SOAP Journal – 13 January 2017 (Exodus 33:2)

I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.

Exodus 33:2

After the Israelites had broken several commandments at the foot of the mountain where God was talking with Moses about the tabernacle. After Moses crushed the golden calf into powder and poured it into the water and made the Israelites drink it. After the Levites went through the camp and culled the people. After Moses interceded for the people and God had performed a culling of His own, God tells Moses to lead the people on to the Promised Land. In the midst of this instruction — instruction that left the Israelites keenly aware of how badly they had messed up — God comes to this statement.

I do not intend to claim this promise or anything like it for myself. I am not an Israelite and I am not going to the Promised Land and all of those people groups named are long since gone. I do, however, see a couple of principles that I can consider this morning.

First, God prepares the way in which He sends us. The Israelites were told to go to the Promised Land. God is also promising to send a messenger; an angel ahead of them to clear the way. I recollect that Uriah — one of David’s mighty men and whom David left to die in battle over his (Uriah’s) wife — was a Hittite. And I seem to recall that the Amorites and Jebusites and Canaanites are all still in the Promised Land when the Israelites arrive. So what gives?

I looked up the tense of the verbs (yes, I am a word nerd) and the first — I will send — is in the perfect, which communicates a completed action and the stem used communicates the simple meaning of the verb. So this might be better rendered I have sent. The second — I will drive out — is also in the perfect, but the stem used can communicate an extended or repeated action. Which makes me think that the action is completed — God drove them out — but it will need to be done again and again to maintain its completion, like saying I mopped up the water left on the floor by the leaky pipe. Until the pipe was fixed or replaced, the action was repeated so as to maintain its completion. Best my mind can do at this hour.

So, too, God may sometimes prepare a way that needs maintenance once I get where He is sending me. In fact, this is often the case. I have heard testimony from missionaries and folks in various types and kinds of ministry for whom God prepared a way so miraculous that it could only be His doing. But that way, in order to be kept open, had to be maintained. It might have been a relationship that God made possible or a source of funding that requires regular attention, but God prepared the way for those He sent. Which is the second application: God’s provision often requires maintenance.

Once the Israelites reach the Promised Land, the manna stops and they eat from the crops growing in the land. But those fields will go fallow unless someone tills them and sows them and prunes fruit trees and vines and whatnot. That provision of food required maintenance. The manna required daily gathering. I can actually not think of an instance wherein God provided that He did not require upkeep. I mean, God planted the Garden of Eden and told Adam to tend the garden. Provision made, upkeep required.

Finally, I note that God’s messengers are powerful. God names six people groups that His one messenger is going to kick out of the Promised Land. One messenger. Singular. If God has sent someone — this includes little old me — to perform a particular task, then God is going to make sure that His messenger is successful in that task. Later in The Bible, God sends one angel to defeat an army. Just one angel. I need to let the magnitude of God’s power really sink in and make itself real to my heart and mind. When I do, I will never think that anything is too difficult for God to handle. Not my fears. Not my hangups. Nothing.

So, three principles. One: Where God sends, God prepares the way. Or, as Chuck Smith put it, where God guides God provides. Two: God’s provision requires upkeep. Three: God is so powerful that one messenger sent by Him is sufficient to conquer armies and entrenched nations.

Father, thank You for these reminders. Please open my ears to hear where You are guiding and strengthen my hands to maintain what You have provided. Keep me mindful of Your power and reliant on You and Your power to overcome the difficulties in my life.

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