God with Us

Judges 1:16-20

16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.

17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their fellow Israelites and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed the city. Therefore it was called Hormah. 18 Judah also took Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory.

19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron. 20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak.

Immanuel

Ever since you accepted Christ in your life, have you often sensed His presence in your life? It was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said in Matthew 1:2:-23, 20“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

As pilgrims in this world, we face many challenges in life in which we choose the path we take. Our choices demonstrate our dependence upon the Lord.

1. Choose

16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.

The Lord did not disregard the needs of the relatives of the wife of Moses who joined the Israelites in their journey to the promise land. Actually, the Lord used them also during their struggles against their enemies and during the time when they were trying to figure out which way they would take in the wilderness.

In Numbers 10:29-32, 29 Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place about which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.” 30 He answered, “No, I will not go; I am going back to my own land and my own people.” 31 But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes. 32 If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the Lord gives us.”

Because of his familiarity, Hobad led the Israelites to convenient paths in the wilderness. Perhaps, Hobab needed a community he could belong to, and that was why Moses promised his brother-in-law a share of inheritance in the land of Canaan. Indeed, after the Israelites conquered the promise land, Hobab’s descendants (the Kenites) were given a place to live among the people of Judah. They chose the Desert of Judah in the Negev because they used to live in the desert.

Did God care about the needs of non-Israelites like the descendants of Hobab? Did God speak through Moses when he offered Hobab a place to live in Israel?

In Deuteronomy 10:18, 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.

The phrase ‘residing among you’ does not include transients or tourists who visit Israel for a short period of time. This biblical term is applicable to non-Israelites who embrace the belief and culture of Israel just the way the Israelites embrace them.

The descendants of Hobab were residents among the Israelites. They embraced the belief and culture of the Israelites. When the Israelites shared their land to them, it testifies to the love and care of the God to non-Israelites who trust in Him. Such event points to the love and care of Christ to believers with Gentile background.

Just as the Kenites residing among the Israelites have been given a choice to live where they were comfortable (the Negev), does God approve when we choose where we wish to live or settle down? How can we conquer the challenges that come our way?

2. Conquer

17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their fellow Israelites and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed the city. Therefore it was called Hormah. 18 Judah also took Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory.

19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron. 20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak. 

The single verse information about the Kenites and their choice to live among the people of Judah in the Negev served as transition. The narrative of Caleb when he chose a husband for his daughter shifted to the victory of the people of Judah and Simeon when they conquered and totally destroyed the Canaanites.

Moreover, the promise of Moses to the Kenites—to have a place to live among the Israelites was fulfilled. The narrative also mentioned that Caleb has eventually been given Hebron as his inheritance after the sons of Anak were driven away. The Anakites were huge people like giants. Except for Joshua and Caleb, 10 of the 12 men that Moses sent to spy the land of Canaan were scared by those descendants of Anak.

It says in Numbers 13:30-33, 30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Indeed, Caleb has proven the faithfulness of God when he eventually took over the land of Hebron and driven away the descendants of Anak. The Israelites conquered their giant enemies because the Lord was with them.

Every single day, we also face giant-size problems even if God is with us but the Lord will enable us to overcome them when we seek His help and trust in Him.

It reminds us in Romans 8:31-32, 31 If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 

All things include God’s faithfulness. God allowed Apostle Paul to experience the worst possible trouble imaginable and he proved God’s grace was sufficient for him all the time. He testified in Romans 8:33-39, 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These truths about God’s love for us become more realistic when we face some giant-size problems. No genuine believer is exempted from trials. God surely wants us to know if we really have grown in our faith in Him or not. The practical means to test the strength of our faith is to be tested in practical means.

Earthquake

An earthquake hit Mexico City in September this year and elegant apartments had collapsed into pile of crushed concrete. The units were designed by an architect whose license lapsed, and approved in a borough or small town where auditors previously found illegal construction occurred unchecked.

The earthquake revealed the strength and stability of the apartments. The apartments were described as elegant but elegance cannot save from devastating earthquake. Similarly, anyone may have acquired some kind of elegant lifestyle, abundance in material things but when earthquake-like problems hit, the genuine believer who relies upon Christ can conquer problems that may shake faith.

Moses said to the Lord in Exodus 33:13-14, 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Moses asked the Lord to teach him His ways. Moses implied that there was no way he can learn God’s ways unless the Lord teaches him. The same Lord who assured to give rest to Moses is the same Lord who offered in Matthew 11:28-29, 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Let’s imitate Moses in seeking the Lord to teach us His ways for us to find rest in Him even in the midst of trial or challenges in life. As believers, God is with us but we need to acknowledge our need to learn from Him His ways.

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