Posts Tagged ‘Promised Land’

“I’ll meet you in de mornin’,
When you reach de promised land;
On de oder side of Jordan,
For I’m boun’ for de promised land.”

We recently watched “The Ten Commandments” a great movie with Charlton Heston. It was made in the 1950’s when it was still ok to talk about the Bible in a movie in a positive way. The nearly four-hour movie told the story of Moses and the rescue of God’s people during the Exodus from Egypt.

We don’t know why God allowed His people to bear cruel slavery for four hundred years before sending a deliverer and rescuing them. We must not run the danger of accusing God for the evil that sinful men are doing. He did allow the slavery for His own purposes. Our response should be of gratitude when He hears our prayers and rescues us and not question His sovereignty.

One woman who did just that was Harriet Tubman, the little lady who rescued three to fourHTubman-1 hundred slaves in the mid-nineteenth century, earning the title, of a “Moses to her people”. Harriet would not blame God for any hard circumstances but instead she would acknowledge that her difficult upbringing prepared her for the tasks ahead of her when she followed her calling to rescue slaves.

Born Araminta Ross around 1820 to Benjamin Ross and Harriet Greene, both slaves, she later took her mother’s name, Harriet. She took her husband’s name when she married John Tubman.

Harriet was born in Maryland and had ten brothers and sisters. She was later able to rescue many family members and her parents, who retired in New York on property that Harriet purchased for them.

When Harriet was six years old she was sent to live with the James Cook family and learn the trade of weaving. Her mistress was cruel. James Cook sent her out to check muskrat traps, and so she had to wade in water. Already ill from measles she grew very sick and was eventually sent home.

When she was in her teens she worked as a field hand. While working for that farmer she received a wound to her head that would affect her for the rest of her life. The farm overseer was trying to punish a disobedient slave and threw a two pound weight at him which fell short and hit Harriet, cracking her skull. It took her a long time to recover from this and for the rest of her life she was subject to sleeping spells. At times a sort of stupor would come over her even in the midst of a conversation and she would need to sleep. This would give the appearance of laziness or stupidity, but Harriet would show that she really had a fine mind and a courageous strength.

After this Harriet worked for John Stewart. She did many jobs usually given to men, such as cutting and hauling wood. Here she built up the incredible strength that would later allow her to do such things as carry grown men through the water to their safety.

Harriet married a free “colored” man named John Tubman around 1844. They had no children.

In 1849, she and some other slaves were to be sold. She determined not to be sold and so one night she just walked away. Eventually she arrived in Philadelphia where a white woman befriended her and she got a job. She saved her money and two years after her own escape from slavery she went south to rescue her husband. She found him living with another woman and unwilling to take her back. This did not stop her from her plan of rescuing other family members. She just moved on trusting in the Lord.

Between 1852 and 1857 she made many journeys to the south rescuing many people. It was during this time that people began to call her “Moses”, a name she retained for the rest of her life. She rescued so many people that a reward was put out for her capture.

Let’s don’t forget that a Fugitive Slave Law had been passed, making it a crime for people to help slaves escape. Harriet had to find ways to get the rescued slaves all the way to Canada since even many Northerners would not help for fear of getting fined or arrested for breaking the law. Many Christians would say that Harriet should not have defied the government because of what it says in Romans 13 about obeying all those in authority over us (see Romans 13:1). That is a subject for another post in the future, but for now let us not judge her conscience. Slavery is evil and the Lord helped Harriet to rescue many people.

Harriet was able to discern the voice of the Lord speaking to her, warning her and giving her guidance. Because of this she was able to avoid capture many times. She said that she always knew when danger was near though she didn’t understand quite how exactly, but “pears like my heart go flutter, flutter,” and she would know that something bad was going to happen.

One example of this was a time when Harriet was going back North and she had a premonition that told her to turn aside and cross a stream. The stream was swollen there and she did not know how deep it was. She obeyed the whispered warning in her head and stepped in to cross the water. The men that were with her hung back, but when they saw that the water was only up to her chin they followed her and all safely crossed the stream. Later they found out that there was a party waiting down the road to arrest her and if she hadn’t crossed the stream she would not have escaped.

Another time Harriet fell asleep in a park beneath a notice that was offering a reward for her capture! Of course, Harriet couldn’t read and had no idea of the irony until some friends found her and told her.

Because she was on the run, Harriet slept in wet swamps or in potato fields where she could lie hidden. Besides the obvious risk to her health there was always danger of being spotted. But the Lord always rescued her, sometimes through friends or by her own wits. And Harriet always gave the credit to God. When someone would express surprise at her boldness and daring she would reply, “Don’t I tell you, Missus, ’twasn’t me, ’twas de Lord!”

All through the War Between the States Harriet rescued slaves and nursed wounded soldiers. She was never paid for her efforts. Harriet remained poor for the rest of her life but she never complained.

Harriet-Tubman-2Harriet died on March 10, 1913, in Auburn, New York at around the age of ninety-three!  All through her life she had depended on the Lord and God had never disappointed her trust in Him.

Her life is an example of what can be done, even in the most horrible of circumstances, when a person does not give up or give in. Harriet’s attitude in life made all the difference in the world. Here we sit in our comfort and can’t seem to find time to help those around us. Harriet accomplished much in spite of illness, threats, poverty, and danger all around her. Her childlike faith and determination is an example for us all.

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It came about that when she (Achsah) came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he (Caleb) gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (Joshua 15:18,19).

Imagine what it must have been like to live your entire youth as a nomad. Your people wander through a wilderness area for many years. Every morning you wake up and get to look forward to manna for breakfast, manna for lunch, and manna for dinner. There are constant threats from hostile neighbors. What are your options here? You can just try and get by or you can wander around with a chip on your shoulder.

Or you can keep your faith in God. You know that at some point you and your family will Achsahfind a permanent home because God promised it. You grew up with a man who lived his life in obedience to God and taught you to trust God also. This is the story of Achsah, brave and determined daughter of Caleb.

Many of the Israelites did not believe God. After they came out of Egypt their leader Moses sent twelve spies into the land promised by God. Ten of the spies would not trust in God’s strength to fight for them. Only Joshua and Caleb insisted that the people should not rebel against God “and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9).

All of the then living adults, including the ten cowardly spies, died in the wilderness for their sin over a period of forty years. Achsah and the others who had been born since then would go into the Promised Land with only two of the original generation remaining alive – their new leader, Joshua, and Achsah’s father, Caleb.

By now these men were in their eighties, but God had blessed them with health and vitality. Caleb said, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in” (Joshua 14:11).

Caleb still had enough strength to do battle against the giants in the land of Canaan. Joshua allowed Caleb to subdue the particular piece of land that would be his own eventually. It included the “hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken” (Joshua 14:12). This land was the area around Hebron.

Caleb drove out all of the inhabitants and was given the land. While doing battle he put forward an interesting proposition. He pledged his daughter to the brave man who would conquer Kiriath-sepher.

If we didn’t understand what was really going on we might be tempted to think that Caleb was just an opportunist using his daughter as a pawn. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Don’t forget, he was an old man. He was looking forward to retiring. He knew this land would go to his descendants. Caleb was concerned that he got a really worthy son-in-law and not just a mediocre husband for his daughter who would be a great heiress. This new son-in-law must be courageous, smart, uncompromising in faith, and as strong as himself. He wanted a man who would help his daughter raise his descendants to wholeheartedly worship Yahweh.

Othniel was such a man. He proved his love for God, his uncle Caleb, and Achsah by capturing Kiriath-sepher. He won his bride and they were ready to settle down and enjoy their blessings.

However, the land of the Negev that they were given was very dry and barren. It would have been difficult to grow crops there or water livestock.

And so, Achsah ventured forth to visit her father. This woman had inherited his courage and faith. She grew up with a man who had stayed the course. Achsah learned from her years in the wilderness that God wants to bless those who stay true to Him. She saw God’s promises come true and she dared to ask for what she needed.

Achsah:springs of waterWhen Achsah alighted from her donkey Caleb asked her what she wanted. She boldly requested, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs” (Joshua 15:19).

Achsah had three brothers. No doubt Caleb provided for them too, but we don’t know much about them. We have only Achsah’s story given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Though Solomon would not write about the Proverbs 31 woman for hundreds of years in the future, Achsah would have fitted the image very well.

Note three of the many ways:
1. Achsah proved that she was a good businesswoman. She knew that the land would now be worth much more than before. She and Othniel would be able to take care of a very large household. Caravans would be able to stop and water their animals. Travelers would be able to bring trade. She would be like the “merchant ships; she brings her food from afar” (Proverbs 31:14).

2.  “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11). Othniel let Achsah ask her father for the land with the springs. Her husband trusted her. Perhaps this was because he knew that his wife had learned courage, strength, and fortitude from her father. We don’t know how old Achsah was when the Israelites reached the Promised Land, but she must have watched her father all of her life be one of the bravest, strongest, and most faithful of men. She certainly learned her boldness at the knee of an expert! Perhaps she was the apple of her father’s eye as his fearless daughter.

3.  “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23). Here is an amazing thing. Truly this husband of Achsah was well known in the gates as the first judge of Israel. We have a continuation of the story of Caleb, Achsah, and Othniel later in the book of Judges. (See Judges 3:9-11.)

Othniel continued to prove that Caleb’s faith in him was correct. As part of his responsibility as judge he had to go to war against Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia. God blessed Othniel with extra strength as He had his father-in-law. Othniel prevailed against Israel’s enemy and then the land had rest for forth years.

What can we learn from Achsah’s story?

Achsah was blessed with a godly father and husband. Caleb wanted her to be protected when he was gone. He wanted to be sure that she would be able to enjoy her inheritance and pass it on the their progeny. That is why he put forth a challenge that would bring forth the right man for her.

We can be like Achsah when we pray. She had strong faith and trust that God would keep His promises. Our heavenly Father wants to bless us. We should be bold as she was when we present our petitions. We should not be surprised if our Father gives us even more than we asked.

Achsah was a woman who boldly asked.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened…. how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  (Matthew 7: 7,8,11).

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