Read: Deuteronomy 34:1-4
Time has long separated God’s children from the experience of Egyptian slavery. More than two hundred years have also separated the American Black people from the experience of plantation slavery. In the case of the Hebrews coming out of Egypt slavery there was a place promised to them- The Promised Land, a place flowing with milk and honey; a place in which they could learn to enjoy their freedom from four hundred years of back- breaking slavery. In the case of the Black man there was no place really promised to him where he could go and enjoy his new-found freedom. A close study will show that Moses and Dr. King had similar experiences while leading God’s people out of bondage.
There was really no land of promise reserved for the Black man. Even the land he was already in was not promised to be shared with him when he came out of slavery. Yet the black man’s freedom was like the Hebrew’s. It was the result of much long time prayer. In a sense, the Black man was turned out into a no-man’s land he had no land or place promised to him. In short, he had no promised land waiting for him after getting out of slavery. Many ex-slaves went north looking for a promised land which would allow them to truly experience true freedom.
An interesting note to record is the fact that the Hebrews had been given a Promised Land in Canaan by God after they were released from the Egyptian slavery. Whereas, the Black man was promised nothing from God after he came out of plantation slavery. The black man then sought his own promise land wherever he could find it. This was the start of the Black man’s struggle here in North America. This struggle was already taking place in South America and its outer islands. The question to be asked today is, “Has the Black man found his Promised land yet, anywhere?” We are still looking!
God’s people, just out of slavery, were given His instructions and commandments by Moses. God promised to give them a land filled with milk and honey (Canaan) where they would be able to enjoy their new gained freedom if they obeyed all that He had told them. On the other hand, God gave no such instructions to the Black man just out of plantation slavery. Does this mean that God is a respecter of persons? No, not so!
Today, we, as Black people, have long been grafted into the Hebrew Promise way before we were brought to America as slaves (Romans 11:17). It appears God has chosen the Black man to travel a different pathway for him to get to a place of rest or promise land. That place is a spiritual place and not a physical place. We have no promise land here, our place is with Jesus -“I go away to prepare a place for you.” Wherever Jesus is, that is the Black man's Promised Land. We are just so-journeyers passing through this land. Look at the Black history here in America. Can you identify a place we can call our Promised Land? At best we are still boring our way into the middle of the white man’s world to make a place of or own. It is Dr. King’s dream that we will eventually find our Promised Land somewhere here in America.
Today we are reminded by social scientists and educators that there are more segregated schools in this nation than there were twenty years ago. We must ask “How far is the Promised Land?
The Promised Land is as far away as our unwillingness to work to ensure our place here in the collective minority in America. The Promise Land is as far away as our unwillingness to expose and put an end to the sophisticated forms of discrimination against minorities and the subtle forms of institutionalized racism that destroy the social fabric of our society, and the disparity of income between blacks and whites, male and female for the same job still exists in Black and White institutions.
The Promise Land is as far away as the violence of a 50% national budget going for defense (death over life), and the mass media and political leaders perpetuating minority stereotypes and land lords stop Blacks from renting or buying decent housing in decent neighborhoods and black on black murders continue, while illegal drugs continue to flow in our communities.
The Promised Land is as far away as the number of blacks still falling through the educational cracks and there is no final solution. Then How close is the Promised Land?
The Promise land is as close as our willingness to maintain our faith and know that it will triumph over evil, and as close when we stop buying the false images of idols and gods of Hollywood and the media and create our own role models; as close as the maximum amount of education gained. The Promised Land for the Black man is as close as the last vote found among him. Finally, the Promise Land for the black man is as close as he would allow God to be!
Where are you going Great Heart? “To beard the devil in his den, to smite him with the strength of ten; To set at large the soul of men.” Then God go with you Great Heart! --John Oxenham