Then [Moses] said, … “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid … The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” Deuteronomy 1:29–31
The Israelites pitched their tents on the border of unknown risk in quest of certain reward. Would they trust God and claim their inheritance? Or would they retreat in fear like their parents and grandparents had done decades earlier?
God commissioned Moses to lead the Israelites into Canaan, the land of their inheritance. At Kadesh-Barnea, a previous generation had rebelled. Moses didn’t want that to happen again. Knowing he would soon die, Moses delivered several calls to action, affirming God’s plan and challenging the people to obey.
As you and I enter a new decade, we can profit from the encouragement and warnings Moses gave to that generation of Israelites several thousand years ago.
First, God sometimes says “no” to us if he has already answered “yes” to someone else (Deuteronomy 2:5, 9, 10). In humility, we can accept that our perspective is neither as wise nor as complete as his, and we can trust him to provide something better.
Second, God is always the reason for victory. His power and presence cause enemies to cower and obstacles to vanish. If we rely on ourselves, we will fail as surely as the Israelites did when they trusted in themselves (see Numbers 13–14 and Joshua 7). If we rely fully on God, however, we will enjoy the manifold blessings he has stored up for us.
Third, as we act in faith, God enables us to conquer new territory. He said, “I have begun to deliver … Now begin to conquer and possess this land” (Deuteronomy 2:31). In other words, we can’t expect God to bless us if we aren’t following through on the directives he has already given.
Fourth, God assures success if we obey. No city wall is too high, no enemy too strong, and no goal is unattainable if we act “in accordance with the command of the Lord our God” (vv. 36–37).
Under Joshua’s leadership, the Israelites undertook the risks and witnessed God work in miraculous ways. How about you and me? What is God asking us to risk in 2020 and beyond? He is good, faithful, and compassionate, so let’s move forward knowing that success awaits if we follow our commander in chief.
Read Deuteronomy 1–2. What aspects of God’s character does Moses emphasize? In what ways do Moses’s words challenge you to trust God more?
Review the Israelites’ failure at Kadesh-Barnea as recorded in Numbers 13–14. What practical steps can you take to avoid similar mistakes?
Denise K. Loock