I was reading this morning in Deuteronomy, and copied into my journal one of my favorite passages of encouragement from chapter 8:2-10. It is a passage of remembrance of how God brought the Jews out of slavery, and then guided them in the wilderness. I’ve started a daily challenge where I focus on one of the fruits of the Spirit each day, and today’s fruit was Patience.
When copying the Scripture into my journal, in light of the fruit of patience, it struck me again, just how hard this was for them to wait for 40 years for God’s promise to come to fruition, wandering around the desert, waiting for Him to act. And indeed, God says that it was a time of testing, where He humbled them by letting them go hungry (vs 3). A time where He gave them manna to eat so that they might learn that man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord!
Then in another passage in chapter 11, God commands them to impress all these truths on their hearts and souls. To teach these truths to their children in the morning, throughout the day, and before going to bed. And then He promises them this –
“For if you carefully observe every one of these commands I am giving you to follow – to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him – the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will drive out nations greater and stronger than you are. Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours. Your territory will extend from the wilderness to Lebanon and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea.
No one will be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put fear and dread of you in all the land where you set foot, as He has promised you.” (vs. 22-25)
If you’re familiar with the devastating results of the Israelites’ endeavor to take on the people existing in the Promise Land, then it shouldn’t surprise you that they didn’t believe God when He told them this. God blatantly assures them that, “Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours,” and that “No one will be able to stand against you,” for He would “put fear and dread of you in all the land where you set foot.” It left me wondering this morning, why did they not believe God, and go out with confidence to conquer their enemies?
Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours…. It does sound improbable, how could they have such assurance that they would succeed? And yet the God of the Universe was telling them this! Some of their enemies they needed to go out to fight and conquer were descendants of giants – just seeing them when they scouted out the territory, terrified them into backing down.
From here –
“The Devil knew this promise to the seed of Abraham and he set 31 hostile nations right in the middle of the Promised Land to stand in fierce opposition to Israel seizing their inheritance. Most of these nations were advanced in weaponry and warfare and were ferocious warriors against any enemies. The Bible calls many of the men, giants, champions of wickedness, which were physically beyond anything that mankind had ever seen. These giants roamed the Promised Land with the express purpose to keep Israel out so they would never experience the promise and the blessing that flowed from it.”
It made me think about how not only do we usually lack the patience to do the necessary waiting God calls us to in our own lives, but we also probably lack the degree of faith in God’s promise for us for our futures.
When the Israelites saw the giants they lost their faith in God’s assurance of protection –
The men of Israel cried in fear-“We are but grasshoppers compared to these giants and they are of great stature and they will eat us up.” They did not go into the Promised Land because of fear of these giants and they had no faith in their God to overcome them.
God cried out:
The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?
How did they fear the giants and evil nations in their land, when God promised them the assurance of protection and victory, it’s hard for me to comprehend?
“Every place the sole of your foot treads will be yours.”
If only they had believed God and had courage to face their enemies and to keep living in obedience to His Word. If only they had believed His promises that He was with them, and would lead them to victory over their battles in life (both against enemies and in fighting against their own idolatrous ways in their hearts).
In Numbers, only Joshua and Caleb were confident enough in God’s faithfulness. How much more so that we should also have confidence in God like Joshua and Caleb did, because we have the New Testament books giving us the knowledge of Christ’s Resurrection.