This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the nations under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you. (Deuteronomy 2:25)
As Moses continued retelling the story of their journey, he recounted how Israel was prohibited from harassing nations related to them — e.g. Edom, Moab and Ammon. Then he turned his emphasis to those nations that Israel was to war against, such as Sihon and Og, last of the so-called giants. After they rejected Israel’s peace overtures, God instructed His people to destroy these nations — they had been delivered over to Israel. According to the text, God had already started clearing out some of these giants before Israel came into the region. In fact, Lot’s descendants (Ammon) overcame the giants in the region they dwelt in. In anticipation of their crossing over into Canaan, you might say that God began to “soften up” the enemy before His people arrived.
The image that comes to mind is what might occur before an armed landing force sets foot on the ground. Depending on the situation, naval and aerial bombardments will pound the enemy for days or even weeks, destroying as much as possible, before boots are ever on the ground. In such cases, it is not uncommon for the beleaguered recipients of such a barrage to quickly collapse before the invading forces. In other words, God let His people know in a very logical and tangible way that He truly was going before them into the battle and placing fear upon their enemies. Later, the spies who encounter Rahab will learn that the inhabitants of Jericho had been dreading the arrival of Israel for many years.
What does this mean for you and me in this day and age? When it comes to God’s purposes, when He has called His people to do something, they should not think that the “giants” and “fortified cities” will be able to withstand His advancing Kingdom. His Will shall prevail over the enemy. Of course, they will resist but, as we see here, God goes before us and strikes the enemy with fear and dread. He does this so that we may accomplish what He has sent us to do. We should never take pleasure in the potential destruction of the wicked but we should always take heart in knowing that God is with us, and will never forsake us.
Blessings and Shalom,