The Eternal God and his Privileged People - Deuteronomy 33:26-27
Basil Howlett - Carey Baptist Church - 31 December 2006

This morning we look at a wonderful promise which, throughout the years, has helped Christian people face the unknown future with peace and serenity. This promise was first given by Moses to the people of Israel at a critical juncture in their history, when after 40 years of wandering in the desert they were on the border of Canaan, about to begin a whole new way of life. What is more, Moses, their great leader, was soon going to die. Understandably, they were rather apprehensive, so with a pastor’s heart Moses tries to encourage them. In the hearing of all the people, he speaks in turn about each of the tribes (verses 6-24). Then in verse 26 he speaks about all Israel. ‘There is no one like the God of Jeshurun.’ Jeshurun means ‘righteous one’ or ‘righteous nation,’ and is another name for Israel. Moses tells them three amazing things about God.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how applicable these words are to us. We are the people of God, about to enter a new year with all its uncertainties. We need to remember these three things.

A. God is like a mighty horseman who rides out to help us (verse 26)
Egypt was famous for its horsemen. Moses could remember when Pharaoh and his horseman had charged after them to attack them as they camped by the Red Sea (Exodus 14:9), but he had learned then and through many other experiences that God is far more powerful than all the horseman of Pharaoh. God rides on the heavens. It’s a picture of the power and speed of almighty God (Revelation 6:2, Revelation 19:11-16). The God of Jeshurun ‘rides on the heavens’ not to attack his people like Pharaoh but to help them.

B. God is like a solid house (verse 27)
The Hebrew word, translated ‘refuge’ in the NIV means ‘dwelling place.’ The same root word is used (again by Moses) in Psalm 90:1, ‘Lord you have been our dwelling place in all generations.”’ Moses likens God to a house. For 40 years the Israelites had lived in tents in the desert and didn’t know what it was to have a permanent dwelling. Now they were about to enter Canaan and were even more uncertain of where they would live. ‘But’, says Moses, ‘don’t worry, the eternal God is your dwelling place.’ Physically, we dwell in a brick-built semi, or cottage or flat, spiritually we dwell in God (see 1 John 4:15, Colossians 3:3).

  1. That means that God will protect us. A house provides refuge from danger e.g. the school bully. Likewise God protects us amid the bullying tactics of the devil. Proverbs 18:10 ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.’
  2. God shelters us from the full force of the storms of life. That’s what a house does. The storm may still frighten us but it does us no lasting harm. In 2007 there may be times when we find ourselves shaking and scared, but if we are Christians the Lord will shelter us. The Lord may use the storm to teach us a few lessons but we will come to no lasting harm (Psalm 91:2, 9). The Lord will even shelter us on the day of judgment.
  3. This phrase ‘The eternal God is your dwelling place’ also means that he gives us peace. A dwelling place is where you find rest and peace! You come home from the hassle of work and find rest and peace in your home. That is what God does for us. He gives us peace in our souls and there’s nothing more wonderful (see also Philippians 4:6).

C. God is like a loving father supporting his child (verse 27)
‘It’s wonderful to hear that if I’m a Christian God rides to my help and that God is my refuge and dwelling place but my problem is this, I’m such a weak person and I fear that in my weakness I will drift, fall away from God, and be lost.’ That’s where the third statement comes in. As Christians we are God’s children and we are, so to speak, in his arms. He is carrying us. He is supporting us and he will never let us go.

  1. Everlasting arms are arms which will never let you go no matter how old you get.
  2. Everlasting arms are mighty arms which will never let us go no matter how tough the opposition is. These everlasting arms have stood the test of time. They are arms which since the very beginning of time have upheld the universe. They’re as strong today as they have ever been. Let the devil do his worst, God is still able to keep you from falling and one day (verse 27b) he will drive out and conquer our enemy the devil and all his evil powers for ever.
  3. Everlasting arms are arms which will never tire and give up on you (see also Isaiah 40:28).
  4. Everlasting arms are arms which are unchangeable.

Sometimes in our proud moments we boast of our great faith, or our grasp of the truth, or our grasp of the reformed faith and in our pride we look down our noses at those whose grasp is not as strong as we think ours is. But if we are depending on our grasp of the Lord and his truth, we are foolish indeed! The devil can soon shake that. Our confidence and consolation is that the everlasting God has grasped hold of us and will never let us go.

How privileged we are! That’s what Moses said to those people just before he left them. “Happy are you O Israel, who is like you, a people saved by the Lord.’ We should never be dejected. We should never moan and groan and complain. We should never be envious of the ungodly. We are privileged indeed and it’s all so undeserved. It’s entirely due to God’s grace.