I totally forgot today was my Monday to post!
Every year that I read through the Bible, I notice new things that I hadn't before. This passage in one such example.
Exodus 23:20-21 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him."
According to the commentaries and sermons I read on this, the angel is most likely the pre-incarnate Jesus. According to the verses above, the Israelites were to obey Him, He is able to forgive sins, and God's name is in him.
Not only was the Presence of God promised to go with them, but the Lord would also go ahead of them. He would prepare the way, He would fight their battles. They were simply to obey God.
It's interesting that in this case, God actually explains to them the reason why He would not deliver them of the Canaanites all at once - wild animals would take over and the land would become desolate. It was actually in their best interest for the conquest to be slow instead of quick, no matter how much they would have liked to have a speedy victory.
There are some important lessons for us in this passage.
God never calls us to fight an enemy on our own. He will go with us, He will go before us - we need to obey, and walk in the victory that He has already won.
Sometimes those victories will be delayed, but we must trust God and His perfect timing. This sermon said it well...
Whatever difficulties we find ourselves in, we must realize that God has His reasons for not immediately delivering us out of them. Perhaps the greater grace and kindness is to allow us to remain in those circumstances a little longer, lest we be delivered and find ourselves in a worse situation! Sometimes even the most faithful of Christians remain in times of trial for a duration that can leave them wondering if God has forgotten them altogether. Sometimes, deliverance never comes at all. But it is never because God does not care or desire what is best for us. We do not always know the ramifications of God delivering us too quickly, but He does. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows the consequences of every action He might possibly take and loves us too much to ever rush His own perfect timing.
Our NT portion reminds us that salvation is about God's grace. None of us deserve eternal life, but salvation is not dependent on timing. Those that are saved at the eleventh hour will receive eternal life just as those who believe from a young age. Their rewards in heaven will be different, but their salvation and entrance into heaven will not.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Exodus 25-26; Matthew 20:17-34