Parashat Ekev (Because of)
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:12–11:25
God’s justice is very different from our sense of justice. As I was reading this week’s portion, five verses from Deuteronomy 7 caught my attention. The beginning of verse 16 may seem harsh to us as the LORD commands Israel to consume all the people that Israel would conquer. However, as we continue to read, we understand that this entire story has to do with God’s holiness, and it’s not about people:
And you shall consume all the peoples whom the LORD your God will give you; your eye shall not spare them, neither shall you work for (worship) their gods, for that would be a snare to you. If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I inherit them?’ you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the LORD your God brought you out. So shall the LORD your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish. You shall not dread them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.
There are a few principles we can learn from this passage. First, as we know already from Genesis 3:6, the eyes can deceive us and cause us to fall into sin. In this passage from Deuteronomy, we understand the importance of not making decisions based only on what we see. Our eyes can deceive us and we can easily fall into idol worship.
Our sight can also cause us to doubt God. Here, God warns Israel not to look at the nations and their size since it would bring Israel to a place where they would doubt God’s promises, causing them to lose faith in God. Not only that, but it could lead them to forget all that He had done for them.
Thirdly, relying on sight alone can also cause us to fear other humans more than we fear God. In our parasha, God warned Israel against fearing that which they saw more than they feared God. The danger is that Israel’s fear would cause them to forget God’s awesome power and presence in their midst, which would also lead them into disobedience.
It’s easy to take our eyes off the Lord and to focus on the reality that we see in front of us. This is part of our human nature! But this is not what a life of faith is about. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of this:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Remembering God’s awesome power in our own lives is so important. His story in our lives (what we like to call our “testimony”) is one of the most powerful tools to not only bring Him glory, but to also keep us faithful to Him. When we take the time to remember that which He has done in our lives, we will be reminded of His greatness, His power, and His faithfulness to do it again!
My dear brothers and sisters, what is God calling you to inherit? What is He asking you to have faith to grab hold of? Keep your eyes gazed upon Him and remember that He is with you… remember how great and awesome He is!