For the week of August 2, 2003 / 4 Av 5763
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22
Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27
See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Devarim / Deuteronomy 1:21).
Buying a home in many societies can be quite the complicated legal process, including working out the details of the purchase contract, fulfilling all conditions, and closing the deal. The very last thing, after everything else is done, is taking possession.
Up until that time the buyer could not enter that house without the permission of the previous owner. But once the ownership of the house is fully transferred, the buyer can go up to the door and walk right in.
The first time might seem strange, since one minute before, the house belonged to someone else. The buyer may have recently visited. The previous owner's belongings might have still been there. Then came the moment when the last piece of paper was signed, and the keys were put in his hand. That first time the buyer may feel uneasy. He may think to himself. "Is this really mine? Is it alright to walk in?" But he puts the key in the lock, turns the doorknob, opens the door and enters the house for the first time as the new owner.
Sometimes the act of taking possession does not go very smoothly. This could occur for various reasons. There may be misunderstandings, reluctance on the part of the previous owner to give up the property, or legal problems. But if the property is legally transferred to the new owner, and if the local authorities have the power to effectively protect the rights of the buyer, then he can take possession.
As we read earlier, the reason why the people of Israel were able to possess the Promised Land was because God had given it to them. Understanding that the God of Heaven and Earth gave them the right to take the Land would enable them to possess it with confidence.
Notice that possessing the land was something the people themselves had to do. It wasn't going to be handed to them like a present, nor were the people currently occupying it going to invite them to come and take it over. They had to do it– with God's help of course – but they still had to do it.
God has so much for us, but it doesn't all just fall into our laps. We have to possess it. While God's goodness, his wisdom, his power have all been set aside for us to have, we still need to go and possess them.
How do we possess the things of God? First, we must believe that they are really ours to have. The Scriptures tell us that God gives good gifts to his children. But if we believe that God is stingy or that that he only graces certain people and not us, then we won’t be able to receive much from him.
Once we believe that he has a storehouse of good things for us, then we need to do our part. That may include prayer and fasting. It may require study of the Scriptures. It most certainly will include faith and obedience to whatever he tells us to do. But whatever it is that God wants to give us, as he said to the people of Israel, so he says to us, "Go up and take possession of it…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
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