By Horatius Bonar
"Go in and possess the land." -- Deuteronomy 10:2
ISRAEL passed through many changes in their history; but here we have its termination,--the possession of the land. They were bondsmen, wanderers, outsiders, borderers; but they were not to remain such; they were to possess the land. Here their earthly history, which began with Abraham, ends. Let us learn from this something as to ourselves and our history.
I. We are not to be without a land. We are to have a country and a city. When in the world, we have these in a certain way, but they are all carnal, they pass from us and we from them. The world's cities and possessions will not do for us. They cannot fill us, nor satisfy us, nor abide with us. Hence, even when in the world, we are truly strangers; landless, cityless, homeless. And after we have come out from the world we are strangers, though not as before; for a land, a city, a home have been secured to us. Sinners, God offers you the better Canaan!
II. We are not to be dwellers in Egypt. The house of bondage is not for us. Pharaoh cannot be our king. We must, like Moses, refuse to be called the sons of Pharaoh's daughter. We must go out, not fearing the wrath of the king; counting the reproach of Christ greater riches than Egypt's treasures.
III. We are not to be dwellers in a barren land. The wilderness may do for a day, but not for a permanent abode. Ishmael may have the desert, Israel must have the good land,--the land flowing with milk and honey.
We are not to be borderers. To be out of Egypt is one step, to come up to the borders of Canaan is another; but that is not to be all. We are not outsiders, never crossing the boundary; nor borderers, belonging to neither region, ever crossing and recrossing the line, as if we had no wish to stay or no portion in the land. The border lands are not for the church, nor for any one calling himself a Christian, an Israelite indeed.
We are to go in and possess. Out of Egypt, out of the wilderness, across the borders, into the very heart of the land,--Judah's hills, Ephraim's vales, Issachar's plains, Manasseh's pastures, Naphtali's lakes, and Zebulun's fertile reaches. We go in and take possession, leaving all other lands and regions behind. It is the God-chosen, God-given land. Let us enter on it. It is rich, goodly, well watered, let us possess it. Not merely let us survey it, or pitch our tents in it, but build our habitations there, to dwell in it forever.
What I gather specially from our text is, that we are not to be borderers; not merely not Egyptians, nor Ishmaelites, but not borderers. The place to which God invites us is the land, the kingdom, the city. Just now, of course, it is but the promise, for the kingdom has not yet come. But I speak of the promise as if it were the thing itself, for the promise is God's, not man's.
There are many borderers in our day; half and half Christians; afraid of being too decidedly or intensely religious. They are not Egyptians, they are not perhaps quite outsiders, for they occasionally seem to cross the line and take a look of the land from some of its southern hills. But they are borderers. They have not boldly taken up their abode in the land; they have not entered in nor possessed it. They are vacillators, worshippers of two Gods, trying to secure two kingdoms and to lay up two kinds of treasures. Let me speak of and to these. Why should you be borderers?
I. It is sin. It is not your misfortune merely, it is your guilt. That halfheartedness and indecision is about the most sinful condition you can be in. Borderer, you are a sinner; a sinner because a borderer!
II. It is misery. You cannot be happy in that half-and-half state. You don't know what you are, nor whose you are, nor whither you are going. You are sure of nothing good; only of evil. Were you dying in that state,--were you cut off on the borders, you are lost; and does not that thought make you truly wretched?
III. It is danger. You think perhaps that because you have gone a little way that all is well; or at least that you are out of danger. No. The danger is as great as ever. Were you to die on the borders,--only almost a Christian, --you are as sure of hell as if you had died in Egypt.
It is abomination to God. It is an insult to him. It says that you do not care for him or his goodly land. That half- heartedness is abominable to God. It is like Laodicea, or perhaps worse. Borderer, beware of thus provoking and insulting God.
It is loss to yourself. Even just now, how much you lose. You might be so happy! If decided and sure, you might have such peace! And then the prospect of such a land! What a loss! Yes, your own interests as well as God's honour demand decision. It is such a goodly, glorious land! It is so foolish, and so cowardly to hold back. Oh decide. Be a borderer no more. Enter in and possess the land at once!