“There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in his majesty.
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, ‘Destroy.’
So Israel lived in safety,
Jacob lived alone,
in a land of grain and wine,
whose heavens drop down dew.
Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
a people saved by the Lord,
the shield of your help,
and the sword of your triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
and you shall tread upon their backs.”
The blessings exist. They are real. They exist in the heavenly realm before they are manifested in the natural realm. They exist right alongside the dire predictions of judgment and apostasy. Faithfulness activates one and idolatry the other.
Romans 8:2 tells us, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Both of those laws exist at the same time. We are all under the law of sin and death since Adam fell. But the new law sets us free when we believe in Jesus. It’s like the law of gravity, that applies to all people. But we overcome that law when we apply other laws so effectively that hundreds of us at a time sail through the air at an altitude of 30,000 feet.
Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 31:9-13.
You learn to fear the Lord by learning of His judgments and His holiness. To ignore that is to present an absentee God who only shows up periodically to bestow gifts. But a God who is ever present and aware of our thoughts and motives is one to be held in awe.
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:15-20.
God is not required to conform to our own values, vices, preferences and peccadillos. He is God. He is the creator of everything. His order is the one to be established. Expect the wicked, rebellious and unbelieving not to like it.
As God’s people take the land, it is important to remember that they were God’s instrument of judgment on vile idolators. They did not do it perfectly, but they were on God’s mission. It was only after they forgot God’s mission and became idolators themselves that God brought the same judgment on them.
Most Americans forgot God’s mission to them a long time ago. That mission was to preach the gospel, make disciples, and teach them to obey all that Jesus taught us. We must relearn it or be removed.
“And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the Lord has made it sick— the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and wrath— all the nations will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, and the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 22-29.
To those of us who believe, we know that all the trouble in the world is rooted in the curse of Adam’s fall. But there is something even worse: when people depart from the God who has richly blessed and protected them from the curse.
I remember the grief Pat Robertson got for blaming 911 on our nation’s acceptance of homosexuality and abortion. We already had the culprit! It was Islamic terrorists! Yes, but God has often used the ungodly to punish His people.
I don’t believe God teases out one sin for which to punish our nation. It is a host of things rooted in our general culture of disobedience and presumption that we will always be safe. We no longer reach out to the lost. We just criticize them. We do not care for the poor. We just judge them. We make money instead of disciples. We wink at each other’s sin while bemoaning the sin of unbelievers. We still self-segregate by race. We do not pass our faith on to our children. Do not be surprised if we are utterly destroyed.