Saturday, July 27, 2013

Walk This Way: Wondering in the Wilderness Part 2

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Deuteronomy is probably my favorite book of the Bible, if I had to choose. Imagine getting married and your spouse telling you specific ways in which you could love him to ensure a successful marriage. You'd be all up on that, wouldn't you? That is what Deuteronomy is to me. It is specific blueprints to conquering the wilderness and finding lasting pleasure and security in your promised land. Just like a marriage, though, we have to do our part and dig into the Word to receive these directions. If you're frustrated and lost in the Wilderness, do not lose hope: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 

Knowing that I need direction on my present journey, I dug into Deuteronomy. Chapter 7 was where I felt led so I began to read. (I encourage you to stop and read this chapter now, as I am not going to summarize it but just hit a few keys points.) I read the text 2-3 times as a good Bible student has been taught to do and immediately began to see the blueprint. Here are the points that jumped out to me: 

1. You must destroy the enemy nations.

The major theme of this chapter is Israel needing to conquer the nations that are dwelling in Her land. In fact, if she doesn't completely destroy them, she will not inherit the land. Period. This applies to us as well. We must destroy the enemies that are dwelling in our God given territory. 
Upon first reading this text, I practically skipped over the names of the 7 tribes listed for Israel to destroy. Hittites, Girgashites...Girgashites? That sounds like the villain from the Smurfs...Amorites..when are they gonna just disappear already...Canaanites, blah blah blah! Ill just skip these ridiculous names and get on to the meat! But as I continued to read, I felt Holy Spirit tell me to back up and pay attention to the names. It is important that you name your nations. They each stand for something standing in your way. If you research the meaning of the names of these tribes, you will see they have symbolic meanings such as fear or worldliness. Israel had specific strongholds to conquer. Don't ever skip over names- they mean something. What are the names of your nations? Don't worry if you don't know right now. That will come. 

2. Don't be afraid. 

As I was pondering on the naming of my nations, my eyes fell upon verse 17 and I read, wide eyed, till verse 20: 

17 "Perhaps you will think to yourselves, ‘How can we ever conquer these nations that are so much more powerful than we are?’ 18 But don’t be afraid of them! Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all the land of Egypt.19 Remember the great terrors the Lord your God sent against them. You saw it all with your own eyes! And remember the miraculous signs and wonders, and the strong hand and powerful arm with which he brought you out of Egypt. The Lord your God will use this same power against all the people you fear. 20 And then theLord your God will send terror to drive out the few survivors still hiding from you!"

Ok, now this part is really really really crucial. Are you ready? If you start fretting over all this, you're not getting it. Earlier today- I was not getting it. Just a few hours after reading this passage, I was already fretting...big time! I was in pain and questioning his plans. I was frustrated and questioning God's motives. Yup. I do that sometimes. Don't you? 

What do you mean conquer these stupid nations!? How am I gonna do that!?! How am I gonna conquer depression, anxiety, pain?! You're mean! You say you have a future and a hope for me!! Is this some sort if cruel joke?! 

It's ugly inside my heart. That I will never deny. I identify with Paul, feeling like the greatest of sinners. I'm pompous, cynical, fearful, lustful and hot tempered, but OH! how I love Jesus. Love him because I am those things and he sees something worth dying for and something worth living for and something worth loving. Sweet, sweet Jesus. And he lets me yell, kick and fight. He lets me question his motives, this man that died so I can live. He doesn't smite me. He could. But he doesn't. He leads me back to his words, the words He's already told me and I've already forgotten. And this process is sure to be repeated as I am quite forgetful. 

I have a feeling I will frequent these verses quite a bit in this season. It's unnatural to not fear something that threatens to harm, but that is what God is requiring of me - of us. He is calling us to remember the times in our lives when He dominated our enemy, delivering us from the grips of hell. He's saying, "remember when I did that? Strengthen your faith because I am about to do that again!" He is our army general, on his white horse, giving us the pre-battle pep talk, causing bloodthirst to rise our veins. Our horses can barely stand still and we hold tightly to the reins until our leader yells for us to charge. Our general is undefeated and we're guaranteed the victory, if we keep our eyes on him. Not only will our enemy be demolished, but verse 20 tells us that even the hiding stragglers - the ones we aren't even aware of - will be driven out and slaughtered. He's a tried a true warrior. 

Are you bloodthirsty yet?

3. He will reveal their identities 

In point one, I encouraged you not to be upset if you have no idea what your nations names are. To be honest, I'm feeling a little in the dark still. He has a specific battle plan for us. Verse 22 reveals part of this plan: "The Lord your God will drive those nations out ahead of you little by little. (Emphasis mine) You will not clear them away all at once, otherwise the wild animals would multiply too quickly for you." 

This verse tells me 2 things: First, if you don't know what enemy nations you need to destroy, he will reveal them to you in his due time. Second, if you do know your nation's identity, you must wait until he drives them out for you. Either way, wait on Him. The verse is very clear about what will happen if you don't - chaos will insue and overtake you. 

Be patient. He's got this. 

4. He will give you the victory!

As odd as this may sound, God is not a selfish warrior. Let me ask you a question. Imagine you are a king. You've given your life for the sake of your kingdom. Your kingdom is so majestic that all other kingdoms abhor you, desecrating your kingdom and defiling the people you've spent your life protecting. War is declared and you've proven your might as the entire enemy army lays dead at your feet - except their king - who you've got in a strong hold. Would you call over your most pathetic soldier to take his lifeblood, to revel in your victory as his own? 

Verse 23-24: "But The Lord your God will hand them over to you...He will put their kings in your power, and you will erase their names from the face if the earth." 

Christ is that king. He will devour our enemy then hand their leader over to us to finish. To revel in a victory that is not ours but has been made ours. 

I don't get it. I don't understand his love. 

It doesn't stop here. Verses 12-15 list many more blessings that he will bestow upon us if we're obedient in this journey. 

Why does he do this? 

"The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept theoath which He swore to your forefathers,the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt." Deuteronomy 7:7-8

This wilderness jouney will not be easy, but it will be redeeming. God has not lead us here to let us die. He is a faithful king. A fierce warrior. A promise keeper. He's good, our God!

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