There are two major things facing our country at the present moment that are major reasons for concern for virtually all citizens, foreigners and visitors to our country. The first is the Third Wave of COVID that seems to be spreading to all provinces. Today a brother in Christ informed me that three of his colleagues died of COVID last week. This is apart from those in our church with the virus. The other matter is the riots, looting and other criminal acts facing our country, extending the resources of the police and traffic police to the point where the military have been deployed. So many have lost their entire business, literally, “lock, stock and barrel.” Many have been injured, quite a few have lost their lives and the number of arrests is closing in on one thousand … and it seems as the riots might well continue. If ever our country needed God’s help, it’s now. So many have lost their employment through COVID and now many more will likely lose their employment because of the terrible destruction of shopping malls, trucks and ultimately, the economy. Apart from the end to COVID and the end of the riots and the upswing of the economy, job creation and peace in general, what is the greatest thing you as a believer need right now? Encouragement … but not just from anyone … you need encouragement from God! As we come to the end of the Book of Deuteronomy, just before Moses’ death, we have the blessings pronounced upon the tribes of Israel before the crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land. This land was promised to Abraham, which materialized after a good few hundred years that ended in slavery in Egypt and years of wandering through the desert. They were set as the people of God for a new life within their own land under the reign of God. Now God says to them:
Dt 33:29 “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places.”
Remember when Jesus used the word “blessed” in Matthew 5? It means congratulations … because of who you are in Christ and what He achieved for you. The same sentiment comes through here in the phrase … “Blessed are you, O Israel”. The reason being Israel was released from captivity through the slaughter of a lamb with the shedding of blood. This blood was smeared over the door frames of the Israeli homes protecting them as the angel of death passed over all Egypt putting to death the first born in every home, from the son to the animal. This is God’s blood bought people. In a similar, yet better way God has redeemed all believers who trust in the Blood Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are now the Blood bought People of God. Notice a few things about Israel that apply to the people of God today.
1) Israel were a saved people. They were “a people saved by the LORD”. God had rescued them from the bondage of a tyrannical Pharaoh. The oppression was extreme. Similarly, believers in the Lord Jesus have also been rescued from an even worse tyrannical ‘master’, an enemy of God and His people known as satan. Christian, you have been saved by Jesus’ blood sacrifice. This salvation is not like Israel’s. Hers was for the purpose of an earthly kingdom (though Messiah would come through her). Jesus has an eternal Kingdom that will never end like Israel.
2) Israel was a unique people. “Who is like you?” Out of all the people on the earth, God chose them and chose to saved them. Because of this they were unique. Christians are also unique. When you consider the amount of people on this planet and the amount of the people hearing the gospel, yet only the called (chosen, elected), before creation are the ones who will be God’s Holy People belonging to His Kingdom.
3) Israel were a happy people. At this stage, after all their desert wanderings, tired, exhausted, yet ready to enter the Promised Land made them a happy people … “blessed are you”. As explained above, they were to be congratulated because of who they were. They did nothing to bring themselves into this situation, God did it all. Hence the reason for happiness. As Christians we can be even happier because of Jesus’ substitutionary death brings us into His salvation. We did nothing and did not deserve what we have. God did it all. It’s called grace!
4) Israel is a sheltered people. “He is your shield” … the shield symbolized God’s protection. When we fast forward into the future, Israel were protected during all their warfare because God sheltered them. Today Christians know God’s shelter. Yes we are exposed to all the illnesses, diseases, crime and accidents everyone else is exposed to … but God’s shelters our soul. Spiritually we know His protection over the real us!
5) Israel knew God’s help. He was their ‘helper” Throughout their settling into Canaan, the Land of Promise, God gave wisdom to their leaders, helping them plan their strategy to conquer the land. As Followers of Jesus He helps us. He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us follow the wisdom given in His Word. He has also equipped our spiritual leaders to guide us through the preached and taught Word.
6) Israel were a persecuted people. “Your enemies will cower before you” … in them taking possession of the land, pagan nations were their enemies and at times there was opposition, yet God protected them. As believers we too have enemies. We might be on the winning side but enemies in different shapes will try to dislodge our faith … but God is at our side. He has promised to protect us and see us all the way home into His eternal Kingdom.
7) Israel would know victory. “You will trample down their high places”. For Israel it was destroying the enemy cities and high places where the idols were. For us it is Jesus destroying our enemies, securing a great victory for us. May this Note be an encouragement to your soul today.
Thank You Lord for such a great salvation we Your people have through Jesus blood that rescues us eternally. Lord we Your people are so special because through grace You chose us to be You holy, eternal possession in Jesus. Amen.