March 6, 2023
“The Lord your God will drive out these nations before you little by little. You will not be able to destroy them all at once; otherwise, the wild animals will become too numerous for you.”
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“The Lord your God will drive out these nations before you little by little. You will not be able to destroy them all at once; otherwise, the wild animals will become too numerous for you. The Lord your God will give them over to you and throw them into a great confusion until they are completely destroyed.” Deuteronomy 7:22-23 (HCSB)
How do you eat an elephant? One-bite-at-a-time.
Perhaps, someone will approach you today with this challenge: “Let’s eat an elephant.” You’d think they were crazy! But what if they said, “We’re going to eat as much elephant as we can today. Then, we’ll put the rest in the freezer. We’ll keep eating elephant every day, and in a year, we’ll have eaten it all.”
That’s a reasonable plan, primarily because humans don’t have the capacity to hold a whole elephant in their stomachs!
The inhabitants of Canaan were Israel’s “elephant.” They were bigger and stronger than Israel, but that wasn’t why God delayed Israel’s conquering them. God destroyed Egypt in a day, and He could destroy any nation, any day, if He desired. Israel had to learn that God’s promise could be trusted even if gratification was delayed. It was a test of faith, of patiently enduring.
God staggered Israel’s conquests for practical reasons, as well. For instance, millions of rotting corpses would attract wild animals. These beasts would grow and multiply on the flesh of the slain. Having developed a heightened taste for humans, these animals would have become too numerous and voracious for the Israelites. That’s just one example.
Our generation could learn much from this chapter. First off, deliverance (eternal salvation) does not mean your spiritual battles are over. In many ways, they’ve just begun. It’s not like you were resisting the flesh much before you were saved by Jesus!
The “former inhabitants” of our flesh are the carnal, fleshly desires we were once enslaved. Once delivered from their authority, the Lord gives us the command to drive out those old desires, thoughts, and actions.
The new believer is much like Jesus’ friend, Lazarus. Once Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus charged Lazarus’ friends to take off his “grave clothes.” Little by little, layer upon layer, believers must fight (alongside others in a healthy Christian community) to rid ourselves of our “old masters.”
Here’s the encouragement: If you fight the battle as He commands, the Lord ENSURES your victory. It shouldn’t be enough to have your eternity secured by grace through faith. God also wants us to enjoy an abundant life on earth. Sometimes, an abundant life must be seized through a personal spiritual battle. God supplies the victory when we employ faithful perseverance to see the battle won.
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©Steve Wiggins 2021