A Taste of God's Grace in Deuteronomy
As you may know by now, Mary Willson is coming to teach us about God’s grace in Deuteronomy at our Fall Conference on October 7-8th. I am so excited to hear her speak on this! God’s grace is in all of the Old Testament, including Deuteronomy. Here is a small taste of what that means.
Deuteronomy consists of sermons preached by Moses to the Israelites when they were on the verge of entering the Promised Land. Moses knows that he is not going any farther. So in love, he reminds them of what the Lord has said and done as they continue on without him. He tells them that God is a provider, he tells them. Moses reminds them that God has provided for them in the past and that he will provide for them in the land of Canaan. He does this by his grace.
Why We Need to be Reminded
I don’t need to look further than my own heart to know why Israel needed to be taught that God would provide for them. Sad to say, but when I need something my instinct is to assume that God won’t supply it. And then, of course, I take matters into my own hands. Time to buy a house? Better research relentlessly. No school for my autistic son? Time to stay up late worrying about it. Want reconciliation in that broken relationship? Best to give up hope in exchange for resigned cynicism.
I can relate to Israel. Forty years prior to Deuteronomy, when the first generation was on the edge of the Promised Land and they saw the enemies there, their response was,
See their suspicion and their lack of faith? They are basically saying, “God hates us and wants to kill us.” I could be self-righteously appalled if I didn’t often secretly, almost subconsciously, entertain the same kinds of thoughts.
God’s Gracious Provision
Thankfully, it is exactly to these kinds of people– people like Israel and people like me -that God promises gracious provision. Moses pierces the lie by revealing all the ways God did supply his people with what they needed. In staccato, bullet-point fashion, he lays it out: It was God who led you through this dangerous wilderness! It was God who gave you water from the rock in a parched land! It was God who fed you manna! Then he adds that God did it so that, “He might humble you and that he might test you, to do good for you in the end” (Deut. 8:16). Oh, I can almost hear his exasperation – “You guys! Don’t you get it by now? God loves you! And even the difficult things were purposed for your transformation and greatest blessing in the long run!” Oh yeah…that’s right.
Of course, the Israelites didn’t just need to be reminded of God’s gracious provision in the past. They needed to know it for their future, because they really were going to ford the Jordan River and face terrible enemies. So Moses tells them, “It is the Lord God who will cross ahead of you; he will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them” (Deut. 31:3). Their job? Trust that the Lord would not fail or forsake them and walk forward (Deut. 31:6). It’s the same thing you and I are asked to do every single day.
God’s Greatest Provision
You and I have even more than the Israelites did. We have the revelation of God’s provision in Christ Jesus. Remember Moses mentioning that God supplied water from the rock? Well, the apostle Paul says that was just a small picture of the provision of Jesus (1 Cor. 10:4). And the manna? Jesus said this was meant to point to him as well (Jn. 6:48-49). Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for sin. Jesus is the one who gives eternal life. Jesus is the one who gives the Spirit to you and me, so that we can be transformed. Jesus is the Great High Priest who intercedes for you and me. Jesus is the King who reigns over everything that happens. Jesus is the one who will never fail nor forsake you or me. Jesus is the gracious provision.
So, you see, this is just a tiny taste of God’s grace in Deuteronomy. There is so much more to come…