When your Promised Land is Inhabited by Someone Else
You shall serve the Lord your God, and he[a] will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. 26 None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. 27 I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 And I will send hornets[b] before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. – Exodus 23:25-28
Throughout the Old Testament we see over and over again this idea that if his people serve Him, He will bless them. Here, we have the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. They have been delivered from the oppression of the Egyptians but have not yet entered into the Promised Land. God is promising them, that if they will serve Him, they’ll be blessed. I find such sweet hope in these promises! Look:
- He will bless their food and water.
- He will take sickness away.
- There will be no miscarriages or barrenness.
- His people will “fulfill the number of their days,” which, to me, speaks to be living out their full lives but also living out their purpose.
- And finally, He will drive out their enemies before them. Some enemies they won’t even have to fight, because nature will do it for them (specifically hornets!).
He doesn’t stop there, however. He gives a caution of sorts. It seems to me like he’s protecting them from their expectations of what this will look like when they get there.
I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. – Exodus 23:25-30
In His great mercy and wisdom, God was not going to do this all at once. “Lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you.” God would drive out their enemies, but little by little, until the Israelites had increased in such a way that they were capable of possessing all the land, all the promises of God for their nation.
God is not slow about His promises. Sometimes, God is just waiting on us to grow big enough to fill/inherit them. And sometimes, our enemies in the land aren’t there to keep us out, (simple hornets could fix that problem when the time was right). Sometimes, they are there to keep other enemies out, and to keep the seat warm, so to speak, until we get there. The enemies kept the land fertile, cultivated and ready for the Israelites until they were ready to take it over fully. Because sometimes we have to grow into our purpose and our promises. Sometimes we aren’t quite big enough yet to embrace it all.
So, if you’re looking ahead and seeing the land (or business or promises, etc.) that is supposed to be yours, but it’s inhabited by someone else, fear not. Keep walking with God. Keep trusting Him. It could be a sign of His protection over you that you don’t get overwhelmed by something you’re not quite ready to inhabit. He’s just letting someone else do the work and keep things going until you’re ready to take it over. He’ll drive them out and give it to you when the time is right. Trust in His goodness, love and sovereign power.