Friday, February 17, 2017

How God works? Naturally and Miraculously - Deuteronomy 3

How God works? He works logically and miraculously. God usually works logically and through men. Miraculous work is less often and is done with special purpose. So it is very easy for us to fall into two kinds of mistakes. Mistake 1 is to think God did not work because everything is done naturally without any supernatural effects. Mistake 2 is to think God does no miracle. We can see the working of God with the Israelites in Deu 3.
God's Plan for Conquering the Promised Land - Working through Men 
God works in ways that He can teach men and men can learn wisdom from God. In conquering the promised land, God gave the Israelites easy victories and used the conquered land as a base camp. He gave them the land of the King Sihon in the previous chapter and of King Og (Deu 3:1-11). This is the preparatory wars for future conquest. It taught them that the Lord's promises were true and they experience them first hand. Their faith was being built up.

The lands were allotted to Reubenites, half tribe of Manasseh and Gadites (Deu 3:12-17). This was to be a base camp. Their wives and children and livestock were kept here safely while the men were to go on to war. (Deu 318-20).

God works through men.
The defeats of the 2 kings of giants (Og and Sihon) show how God did mighty work through weaker Israelites men.  The men knew it was a miracle because they were relatively smaller in size and strength (Deu 3:21-24).

Succession Planning
God asked Moses to hand over the leadership to Joshua. Moses blamed his men for God not allowing him to enter the promised land. Actually, it was Moses himself not being able to control his temper that caused him to be rejected. Moses disobeyed a direct command from God. God had commanded Moses to speak to the rock. Instead, Moses struck the rock with his staff (Numbers 20:12). Even so, God brought Moses up to Mt Pisgah to have a view of the land (Deu 3:27). It was a comforting touch from God.

Moses was to help develop Joshua to take over his leadership and lead people into the promised land. Deu 3:29.

Lessons Learned:
God works naturally and supernaturally. He works through men to accomplish mighty work. We cannot and should not judge whether God is working or not by natural or supernatural means. God is always with us to accomplish His work and enable us to share and enjoyed the fruit of His work. All that we need is obedient and also with wisdom. We see the wisdom of God here in the following ways:

  1. Building up of faith and experience in the battles over the 2 kings.
  2. Setting up of a base camp to support the long-term and bigger mission in conquering the promised land.
  3. Succession Planning and handling over of leadership.
We can see God want us to live victoriously by natural means, to use our mind and body to live well on earth.  Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”  

Even so, God is the living power behind our living and if need be, God will intervene supernaturally as we shall continue to see in this journey into promised land. God and men work together.

Lim Liat (c) 18 Feb 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The New Generation and New Direction - Deuteronomy 2

You may have wondered enough in the wilderness. It may be the time to change and move in a new direction. That was the command God gave to Moses to lead the next generation north to prepare to enter the promised land. The only thing the next generation needed was to be obedient to the commandment of God and they would have great success. That is the major lesson for us. Only do what God commands and do NOT what God prohibits.
New Direction and a Bright Future - Time to Go into the Promised Land

The Chapter begins with a new plan and new direction - ‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward Deu 2:3'. 

They have wandered enough in the wilderness. It was 38 years terminated in the event that the first generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, had died (2:14-16).

God's Commands were Specific
There were territories that they were not to attack and there were others they were to destroyed. 

God's Allotted Each Race their specific territory.
The sons of Esau, the Edomites and the sons of Lot, the Moabites and Ammonites were to be left alone. (Deu 2:5-22). 

God always Provide for His People to do His Work 
God had blessed their work so that they had wealth to trade with Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites. (2:7-8). Even for the forty years in the wilderness, God miraculously fed them.

God also Give Assurance and Promises
Before they attack the Amorites, God assured them in v24 Rise up, set out on your journey and go over the Valley of the Arnon. Behold, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to take possession, and contend with him in battle.' 

The Obedient Next Generation

The key for success, victory, or a good life is very simple. Do as the obedient next generation did. He hears the commands of God and they faithfully executed them. Deu 2:34-37. 

They acknowledged that it was God who gave them the victory. It is very easy to attribute such success to our own strengths.

They positively followed God's commands and they also did not violate God's prohibitions.

From Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and from the city that is in the valley, as far as Gilead, there was not a city too high for us. The LORD our God gave all into our hands.  Deu 2:36

Only to the land of the sons of Ammon you did not draw near, that is, to all the banks of the river Jabbok and the cities of the hill country, whatever the LORD our God had forbidden us.  Deu 2:37  

Lim Liat (c) 13 Feb 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Lessons from Deuteronomy 1 - Trust God & Not Our Reasoning

When our perception and subsequent reasoning is against the will of God, trust in God and follow His will and not our understanding (Proverb 3:5). If we fail to, be ready to listen and obey again. This is the lesson from Deu 1.
Deuteronomy was Jesus' favorite book. He quoted from it most often. His answers to Satan's temptations all come from this book (6:13, 16, 8:3). So, it is important that we study this book well.

The promise and command of God are given 1:6-8, especially verse 8

Deu 1:8  See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.’

God said, "Go and possess it."
Moses gave them additional assurances in 9-22. They had grown in numbers, were better organized, reiterated God's command and told them not to fear.

They decided to spy out the land first. There is nothing wrong with that. Go and see for yourself is a good thing. The facts were there, the land and the produce were what God said. Productive land and giant fruits also have giant people there. The problem was with the interpretation of the evidence.

Focus on God first and the Problem will be smaller
When we only look at the circumstances without God, we will conclude as they did, i.e. we could not do it. However, if we look at the circumstance from the promised of God, when we focus our eyes more on God, the problems would be smaller, as Caleb and Joshua did.

Their reasoning without God made them disobedient to God and even accused of God hating them despite their miraculous experience exodus from Egypt! It is so easy to be overwhelmed by our circumstances that we forgot about the past experience with God.

God's Will is for Specific Time & Event
When rebuked, the people decided to obey God's initial order to go. But the right time has passed and God then told them not to go because He would not be with them.

God gave them a 2nd Chance to obey Him. But, they Disobeyed Again!
Shockingly, they disobeyed again after God told them not to go. They want to justify themselves and take things into their own hands again. Of course, the consequence was obvious, they were badly defeated.

The Lessons:
1. Be sensitive to hear and know the Will of God.
2. Be quick to follow His will. When our reasonings disagree with God, check it out with God and follow God's rather than our own.
3. Know that God's will is time, place and people specific.
4. Be ready to admit our error and listen and obey God's new instruction.
5. When in doubts, check back with God.

Lim Liat (c) 6 Feb 2017