03/07/17 Learning from History

READING: Deuteronomy 1-3 Mark 10:32-52

“Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 1:21

I first grew to love history when we studied the American Revolution in eighth grade. History is so often the story of victories and defeats, triumphs and tragedies, heroes and traitors. History should teach us much, but we’re regrettably not always willing to listen. We speak of the importance of knowing history so we don’t repeat it, and then we repeat it anyway.

Today’s reading in Deuteronomy 3 is Moses’ recounting a part of the history of the Hebrews, focusing on their journey after the Exodus to the Promised Land. In many ways, that history is replete with the failures of God’s people. They sent the spies into the land but then “would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God” (Deut. 1:26). After they learned of God’s coming judgment, they again rebelled against His plans and tried to go into the land in their own power. Moses, their leader, also angered God with his actions at the rock, and even his pleadings would not change God’s mind (Deut. 3:23-27).

What the people failed to remember was that the God who promised them the land was also the God who would fight for them:

  • “See, I [God] have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.” (Deut. 1:8)
  • “Then I [Moses] said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them [the giants in the land]. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes . . . .” (Deut. 1:29-30)
  • “Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God.” (Deut. 1:32)

God had fought supernaturally for His people to free them from Egyptian bondage. He had cared for them through the wilderness. He had led them via a fire by night and a cloud by day. Still, they did not trust Him when they were on the verge of the Promised Land the first time. They somehow forgot their history a bit when the present seemed frightening, and that failure seriously affected their future.

Perhaps God inspired this Word so that you and I would not make the same mistake – so that you and I would learn from the history of God’s people. When we don’t trust God, we’re headed for trouble.


  • Consider how often God has provided for you, even when you weren’t always faithful to Him.
  • Let God’s faithfulness in the past give you hope today.

PRAYER: “God, take away my fears that keep me from serving You fully.”

TOMORROW'S READING: Deuteronomy 4-6, Mark 11:1-18