Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, the people of Israel finally arrive at the border of the Promised Land. What should be a cause for joy becomes a cause of stress. First of all, Moses, their leader, is not going to enter the Promised Land with them. Instead, it will be Joshua who leads them. Second, as they survey the Promised Land, they find it filled with already established tribes, most of whom have armies to protect them. The Israelites are fatigued, unorganized, have no military training, and no weapons. And now they are disheartened. Forty years of wandering in the wilderness, in the hopes of entering the Promised Land, they find themselves at the door of their destination, and they run into a mountain they feel they will be unable to climb. Then Moses speaks to the Lord, and what Moses hears from the Lord, he speaks to Joshua. The words of the Lord spoken through Moses, to Joshua and all the people say: “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord Who goes before you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8) In other words, while they felt insecure on many levels, the Lord told them not to worry, because He is our security. For those who are wondering how the story ends, the Israelites take possession of the entire Land of Canaan. All the tribes fall with little opposition.
There are many times in life that we might feel like the Israelites. We come to the end of a journey, only to not see the light at the end that we expected to see. Some examples include:
The person who is about to graduate from college, who has had a stellar, yet stressful, college journey, who either can’t find a job, or who finds a job that is stressful from the get-go. There is no time to enjoy any sense of victory because the next mountain comes immediately.
The couple who has finally retired after long careers and is looking forward to “golden years” of travel and relaxation when one dies suddenly. The victory seems hollow because there are no spoils to enjoy together.
The faithful Christian who has served Christ and the church faithfully and joyfully their whole life. They have been a role model to many, a true witness for the Gospel. They get diagnosed with dementia and can no longer serve or even remember the people of their church community.
And then there is 2020—some of us were zipping along and Covid-19 stopped us in our tracks. Some were really struggling as this year began, and Covid-19 piled on top of our struggles.
These are all real life examples. And we are all living at least the last one of them. These words from Deuteronomy come to mind: “Be strong and of good courage. . .For it is the Lord Who goes before you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.”
Many people put all of their faith in material things. Materials things can’t hold defeat dementia or cancer. They can’t protect against sudden death. They won’t walk into your classroom or courtroom or kid’s room today. The only true security that there is in life is the security that comes from God. Because while God may not prevent all of our problems, He will certainly walk with us faithfully through all of them. The “Promised Land” may not be what we think it is in this life—golden years, smooth sailing, long life, or prosperity. The Promised Land is heaven. And even at the cusp of heaven, the end of life, there are usually significant hurdles to get over. Riches will not help us avoid these hurdles. Faith in the Lord can help us get over them.
Psalm 125 talks about Mount Zion, the mountain of the Lord, which can never be moved. It compares God’s people to the city of Jerusalem, and the mountains which surround and protect the city are like God’s protection around His people. Walking through life with God is like walking with a security blanket around you. It’s like walking in a snowstorm with a heavy coat on. The coat is not going to change the outside temperature. It is going to keep you warm, and keep the cold from making you uncomfortable and making you sick. Likewise, enveloping ourselves in the security of God is like putting on a warm coat in winter. It won’t raise the temperature, but will keep us warm as we walk through the storms of life. That “coat” is prayer, Scripture, repentance, charity, generosity, love, hope, and faith. And we have a choice to put it on daily and to keep it on at all times. With this security, there is no need to fear, because wherever we go, God goes with us. And though our hopes and dreams for this life may not always come true in the way we hoped, our hope for eternal life remains constant, unmoved, and secure.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people, from this time forth and forevermore. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous put forth their hands to do wrong. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! But those who turn aside upon their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be in Israel! Psalm 125
Don’t worry if the “promised land” doesn’t look so promising today. Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread; for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you today; He will not fail you or forsake you!