Hear O Israel. You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. The people are strong and tall – Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “:Who can stand up against the Anakites?” But be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has promised you.
We are not the people of Israel. We are not standing on the brink of taking physical possession of a land inhabited by nations greater and stronger than we are. At this present time, God in his grace and mercy is not intending to destroy those who oppose us but he has given us great and precious promises.
As Christians, we are the church. We are standing where he has placed us surrounded by fields white and ready to harvest and in God’s grace and mercy ‘Now is accepted time, now is the day of Salvation’. And he has promised “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
So there are, at least to me, very clear parallels which we do well to note.
First, Israel’s God is our God and he is working out his purposes through us where we are.
Second, there is ground to be taken, for God is still building that great crowd which no man can number so there is ‘ground’ to take for the gospel and his glory.
Third, there are many adversaries, not physical like the Anakites but the powers of darkness who will do all that can to prevent the good news reaching needy men and women.
Fourth, God goes before us and with us and those who oppose can only do so as far as he allows and like the Israelites, we can be assured of that.
Fifth, we can step out in the sure and certain knowledge that we are not alone and indeed are on the victory side.
Sixth, thinking back to yesterday’s passage, as Christians, God has chosen us and placed his love upon by his sovereign choice.
In the light of these truths although we may suffer setbacks – and we have never been led to believe that the Christian life is an easy life – we can stand tall and be unashamed of the gospel. Further in doing so others will be blessed as they hear from us of such a God.
So brothers and sisters, there is still much ground to be taken and a harvest ready to be gathered in, so
O Church arise and put your armour on
Hear the call of Christ our Captain
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies
An army bold whose battle-cry is Love
Reaching out to those in darkness.