Exodus 23:22, 27: “If you listen carefully to all that 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 that you encounter.”
Observation: God was speaking, downloading to Moses the laws by which His people were to live, and promising to set an angel over the nation to bring them into the Promised Land. Finally, He said He would be an enemy to their enemies if they would but listen to Him.
Application: This passage is enough to arouse envy in all who read it. If we listen and obey, He assigns to us the biggest bodyguard in the neighborhood. Not only will this angel guide and protect, he will take on every opponent, every enemy, spreading terror and confusion into their hearts.
I may be reading a bit simplistically. I yearn to see myself as beneficiary of the ultimate bouncer. In fact, I have called upon him in the past. But whom did I think I was addressing when I petulantly hoped that the driver who cut me off would be caught in a speed trap or when I wished financial reversal on the competitor who just landed the client I had eyed? I am, after all, the righteous one, aren’t I? Don’t I have God on my side?
But this thinking misses the heart of the Gospel. In the same chapter where God promises to be my enemy’s enemy, He also tells me to treat my enemy kindly: “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you, . . . be sure you help him with it” (Ex. 23:4–5). Huh? Is God schizophrenic? Does He care more for fallen donkeys than for my vindication?
I am missing the deeper way God looks at these things. His coming to earth was all about a lovesick God finding a bride for His Son. In demonstrating love for those who hated him, He taught me to love those who hate me. It’s about Jesus’s prying open the locked heart of a wounded girl so she might have intimacy with Him forever. Yes, He would clear enemies from the land of His beloved, and He has indeed gone ahead to prepare for me a place unimaginably good. But I will not gain entry into that privileged place in His heart by directing tanks over a stack of enemy corpses. In my devotion to Him, my heart will be tenderized to the point of blessing my enemy by helping even his fallen donkey.
Prayer: Lord, there is yet so very much I must learn about my own heart. You are showing me the heart of a Bridegroom who desires that none should perish; tenderize my heart so I can be part of that redemptive process.