Life is full of natural milestones that mark different stages of life. “Milestone” stems from a word that refers to a stone that functions as a milepost, something that marks progress on a journey.
While natural milestones in life are meaningful, they are not as significant as spiritual milestones. Spiritual milestones remind you of the “why” behind life; the God-ordained purpose involved in life. Spiritual milestones lift our eyes from the challenges (or discouragement of the moment) and help us get a glimpse of the journey as a whole. They can inspire us to take that next step of faith and experience God at work.
We all have been on that long road trip down that straight highway that seems to run on forever. The only way to see progress in those moments is to pay attention to the mile-markers or the signs. In Deuteronomy 27:1-8, Moses and the new leaders of Israel give the Hebrew people two important reasons to remember their spiritual milestones as they venture into the Promised Land and take on challenges they had never seen before.
Milestones Mark Your Spiritual Journey (vv. 1-3):
As God’s people cross the Jordan River to conquer the Promised Land, they are told to: “Keep all these commands I give you today.” “Commands” refers to the truth revealed in God’s written Word. Notice that they were not told to simply know or even understand God’s Word. They were told to “keep” the truth — meaning to guard closely something of value. The verse infers that when you truly value the truth revealed in scripture, it will penetrate your mind (the way you think and perceive) and penetrate your heart (where values and choices are formed).
Why is this important? Backing up a chapter (11:8), Moses instructs: “Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess…” Embracing the truth from God’s Word at a level that it becomes who you are will provide the “strength” or basis to overcome the challenges that inevitably arise in life. So, like God’s people, you can either be prepared spiritually to conquer those moments or be conquered by them.
Note also in vv. 2-3, the leadership told the Hebrew people to erect “large stones”. This was to serve as a literal milestone of their spiritual journey with God. It was to remind them that God is sovereign and trustworthy. The same God Who had led them thus far would provide a way to complete the whole journey, to conquer the Promised Land. In moments of challenge, you can become discouraged. In those moments, choose to look up and remember the milestones. Remember how far Christ has brought you and that He will lead you the rest of the way. Take that next step of faith.
Milestones that Recognize God’s Presence (vv. 4-8):
God’s people were not only to build the milestone, but also an “altar” (v. 5). The altar was a place and focal point of worship. On this altar, the Hebrew people were to make two kinds of sacrifices to God: “burnt offerings” (v. 6) and “fellowship offerings” (v. 7). The burnt offerings were completely burned up exemplifying their complete dependence on and submission to God. The fellowship offerings were eaten by God’s people representing their joy at being in God’s presence (“rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God.”).
Making the intentional effort to remember and celebrate the spiritual milestones in life will cause you to be aware of God’s presence in your life. He is always present and working. It is a matter of whether you will see Him or not. Remembering your spiritual milestones in life will help you notice Christ and remind you that you can trust His lead.
We can go through life numb to the presence and purpose of God, or we can choose to be engaged in His presence and purpose. These are two very different ways to live. Remembering your milestones will help you engage, rather than living on autopilot. What kind of life will you choose?
“Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people: ‘Keep all these commands that I give you today. When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you. And when you have crossed the Jordan, set up these stones on Mount Ebal, as I command you today, and coat them with plaster. Build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool upon them. Build the altar of the Lord your God with fieldstones and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God. Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God. And you shall write very clearly all the words of this law on these stones you have set up.’”