The Book of Hebrews defines faith like this, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11.1).
James makes this observation about faith and writes, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?”
“Someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (James 2.14, 18).
Paul saw his mission as someone who would bring about “the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of [Jesus’] name” (Romans 1.5).
As we consider Deuteronomy 1.19-33, it provides an excellent illustration of the truth of three above Scripture passages.
(1) At the edge of the promised land, God’s people were challenged to believe that they would be able to possess the land.
If they had faith in God’s promise, they would be assured and convinced that God would make the conquest possible.
(2) God’s people could say that they believed in the promises of God, but their actions would show the truth of their claims.
(3) Only the “obedience of faith” would produce lives that could grasp the gift that God desired to give them.
Deuteronomy 1.19-33 told the story of these three truths for the Israelites.
On the Border of the Promised Land
The Hebrew people were on the border of the promised land. Moses reminded them of God’s promise and called them to take action.
— Verse 19 – Then, just as the Lord our God had ordered us, we set out from Horeb and went through all that great and terrible wilderness that you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, until we reached Kadesh-barnea.
— Verses 20-21 – I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us.
“See, the Lord your God has given the land to you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you; do not fear or be dismayed.”
I believe each person has a destiny, a “promised land,” to fulfill. God loves us and wants us to reach the fulfillment of the full potential he has put in us.
Henry Blackaby speaks of a “crisis of faith” that confronts people at the edge of their “promised land.” At this point, they must trust God and act in obedience to experience what God has for them.
Blackaby points out that the greatest blessing of trusting God with our destiny is that we get to experience God in the process.
The Hebrew people under Moses and people today have to respond to God’s direction with assurance, confidence, and obedience.
Obstacles to the Land of Promise
A crisis of faith occurs when we focus on the obstacles more than the One who made the promise. This was the experience of the Israelites.
— Verse 25 – The people explored the promised land and “gathered some of the land’s produce, which they brought down to us. They brought back a report to us, and said, ‘It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us.'”
The vision of what God had promised them was exceedingly better than the 100 miles of wilderness they had traveled from Egypt.
— Verses 26-27 – But you were unwilling to go up. You rebelled against the command of the Lord your God;
You grumbled in your tents and said, “It is because the Lord hates us that he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to hand us over to the Amorites to destroy us.”
The only way people can experience the destiny that God has for them is by living in a relationship with him.
The people rebelled against God’s direction, because they were unwilling to follow him. Only the “obedience of faith” will take people to their “promised land.”
The people who had been freed from generations of slavery in Egypt turned on God and spoke ill of his character.
— Verse 28 – “Where are we headed? Our kindred have made our hearts melt by reporting, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we; the cities are large and fortified up to heaven! We actually saw there the offspring of the Anakim!’”
The crisis of faith became a crisis indeed. Instead of being assured and convinced of God’s promise (Hebrews 11.1), they were overwhelmed with the obstacles before them.
Abraham is called the “father of faith.” When he was confronted with the potential sacrifice of his son, Issac, he trusted God completely.
Abraham’s faith was shown, not because he was without doubts or anxiety about what he was called to do. His faith was shown by continuing to follow God despite doubts and anxiety.
The same is true for us. When we caught in the space between the promises of God and the obstacles that are before us, faith keeps following God’s guidance.
Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts
Instead of following God’s direction, the people dug in their heels and refused Moses’ logic.
— Verse 29-31 – I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them.
“The Lord your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes,
“And in the wilderness, where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place.”
When God calls us to follow him, he will supply everything needed for success. Moses recalled how God cared for the Hebrews in the Exodus from Egypt.
God fought the Egyptians. God provided food and water in the trek from Egypt to Kadesh-barnea.
— Verse 32 – But in spite of this, you have no trust in the Lord your God.
This is the tragic story of the Hebrew’s failure.
Tomorrow’s article will examine the result of the Israelites’ refusal to trust God. Today’s lesson encourages us to live in the “obedience of faith” and to follow God to our “promised land.”
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. It can be seen on the Bob Spradling channel. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. You will profit from his insights.
Peter Craigie has written an excellent on Deuteronomy. His study influences my articles.
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