Matins Devotion: October 21, 2022
Updated: Oct 28
In our text from Deuteronomy, we hear Moses tell the Israelites that they are about to go in and conquer the land of Canaan—the land God had sworn to give them through his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet, taking possession of God’s promises, as it always does, requires faith. And so Moses tells the people how it is that their faith will be tested. They are going to have to go to war with some formidable foes. Their enemies will be more numerous. Their weapons technology will be more advanced. The sound of their battle cries will be terrifying. Yet, despite all these disadvantages, the people of Israel are given a promise:
“‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’” (3-4)
The promise that the people are to believe is that the LORD is with them, that He will fight their enemies for them, that even though the people of Israel are outnumbered, outmatched, and outgunned—at the end of the battle it is they who will place their feet on the necks of all their enemies and sing the song of triumph.
And so it is for the Christian. In our baptism God gives us the gift of His name—and along with that name comes the promise that we stand to inherit everything which God himself possesses. And yet, it’s also true that God gives to us a cross. Through affliction, suffering, and temptation—God tests and strengthens our faith. He allows the flesh with its stubborn and rebellious desires to wrap itself around out necks and cling to us. He allows the world with all its envy, hatred, lust, and pride to surround and revile us. He even allows the devil who wants to trick us and tear us away from the Word of God to assail us with his fiery darts so that he might draw us into despair or unbelief.
And yet, at the very moment where it seems that these temptations must overwhelm and defeat us, Jesus Christ himself enters the battle and gives us the victory.
In 2 Corinthians 4, St. Paul has this to say:
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…(8-10, 16-17)
Jesus Christ has gone before us in our battle with the enemy. He endured the temptations of the flesh. He submitted to the scorn and rejection of the world. He was pierced by the fiery darts of death and hell. He has gone before us in battle and he has conquered. His victory is sure, and because of our baptism, so is ours. One day, our Lord Jesus will return. He will lift the cross off of our shoulders. He will place our feet on the necks of our enemies. And together with all the apostles, the prophets, the martyrs and with the holy Church throughout all the world we will sing our song of triumph.
 For more on the temptations of flesh, world, and the devil see Luther’s commentary in his Large Catechism on the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer.