The Path of Obedience

The Path of Obedience – Deuteronomy 2:24-3:11

After 38 years of wandering in the desert, once the ″entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp″ (Deuteronomy 2:14), their children were ready to ″turn north″ towards the promised land (v. 3). Moses tells the people about the first two conquests of areas of the promised land east of the Jordan River (called Transjordan). The first area was Heshbon ruled by King Sihon (vv. 24-37), and the second was Bashan ruled by King Og (3:1-11). The Arnon River, which was the southern border of Heshbon, became the southern border of Transjordan Israel. Mount Hermon, on the northern border of Bashan, became part of Transjordan Israel’s northern border (v. 8).

God instructed the Israelites to annihilate these people (2:34; 3:3) as they themselves were to live in those areas (we will discuss the problematic issue of why they had to do this on Day 25). But the cities of Bashan ″were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars″ (3:5). Moreover, their king was from a people called the Rephaites, who were like giants (v. 11). Such challenges had caused the fathers of the present generation to disobey God’s command to possess the land (1:28). Their children, however, obeyed and went to war and defeated these formidable foes with God’s help (3:3-4).

Moses makes a provocative statement, ″God had made [King Sihon’s] spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands″ (2:30). He had seen a similar thing occur to Pharaoh’s heart in Egypt 40 years before. God, in His omniscience, knows the ″inclination of the thoughts of the human heart″ (Genesis 6:5). When people are determined to rebel against Him, He confirms their choice. His judgment is to let them do precisely what they want! The Bible describes this as God hardening their hearts or, as Paul describes it in his letter to the Romans, ″God gave them over″ to their hearts’ sinful desires (1:24, 26, 28). Hence, as Pharaoh hardened his own heart 10 times against God (Exodus 8:15, etc.), God, too, hardened Pharaoh’s heart 10 times (Exodus 9:12, etc.). Similarly, in this encounter with King Sihon, God confirms the rebellious choices humans make by condemning them to follow their sinful desires.

In contrast, God honours the hearts of His people, which were turned towards Him in faith. At His command to possess the land sovereignly given to them (Deuteronomy 2:31), they acted in obedience and so began to receive the inheritance their forefathers had long been promised (v. 36).

We need to keep God’s sovereignty and human responsibility side by side in our minds, even when we cannot fully resolve the tension between the two or work out the exact mechanics of how they interact. On our part, we must ensure that we live within the bounds of God’s sovereign will because disobedience, while permitted by God, is extremely dangerous.

Think Through:

Do you face challenges from any ″giants″ today? What assurance of God’s help do you have for these?

Were there situations in your life where God permitted you to choose the dangerous path of disobedience? What regrets do you have about those situations?

Taken from Journey Througn Deuteronomy: 60 Biblical Insights by Ajith Fernando.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *