Do you ever feel like you have insurmountable challenges to face? Do you wonder how you will ever make it through? I am sure we have all faced times like this. The people of Israel certainly did.
In Deuteronomy 7:17-19, God, through Moses, was telling Israel that they must go into the Promised Land and defeat its current inhabitants who were more numerous and more powerful than they were. How would they do it? Don’t we always want to know how something will work out? I know I do. I’m sure that the Israelites didn’t see how it would be possible, because they were trying to foresee the results based on their own strength and abilities. We often do the same thing. We not only want to know how, but how will I? God knows we think this way, and that the Israelites did too. Before they had a chance to protest and question, Moses answered them. He told them not to be afraid and to remember all that God had done to bring them out of Egypt. They didn’t know how that was going to happen either, but God did it in spectacular and miraculous ways. Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us that God can do more than we could ever ask or imagine, and that all the glory belongs to Him. As Alex Kendrick, the character Coach Grant Taylor in the movie Facing the Giants, said, “Your job is to do the best you can and leave the results up to God.”
It’s important to note that, even though God said He would defeat Israel’s enemies, He also said that He would not do it all at once. (Deuteronomy 7:22) That is true of the problems we face as well. When the Israelites entered the land, there was more area than the people could fill. An area that was not populated by people would soon be populated by wild beasts, so the people were driven out gradually as the Israelites could fill the land. In our context, a problem that is solved instantly by God, may prevent us from learning, or growing or becoming stronger. God uses all of the situations we face to teach us to trust Him and to rely on Him. Again I quote Coach Grant Taylor: “God can do whatever He wants to do, however He wants to do it, and He chooses to work in our lives ‘cause He loves us, ‘cause He’s good. I hope today is a milestone for what He can do for the rest of your life if you trust Him.”
The next time you are faced with a problem that you think is bigger than you are, remember what God has already done in your life. Remember how He has kept His promises, how He has protected you and fought for you. Remember that He loves you (John 3:16) and wants only the best for you. (Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 7:11) Then face the problem together.
The more I think about and read about Harold Camping’s prediction of the end of the world, the more I realize how much harm it has done. Not only for those who followed him wholeheartedly, and spent every cent they had before the expected end, but most especially for those who now mock the Christian faith. Rest assured, Judgement Day will come; we just don’t know when.
In Deuteronomy 4:1-2 Moses instructs the Israelites to obey the Word of God, but to not add anything to it or subtract anything from it. This is a commandment that is repeated in Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 22:18-19, and it is exactly what Harold Camping did. He manipulated facts about dates such that he came up with a convoluted mathematical proof that the rapture would occur at a specific time on a specific day. Not only was this adding to the scripture, it was also contradicting the scriptures that say that no one knows the day or the hour. (Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42, Matthew 24:50, Matthew 25:13, Mark 13:32, Acts 1:7) If we add to scripture, we are putting ourselves in the place of God, thinking that we know more than God has made known to us.
God provided us with His word to teach us and to bless us, so that we could know and worship the one true God. Deuteronomy 6:1-3 says that by keeping His commandments and teaching them to our children and grandchildren, we would receive blessing and prolong our days. Matthew 4:4 tells us that we need God's Word to live on, that living by bread is not enough. We can, like Jesus, use it to guard our hearts against the devil’s schemes. The Psalms indicate that the word of God is like a light to our path (Psalm 119:105) and useful for maintaining a pure life. (Psalm 119:9, March 9, 2011) Mark 4:20 promises that those who follow the Word will bear much fruit.
Nowhere does the Bible indicate that there are secret codes to figure out so that we can learn what the Bible says is not for us to know. The human race was warned from the very beginning not to try to become equal to God by knowing everything that He knows. In the Garden of Eden, even though God commanded against it, the serpent told Eve that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would open her eyes so that she would be like the divine beings—she would know what God knows. (Genesis 3:4-5) Secret things belong to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 29:29) He has, however, given us plenty of other information to think about, study and put into practice. We need to take the things that He did reveal to us, and use them to obey His statutes and give glory to Him.
David Teems, author of Majestie: The King Behind the King James Bible, has said, “God is not in the business of explaining things. He’s not obligated to explain anything to us. But we live in a generation today where we feel like we’re entitled to an explanation.” Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if God would let us in on His plan and tell us what our role is in it? Decision-making would be so much easier. Deuteronomy 29:29 lets us know that that won’t happen. God has all the answers, and He only gives us some of them. Sometimes He gives us answers in the form of thoughts or knowledge, but He most certainly gives us answers through the Bible. Because we have access to His Word, we have become responsible for the information that it contains.
Proverbs 25:2 indicates that we (even though we aren’t kings) should not only feel free, but obligated to search out the truth, to find the answers, to investigate the best way of doing things. The title of Proverbs 25 tells us that these proverbs were collected by King Hezekiah, so it is natural that he would be concerned about the responsibility of kings to lead and govern their people. Today, however, we are all required to lead and govern our own lives, and the wisdom of this passage is just as valid for us. Investigate, study and learn what it is that you can know, but realize that you can’t know it all. If we could know all that God knows, He wouldn’t be God. We can know enough, however, to have faith in His trustworthiness.
The passage in Deuteronomy says that we have this information so that we might obey God’s laws. James 4:17 tells us that because we know what is good, we are obligated to do it.