God on Our Side

May 6, 2018

How often do we hear people say that they survived their ordeals only because God was gracious to them? Even King David, in his Psalm, said, “If the Lord had not been on our side- let Israel say,  if the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive” (Psalm 124:1-3). The Bible is replete with stories magnifying the truth that we are only able to overcome our challenges because of the grace of God. The fact that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against spirits and powers in the heavenly places makes us even more incapable of overcoming our challenges without the help of God.

Considering how small Israel was, it would have been easy for their enemies to overrun them. But God made a promise that he will always be with them. In particular, he said, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deut 7:9). For the Lord to be on their side, they need to love him and keep his commands. It is in this area that many miss the blessings of the Lord. They are unable not only to love the Lord with all their hearts but to obey his commands. But on account of his covenant with their patriarchs, Israel continued to enjoy the Lord’s sustaining grace.

Even to this day, the fact that the Lord is on their side is very evident. They are surrounded by enemies who are bent on erasing them from the face of the earth. By the size of their population, Israel is just a minuscule country compared to their hostile neighbours that number in the hundreds of millions of people. For land size, they are just a small dot in the map. By sheer number of people and land size, they can indeed be swallowed alive. Nevertheless, not one of their hostile neighbours would want to wantonly go against them. Their neighbours are fully aware that the God of Israel is on their side and that whoever touches them touches the apple of God’s eye. The apostle Paul appropriately articulated their situation when he said, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord assured Israel of his loving care by saying, “But now, this is what the Lord says - he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’” (Isa. 43:1-2). The Lord gave them this assurance even after Israel had sinned against him. They had deadened their ears so that they did not listen to the commands of the Lord. They had closed their eyes and did not give due attention to the works that he did before them. But the Lord is forgiving; as King David declared, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

In their journey, Israel had experienced the saving grace of God. In his Psalms, David said, “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death” (Psalm 68:20). They had encountered all kinds of perils as a nation but, through it all, God did not leave them to be destroyed or denied of blessings. The Red Sea was not a hindrance in them coming out of the land of slavery nor did the Jordan River prevent them from going into the Promised Land. Even when Israel had committed the gravest sin of idolatry, God did not destroy them all but left a remnant, because he cares about them.

Just as Israel has always been protected by God, we too, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, can avail of such protection. In fact, we can claim all the promises that God had given to Israel. The apostle Paul clearly stated this truth saying, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). Therefore, God is also on our side. He will be faithful to all his promises to us – promises to prosper us and not to harm us and to give us hope and a future. He will also forgive us of our sins and iniquity and will not keep a record of wrongs. He will save us because he redeemed us through the Lord Jesus Christ. When we face struggles, no matter how difficult these will be, let us remind ourselves of this one truth – if the Lord had not been on our side, we would have perished in our afflictions. But because he is with us, who then can be against us? Nobody! Glory to God!