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Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 1/17/2013
(edited December 2019)
When Ancient Israel finally got around to invading and possessing the Promised Land after forty years of being stuck in the wilderness, they were led by a human being (Joshua), had to engage in physical warfare, and sought to established political and religious reforms.
Today a Christian is called to follow a Resurrected King (Jesus), engage in spiritual warfare, and establish the salvation and internal re-creation of each individual person by grace, through faith.
Back then, they received (and lost) an earthly kingdom. We are possessing an Eternal Kingdom. In this study we will seek to learn what we can from their experiences:
Lesson One: Hard fought and won ground should not be surrendered or compromised.
Verses 1-2: “When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:”
Lesson Two: Our main covenant is not with our spouses or each other. We are bound to God, Himself, first and foremost.
Verses 3-4: “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”
Lesson Three: No human relationship should be allowed to drag you away from allegiance to your Savior. God sanctified (set apart) his people of Ancient Israel, and He is sanctifying His Church today. But we, too, must sanctify Him and give him preeminence in our hearts.
Verses 5-6: “But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”
Lesson Four: “We love God because He first Loved us.” is a paraphrase of I John 4:19 in the New Testament. Here in Deuteronomy we find its precursor.
Verses 7-8: “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
The Love of God was important then and now, but the covenants between Ancient Israel and God and the Church and God today are very different in significant ways. Ancient Israel was motivated by works and the rewards that came with obedience.
Verses 9-12: “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:”
I am not saying that good works don’t matter for us. Quite the contrary, in fact. But while works were the substance of Ancient Israel’s relationship with the Lord, our love for God through Christ is the totality of our relationship with him. But works are a bellwether of the quality and substance of that relationship and our love for Him. Let’s finish that quote from I John chapter 4 in the New Testament as verses 20-21 do apply here: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Their obedience could guarantee physical prosperity for them:
Verses 13-15: “ And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.”
Through our love for God, we are promised spiritual prosperity, as seen in Ephesians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”
It was the command of the Lord that Ancient Israel conquer Canaan. I think our goals today are more like Faith, Hope, and Love. We need to find these things in Jesus and hold that very sacred ground. The same Lord who helped them to win is with us:
Verses 16-24: “ And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee. If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt; The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the Lord thy God brought thee out: so shall the Lord thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid. Moreover the Lord thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed. Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible. And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.”
They had clearly defined enemies to face. They were often fearful. And we are prone to fear our spiritual enemy, the Devil. Believers need miraculous intervention even to hold the ground on which we currently stand, let alone to make gains. As in ancient times, the battle is ultimately the Lord’s.
Above all else, we must guard our Love for the Lord and keep our relationship with Him vital and functional. I don’t know about you, but I am in a real daily battle today!
Israel conquered the Canaanites on the battlefield, but wound up worshipping devils along with them. May you and I never be satisfied with physical prosperity and outward victory at the expense of spiritual success. In closing, let’s look at what Moses had told his people back then:
Verses 25-26: “ The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therin: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.”
I pray that you find eternal victory in Christ.