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Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven…. Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the Lord has said to you. (Deuteronomy 9:1, 3)

Throughout the history of God’s people, it seems they always have to face enemies larger and stronger than they are. As Jacob, they always seem to be beneath Esau’s heel just waiting for the inevitable death blow. In this particular case, the spies’ report from decades ago turned out to be true in the sense that giants were in the land living in fortified cities — obstacles that would have to be overcome. The spies’ mistake, and likewise with all who believed them, was the errant belief that they had to attain victory on their own. In other words, they didn’t trust that God would fight their battle even though He said that He would go before them “as a devouring fire.”

From the beginning it is clear that, the victories won by God’s people come not as the result of their strength or righteousness but because of God’s promise. Furthermore, in this case at least, it is also due to the wickedness of the nations who were being dispossessed. Still, the point is that He wanted them (and us) to understand that it would be a mistake to think that, “Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land.” Victory will come, “not because of the uprightness of your heart,” but because He intends to fulfill the promise He established with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In that same line of thought, it is not due to our righteousness that we have been grafted into the cultivated olive tree (Romans 11) but because of the unbelief of others and the graciousness of a benevolent God. Remember that those who attended the wedding of the king’s son were permitted in because others didn’t want to come (Matthew 22:2-10). In other words, whether speaking of God’s people of long ago or right now, none should ever think that we have earned the right to be reconciled to God on our own — it is a gift from above. None should ever think that His blessing is a result of our own merit — it is because He is good, merciful and compassionate.

So then, consider: none should be “haughty, but fear” (Romans 11:20). Furthermore, always remember that our calling and purpose in Messiah is not a validation of who we have been or who we are presently. Rather our calling is a challenge to become who we are supposed to be. That is to say, the grace and mercy of our God has given us the opportunity to become the sons and daughters of God that we might fulfill His purpose in of our lives. We haven’t earned any of this and, so, may the devouring fire consume any thing within us that would dare to think we did this on our own. We owe all to our King.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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