lord bring us in 2020? We know not. God appoints what shall come. But for us who are the citizens of the heavenly land of Canaan, toward which we journey, let this be our comfort and assurance: not for a second will the Lord remove His eyes from any one of His people.
If the Lord Jehovah looks upon us who are unworthy to be looked at, how much more ought we to look at Him, the glorious God of our salvation! How foolish, when in this land where there is so little to make one happy, we forget the very God who gives us happiness and we keep our eyes upon the frivolous cares and troubles of this perishing land. Happiness without Christ and without the consciousness of Christ’s presence is an absolute impossibility. We must have Jehovah-salvation, the Savior and caretaker of His land, of us, or we are of all men most miserable.
Set your eyes on the land toward which we journey in this coming year. So may our gracious God deal with us from the beginning of the year 2020 to the end of the year, through Jesus Christ our Lord.