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June 3 – Who defeated Sihon and Og?

Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them, after he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and Edrei. – Deut. 1:3b-4

Scripture reading: Deut. 1:1-8

In verse four, the Spirit does something interesting through the grammar of the text, teaching what God’s grace looks like in our lives. The subject of the word “defeated” is ambiguous. “He” could refer to the Lord or to Moses. Are we told that Moses defeated Sihon and Og or that the Lord defeated Sihon and Og?

We know that it is ultimately the Lord who wins the battles of Israel. Later in Deut. 2, we are told that the Lord gave Sihon over to Moses. However, we know that Moses is also acting here. He obeys the command of God to “rise up and attack. “Moses can say, “I attacked Sihon and Og,” with the understanding that he only did that by the strength of God.

This ambiguity is instructive for us as we look back at the goodness of God in our own lives. From one perspective, our lives can look very human. We make choices and we receive the consequences. But when we examine the evidence, we have to say that there is no boasting. We know our hearts are full of corruption. If we depended on ourselves, we would accomplish nothing. It is God who is at work in our prayers, our tears and our desire to do good works. We realize the victory God has given in our own lives. It is amazing how God uses little moments in the grammar of the sentences of Scripture to teach us deep truths about His works.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God for His work in your life and meditate on the ways God has worked within you and those around you.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Zekveld is the pastor of the Ambassador Canadian Reformed Church In Niverville, MB.

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