In this post, I'll write about my daily quiet times in Deuteronomy 2-3. My focus will be on dealing with fear. I'll be looking at the Conquest, which is a very grisly subject, to say the least. But, in reading Deuteronomy 2-3, I thought of four insights that can help me in terms of my attitude and my day-to-day life. I hope that you will agree with me that the lessons are valid, even if the Conquest understandably disturbs your moral sensibilities.
Israelites were about to embark upon a new challenge. The prior
generation of Israelite warriors had died off, and a new generation of
Israelites was taking their place. This new generation did not have as
much experience in terms of waging wars, and they were about to fight
Amorites and Canaanites who were bigger and stronger than they were, all
to take possession of a huge countryside that, according to the
previous generation of Israelites, devoured its inhabitants (Numbers
13:32). Would this new generation of Israelites be successful at such a
daunting task? Many of us can probably identify with them in
that we ourselves have embarked upon challenging tasks and wonder if
we're ready or equipped for them, or if instead they are too much for
One lesson that I got from the passage was that God
may show us that the intimidating task can actually be done. There is a
lot in Deuteronomy 2 about the other peoples who have conquered the
intimidating inhabitants of the Transjordan or Canaan: the people of
Esau, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Caphtorites. God declares
that he gave land to the Edomites and the descendants of Lot (Ammon and
Moab), which probably means that God helped them to defeat the
inhabitants. This is not said in Deuteronomy 2 about the Caphtorites,
however, but Amos 9:7 affirms that God brought the Philistines from
Caphtor, which perhaps implies that God had a hand in the Caphtorites'
success, as well.
In my opinion, God was reassuring the
Israelites that conquering the inhabitants of Canaan was possible, for
God had helped other people-groups to defeat intimidating foes. In short, the Israelites could win with God's help, as had the other people-groups. Joel Osteen says in Your Best Life Now that, in order for something to become possible, you first have to conceive of it on the inside, which means your mind.
My problem is that I cannot always conceive of myself competently
performing certain tasks. Maybe I should start imagining myself doing
those tasks, as well as draw inspiration and wisdom from others who have
gone through their struggles (i.e., Asperger's Syndrome, or other
challenges) and yet have managed to succeed.
The second lesson
that I got from the passage was that God may help us to get our
feet wet. God brought Sihon, king of the Amorites, against Israel, even
after Israel had made overtures of peace towards him. Perhaps God was
trying to get Israel's feet wet: to prepare her for her battles against
the Canaanites by helping her first to triumph against a powerful king
in the Transjordan. It's one thing for Israel to see that other
people-groups had defeated intimidating foes with God's help, but it
was quite another thing for Israel to learn that she herself could do
so. Israel's war against Sihon gave her practice, competence, and
confidence. I think that, sometimes, God may use certain situations to
get our feet wet. Or we can get our own feet wet through baby-steps.
third lesson that I got from the passage was that we should do what we
can and leave the rest to God. I am often afraid that people will not
like me, and I look back at my past and see people rejecting me even
after I had tried to be nice. In the case of Israel, she was actually
nice to King Sihon: she asked him to let her pass through his land, and
she would pay the Amorites for food and for water. Israel was trying to
be peaceful, but Sihon responded by launching a war against her. We can try to be nice, but there may be factors beyond our control.
Sihon, for example, may have been intimidated by a massive group of
Israelites on the move around his territory, for he wondered how they
would affect him. Would they attack? Would they take his resources?
Moreover, there was God's role in all of this, for God had a plan behind
Sihon's rejection of Israel's peaceful overtures. I'm reminded
of Romans 12:18, which states (in the KJV): "If it be possible, as much
as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." We can only do our part
in seeking peace with people, and we should leave the things that we
can't control to God.
The fourth lesson that I got from
the passage was that we should do the task before us with all of our
might. Deuteronomy 3:3 says (in the KJV): "So the LORD our God
delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his
people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining." The
Israelites really dived into the task of fighting Og, king of Bashan,
such that they got the job done. Similarly, when we are met with an intimidating task, perhaps the way that we can get past our fears is to dive into the task.
July 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival
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