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Deuteronomy 2:1-23 -

God's faithfulness in dealing with nations outside the covenant.

We have here strict injunctions given to the pilgrims not to disturb the children of Edom, nor the Moabites, nor the children of Ammon, because they were occupying the district assigned them. These tribes, though related to Israel, were not in the covenant. Still God had guaranteed to them certain temporal blessings, and he shows himself faithful in his dealings with them.

I. GOD IS A RIGHTEOUS GOVERNOR AMONG THE NATIONS . It is in equity that he rules. His judgment is always according to truth. Having written the law of conscience upon every human heart, he can justly judge men thereby. They are laws unto themselves, and so will be held accountable for their relation to their law, or, as we might call it, inward light (cf. Romans 2:14 , Romans 2:15 ).

II. TEMPORAL ADVANTAGES ARE GIFTS OF GOD . The laws which regulate nature are, we believe, the ordinances of God. Hence the benefits irreligious nations receive through the laws of nature are really the gifts of his bounteous hand. Though the nations may not so regard them, the people of God can form no other notion of them. As gifts, they are undeserved . Hence it is part of God's scheme of mercy so generously to treat the race of men. We must look to Christ's atonement for an explanation on the ground of justice of this merciful treatment of mankind. The death of Jesus purchased temporal as well as spiritual blessings, and its vast application should be recognized and known. In this sense he did "die for every man."

III. THE CONSTANCY OF THE LAWS OF NATURE Is TO BE TRACED TO THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD . No other hypothesis can be offered so consistent with the facts. The promises treasured up in nature are promises of God, and the laws which secure their fulfillment are the ministers of his faithfulness.

IV. THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD IN THE CASES REFERRED TO WAS NOT RECOGNIZED BY THE TRIBES PROFITING BY IT . In seizing the places allotted to them by God, the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites fought each for his hand and in no religious spirit. They overcame and exterminated races of giants who formerly possessed the land. All the while, God's plan and faithfulness were receiving illustration and fulfillment. The exercise of human freedom did not militate against, but secured the Divine pleasure.

V, GOD 'S BOUNTY TO NATIONS OUTSIDE THE COVENANT IS INTENDED TO ENCOURAGE HIS OWN PEOPLE . The Israelites would be the better prepared to meet and master the giants in Canaan after seeing the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites snugly dwelling in the inheritances of gigantic predecessors. If these tribes, without any sense of dependence upon the Almighty, overcame the giants opposing them, what will not be possible to faith? And the whole government of the world is really intended to foster confidence in God's covenant faithfulness and to forbid all despair.—R.M.E.

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