‘“If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out. So will the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.’
Its useful at times to be reminded of our past failures. The aim is that when correctly observed will provide perspective and humility in ongoing endeavors. Nothing teaches you a lesson like failing, and this is where we find the children of Israel as they prepare to begin their conquest of The Promised Land. These people are a new crop of Israelites, the direct descendants of the nation birthed out of the exodus of Egypt. These Israelites were no doubt children during the initial wilderness journey and were privy to the rebellion of their fathers. They, in fact, saw their fathers tempt the Holy One in the wilderness and witnessed the destruction from God’s holy justice upon those that disobeyed His commandments. Beginning the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds them of these uprisings and insurrections. Again, I say this is needful in the fleeting moments when they would entertain the notion of being great; they can recall that the contrary is true.
To what end, then, is the use of this recollection? Principally, to reveal the nation’s need for continual dependence upon God. The Lord inspiring Moses to review their history isn’t to lead them into a state of depression. The effect is that the nation of Israel would see the examples of their forefathers and come to grips with the reality that they can make the same mistakes if not careful. The Israeli nation pined and longed for deliverance from Pharaoh. They bemoaned their situation so much that Scripture details that “their cry came up unto God.” Yet, once delivered, they frustrated the one who freed them and rebelled against their rescuer. This new generation is no different. As desirous as they were to cross over into the Promised Land, they, too, could repeat the immoral choices that caused their fathers to wander in the wilderness until death.
Secondly, they needed to realize that though they weren’t a nation great in stature, the other nations around them were and, as such, needed to remain humble in their assessment of themselves and their ability. God had brought them out of bondage, is true, but God had also fought their battles with them. The enemy nations they faced in their sojourn provided the precedent “if God is for me, who can be against me?” Where they were wasn’t a result of their brilliance or military expertise; God fought for them! Therefore, in light of winning their previous battles, and the dread of their reputation, they needed to recognize that God had been their protector and not their own skill.
Finish story here; Christians: I Will Be Great for You.