Five years ago, I decided to do a book-by-book study of the Bible with my group, beginning with Genesis. The plan was to go through one book per year and study one chapter a week, so we can go deeper into Scripture and really get to know God and what He’s doing.
Since then, it’s been an amazing journey of reading and experiencing the Lord in those stories—how He created the universe and established His promise to Israel in Genesis, freed them from Egypt in Exodus, gave them identity and set them apart through specific laws in Leviticus, and finally prepared them to enter the Promised Land in Numbers. While the latter two aren’t exactly the most interesting to read, they’ve taught us the importance of living differently as God’s children and preparing ourselves for what God has called us to do.
That said, I wasn’t that excited to begin this year’s study on Deuteronomy. From what I knew, the book was a second reading (a review/repeat) of the Law given in the previous books, with a few recalls to Genesis. I figured we’d just go through it so we can keep moving forward with our Bible study plan.
At the same time, I’ve been preparing for my wedding and married life. Amid the preparations, doubt, anxiety, and fear have slowly wormed their way into my mind, making me wonder if we had made the right decision to marry at this time. While we had earned enough to pay for the wedding and we also received some help from my parents, I was worried about having enough to support Larisse and our future family, and this caused me to doubt the Lord’s leading for us.
To my surprise, it was the very book that I was reluctant to study that provided the encouragement I needed. Going through the book and my situation, I came to understand for myself the point of Deuteronomy:
We humans tend to forget the most amazing promises of our Heavenly Father. That’s exactly why the Israelites back then (and us today) require constant reminding in the face of our fears and anxieties.
Here are three things Deuteronomy has taught me about the Lord:
He is a trustworthy God
“See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to give to them and their descendants after them.”—Deuteronomy 1:8
Deuteronomy begins with Moses talking to the second-generation Israelites (the children of those who had left Egypt) about how they had gotten there.
By then, most of the first generation had died in the wilderness as punishment for disobeying the Lord. Even Moses himself was not entering the Promised Land (Numbers 20:1-13), but he was there to remind the people of who God is and all that He had done for them. While they still had a long way to go, they are finally about to enter the land, proving that the Lord is fulfilling the promise He made to Abraham hundreds of years ago (Genesis 12:1-3).
Walking with God and trusting Him can sometimes be nerve-wracking, and it’s often not a straight path to get to where He wants us to be. But just as the second-generation Israelites were called to do, we must continue following what God calls us to do and trust that He is faithful to look after us.
Earlier this year, my wife-to-be and I encountered a major hitch in our wedding preparations. We realised upon closer inspection that the venue we’d chosen didn’t have enough space to accommodate our guests and required more legwork to find suppliers. This meant it would cost more than our projected budget, and we had just five months left before the big day!
Discouraged but resolute in the Lord’s leading that we would be married, we did what we could to look for alternative venues with our chosen date. We remembered that the Lord has proven Himself true many times in the course of our relationship. When I was concerned about not having enough money to actually be in a relationship, the Lord encouraged me to still pursue Larisse. Shortly after that, I was offered a permanent full-time job with my company, which came with a salary increase. When I was planning to propose, I was worried about not being able to afford an engagement ring. And again, God provided after I resolved in my heart to trust Him with my finances.
Just as the Lord kept His word and looked after the Israelites by providing them with manna and quail, garments that did not wear out, and feet that never swelled (Deuteronomy 8:1-4), I’m assured of how the Lord has done the same for us.
After doing our part in searching for a new venue, God blessed us with the right place that fit our budget and accommodated our preferred date! Close family friends and mentors have even stepped in to help shoulder certain wedding expenses without my knowledge. I know all this is our Heavenly Father reminding me of how He provides for His children’s needs.
He is a wise and merciful God
“And the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, and will inflict defeat upon them until they are destroyed.”—Deuteronomy 7:22-23
At times, challenges can trigger our fight-or-flight instincts. We’ll either try to tackle them all at once and burn out or run away without resolving anything.
Deuteronomy 7:22-23 offered me a different perspective. Here was God telling the Israelites that He will deliver the Promised Land in phases because He knew that they could not handle everything all at once, and would be at the mercy of the wild animals.
Reading this, I am reminded that God knows my capacity as well, and just like how He paved the way for the Israelites, I can trust Him to help me face what’s ahead. I can depend on His wisdom and mercies, instead of simply caving to my fight-or-flight instincts.
He is a gracious God
“You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.”—Deuteronomy 8:5
Some weeks ago, I developed a mild case of indigestion that lasted for more than a month. I eventually visited a gastroenterologist only to get the most aggravating reason: I had a stress-triggered stomachache.
While the doctor prescribed something other than antacids, his advice was, “Manage your stress. Medicine won’t do anything unless you actually deal with the triggers.”
I prayed relentlessly for God to take away the stomachache, but instead of healing me immediately, He let me endure it, which made me think hard about what was causing the stress.
Little did I know that it was because of fears I’d repressed. Around this time, we’d been dealing with a utility issue at home (water shortage), which was causing tension between me and my parents. The stress was making me deeply anxious about how this kind of problem would affect me and my wife-to-be when we started living together.
Thankfully, the Lord drew out the root cause and enabled me to renew my mind in His infinite wisdom. After I acknowledged my worrying and repented, the stomachache eventually went away.
Reading about the Israelites’ journey and God’s message and commands for them has reminded me of how important it is to stay close to God. Through these setbacks in the past few months, I’ve been reminded to keep looking to Him—to depend on Him and surrender my plans and future to Him.
Before we began planning for the wedding, we did our best to prepare by joining Facebook groups and reading tips and advice from other couples. So, when time came, we eagerly went with what we knew, confident that we were doing the right thing. But when we encountered problems, I realised that we can read a lot about something, but nothing beats experience.More importantly, our mistake led us to see how easy it is to depend on ourselves, instead of surrendering our plans to God in prayer.
I’m so thankful to God for graciously reminding me to keep holding on to who He is: trustworthy, wise, and gracious. I know that when I see more and more of who He is, this helps me see less of my fears and worries, and follow Him more easily as He guides my steps.
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