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The book of Deuteronomy is primarily Moses farewell speech to the Israelites beforethere is a way they go off to conquer the Promised Land and he goes off to a mountain to die. In some respects it’s not such a happy speech. Honestly Moses seems a bit ticked off. And why shouldn’t be be? God’s people, Moses’ people, whom they led through the wilderness lo these forty years are going off to the land of milk and honey, and all Moses gets is a t-shirt and a view from a mountain top. Moses traces his sad state of affairs to an incident that occurred shortly after they left Egypt.

They had made good time getting away from Egypt and were soon knocking on the door of the Promised Land, preparing to invade, when some wise guys suggested to Moses that they send in spies to check out the land and the best route to invasion. In chapter one of Deuteronomy Moses said, “it seemed like a good idea.”  Looking back, he surely reflected that it was the worst idea ever and ultimately led to his exclusion from the Promised land.

The spies came back from their recon mission and while all of them declared that it was an extremely abundant land, most of them said that the inhabitants were as big as giants and the walls around the cities were huge, and that they would all be killed if they tried to take the land.

The Israelites all panicked and God got angry and instead of the Promised Land, they received a promise ban. God promises that that generation would be prohibited from entering the land and that they would wander in the wilderness until all the chicken hearts die and a new generation grows up that will follow God into the land of milk and honey and take possession of it.

So why was it such a bad idea to send spies to search out the land? Because up to that point they had trusted God wholeheartedly. He laid down the plagues on the Egyptians and Pharaoh finally let them go. Then the Egyptian leader changed his mind and chased them to the Red Sea. God parted the waters of the sea and the Israelites escaped while the Egyptian army drowned. Then God led them through the wilderness with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He delivered them, protected them and guided them to the doorstep of the Promised Land, and then the people stop trusting him, and decide they know best. “Okay God, we can take it from here” they seemed to be saying. It was all downhill from there, both for the people and for Moses.

Verse 34 of chapter one says that the LORD was angry and solemnly swore: “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give to your ancestors, except Caleb because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly.”

Verse 37 is the nail in Moses coffin. “Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, ‘You shall not enter it either.”

What seemed like such a good idea ended up being a terrible idea. From Exodus through Deuteronomy, Moses is talking to God. Maybe if Moses would have taken some time to talk to God about the spy plan, things would have turned out differently and would have had a happy ending for Moses and the troops.

That’s kinda like us sometimes. We hear a suggestion, and it seems like a good idea, and we go with it, only to have it go sour on us later on down the road. Many times these suggestions come from the World, the Flesh or the Devil. That’s why some ideas seem good, because they appeal to our fleshly appetites. Rather than run the idea by God, or Godly counselors or the Bible, we just run with it. Sometimes we pay a terrible price for an idea that seemed good at the time. Sometimes our families pay as well.

My wife and I are cooperating with God and partnering with Foundation For His Ministry to help needy children in Oaxaca, Mexico. At the home here are almost 60 children who are being cared for. Many are here because of decisions that their parents made that seemed good at the time, but then went terribly wrong. Some of the children have been abandoned by their parents. Others have parents in prison or parents with addiction issues.

Fortunately, all the children here learn that God loves them and wants them to be happy. They learn to make decisions based on God’s Word. They have godly house parents who they can turn to for advice. They learn that the best decisions that they make are decisions that they have invited God to be a part of.

We have all been like Moses at times and have made decisions that seemed good at the time and ended up being big mistakes. Thankfully we have a God that forgives us, picks us up, shakes the dust off us, wipes our tears away, and continues to walk down the road of life with us, encouraging and guiding us. Let’s go with God all the time and not take a path away from Him that simply seems like the the way to go because it feels good at the time.


may god go with you


The last verse in Judges says everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Everyone wants to be happy.  Everyone does what is right in their own eyes because they think that will make them happy.  Nobody thinks “I am going to do what’s wrong in my own eyes so that I will be happy.  Doing what’s right in our eyes is equal to doing what we need to do to be happy.  Muslims, Mennonites and Mormons do what is right in their own eyes to be happy.  So do Anglicans, Animists and Atheists.  We have some philosophy or world view that instructs our behavior in hopes that we will be happy.

So what about those Israelites who did what was right in their own eyes?  I think that they were happy.  Dallas Willard clued me in to this idea on his book  about Spiritual Disciplines.  He writes that the people of Israel at this time were living during the times of the Judges.  They had recently taken control of the Promised land.  The land flowing with milk and honey.  They were happy because they had seen the mighty hand of God at work in their favor.  They were a people specially chosen by the Creator of the universe and had received His laws, precepts and commands because He loved them and wanted them to be happy.  When they had a conflict with someone that made them unhappy, they could present their case before a local judge who, with the help of God, could make a wise decision about the conflict, so that ideally both parties could walk away reconciled and content.

We also can do what is right in our own eyes and live happy lives if we live in right relationship with God.  Then His delight becomes our delight.  His righteousness become our righteousness.  This doesn’t happen overnight.  That’s why Willard wrote his book about Spiritual Disciplines.  These disciplines Jesus practiced to be happy and live in communion with the Father.  Disciplines like silence and solitide, alone time with the Father.  Disciplines like study, worship and service, in fellowship with other believers. These are all important to successfully live a happy life doing what is right in our own eyes.

Here are a few more good words from Dallas Willard, taken from his book The Spirit of the Disciplines –

To do as one pleases is the ideal condition of humanity, what is often called “freedom”, and does not imply wrong doing at all.

God has all along intended that we walk with him on a personal basis, be pleased by the right things, and then do what is right in our own eyes. This is why we were made and what constitutes our individuality.

God calls us to be part of his efforts.  Our part is to understand the way God works with humanity to extend his Kingdom, and to act on the basis of that understanding.

So, just like the Israelites, we can live righteously, delighting in God, cooperating with God, doing what is right in our own eyes.

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