By Lilly Cohen
I recently looked after a friend’s house in the lovely little town of Poriya in northern Israel. Wedged high up in the hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the view from Poriya is the stuff of postcards: rolling mango and orange orchards lazily frame the hazy expanse of water. The lush tranquillity wraps around you like one of those rare moments when you realise that everything will be okay. The Sea of Galilee just has a way of quieting your soul.
But Poriya and its surroundings weren’t always this idyllic. Right after the birth of the Modern State of Israel in 1948, a bedraggled bunch of Jewish immigrants were dropped on a desolate outcrop that is now Poriya and told to “work the land”. There wasn’t much land to work with. Arid landscape stretched out as far as the eye could see. The brackish soil yielded no trees to hide from the scorching heat. Snakes and scorpions refused to relinquish their hold on the outcrop. Moreover, the sheer amount of rock in the soil meant that planting crops was simply out of the question.
Mission impossible? Not really. Because in what must have been a back-breakingly gruelling task, those Jewish immigrants started digging the rocks from the earth. Boulder by boulder they literally conquered the land, turning an arid wasteland into lush greenery. Today, those who “worked the land” enjoy the reward with their families. Poriya is located in one of the most fertile areas in the world.
It must have been difficult for those working the land, don’t you think? Physically yes of course, but I’m talking about the emotional part. After nearly 2 000 years of believing God’s promise, of having faith that He would one day bring them back from where He had scattered them, the Jewish people finally return to the Promised Land. Only to find it filled with snakes, desolation and, well, rocks. Did they not hear God correctly? Could it be that this was not the fulfilment of the promise they had been waiting for?
I found the answer in the book of Deuteronomy. Let me set the scene for you. It’s been 40 years since the Israelites left Egypt. For those 40 years they’ve been wandering the desert. After all the trials, challenges and despair, the Israelites are standing on the very edge of the Promised Land. The promise is about to be fulfilled. This is an epic moment. I mean, they can see the land shimmering in the distance. But God pauses to give them some last-minute instructions, “Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land” (Deuteronomy 1:8). Interesting choice of words… “go in and take possession”. Actually, that exact phrase is used through the entire book of Deuteronomy, almost like God wants to emphasise it, like He wants them to remember it in the years to come…
“Go in and take possession…” Do you see it? It certainly took me a while. The going in and the taking possession are two separate actions. They don’t necessarily happen simultaneously. In other words: God fulfilling the promise He made to you and you enjoying the actual fullness thereof, might not happen at the same time.
My point? When God gives you the breakthrough, the marriage partner, the job, the baby, the healing He promised you… When you get to your Promised Land and it is filled with rocks… Take heart and roll up your sleeves. It is time for you to “work the land”.Share this page with your friends
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