Israel & the Road Home: Theological, Canonical, and Contemporary Significance (Pt. 3)

Posted: December 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

Now that we have considered the theological and canonical significance of Deuteronomy 2:26–31, we shall bring this series to a close by making observations about the contemporary significance. In other words, why is this passage still relevant for Christians today?

Contemporary Significance

The story of Israel’s war with Sihon may seem like an irrelevant story to the 21st century reader. However, there are stunning implications for our day.

First, the picture of God’s faithfulness that emerges from this section of Moses’ sermon is striking. During Israel’s move towards Canaan they encounter a number of different lands. The lands of the Edomites and the Moabites come into view first. Israel is forbidden to “contend” (2:5, 9) with these peoples. Why? Because Yahweh had promised these lands to Esau and Lot and his word never fails! Just as God was faithful to promises he made with Esau and Lot, so he would be faithful to his covenant people.

Christians today are the new covenant people of God (Luke 22:20; Heb. 8; 1 Pet. 2:9–10). The same faithful God of the OT is the same God who reconciles us to himself through Jesus. And this Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:1–3)! When our world seems to be spinning out of control, when our faith begins to waver, we must remember that our God is faithful. We can trust him with our lives, our money, our time, our families, our circumstances, and our futures.

Second, the idea that God is love permeates Christian and sub-Christian culture. It is certainly true that God is love (1 John 4:8). Yet, our God is also a just and wrathful God (Jer. 9:24). His patience should not be understood as laxity when it comes to sin (Rom. 2:4). The Amorites were descendants of the cursed people of Canaan (Gen. 10:15). They may have believed that God’s justice had forgotten about them. But the day of reckoning is sure. The good news is that God has made a way for enemies to become friends. Through Jesus Christ the wrath of God is satisfied. Turning to Christ in faith means that for the believer the Day of Judgment experienced by the Amorites has fallen on the shoulders of Jesus in our stead (Is. 53:4–5).

Third, there is nothing that can stop God from fulfilling his purposes for his people and his glory. An Egyptian Pharaoh, an Amorite king with a stubborn heart, and a giant by the name of Og (Deut. 3), could not thwart God’s plans (cf. Job 42:2). Before the foundation of the world God has chosen a people for himself (Eph. 1:4). And “those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). He will surely bring to completion that which he has begun in the believer (Phil 1:6). No one can snatch us out of his hand (John 10:28–29).

Lastly, we rejoice in God’s sovereignty over all things and remember that we are responsible for our actions. The fact of God’s lordship over the cosmos calms our hearts in this sin-filled and groaning world (Rom. 8:19–23). The hearts of kings are in his hands (Prov. 21:1), birds fall to the ground only by his design (Matt. 10:29), and the rolls of dice do not escape his control (Prov. 16:33). Our God is omnipotent. We stand in awe of him and trust him with our lives.

Yet, the Bible teaches us that we will give an account for the deeds done in the body (2 Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14). Sihon was held responsible for his willful refusal to allow Israel to pass through his land. Pharaoh was judged for his decisions. The same will be held true for us today. God’s sovereignty does not negate our responsibility to crucify sin in our flesh and live for the glory of God.

CONCLUSION

This paper has sought to unpack Deuteronomy 2:26–31. The passage is found within the first of three farewell sermons delivered by Moses on the plains of Moab as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. The sermon contains a historical lesson in which Moses means to motivate Israel to obey Yahweh and conquer Canaan. To this end he recounts the encounter with Sihon and the Amorites.

Though God had promised Israel the land, Sihon stood as a potential obstacle in the road home. When king Sihon refuses the request for safe passage, the potential obstacle proves to be a present obstacle. Yet, Yahweh is the faithful road-warrior who goes before his people and gives their enemies into their hands.

Trusting in Yahweh, Israel would engage with the Amorites and remove the obstacle from the road home. Thus, Israel is reminded of the unstoppable promises and purposes of God.

Further Resources:

ARC of Deuteronomy 2:26–31 [PDF]

Text Hierarchy (Hebrew) [PDF]

Complete Bibliography for this series [PDF]

 

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