The second coming of Christ will be a momentous event, far bigger than anything we’ve ever experienced. The world as we know it will come to an end, possibly comparable to this temporary pause in normality we’re currently experiencing. A friend of mine recently suggested that what we’re experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic could be a “practice run” for whatever God has in store for us before the return of our Lord. That idea is not without scriptural precedent. In our reading from Deuteronomy 2 the Israelites are right on the brink of crossing the Jordan and entering the Promised Land. Forty years have passed since the spies brought back their negative report and they started their wilderness wandering. The situation in the land hasn’t changed since then; it’s still as scary as it was before, full of giants. But what this new generation has just experienced is a practice run.
Why did God have them wander on the borders of the land months before entering the land? Deuteronomy 2 records their defeat of king Sihon of the Amorites, and then in chapter 3 their victory over Og king of Bashan. In both cases God told his people he would deliver the enemy into their hands. In fact, they acknowledged “there was not a city too high for us” (Deut. 2:36). Why did God put them through this experience? Verse 25 provides the answer – “This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you on the peoples who are under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.” Their victories outside the land would give them confidence over the giants within the land of Canaan. God had shown them he was on their side, fighting their battles with them, and they had nothing to fear.
There are other occasions in Scripture where God works in people’s lives in a similar way. David, for instance, had a practice run for his defeat of Goliath when, as a shepherd, he tackled lions and bears. In giving David opportunities to face and successfully defeat formidable foes, he could have confidence in the God of heaven that he could defeat the greater giant.
We can look at all our trials, not just what we’re experiencing with the coronavirus, in a similar way. God is preparing us for greater battles to come. He’s not only developing our characters to be able to withstand giants in our future but he’s giving us the confidence that he is with us and no city is too high for us.
The confidence we can have in God is so great that our future victories over the giants in our lives are assured. God had said to the people, even before entering the territory of the enemy “I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite” (Deut. 2:24). He said the same thing concerning Og (Deut. 3:2). We worship a God who knows the end from the beginning, and he is control of even the scariest of situations we face. Jesus knew this too. In our reading from John 12 he was about to face the biggest giant of his life and prayed to God saying, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (v.27). God’s answer assured Jesus of the victory – “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (v.28).
There is no city too high, no giant too tall, no trial too difficult, no unsolvable problems in our lives. The God who brought Israel out of Egypt, caused the nation to defeat Sihon and Og, enabled David to kill the giant and brought our Lord Jesus Christ through his darkest hours, is our God too. All we have to do is listen to his voice and trust in him. So, let’s look at this unsettling and anxious time we’re experiencing as God working in our lives, strengthening us to deal with the giants we will face in the future. Victory is assured.
Simi Hills, CA