February 24, 2022
As followers of Christ, we don’t always get a “because.” We live in faith, trusting our loving, righteous and all-powerful God. However, a little “because” can be nice every once in a while.
Consider Exodus 23:27-30. God is speaking to the Israelites when He says, 27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29But I will not drive them out in a single year.”
This is good news for the Israelites, who are marching through the desert en route to the Promised Land, at least until you get to verse 29.
As I read this passage this week, I paused here to imagine what would be going through my mind as an Israelite, recently freed from slavery in Egypt. I would have witnessed miracle after miracle to bring me to this point on the journey. I imagined giving my friends high-fives when I heard about God’s “terror” and “hornet” driving out my enemies, but then giving Moses a questioning look when I found out it wouldn’t happen in a single year.
Was driving out the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites too taxing for God? Did God need to pace himself? Of course not. God is sovereign and all-powerful. Nothing stands in His way. He does this for the good of the Israelites.
There’s more to verse 29, a “because” that makes sense.
29“But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.”
Israelite Mike, standing in the desert, would have thought, “Oh wow, NOW I get it! God is really looking out for us. Thanks, God.”
Modern day Mike wishes God gave a few more “because” moments. Maybe you do too. Reading this passage exposed my shallow faith. It’s not enough sometimes to be told what to do; I want God to break it down and give me a “because this is why” explanation.
God has another “because” a few verses later in Exodus 23:31-33, 31 “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”
The sad truth is it didn’t matter that God spelled it out to the Israelites. Even though He warned them about the dangers of allowing their enemies to live among them, they did it anyway. The Israelites sinned against God, and the worship of false gods and idols was a snare to them.
My takeaways? First, live by faith without the need of the “because.” The power doesn’t come in the understanding. The power comes from trusting the Lord and His Word, walking faithfully the path He has set before us. It doesn’t have to make sense to our finite minds. And, unlike the Israelites wandering in the desert, we have the Holy Spirit guiding, directing, protecting and communicating with us.
We have Holy Spirit power. Better than “because” any day.
Secondly, it’s easy to be critical of the Israelites, but I’m no better than them. In addition to the Holy Spirit, I have the entirety of the Bible to guide me in a manner that would honor the Lord. And yet, I still rebel in ways that I know are not healthy.
Fortunately, we worship a gracious, forgiving and longsuffering God who never turns His back on us because of His immense love.
Take some time today to reflect and give thanks for His loving care.
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