The Tyranny of the Customary

In the Old Testament, the enemy that threatened Israel the most was the dictatorship of the customary. Israel became accustomed to walking around in circles and was blissfully content to stay by the safety of the mountain for a while. To put it another way, it was the psychology of the usual. God finally broke into the rut they were in and said, “You have been here long enough. It is time for you to move on.” To put Israel’s experience into perspective for our benefit today, we must see that the mountain represents a spiritual experience or a spiritual state of affairs. Israel’s problem was that they had given up hope of ever getting the land God had promised them. They had become satisfied with going in circles and camping in nice, comfortable places. They had come under the spell of the psychology of the routine. It kept them where they were and prevented them from getting the riches God had promised them. If their enemy, the Edomites, would have come after them, the Israelites would have fought down to the last man and probably would have beaten the Edomites—Israel would have made progress. Instead they were twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the customary to keep on being customary.


Moses began to expound this law, saying: “The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorities.'”Deuteronomy 1:5-7


After forty years there, life in the wilderness became customary for the people of Israel. Have we, too, become accustomed to life in the wilderness even though God calls us to move beyond into the life He has promised?


Lord, may I move on, closer and closer to You. Give me a holy dissatisfaction for the customary and a deepening heart hunger for You.