Even a cursory reading of the Bible surfaces how often the process is of vastly greater concern to God than the procurement. In other words, it's not ARRIVING in the Promised Land, but HOW they arrived that God points out. Our interest in God is more often than not bound up in the getting than it is in the method by which we receive. Yet it is precisely right here where our faith goes on trial. What means more to us, the getting of what we want from God--regardless--or the way in which we go about it? I would suggest to you that in Deuteronomy 9:1–5, we witness one among many examples of precisely this test. If we listen well, we'll be way ahead in the life of faith.
First, God Reveals the Impossible Odds Which We Are Up Against
Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’ (vv. 1-2)
It's as if God were saying, "See Israel? You're going in to the land I promised to you. OK. But, know this, you're facing humanly impossible odds. The enemy are nations "mightier" than you, with walled cities you're not able to topple. And these guys you're fighting? They're giants! (You ARE going in, like I said. I promised you. And I always fulfill my promise! Do you believe that?) But they are really big and strong. (Are you intimidated yet?)"
Second, God Reveals His Indomitable Weapon of Choice--HIMSELF!
What's God doing? He's setting the table for a feast of faith. When we know the impossibilities, what vain hope it is to trust in ourselves, then we're prepared to watch God go to work. Now, after the table has been set, in verse 3, God is ready to serve up an amazing meal, a dinner prepared by His own great power:
Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you.
You're going in, but it is I, the LORD your God, who go before you. How? As a consuming fire! I will destroy them. I will subdue them. Make no mistake about who's bringing about this victory. I'M DOING IT!
Third, God Warns of a Presumptuous Heart.
Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (vv. 4-5)
This is a very common malady among men and women of faith. We see God work. It is marvelous and we are thankful . . . initially. But then, something begins to happen with the passing of time. We begin to assume a role not properly ours--one of the deserving chosen. We think to ourselves, "I guess we did it, at least to some degree." Or, "There must have been something in us which God found worthy enough to give us this victory!" Thus, we handily divert the glory away from our Conquering Hero, locating it pretentiously upon ourselves! Oh, the insidious nature of the human heart, even the regenerated one!
Let us learn to be better at crediting God for victories gained than we are even in asking FOR that victory! Thankfulness, in this case, becomes a sort of litmus test of the genuineness of our faith. See God in the process, glorify him in His providence.