Reading This Week: Deuteronomy 3-12
There is a currency from hell that is insidious, explosive and contagious, used by many to manipulate and intimidate the masses: it’s called fear. Currently, ISIS uses fear and social media images promoting terror as a primary tool of oppression. Newsmakers slant coverage towards crisis and tragedy knowing that bad news generates larger audiences than good news. Hollywood has been marketing fear for decades; from horror to suspense to drama, fear is a main component of stories flickering across the screen to the tune of millions in profit.
God is well aware of the enemy’s primary mode of operation to incite fear. As Moses implemented an Israeli offensive across the Trans-Jordan in Deuteronomy, Moses was forced to counter Og, a giant king who stood in demonic opposition to God’s people, with sixty fortified cities and all the power of hell at his disposal.
Og, a twelve foot giant king, reigned sovereign over Astoreth, the Syrian city in Bashan, current Golan Heights, a stronghold of demonic worship for Astoreth, cohort of Baal. This religious idolatry would ensnare Israelites throughout history and the Old Testament is filled with the pain of covenant breaking and reaped judgement from Baal and Ashtoroth worship.
In Deuteronomy 3, Og is described as the last of the Rephaim, fearful giants mentioned in Gen. 14:5. According to The Talmud Og was a king who lived from Noah’s day until Moses, a mighty giant empowered by demonic principalities whom Moses bravely slew with a twenty foot spear through the ankle.1
Why would God pit Og the Terrible against Moses, a shepherd leader in his 120th year? Though Moses had nothing on him physically, Moses still prevailed and slew Og. What did Moses have to win a battle against such a creature?
Moses was given God’s assurance of victory. After four decades of applied trust, Moses knew his backup as God said: “’Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon” (Deut. 3:2).
Armed with faith, Moses took on Og, and takeover was quick. Israel had God on their side.
Psalm 135: 5-14 recounts this reality:
I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, the firstborn of people and animals.
He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants.
He struck down many nations and killed mighty kings— Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, and all the kings of Canaan— and he gave their land as an inheritance, an inheritance to his people Israel.
Your name, Lord, endures forever, your renown, Lord, through all generations.
For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.
Psalm 136 references this same victory and then surmises, “ He remembered us in our low estate and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.” God hasn’t changed. He still is teaching His children how to slay giants,since no one can take on God and win; God towers over any enemy with ease.
Moses could advance against Og for he truly knew God. This intimacy is crucial if we wish to move in our authority and impact this world with the Kingdom of God. As fear brings resistance, we must counter with faith, a posture of trust in our faithful and powerful God even as we advance against the giants in our lives. We must fight fear and win that battle when giants block our paths. Shrinking back, avoidance and denial are not an option in Kingdom.
Fear, in Hebrew , means “to fear, revere, be afraid” . This word, yare, is found in the Bible a mere 335 times.2 Our position to either fear God or fear the giants impacts all outcomes. When God told Moses not to fear Og, He was commanding Moses to enlarge his awe of God and refuse reverence of a demonic giant king whose physicallity was intimidating, to say the least.
As Israel moved forward, no power Astoreth, no power of the high places, no amount of fortification could stand before the power and authority of Moses operating in obedience as a servant of the Most High God. When Moses the Chosen Leader, stood up, he firmly declared over ancient Syria “My God is bigger than your god” and established dominion in Bashan, a stance maintained to this day. In recent times, Israel fought for Bashan once more, in the supernatural Six Day War in 1967 when God fought that battle with Israel and won:
According to all the military analysts and pundits, it was to be a lopsided match. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) consisted of 275,000 troops, compared to the 456,000 soldiers of the combined Iraqi, Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian armies. The united Arab forces also had a decided edge with regards to weaponry and military equipment: they boasted more than double the amount of tanks, and close to four times the amount of combat aircraft. The three-week period preceding the Six-Day War was one of dread, shock and fright for the residents of the Holy Land.With close to two and a half million Jews living in the tiny country, it had the highest concentration of Jews since pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe. So pessimistic was the outlook that the nation’s cemeteries and national parks were marked to become gravesites for the many who would surely perish in the course of the war.However, despite all the prognostications, by the time the war ended, the territory under Israeli control had tripled in size. Jews returned to sites where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years, sites from which waves of terror were launched against them for so many years. The casualties and losses were painful, but minimal in comparison to all projections. The Jewish nation was miraculously victorious in the face of unbelievable odds.History books speak of the “Hundred Years’ War,” the “Thirty Years’ War,” and many other long-fought battles. Here, in a matter of six short days, a nation managed to utterly rout not one, but four powerful enemies!3
As Moses’ prepared to exhort his last sermon to the nation in Deuteronomy, a nation whom he had dared to deliver, pastor, rebuke and lead in the wilderness for a full forty years, he pleaded Israel to obey God, remembering who they are and Whose they are:
Pay attention: I’m teaching you the rules and regulations that God commanded me, so that you may live by them in the land you are entering to take up ownership. Keep them. Practice them. You’ll become wise and understanding. When people hear and see what’s going on, they’ll say, “What a great nation! So wise, so understanding! We’ve never seen anything like it.”Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I’m setting before you today? (Deut. 4:5-8, MSG)
Israel was not like other nations and as Christians, we are just as extraordinary. Our God is intimate, leading us, protecting us, loving on us, providing with a constancy that is breathtaking and powerful. As Moses knew his God, he was willing to fight whatever battle necessary to advance his nation into the destiny God was dreaming and longing for.
Og the pagan king, was no match for God Almighty and Moses advanced against his army armed with that insider information. In the wake of victory, Moses the Giant Slayer used this win as a huge object lesson, stating three indisputable statements: 1. Choose God. He brings the guaranteed win 2. Choose God’s ways. God requires his team to play according to His rules if victory is desired 3. Never forget Who is the Game Changer. God had demonstrated His capacity to bring freedom in Egypt and in Bashan. Keeping covenant with God is crucial to the ongoing success of the Israelite nation:
The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face (Deut. 7:7-10, NKJV).
As Moses outlined Israel’s two choices, to be human-led or God-led, he exhorted the nation to keep God before their eyes, lest they be deceived that it was their own skill or ability. With the heart of a man who personally knew the living God, Moses pleaded for his nation to worship God in word, deed and heart:
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it (Deut. 10:12-14).
What is the antidote to the fear that is ravaging our world? Fear God alone. Expect His love. Respond to His incredible intimacy, our living God, who stoops down in love to be Ours as we are His. God is bigger than giants, intentional in all the battles He brings us to, and confident that as His kids, we are guaranteed winners. May we encounter this truth and start advancing the Kingdom through our covenant with Christ with more passion than ever!
Let’s pray: O Father God, may we all know, beyond doubt, that our Daddy is bigger than all threats, sorrows, losses, armies or heartache. May we know Your power and truly walk in Your authority. Holy Spirit, by Your grace, may we fear God, walk in His ways, love Him and serve. Lord Jesus, You went head to head with these giants on the cross, as Psalm 22 cries, “Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.” In vulnerability and trust, You endured the ravages of the principalities and stayed true to Your Father’s will. May we stay true in battle and cling to the joy of pleasing our Father, as You did, in perfect obedience and authority, by Your Grace, for Your Glory. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. All Powerful and Almighty God, we worship you with thanksgiving this day. Amen.
1. How do you defeat fear in your life? What battles are you facing? Can you ask for help?
2. What is your secret weapon when you come against overwhelming odds?
3. How are you growing in intimacy with God? How does this help when giants enter the picture?
4. How do you pray in times of war? How about in peace times? Why did Moses warn the Israelites about peace time in Canaan?
5. Do you have friends who believe in God in your circumstance? Do they have trust and faith in God or has fear clouded their vision? How can you change their perspective? What is the power of testimony doing for your life and theirs?
Next Week’s Reading: Deuteronomy 13 – 24