When God Goes Before Us

Text: Deuteronomy 9:1-29

“Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God.” —Deuteronomy 9:3

For those of us living in the U.S., authorities say that the next couple of weeks will be the most critical regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be our “peak” moments of confrontation with this invisible Coronavirus giant, when it’s expected to hit closest to home for many of us. As we deliberate this grim forecast, may I reassure you of ONE UNCHANGEABLE TRUTH…

The Lord has already gone before us. He abides in the future. He is not just aware of the days ahead; these coming days are in the palm of His hand. He’s already there. God exists in that place of our deepest dread—that place causing us the greatest fear. That place called tomorrow.

In Deuteronomy 9, the destiny of God’s people was about to bring them face to face with enormous giants they had never seen before. Their future would consist of reputed adversaries, “great and tall,” of intimidating stature. They were the sons of Anakim, “whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’” They were paralyzing God’s people with gripping fear—a terror that made them feel so vulnerable that they thought of themselves as “grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:33) doomed for defeat. Moses challenged the people’s fears over and over again (Deuteronomy 2-3), reassuring them of God’s supremacy over the battle for their future. Then he gives them this charge:

“Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them [these giants] and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you.” —Deuteronomy 9:3

Do you see the Lord as a “consuming fire” going over before you? Do you believe that the winds, the waves, and even viruses still know His name? The battle mentioned in Deuteronomy was much too big for God’s people, but not too big for the LORD. They were admonished by two mutually inclusive facts: That in themselves, the battle was impossible (without Me you can do nothing, John 15:5), but with God the battle could not be lost (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13).

Rightly preparing ourselves for two weeks of “hell on earth” (as some have described it) isn’t about stockpiling and hoarding as much as we are able—trying to be in control of our own fate. We can have more goods than all of our neighbors combined and still be “plagued” with anxiety, worry, and fear, leading to heart disease. Being rightly prepared is about being poised to face our giants with audacious trust in the ONE SUPREME GOD Who has already gone before us. The problem with ancient Israel is that they feared not being in control. Instead of trusting God with what they couldn’t control, they built a Golden Calf to give them a sense of their own security—thus worshiping a god they had control over. True worship is about giving over our “illusion” of control to the One Who is truly in control. It’s about trusting the hand that holds tomorrow. Corrie ten Boom, who survived a Nazi prison camp during World War II, said:

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Do you trust Him, beloved? That’s what He is after. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth (Luke 18:8)? God is looking for hearts that trust Him.

As we move into a closer engagement with this invisible giant that has gripped our world with torment, I pray that you would be sustained by the unrivaled peace of God’s presence in your heart, as well as the confidence that His presence is already there in your future. He is bigger than this invisible giant! May you abide in that assurance this week. May you abide IN HIM.

PRAYER

Lord, like a consuming fire you go before us. Our future is one of promise because You are already there. Help us to see our giants in proportion to WHO YOU are, not the other way around. Holy Spirit, rest our hearts in Thee. Your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven, especially in that place of our deepest dread and greatest fear. May you find us faithfully worshiping in our most fearful moments, because we trust in Thee. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection, Small Group or Family Discussion:

  1. How strong were the nations Israel was going to fight against and how does the Bible describe these enemies? (Deuteronomy 9:1-2)
  2. In what way would the Lord go over before His people (9:3)? What is significant about this description or imagery?
  3. What was Israel told not to say to itself (9:4)? What does Moses say about Israel’s rebellion against God (9:7)? In what way did the Israelites try to control their own fate (9:16)?
  4. What might “golden calf” building look like in our modern world? What might it look like in our individual lives?
  5. What does this passage teach us about the grace of God? What areas of your life might you need to surrender an “illusion” of control over to the One Who holds the future?

Subscribe to “Abiding In Him” and get the latest devotional in your Inbox once a week.

Into the New Year, God Goes Before Us

Text: Exodus 23:20-33

“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.” (Exodus 23:20 ESV)

The New Year is upon us and it’s a time of closing one chapter and opening another. Our family likes to spend some time during the New Year’s holiday reflecting on highlights from the previous year, maybe watch some home videos or browse through some photos to cherish the memories we made, and share a festive meal together. This year it’s homemade sushi—a Larche tribe favorite!

A new year is also an opportunity to take time for self-evaluation and introspection, to realign ourselves with the priorities we value most, and to saturate our hearts with the promises of God’s Word, afresh and anew. Here’s a great tool for that.

A particular promise I want to encourage you with today is found in Exodus 23:20. It was God’s promise to Israel as they were transitioning from a season of wandering into a season of stability. They were soon going into their Promised Land and God assured them that He would send His angel to go before them, into the place that He prepared for them. They were not to be afraid of anything because the angel would take care of everything—including their enemies. They only had to pay careful attention to the divine voice guiding them.

The same principle is true for followers of Jesus Christ today. Not only is it true that Jesus goes before us to prepare a place for us in heaven (John 14:2-3), but the place we walk in today was prepared by God, and where we will walk tomorrow is also prepared by Him. He always goes before us.

twitter-64You can face your future with great confidence because God is already there. Tweet this

How might that affect your life going in to this new year? Knowing that God has already gone before us to prepare a place of destiny should be comforting to our souls. It should also swell our faith that regardless of what troubles, trials, sicknesses, adversaries, financial obstacles, or hardships await us, God is already there preparing to sustain us, to strengthen us, and to increase our influence for His glory in the world (1 Peter 5:10).

God never sends you into a situation, or a season, alone. He always goes before you. He stands beside you. And He walks behind you, redeeming every past failure. You can face your future with great confidence because God is already there.

Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your promises. You have given us your Word that you will always go before us and prepare a place for us. Help us to be comforted by the fact that we will face nothing this coming year that you haven’t already confronted on our behalf. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

twitter-64You will face nothing in your future that God hasn’t already confronted on your behalf. Tweet this

Other resources to help you bring in the New Year with great resolve:

Subscribe to “Abiding In Him” and get the latest devotional in your Inbox once a week.