Modern Israel is a tiny strip of land that stretches 270 miles long and 85 miles at its widest point. It is bordered in the west by the beautiful Mediterranean and in the east by the country Jordan. Northern Israel is almost tropical: in many places, it is lush and green, especially compared to southern Israel, where the territory is dry, colorless, and forbidding. The Jordan River runs through Israel, its headwaters gushing into the Sea of Galilee and snakes southward until it spills into the eerily lifeless and salty Dead Sea.

For thousands of years, armies, traders, sojourners, and peddlers have vied for control over the land. It is a strategic location, sandwiched between dominant world empires in the north and south, sea trade routes westward, and the desert in the east. Politically, socially, economically, and religiously, Israel is and was highly sought after. Whoever controlled Israel had access to the Mediterranean seaports and the trade routes supplying the world empires. The fact that it is a “land bridge” connecting these territories made it the perfect launching pad for God to send His redemptive plan, via His people, into all the world.

When the Israelites’ period of wandering ended, God (through Moses) told them to journey to the hill country, to the Arabah, to the lowland, to the Negev, by the seacoast, and to as far as the Euphrates.

“See, I have placed this land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,”…Deut. 1:8 NASB

He went on to explain that the land was a good land, with brooks, fountains, and springs. It had resources to grow crops and raise livestock. He told them they would lack for nothing. And yet, God also warned that…

  • They would have to trust Him to provide for their needs and protect them from enemies.
  • They would be tested.
  • They must obey Him, keep His commandments, and remember His discipline.

He warned them to avoid idolatry and false gods and told them not to form coalitions with enemy nations.

And there were plenty of enemy nations:

Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites were nations “more numerous and mightier” than Israel…Deut. 7:1

Israel would have to trust in God to keep His promise of strength to defeat armies that could otherwise crush them. But God, over and over, reminded them not to fear. He assured them that He would go before them and fight for them and carry them…and He did.

  • The battle for Jericho was a decisive, memorable, momentous victory for the Israelites because God gave it into their hands.
  • Gideon’s small band of three hundred men destroyed the massive army of Midianites.
  • Hezekiah defeated Sennacharib’s Assyrian armies, and a small boy armed with a sling and a stone overwhelmed a giant and his Philistine troops.

All of these mighty victories occurred because of God’s mighty hand. Yet there were occasions when Israel lacked trust and obedience, and they suffered the consequences. Separated from God, they lost battles and were carried into captivity.

There is a parallel between God’s people of long ago and His people, His spiritual children, today. Like His long-ago children had to trust Him to protect them and provide for them in a very real, physical sense, we, too, must trust Him to give us the strength to defeat our very real and very powerful spiritual enemies. God tells us to love even our enemies and to forgive hard things over and over again. He instructs us to serve, give, forbear, humble ourselves, and practice self-denial, but we balk and hesitate to obey.

So, like the Israelites…

“we forfeit God’s blessings with our lack of trust.”

The same truth He presented to them applies to us today:

“So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today,”…Deut. 6:24

And like the Israelites, we are carried away into slavery, but our slavery is to the consequences of sin. Their captivity lasted for many years, but our release from our self-inflicted bondage is much easier, yet just as dependent upon God. If we will simply turn from our sins and confess,

“He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,”…1 John 1:9


“delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea,”…Mic. 7:18-19

Centuries ago, God brought His children to the promised land, the land of Israel, to prove and test their faith. At times, they remained faithful; at other times, they failed Him. Their faith waxed and waned. They defied Him and grumbled, but then they turned and called on His name. Just as He promised them, and just as He promised us, His love never fails. He faithfully forgives.

America in 2023 also tests and proves our faith. We are distracted, and we often stumble over trials and stresses, but they remind us that we have something far greater waiting for us. Our heavenly Father still loves us despite our stumbling, and He calls us to look to our heavenly home.

Carla Moore
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Carla Moore grew up in a family dedicated to ministry, then met her husband, John, in college at Texas State University. They married in 1986 and have since been involved in ministry at the Bible Chair on the campus of TSU, then with the Southwest School of Bible Studies in Austin, Texas. They then worked with the Dripping Springs church of Christ and are currently working with Bear Valley Bible Institute International. Carla serves as Dean of Women at BVBII. Carla and John are blessed to have three sons who are all married to wonderful women, and they have six precious grandchildren. Carla enjoys speaking to women of all ages in various places. She has founded and led a Bible writing ministry called "Write On My Heart Every Word". She and Kathy Pollard co-host a weekly podcast called "Looking Up! With Kathy and Carla". She especially enjoys helping John guide trips to Israel and blogging about those experiences.