Deuteronomy. I love the book of Deuteronomy. Really. In Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, things are very formal, very didactic, but in Deuteronomy, Moses speaks from his heart to Israel. He’s candid, even blunt, but his genuine love for the people he has shepherded is evident in every passage. In chapter 2, he encourages Israel with a recounting of their journey. But there is a story under the story.
- In v. 5, 12, and 22, God says I have given Mount Seir to Esau’s descendants. There were giants, but God drove them out.
- In v. 9-11, God gave the land of Moab to the descendants of Lot. There were giants, but God drove them out.
- In v. 19-22, God gave the land of Ammon to the descendants of Lot. There were giants, but God drove them out.
See the pattern? God made a promise of land and obligated Himself to deliver on that promise, even if it meant dealing with giants on the recipients’ behalf. But did you notice these were heathens? Edom, Ammon, and Moab didn’t follow God or His laws. In fact, later God would say that a Moabite or an Ammonite could never enter the congregation of Israel. (Deut 27:3)
Think about that for a moment … God made and kept promises to heathens. Why would He do that? I think there are a few reasons.
- God is incredibly gracious. Even those who have no use for Him experience a measure of His grace.
- God is working out His larger plan on behalf of the people He favors. He raises up and brings down kings and kingdoms.
- God is teaching Israel about His character.
Israel had just spent 40 years in the desert because they refused to believe God’s promise to them. They needed reassurance and reaffirmation before possessing the land. So God gently explains how things work.
If God will keep His word to unbelievers, if He went before the Ammonites and the Moabites and the Edomites to ensure they receive what He has promised, how much more will He act on behalf of His own people, the people He called out, and redeemed?
As followers of Christ, we are a people God has called out and redeemed. He will keep His promises to us. He will go before us. He will act on our behalf. Let’s resolve not to be like Israel by refusing to believe Him.
Are there promises of God you have trouble believing?