Thinking Out Loud: Warrior, Guide, Father

Deuteronomy 1:19-2:1

There are three easily identifiable lessons from Moses recounting of Kadesh Barnea. These lessons can be categorized into two categories: teachings about God and about God's people.  We will examine the first category in this blog. 

Scripture uses three powerful metaphors to teach us about God's nature. 

Divine Warrior

God is a divine Warrior. If judgment in Israel’s internal affairs belongs to God (Deut. 1:17), the same is true of the battles this nation would fight against foreign foes (2 Chron. 20:15). Whether Egyptian or Amorite, anyone who stands in the way of Israel stands in the way of God.

God as divine Guide

Throughout Israel’s travels, Yahweh had gone before them in the cloud and the fire, seeking places for Israel to camp and showing them which way to go (Deut. 1:33). The God who had brought Israel to himself at Horeb had faithfully brought Israel to the boundary of the Promised Land. We hear allusions to this notion in Zechariah’s celebration of God’s mercy in guiding “our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:78–79), and Revelation 7:15–17, which speaks of the Lamb leading his sheep to springs of living water.

God as divine Father

Deuteronomy 1:31 presents a tender image of God as a loving father who firmly carries his child through the vast and dreadful desert (Deut. 8:15). However, the Israelites learned that the fatherhood of God has two sides. He who lavishes grace on his son also gets angry when his son defies him and refuses to trust him (Deut. 1:34). Yahweh disciplines his son (cf. Deut. 8:5; Prov. 3:12), but when discipline fails, the heavenly Father turns a deaf ear to the wailing of a rebellious son (Deut. 1:45). In the New Testament Jesus invites his followers to address God as Father when they pray and to call on him to lead them (though not into the wilderness of temptation), to fight their battles (“deliver us from the evil one”), and to give them the daily bread they need (Matt. 6:9–13). But Hebrews 12:6 reminds us that the fatherhood of God still has another side: “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”