The Land Between

Barry Buzza February 17, 2019

Big Idea: Life is full of unwanted transitions. How we see these wilderness periods, will determine their benefit in our lives.

 

There are many such occasions in our lives where we wonder if it will ever get better, and if we’ll ever get to the place where we believe we are supposed to be.

  • Our elderly parent with Alzheimer’s requires day to day care.
  • Our child has drifted from the path and is suffering the consequences of his choices.
  • An unexpected accident has laid us up for much longer than we anticipated.
  • We’ve come to a prolonged business slump and there’s not enough money each month.
  • Our teenage daughter has come home and announced, “I’m pregnant”.
  • Your wife says “I don’t love you anymore. I’m leaving!”

 

These difficult seasons are not uncommon and were part of every Bible character’s story.

  • Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for their promised son.
  • Jacob worked for his cheating uncle for 20 years waiting for his destiny to kick in.
  • Joseph ended up as a slave in Egypt, then as a prisoner, before God came through.
  • Job was confused by his seemingly unending suffering.
  • Moses and the children of Israel spent forty years wandering in the wilderness.
  • Even Jesus went through a forty-day period of starvation and testing in the desert.
  • Paul retreated for ten years to the “land between” after he became a Jesus follower.

 

The children of Israel were promised a “land flowing with milk and honey”, but all they seemed to be experiencing was “a barren desert and something called manna every day!

The “Land between” was a picture of the undesirable transitions that we all experience in life. They desperately needed the spiritual formation of the desert to become the people of God.

 

How did they handle the challenges of the land between? Discouragement is exhausting.

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
Numbers 11:4-6 ESV

 

–  I’m sick of living in my parent’s basement suite!

–  I’m tired of the endless medical check-ups and the bad news!

–  I can’t endure this lack of sales for another month!

–  I wish I didn’t have to visit my mom in the nursing home. She doesn’t even know me!

–  I’m sick of manna every day! We were better off in Egypt!

 

Pastor Moses was exhausted too.

Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the Lord blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?  Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers?  Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.  If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.”  Numbers 11:10-15 ESV

 

Jeremiah felt the same way during his fifty years of living in the “land between”.

Cursed be the day which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, “A son is born to you”, making him very glad. …  Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?  Jeremiah 20:14c-18 ESV

 

David felt the same pain in his wilderness years.

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. 

I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold;

I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.

I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.

My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.  Psalms 69:1-3 ESV

 

There are times when God allows us to suffer need, and he’s very aware of it.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, Exodus 3:7 ESV

Then she (Hagar) called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, El Roy, “You are a God who sees”; Genesis 16:13a NASB

 

His plan is to take us to the place where we recognize our need for him.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  Matthew 6:25-27a ESV

 

He’s testing us to make us stronger. He’s giving us opportunity to trust him – to move from theoretical faith to experiential Knowledge.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” …

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day,

“On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”  Genesis 22:1,2,14a ESV

 

The Lord disciplines us because he loves us and wants us to mature. We are all in training for rulership, and training is supposed to be hard.

Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.  Proverbs 19:18 ESV

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  Hebrews 12:7 ESV

And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.  Revelation 22:5 NASB

 

Conclusion: The land between is the place where God transforms us from “people of slavery” to the “people of God”. Thank God that we don’t just have to learn from our own mistakes, but we can learn from the people we read about in our Bible stories.

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