Many of us avoid large swaths of the Old Testament, because they just do not seem relevant to us. But as the Puritan John Flavel noted, the Old Testament serves as the illustration book to the more direct, doctrinal teaching of the New Testament. Seeing the New Testament principles fleshed out in the types, shadows and pictures of the lives and circumstances of God’s people in the OT, gives the Church a ready and uniform set of graphic explanations, that should become so common to us all – that we can readily call them to mind at any time.
One such place is where I was reading this morning in the book of Deuteronomy. I know, you probably haven’t blown the dust off of that one in a LONG time – if ever. But there are rich and valuable lessons there.
Take for instance the following: Deuteronomy 7:17–21 (ESV) 17 “If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ 18 you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, 19 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. 20 Moreover, the Lord your God will send hornets among them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you are destroyed. 21 You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.”
Now the circumstance is evident. This portion is a part of the instructions that God is giving the Children of Israel as they are about to enter the Promised Land. It is a striking parallel to the Believer entering into the fullness of the Christian life, even as Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is a striking parallel to the Believer having been rescued from the slavery of sin to serve Christ.
With that picture in mind – note the instruction and encouragement God provides here. Couched in a necessary warning as well.
One of the mighty weapons in the Believer’s arsenal against indwelling sin, is to get a full orbed picture of just what God did in bringing us to salvation in the first place. Underestimating or forgetting the miraculous deliverance that brought us to justification, makes attacking indwelling sin seem larger and more impossible than it truly is. If He did so much in rescuing us from our sin initially – then what will He do in equipping us to root out and rout indwelling sin? Our sin lies to us and makes us imagine the cost is too great in being rid of it. It is too hard, and undoable. But rest assured, the same power that gave our blind eyes sight, opened our deaf ears and breathed life into our dead souls, is still at work to bring us fully into our inheritance. And as verse 21 indicates we are forbidden to fear ANY indwelling sin as too great to be conquered, or to be in dread of it – we are the Lord’s people. He has given us this land.
Great encouragement indeed!