Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off. You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars. So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. (Exodus 23:20-28)
How Could They Turn This Down?
The Old Testament is a wonderful story of the love and grace of God. From the book of Genesis to the final words of Malachi the tapestry of God’s plan to save man is unveiled in bold colors in the promise of the blessings from the Lord. As the people trembled at the presence of the Almighty at Sinai He assured them of complete victory over all their enemies and blessings beyond the imagination. The Lord would send His Angel to lead them having victory over all enemies that come up against them. There would be no people in the world that would be able to defeat them. Imagine for a moment being told the Angel of the Lord would be THE enemy of their enemies! This promise is sure and steadfast. Incredible.
There were formidable foes to be defeated. The Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites were a superpower of allies impossible to destroy. These people were warriors bent on the destruction of their enemies razing the ground of those who would oppose them. Jehovah God tells a nation that had just a few months before struggled to survive a brutal oppression of slavery they could defeat these powerful nations. Israel was not a nation of warriors. When Saul was King a century later no one had weapons. But God tells these brick mason slaves they would be able to defeat a host of nations if they would trust in His word.
The promise of God goes beyond the military might. If they would obey His word they would never go hungry or lack for drink. He would take sickness away from them and no woman would experience the painful agony of a miscarriage. Peace would reign throughout the land as the fear of the nation of Israel would fall upon all the nations around them. Prosperity would fill the land with milk and honey as no nation had ever experienced. The promises were true. His word was powerful. He told the people this could be all theirs if they would simply obey His Angel. They turned God down.
Read again all the things God said He would do and then remember how the people walked away and said “no.” How is that possible? What people in their right mind would turn away from such an offer? The Lord truly promised them health, wealth, might and power and the children of Israel refused God’s offer. How? Read Exodus 32 when they made a golden calf and said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Read Number 13-14 when the Hebrews came to the promised land and shrank back in fear refusing to enter. Unfold the history of the Jews and see how they turned away from every promise God made to them. Their lineage is a living sermon on the refusal of God’s blessings.
John tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to die for all men. The story is the same as it was with Israel. Now it is Jesus Christ God sends forth as the Word. If we will obey His word and follow Him we will enter a spiritual promised land. Our greatest enemy will be defeated when we follow Jesus. Nothing will be able to stand against us because we are soldiers of the cross. All spiritual blessings are found in Christ Jesus and all these promises are sure and steadfast. Death is no longer feared. Sin has been defeated. Hope reigns. Eternal life promised. And sadly like Israel most people stand at the Kadesh-Barnea of life and refuse the protection of the only one who could bring victory. Fear turns the heart away from God. Rebellion to accept the Word as truth causes men to wander in a wilderness of hopelessness to their ruin and death.
Faithful children of God embrace the promise of the Lord as their life. The Angel of the Lord encamps around us and protects us. Our blessings are found in the Son of God and realized in the hope of eternal life. Only God could give us that. Thank you God for loving me so much to allow me to come to your abode and live with you. Thank you for Your protection, Your blessing, Your promise and Your Son. Now that is a great story.
A little boy playing on the deck of a ship in a mighty storm was asked by a passenger if he wasn’t afraid. “No, I’m not afraid. My father is the captain of the ship.” (Rufus M. Jones, The Radiant Life, 1944)