Deuteronomy 2:1-25 – The Wilderness Wanderings of Life Caused by Our Choices

Posted: November 29, 2016 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 2:1-25

Remembering Israel’s Wanderings

As a parent, you watch your children make mistakes that you know are going to be detrimental to their future. It is not because you are a fortune-teller but rather because you have lived life yourself. You have made the same mistakes and learned from them the hard way. We learned that life has consequences and many of the decisions that we make when we are young has long-ranging impact on our lives. We just want our kids to make wise decisions so they don’t have to live with the consequences of unwise decisions like we did. However, just as we did not listen to our parents, our kids do not listen to us and think that they know best and plunge headlong into decisions that will impact them for their entire lives.

 

My youngest daughter and I have been at odds for the last few years because of choices that she is making. She has refused to go to college. She would rather not face those challenges. She would rather live in the cocoon of her known world of her boyfriend, his family, and their circle of friends. Sure, in and of itself, having a comfortable world that you know is not bad, but not pursuing an education after high school limits your possibilities in life. She would rather live a hand to mouth existence rather than using her God-given intelligence to pursue a degree in whatever she has a passion for. It pains me to no end that she has chosen to go down this road. I know that it is going to impact her so negatively for the rest of her life. It is not like my youngest daughter is a few bricks shy of a load when it comes to intelligence. She is a very bright girl and school was easy for her. She could have easily gotten into any college to which she applied. She is naturally smart. She is a good at winning arguments. She could have made a great lawyer as she is very skillful in the art of argument. I know that with a college degree under her belt, her future could have been awesomely bright. However, her life is going to be limited now because of this decision not to go to school. She will be limited to service or retail jobs. She will never be a manager. She will have limited earning capacity. She will always be on the edge of or slightly above poverty because she has limited what she can do by not accepting the challenge of college. It will be a hand to mouth, living from one emergency to another kind of life. I know these things will happen. I have seen it happen to too many people.

 

The trouble is right now that my youngest daughter does not see what I can see. She only believes that I am being overly harsh and critical. Sure, there are those who have excelled in life without college educations and there are those who have made millions and billions without a college education, but those are rare talents. Not everyone is a Bill Gates who attended Harvard for a year but never finished. There are those who are not wildly successful like Bill Gates but do become successful in their own right. I know some of my friends who never went to college but own their own businesses now. They will never be super-rich but they provide a decent and respectable lifestyle for their families. But all of these people are driven. They never expected their lifestyle to be handed to them. They worked hard to provide for their families and to make something of themselves. Right now, my youngest daughter doesn’t want to take on the challenges of college but also she doesn’t seem to be driven to succeed in anyway. She says what I define as a good life may not be the same as what she defines it as. I see her as living from crisis to crisis but she sees that as her normal life.

 

I do not say these things to bash my youngest daughter. I say these things because I know what she could be is she just had a little drive to her. She could be anything. She is so smart. She is so witty. She would be a rising star in whatever field of endeavor she would choose. If she spent half as much time in school studying as she does trying to dream up ways to come up with cash for the next week, she would be a magna cum laude graduate of any college. She is 26 now but my fear is that at age 56, thirty years from now, her life is going to be no better than it is right now. And, it’s not because I am a materialistic bastard who wants to raise materialistic children. I just want my children to be the best that they can be. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. I do not want them to limit themselves by making decisions that will do just that. I want them to arrive at my age saying that I may have made mistakes here and there but I lived up to my potential (ever how limited or expansive that potential may be). That’s all I want from my youngest daughter. To make the effort to become the amazing woman I know she can be and not just to sell herself short by living a paycheck to paycheck, scrimping to get by, crisis to crisis, living for the next party, living for the weekend lifestyle. She can be so much more.

 

It is that idea of needless wandering caused by fateful decisions and how that surely pained God was what I thought of when I read through today’s passage, Deuteronomy 2:1-25. Let’s read it together now:

 

2 Then we turned back and set out toward the wilderness along the route to the Red Sea,[a] as the Lord had directed me. For a long time we made our way around the hill country of Seir.

 

2 Then the Lord said to me, 3 “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. 4 Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. 5 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. 6 You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.’”

 

7 The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.

 

8 So we went on past our relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. We turned from the Arabah road, which comes up from Elath and Ezion Geber, and traveled along the desert road of Moab.

 

9 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.”

 

10 (The Emites used to live there—a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. 11 Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites. 12 Horites used to live in Seir, but the descendants of Esau drove them out. They destroyed the Horites from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did in the land the Lord gave them as their possession.)

 

13 And the Lord said, “Now get up and cross the Zered Valley.” So we crossed the valley.

 

14 Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. By then, that entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them. 15 The Lord’s hand was against them until he had completely eliminated them from the camp.

 

16 Now when the last of these fighting men among the people had died, 17 the Lord said to me, 18 “Today you are to pass by the region of Moab at Ar. 19 When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.”

 

20 (That too was considered a land of the Rephaites, who used to live there; but the Ammonites called them Zamzummites. 21 They were a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. The Lord destroyed them from before the Ammonites, who drove them out and settled in their place. 22 The Lord had done the same for the descendants of Esau, who lived in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites from before them. They drove them out and have lived in their place to this day. 23 And as for the Avvites who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorites coming out from Caphtor[b] destroyed them and settled in their place.)

Defeat of Sihon King of Heshbon

 

24 “Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge. See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country. Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle. 25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.”

 

The striking thing here is to remember that Israel did not have to wander in the wilderness those forty years on the way to the Promised Land. God sentenced them to the wilderness wanderings because they rejected His love, rebelled against His authority, ignored His commands, and willfully broke their end of the agreement made with God in Exodus 19:8 and Exodus 24:3-8. In short, they disobeyed God. We often make life’s journey more difficult than it has to be through disobedience to God, His Word, and His plan for our lives. We can make our life so much easier if we simply follow His commands in His Word, and stick with God whatever happens, whatever the situation. We will find our lives less complicated and more rewarding when we do. However, many of us, myself included, reject God, live life on our terms until we get it so screwed up that we can’t handle it anymore and cry out to God for help. Then, we realize if we had just listened to God in the first place, we would not have wasted much of our life screwing up our life.

 

God is like a parent to us just watching us make mistakes that are going to be bad for us. He tries to warn us through people, circumstances, and His Word but because we are stubborn and stiffnecked we do not listen. He wants us not to screw up our lives through our stupid, sin-filled mistakes. He sees the trainwreck ahead. He warns us. But we plunge headlong into the life decisions we make that are detrimental for us. God is heartbroken over the decisions that we make. He doesn’t want us to suffer. He wants what is best for us. Just as I simply want my youngest daughter not to have to live with the consequences of poor decisions (because I can see farther down the road than her because of life experience), God does not want us to have to live with the consequences of our poor decisions. He gives us His guidebook for life. He gives us His Word. We can take His advice, through His Word, and follow His commands and it will make our lives so much easier and less complicated. When we follow God, life is surely more rewarding and less complicated. When we chose our way instead of His, we end up with wilderness wanderings that were unnecessary. Then, we waste a lifetime, dealing with the consequences of not being obedient rather than living out our potential in His sweet spot for us, His Promised Land that He has for each of us.

 

Amen and Amen.

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