Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Deuteronomy 29, 30, 31 Be Strong and Courageous

The Aleppo Codex is a medieval manuscript of t...Image via Wikipedia

As God was confirming His covenant with Israel, He stated up front that shortly after Israel would enter the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, they would break their covenant with Him.  Even though God knew that Israel would not/could not hold up their end of the covenant agreement they made with Him, He told Israel “ Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified or afraid …for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31: 6.

One would expect that as Israel was facing war, they were being admonished to become physically stronger.  However, the Hebrew word חָזַק (chazaq), strong, implies a spiritual strength.  It envelops the sense of withstanding, enduring, and fortitude.  Differing from power, this strength is a type of determination that grows out of a long standing faith or emerges out of a deep conviction.  By frequently recounting God’s miraculous signs and wonders, by praising and thanking God for His provision, Israel was to develop an abiding trust in God which would enable them to face the battles ahead.  By keeping these memories fresh, God was to be immediate and real to the nation.

When God told Israel to be courageous, He did not advise foolish bravery.  Courage, in Hebrew אָמֵץ ('amats), is a mindset more than anything else.  It implies being steadfastly minded, established, even obstinate.  In other words, Israel was told to trust in everything that they knew of God and to trust in His covenant promise to them rather than to heed perceptions about Canaan and its denizens. 

Israel’s true strength was their knowledge of God and their relationship to the Creator of the universe.   God’s commandments to Israel sanctified them as a nation; His statutes about worship taught them that He could only be approached in a specific way and that their prayers could only be heard when they worshipped correctly.  God mandated that He reached out to Israel and that He alone set up the rules.  God meets man on His terms – man cannot dictate his own terms to God and expect to be heard.

Even though God knew that Israel would fail to keep His commandments, that they would be expelled from the land as per the curse, He again reassured them that He would remain faithful to them and that one day, He would bring them back to the land they lost.  (Deut. 30: 4 -10). 

Throughout these chapters, God lovingly reassured Israel that, in spite of appearances, he would never forsake them, that He had a plan for them.s

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for chazaq (Strong's 2388)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2010. 4 Oct 2010. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=H2388&t=KJV >

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for 'amats (Strong's 553)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2010. 4 Oct 2010. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=H553&t=KJV >
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