Out of Control

People of Israel,
that’s what the LORD
has said to you.
But you don’t have good sense,
and you never listen
to advice.
If you did, you could see
where you are headed.
How could one enemy soldier
chase a thousand
of Israel’s troops?
Or how could two of theirs
pursue ten thousand of ours?
It can only happen if the LORD
stops protecting Israel
and lets the enemy win.
Even our enemies know
that only our God
is a Mighty Rock.
Our enemies are grapevines
rooted in the fields
of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The grapes they produce
are full of bitter poison;
their wine is more deadly
than cobra venom.
But the LORD has written
a list of their sins
and locked it in his vault.
Soon our enemies will get
what they deserve —
suddenly they will slip,
and total disaster
will quickly follow. (Deuteronomy 32:28-35)

Just because it’s impossible to lose doesn’t mean you won’t. At Jericho, God defeated an army of tens of thousands with barely three hundred men. Those facing Gideon had no reason to think that they wouldn’t be victorious against him. But they lost all the same. But then, there were times when the enemy was severely outnumbered by Israel’s forces, and they lost all the same.

Israel faced judgment. Even before they entered the land of Promise, before Jericho fell to an army that had merely walked around it, God warned his people that they would make mistakes during the years to come. Nevertheless, those who stood arrayed against God’s people didn’t have a chance. In the end, no matter how good they looked at the moment, no matter how invincible, they were no better than Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities that God had destroyed with fire and brimstone in a single day. God reassured his people that no matter what, God would avenge them. He was keeping track of all the wrongs that they had done against his people and eventually he would call them to account.

Winning and losing are in God’s hands, not in our own. We like to imagine we control our destinies, that our fate is ours to chose. But the reality is that God is the one actually in charge, and no matter the odds, good or bad, it is God’s way that always wins out.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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