“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT
We are facing a bleak future filled with gloom and doom. It is depressing to read the bad news of the Ukraine war, Covid 19 pandemic and climate change. A friend lamented the sad reality that as we get older and older, we collect more fears rather than shedding fears as we gain experience in our journey through life. We begin to fear more with more life experiences. She found it hard to overcome her fears when she sees a future lined with scary things which she can’t handle. Her fears are real and can be debilitating and depressing indeed. Our fears are but a wake up call to come to our senses and to turn back to God like the prodigal son. We need to face the foolishness of living a life separated from God:
“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us.”1
Like the alcoholic addict, we need to acknowledge that we are powerless and helpless over sin. We need the grace of God to wake us up from our spiritual slumber of unbelief.2 We can choose to use our fears to drive us to God’s loving embrace so that the joy of the Lord is our strength.3 To do so, we need to understand the wrath and judgment of God. Just before he died, Moses predicted that after his death, the people of Israel will become utterly corrupt and turn from the way he had commanded them to follow and disaster would come down upon them.4 Moses himself was also told that he would not lead the Jews into the Promised Land. In spite of such a dismal and depressing picture of the future, Moses exhorted the people of Israel to stand on God’s promises of His Presence, Providence and Protection:
“The Lord will hand over to you the people who live there, and you must deal with them as I have commanded you. So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”5
Moses reminded the Jews that God had chosen them to be His special people. They had been called to walk in God’s ways, keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments and to obey His voice so that God’s will would be done on earth and the world can see heaven here on earth when they live under God’s reign in the Promised Land.6 God’s judgment and wrath is directed towards the eradication of sin and evil that draws us away from the love of God. God does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent.7
The history of the disobedience and idolatry of the Jews is a grim revelation of the consequences of choosing to live without the Presence, Providence and Protection of God. It is to convict us of our idolatrous and disobedient hearts and our need for repentance – to hunger and thirst for righteousness deep within our hearts – to change from living a self absorbed and self reliant life to a God centered and God dependent life.
Repentance is choosing to “get out of the sick and stupid culture”8 of a godless and dying world and to hunger and thirst for the Kingdom of God. Repentance is waking up to the amazing grace of God and changing the way I live. My heart is prone to wander from God when pride, greed and lust reigns within me. I need the Holy Spirit to bind my wandering heart to Christ.
“Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”9
Lord, help me to inspire as well as to live a life of repentance.
1. How can my fears draw me closer to the love of God?
2. What does the history of the Jews teach me about sin and the judgment and wrath of God?
3. Why is it important to live a life of repentance?
Song of Praise:
Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing
1. Ephesians 2:1-3, MSG
2. Ephesians 5;14, NLT
3. Nehemiah 8:10
4. Deuteronomy 31:29
5. Deuteronomy 31:5-6
6. Deuteronomy 27:9-10
7. 2 Peter 3:9
8. Acts 2:40, MSG.
9. Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson