“Westward-Ho” was a cry that resounded many a time at the starting point to independence for Missouri, during the push of the westward bound human tide of pioneers on their trek across the plains and mountains to the new lands that lay on the western shore of the North American continent.
It was a trip which would last up to four months and fraught with danger every step of the way. It was a time of hardship and perils that only the strongest of will were able to endure. All this took place during the middle and latter part of the 19th Century AD. It was, in fact, the last of a westward movement that started way back down History-Lane.
The Lord said “Occupy till I come”. We do not know when the Lord will return
Way back in Gen. 1:26 God mandated that man should have dominion over all the earth. This was even before man was created. “And God said let us make man in our own image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth.” And also in Psa. 8:4-6 we find that man was to take dominion and subdue all of God’s creation upon this earth. “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.” These words of the Psalmist are echoed basically word for word in Heb. 2:6-8. By these passages we can see that God meant us, His people, to take possession of and occupy the land, and thus you can see that those hardy pioneers of the eighteen hundreds, were not merrily following a dream for a better life, they were in fact, all be it unknown to most of them, following the mandate of God. The one fact that stands out in this people movement is that they went willingly to establish a foothold in a new and largely unsettled land until they were stopped by the vast waters of the great Pacific Ocean, where the westward push finally came to an end.
Like I said, they went willingly, but it was not always so, for if we look to the Scriptures we find that often times the people needed to be pushed by acts of God to get them on the move. The first example of this we find in the eleventh chapter of Genesis, where we read the story about what happened at Babel. Here we find that the people of that early time all seemed to live together in one concentrated area until God in His wisdom scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Gen. 11:8). Then we can read the story as to how Moses on the command of God brought the peoples of Israel out of the land of Egypt to go to a land promised to their fathers. But it soon became apparent when they had to face some of the hardships that they encountered in the Sinai desert that they were really not willing to go, but would rather return to their flesh-pots in Egypt and continue to be slaves. You can read this story in Ex. 16:2,3. This took place approximately 1450-1430 years before Christ. The next time we find where God had to give the people an extra push is about seven hundred years later, around 721 BC, when He, God, sent the Assyrians to forcibly remove the Israel people from their land, and send them on their way to the new lands waiting for them, as per prophecy found in 2Sam. 7:10.
It seems that in the old days the people were content to dwell wherever they abode without the need to move and expand and explore, save for a few, such as the Danites and possibly some Zebulonites, who early on already explored the sea lands and some of the interior regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Zerah branch of the tribe of Judah is also believed to have left for a new land even before the exodus from Egypt and to have gone to settle in what today is known as Northern Ireland. But like I said earlier, most of the rest seem to have been content with the status-quo and had no need or desire to move or explore. So it was not until after the Assyrians had deported the Israelites to the land of the Medes (2Kings 17:6) that we see a spirit of migration and movement take hold.
According to 2Edras 13:39-42, the Israelites decided to leave the land that they had been deported to and go to a land where yet no man dwelt and where they, the Israelites, became known to secular history as Scythians. They later broke up into the different tribes and peoples that moved across central Europe and at last settled in north-west Europe and the British Isles and there, except for some minor movements such as the Vikings and the Norsemen, they stayed until in the seventeenth and eighteenth century the spirit of colonization took hold in, especially, the seafaring nations such as Spain, England, Holland and France. We all know the story; Spain went to Central and South America to plunder and to rape the land. England established a foothold in the East Indies for the riches that were to be found there. The Dutch did the same in Indonesia. Vast fortunes were amassed by those involved in these enterprises, but no thought was made for permanent settlement during this time. That did not occur until well into the Reformation period, when folks came across the sea with a Bible, a bag of seed and a desire to start a new life on these western shores. Even at that time the people needed somewhat of a Divine push, for if it had not been for the fact that the Pilgrims and the Puritans were being suppressed in their belief, they would probably never have left the shores of old England and Holland. But when they came they made a Covenant with God in the New World and God blessed their endeavor to such an extent that in a little over two hundred years, the pioneers, whom by and large were a God fearing Christian people, covered this great North American continent from east to west, from sea to shining sea.
And so we have completed the mandate that God placed before us some six thousand years ago. There is no farther that we can go, for to go any farther west will return us to the east from whence we came. So then where do we go from here, and what must we do?
The Lord said “Occupy till I come”. We do not know when the Lord will return, but return He will. So we must keep our lamps trimmed so that when He comes we may be ready to receive Him as Lord of Lords and King of Kings!
In the meanwhile we must do our utmost to advance the glorious Gospel of God’s Kingdom here on earth, by whatever means the Lord has made available to us. Let’s not be like the five foolish virgins, but let us be like the five wise ones. For the Lord is coming soon, for so He promised.
Even so come Lord Jesus, come quickly!