As often as we use the name, “Holy Land,” amazingly, the phrase only shows up in the Bible on rare occasions. In fact, you can count them on one hand.
The first man, Adam, had a name that means “man,” and it relates to the word adamah, meaning “ground,” from which God formed him. Accordingly, when Adam sinned, God cursed the ground to which Adam would return when he died.
It seems surprising, then, that the first use of the noun form “holy” in the Hebrew Bible finds its connection with the ground. God told Moses at Horeb:
Remove your sandals, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. —Exodus 3:5
So, what makes the holy land holy? Or for that matter, what makes you holy?
You wake up to it each morning. It follows you as you go through your day. It’s waiting for you in every room and conversation. Your battle cleverly disguises itself in many forms.
Your battle appears as a person, or as money, or as a tense situation at the office.
But the reality is that the battle you face each day has another source. The fight that God’s people faced at Rephidim proved that point.
The battle is spiritual—and there’s only one way to win.
Several years ago I found myself at odds with someone. This individual had spoken severely to our daughter, and I confronted this person with the truth—but in anger, and I failed to speak truth in love.
Later, I tried to get together and talk it through. I knew I needed to ask for forgiveness for how I said what I said. But those in authority asked me to leave it alone until later. Although I tried to comply at first, I felt miserable keeping quiet. I came to realize I needed to ask forgiveness, no matter what.
The only way I felt I could honor both the Lord and those in authority came by writing a letter and asking for forgiveness. I never heard back from the individual, nor did I expect to or need to. But I needed to do my part. I needed to reach out.
But it was tough.
Anyone who wants a taste of the environs the Hebrews experienced during their wilderness wanderings needs to visit southern Israel. Here you can see far.
For instance, in the southern Wildernesses of Paran and Zin the ground is composed of flint and sharp rocks, gravel, and soil with deep cracks.
- Here the Hebrews wandered for four long decades (Numbers 10:12; 12:16).
- From here Moses sent the spies out to check out the Promised Land (Numbers 13:1-3).
- Four centuries earlier, this wilderness saw Hagar and Ishmael after they left Abraham (Genesis 21:20-21).
This wilderness area of southern Israel lets you see far—in more ways than one.
In the workplace, in our churches, and in the government, we expect accountability. And yet in our personal lives, accountability often strikes us as a negative thing.
That’s natural, I guess. Even in the Christian life, we expect others to do what’s right, but we often give ourselves a hall pass because our motives are good. Yet in holding this double standard, we can miss a huge benefit of growing in the Christian life.
In a previous post, I shared 3 benefits to having an accountability group. Committing to a group who will ask accountability questions really is nothing more than asking others to encourage you in the essential areas where you want to succeed in the Christian life. More than anything, accountability questions help you to be who you really want to be.
Here are the 10 accountability questions my group asks each week as well as a link for you to download the list.
For the past 10 years, I have met weekly with 8 other Christian men in our neighborhood for Bible Study, prayer, and accountability.
(Photo: My group)
I recently commented on Michael Hyatt’s blog about the accountability questions our groups asks each week, and he encouraged me to blog about it. Honestly, I had never thought about that, but it makes total sense.
Too often, accountability takes on a negative slant as we picture ourselves surrounded by pointing fingers and a spotlight of condemnation.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I want to share with you 3 benefits to having an accountability group that can help you in our Christian life.
Some people collect stamps. Some collect antiques. And others, it seems, collect offenses. Ask them what any person has done to offend them and they can rattle off the list. They get historical in a hurry.
(Photo by oomph)
After a talk I gave one time, a woman came up to me with a determined look. She asked: “So you’re saying all a person has to do for forgiveness is believe in Jesus Christ—and all their sins are forgiven?”
“That’s what the Bible says, yes—.”
“I can’t accept that,” she interrupted. “Some things just can’t be forgiven.”
I paused and looked into her eyes. “Who has hurt you deeply?” She gave no answer, except for the tears that welled up immediately.
The problem with forgiveness is the debt is real. Someone has taken from us and hurt us deeply. In order to forgive, it feels like we must give even more than has already been taken.
This is hard. Very hard. So, what is forgiveness?
We have thousands of questions on dozens of issues the Bible never addresses. On other topics though, it seems it’s just the opposite. Scripture supplies liberal space to minutiae that seem trivial.
Let’s be honest. Have you wondered if we need all the Bible gives us?
- Take genealogies, for example. Do we really need nine chapters of 1 Chronicles to tell us who begat who? I mean, would our faith fall apart if we didn’t know Hadad begat Bedad?
- And what about Deuteronomy’s lengthy retelling of the Law?
- Or even the huge amount of content devoted to repeating the same events of Peter’s visit to Cornelius?
These represent mere samples of what seem like a lopsided emphasis. I mean, if we only have so many verses in the Bible, could we not give a little less to the genealogies and more to, say, how to raise a teenager?
Amazingly, in spite of all the Bible doesn’t tell us, it still remains an inexhaustible book.
You’ll never find the bottom. Here’s why.
Sometimes our blessings get piled so high, it’s difficult to see around them. Blessings are ours in abundance—and tempt us to forget God. Of course, this is nothing new.
As the redeemed Hebrew nation anticipated entering Canaan, the Lord issued them an important warning:
When the Lord your God brings you into . . . great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied. Then watch yourself, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. —Deuteronomy 6:10-12
Notice God’s emphasis by the repeated phrase: “which you did not.” The blessings His people would receive would come from God’s hand—not from their own wits or wisdom.
Moses warned his people of the greatest danger from God’s blessings: to forget God.
We have that same vulnerability, don’t we?
In moments of honesty, it’s easy to see our lives as, well—insignificant. What we do often seems to matter very, very little. Whether it’s pushing papers or changing diapers, it can seem pretty pointless.
We often can fall for the thinking that because what we do seems small, or behind-the-scenes, or insignificant, or unequal with our abilities or qualifications, that what we do matters little.
After all, if we foul up, no big deal. The world still turns. Nobody notices. Few seem to care.