Yesterday I started reading Deuteronomy. Today I was reading in Deuteronomy 2 and something hit me from the below section. I don’t have any great commentary of Deuteronomy in my possession but from looking in a few of the standard ones the web has available, I don’t think what hit me is too far off or incorrect. This is the section:
‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward and command the people, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful. Do not contend with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. You shall purchase food from them with money, that you may eat, and you shall also buy water from them with money, that you may drink. For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” Deuteronomy 2:3-7 (ESV)
I’ve bolded what really slapped me in the face reading.
The people from Esau – the Edomites – shared a lineage with the Israelites to Isaac but they were different tribes. Jacob, Esau’s brother received the birthright, his name eventually became Israel – and his people, the Israelites were God’s covenant people.
Maybe it’s because the concept of common grace is on my mind from a Sproul podcast I listened to this week and I’m sensitive to looking for examples – but this struck me as an example of common grace. The grace poured out on all humanity – whether an individual receives saving grace or not. The grace found for example in the bellow passage – speaking about God:
“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45b
This recounting from Moses of the wanderings that took place in the book of Numbers shows me some things…
– God gave Esau a possession and would not permit His chosen people, Israel, to take that claim away from the Edomites.
– In fact He told Moses to try to engage in business with them and buy food and drink (See Numbers 20 14-20 to see how that worked out).
– I may be off the mark here and if I am I thank you in advance for correction and instruction – but it seems like God said in some sense – “Let them keep the land I’ve given them, try to engage in business with them – at least partially because you’ve lacked no necessity all this time out here, you have my presence and my help, you’ve been blessed significantly.”
– Here and in Numbers 20 – the term “brothers” was used. Brothers in lineage. Perhaps brothers in being fellow nomadic people at that time. But brothers.
This doesn’t mean in the sense of an adoption into God’s family like those called unto salvation are through the adoption in Christ.. But it strikes me as similar in sense to the question that sparked the parable of the good Samaritan “Who is my neighbor?” In response to Jesus’ bold proclamation about the two greatest commandments on which the law hangs:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
God Has It Under Control
The Edomites did meet an end. They dwindled and disappeared. They fought against Israel, were subjugated under Israel and you don’t meet Edomites today. The land of Edom is uninhabited today as prophesied in Ezekiel. But this befell Edom in God’s timing and His plans. There is a lesson to me there also about not stepping in and thinking myself to be a judge or to know the mind of God that I could make a judgment on my own where such a judgment is not clear in scripture. This doesn’t mean a reading of Matthew 7 that stops at “Judge not” and rips the rest up.. There are places where we are clearly called to speak His truth, to proclaim what He says about sin and to rightly divide His Word and apply it. This does not mean I cannot go to an abortion mill and talk about the suffering and misery that is child sacrifice or tell a friend they are in danger of His judgment. But I mean – I can’t go and make my own rules and apply them. I don’t need to go above and beyond and assume what God wants. I can follow His Word and stay plenty busy working out my own sanctification and being the dad and husband I am called to be.
Well Timed Assault
This passage hits me after I was an idiot on Facebook. I shared a news story about discrimination and religious liberty meeting head on. And I argued with the first responses that came in, lost sight of the discussion and just kept arguing.
I won’t dredge the original story up or the point I was making in sharing. I have since deleted the post because I found myself defending myself and being defensive needlessly and that looked like a hole being dug deeper. Perhaps James was speaking about me and he meant my fingers on a keyboard or my thumbs on the phone where he spoke about the tongue all those times… And I won’t get into what I feel about that original story – because it is actually complex.
But what I will say is these passages made me think and they reminded me about three things:
- I don’t deserve the saving grace I received. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, I’ve been blessed far beyond my deserve. I’ve murmored at times. I’ve worried often. I get angry. I get defensive. I can look at manna and grumble, “that’s it?! I want something tastier.”
- Common Grace is here because of God’s agents – He does want to use us to confront the culture we find ourselves in. He doesn’t want us to conform and accept what is acceptable. He calls us to speak out in defense of those who need it. He calls us to share the Gospel Truth with a lost and dying world that His elect may hear and believe. But he also calls us to live selflessly. I know this, and I try to do this. I fail in many ways, and by His grace succeed in others. But as I blogged about before here – I think the church in America needs a lot of work here.. Hard to have a voice when we aren’t His instruments of giving common grace to a world that is decaying and dying. When we get lose on legalistic thinking and creating too many litmus tests this mission falters. (Some litmus tests are important and needed for sure. There are things I would rather lose my business over or be in jail over if ever put in a position of deciding. We are to be a holy people and separate over more than many liberal churches decide to.. But on the other hand when partiality, legalism and finger pointing free from introspection creeps up we should be scared.. I tow that line too closely sometimes, I see that)
- My Neighbor Is Who I Least Think It Is – The Edomites weren’t real nice to the Israelites here in the wilderness. They didn’t exactly have a favorable history either. Even God Himself said He had chosen Jacob over Esau – for the purposes of His will. If ever there was a group that someone reading between the lines of God’s Word could have made a case for – it probably could have been at least stealing some water from those people.