Last week, in Numbers 33, Moses rehearsed the deliverance from Egypt, and the things which God had done for his people. Moses reminded them not to forsake the Lord, but to obey and to drive the inhabitants out of the land which God had promised them. So now in Deuteronomy 1, Moses gives the people a review of their performance, and it wasn’t good.
God delivered them out of the hand of Pharaoh (Ramses in Num. 33), had brought them up to the land of promise and through the mighty hands of Sihon and Og, two powerful, but not all-powerful, kings that stood in their way. The children of Israel have JUST seen deliverance from three powerful enemies. Mind you, at this point, they haven’t wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years yet, so these things would have still been fresh in their minds. We don’t know exactly how long they had been out of Egypt, but it hadn’t been long. (Side note, when Moses is giving this performance review, we see that it is in the 40th year, but his recounting is of what happened immediately after they left Egypt.)
So having been delivered from these 3 great kings, they stand at the brink of the Promised Land with the clear and absolutely unambiguous instruction from God to go into the land, possess it, destroy all the inhabitants with no exceptions, and watch what God will do for them. Moses had appointed leaders from each tribe to help him with the daily management of the people (one leader for over two million people would be pretty overwhelming) and these princes advise Moses to send spies into the land to find out what they are up against.
Moses agrees that this is a wise course of action as it always helps to know your opponent before the battle, and so he appoints one man from each tribe to go and see what they will encounter. However, rather than going to see HOW they are going to proceed, most of the men go to see IF they will proceed. Rather than saying, “This is what God has instructed us to do, so we will do it!” they said, “Let us figure out whether we think we can accomplish the task.” Indeed, the task WAS too big for them. It would necessitate conquering people that were far more powerful than they, but not at all more powerful than their God. The greatest army in the world had just been vanquished as they came out of Egypt, but they did not trust God’s power enough.
I was talking to a missionary this week and he said, “I’m not looking for people who want to do great things for God, I’m looking for people who want God to do great things for them.” Had the children of Israel said, “We will obey, but it’s going to take a miracle from God to accomplish this, he undoubtedly would have accomplished the work he sent them to do. A pastor friend of mine put it this way when I talked to him on Saturday: “Where God leads, He will succeed.” If God calls you to do something, it doesn’t matter how big the giants are, He is bigger. It doesn’t matter how strong the armies are, He is stronger. It doesn’t matter how thick the walls and how big the gates, they can “come a tumblin’ down.”
Rehearse what God has done and let that MOTIVATE your faithfulness and obedience today!
P. S. Pastor Dan recently preached on the life of Caleb and it made me want to go study his life in depth. I was so excited when I got to Deuteronomy 1 this week because that fit right in!