Do you ever wish God would audibly speak to you? That He would tell you what to do, where to go, and that He would be with you? Or if not you, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone so in tune with God that they could communicate His promises to you? Honestly, I wish I had that setup sometimes. In my naïve and innocent mind, I convince myself I would never doubt God’s promises or commands if I could just hear them out loud from a person of God.
At one point in time, the people of God had that luxury. They had men and women who heard from God and relayed God’s message to the people. The intro to the book of Deuteronomy teaches us, however, that despite these clear verbal messages, the people still rebelled. They rebelled big time. They quivered in fear, doubted God, whined and complained, and even begged to be thrown back in slavery. True story.
The book of Deuteronomy is more or less Moses’ last will and testament. He is standing between his people and the promised land. This is his final sermon. He begins (what is the first three chapters of Deuteronomy) by reminding the people of God all of what had occurred so far between God and this present generation’s ancestors. So, be aware, what is being described in these chapters has already happened; the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers tell these stories. Moses is merely reminding them of what has gone on before.
Moses reminds them first of God’s promise to their parents to give them victory over their enemies. Look at the passage with me.
See, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land that I swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and their descendants after them. – Deuteronomy 1:6
Moses then recounts what he told their parents:
I said to you. . . See, the Lord your God has given the land to you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you; do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 1:20, 21
Let’s zero in on this past event. The stage is set. The people of God know without a doubt what God had promised them: a land for their possession, a God who would never leave them, and a Lord who would fight for them. You would think they’d jump right up and run right in to battle.
Sadly, that’s not what happened.
Instead we see that the people of God disobeyed the commands of God. As Deuteronomy 1 continues, we hear Moses speaking, reminding the people of how things went south. Moses reminds them it was their idea to send spies into the land (vv. 22-25). At first glance you might see things look hopeful. At first glance it looks like they’re preparing for war. But then you read verse 26.
But you were unwilling to go up. You rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; you grumbled in your tents and said, “It is because the Lord hates us that he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to hand us over to the Amorites to destroy us. – Deuteronomy 1:26-27
We know from the book of Numbers it was the presence of thirteen-foot giants in the land that prevented the people of God from having the courage to fight for what was theirs.
Fear of giants kept the people of God out of the land of promise.
This might be where some would stop and bring up the cliché ‘what giants are you facing’ stuff. In my opinion, the book of Deuteronomy needs to be read somewhere between literalism and allegory. Meaning, this is a historical book with historical facts. It’s not purely an allegory, where each character in Deuteronomy is some aspect of our spiritual lives. Deuteronomy is not Pilgrim’s Progress. We must be careful not to over-spiritualize things. That being said, this book is not just a book. Rightly read and applied, it should correct us, rebuke us, teach us, and train us in righteousness.
I want us to think about this in a deeper way than pure allegory.
The people of God were rescued out of slavery in Egypt. Four hundred years of brutal, oppressive slavery in an evil empire’s back-breaking regime. They cried out to the Lord generation after generation. Finally, God rescues them in miraculous fashion with plagues and the parting of the Red Sea.
IT WAS THESE VERY MEN AND WOMEN WHO NOW REFUSED TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND DUE TO FEAR.
They had seen God lay waste to the dynastic empire of that day. Egypt was it. They were the big dogs. And yet God laid utter waste to their land and their army in order to rescue His people.
Now you’re on the edge of the land promised to you by God. And some 13-foot giants scare you? What?
So my question for us is not what allegorical giants are in our lives.
No, my question is: Are we remembering what God has done for us?
The question is not what’s in our way.
The question is whether or not we obey.
You see, we have something much better than the people of God in Deuteronomy. We don’t have a prophet. Rather, we have the combination of God’s Word spoken to us in Scripture and the Spirit of God illuminating it for us. God does speak to us in His Word, in Scripture.
Are we obeying it?
Are you obeying it?
In His Name,