John W. Worley, Ph.D.
Deuteronomy 2:3, (NASB)
"You have circled this mountain long enough, now turn north."
Deuteronomy 2:3, (NIV)
"You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.@
This passage speaks a word of release to all of us who have suffered from any form of long term circularity. In Deuteronomy 2:3 our "past experiences" are wrapped up in the word circled while our "future experiences" are contained in two words turn north. So often our growth can be hindered and our enthusiasm for God's work deadened due to seemingly endless seasons of circularity, monotony or just plain sameness.
Three facts emerge from this text:
1. All of us have mountains to compass.
2. All of us must equally obey divinely appointed seasons of circularity.
3. Only God in his sovereign will can decide when a divinely appointed season of circularity is finished.
Israel's Fear of the North
Did you know that the very thought of turning north put great fear into the hearts of the children of Israel?
The Hebrew word translated North is saphon. It means hidden or secret. This speaks to us as it did to the children of Israel of the "mysterious" as it relates to God's dealings and our destinies. Another reason North was feared was because it was from the North that all of the sudden incursions of the enemy came. The Babylonians, Assyrians, etc. all approached God's people from that "hidden" and "remote" area known as saphon ‑ the North.
Yet another reason for trepidation was that in Satan's strategies throughout the history of the Hebrew scriptures, the false God Baal as well as others were worshipped on the "summit of Saphon" (high places in the north). In fact it was said of Baal that he called the regions of the north "the mountain of my portion".
Another reason for fear can be found in a different Hebrew word translated North (9 The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds) in Job 37:9 the word meant scattering. Speaking of the cold north wind that came scattering all the clouds before it in great power.
Our fear of the North
I believe the Lord is calling all of his children to prepare themselves for new endings as well as beginnings, for new challenges as well as victories.
All of these blessings; however, will be found only as we turn north. But there is something in all of us that fears turning north.
1. The north represents to us a hidden, secret, mysterious or scary place in God.
2. The enemy has tried to block this ground from us by continuously claiming the northerly direction as his own.
3. Perhaps on a more positive note, the powerful winds that proceed from the north equal an awesome display of power that not only scatters clouds, but also changes the temperature and atmosphere in our lives both suddenly and drastically. Yet, God still says "It's time to turn north". Turning north may involve hard fighting , but it also promises great victories.
Be encouraged for each mountain (or molehill) we've been circling, they bring us nearer to the end of them. The emblem of all life in Christ is to be a spiral and never a circle. I'm sure that many will discern in these words only a rebuke. Others only a command. Yet it is my prayer that all of us
will rather hear a word of comfort and release.
You've circled this mountain long enough, now turn north... Let's take our destiny "due north" with the confidence and passion of Caleb and Joshua who declared...
"Let us go up at once and possess it for we are well able to over come it...Neither fear ye the people of the land for they are bread for us, their defense is departed from them and the Lord is with us, fear them not" Numbers 13:30, 14:9.
Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."
Numbers 14:9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them."