Conditional Promises

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.“I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. (Ex.23:20-22, 27, 31)

God initiated a Covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, the effects of which will remain true to his descendants for all generations. There God asked Abraham to let go of all his earthly possessions and to follow His directions. At this point nothing was clear about God’s directions, but there were few solid promises. God kept reassuring Abraham, and his descendants later, about these promises as He elaborated on His directions little by little. God spelled out conditions and demanded compliance from all Israel.

Several generations later, when the Israelites were heading towards the land of Canaan, God was fulfilling His Covenant promise to Abraham. He still kept elaborating His directions in the form of laws and instructions as seen in this passage.

God Our Defender

God promised Abraham that He will bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him. Now God tells Abraham’s descendants that their enemies will be His enemies and He will oppose Israel’s enemies. He will destroy their weapons, arrest their advances, and chase them away. They will fear the God of Israel, not Israel, and thus, God will get the glory. God promised Abraham a geographic territory for his descendants. Now God describes the boundaries of that land to the people of Israel. The land was their’s to possess. God promised to drive away the inhabitants and cleanse the land for their occupation. All these are dependent on their faithful obedience to God’s directions.

God Our Guide

Here, God reveals a bit more of His directions. He promises to send an Angel (Messenger, Representative) to go before them and instruct them, to protect them and guard them. He will not tolerate rebellion but expects submissive obedience. God keeps His promises and we need to keep ours too.

The Angel points to the Lord Jesus Christ and more to the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. In many places we see the Angel of the Lord is the Lord Jehovah Himself. Here, the Angel has God’s Name in Him-Elohim, Yhwh, Adonai, the eternal I AM. God tells the people: “listen to this Angel and do all that I tell you”. Interestingly, God was pointing towards the coming of His Son and then the ministry of the Holy Spirit in preparing God’s people outside Israel to inherit the ‘promised land’.

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