Christian Security · Doctrinal · Government · Interpretation

The Lord’s Enemy

Don’t be the Lord’s Enemyenemy - red

Exodus 23:20-22

20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 
21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him 
22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.

adversaryAs I was reading Exodus this morning I came across the verse above and it stopped me in my reading for a couple of reasons. God will be an enemy?

An Enemy Does Not Obey

Many times I have heard or thought to myself of how the Lord is on the side of a certain people group.  Take for instance in the Old Testament.  It was commonly thought (correctly at times) that the people of Israel had God on their side.  I suppose that is how it appears, (I hope I am not splitting hairs here) but it seems that is not exactly what is going on here.

The initial condition that has to be met is that the people “obey his voice”, “indeed obey his voice” and “do all that I speak”.


opponentThen God will be an enemy to thine enemies, an adversary to thine adversaries.  Note that obedience to the voice of the Lord brings the people into the will and desire of the LORD Himself.  The “enemy” here does not gain an adversary in God if the people obey Him.  God’s enemy does not change unless of course they change into His friends.  (The enemy of God is such, not because of God’s desire, but the enemies desire – God wants no enemies)  The people simply join God in having the same enemy.  Is our motivation in obeying God simply to earn a big brother to beat up an enemy who may have hurt our feelings or made us cry?

An Enemy is not Pardoned

What is tarnation is going on with verse 21?  “he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him” I don’t know about you but whenever I hear “my name is in him” I automatically think of a theophany.  Also the fact that the one referred to is “an angel”, I want to think it is a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Himself, especially when the angel’s prerogative to forgive sins comes up.  Usually the Old Testament mentions “the Angel of the Lord” as what is commonly accepted as a theophany – I don’t know.  If it is the Lord Himself or a representative (angel), the message is the same.

I fear that sometimes modern nations fall into a wrong-headed thinking.  They give lip service to God and call on Him to fight for their nation.  This gives me pause.  Why would God do this when His Nation (the body of Christ), is a holy nation of saints that is pulled from each nation on earth.

I suppose judgement must fall on nations who do evil, (and maybe that is the idea of verse 21?), but to think that God is pleased when innocents die in war, or enlisted men are killed simply due to an imaginary line in the sand, this is beyond my understanding.  I admit my past desire to see justice after 9/11, but looking back on those days, I feel my concept of God’s will for this planet was incorrect.

My Confusion

If someone can explain verse 21 to me, I sho nuff would appreciate it.  How could it be said that he (God or God’s messenger) would not pardon their transgressions, when many times the Old Testament clearly states that the Lord Himself is plenteous in mercy

Psalm 86:5

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

Ps 86:15

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Psalm 103:8

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Difficulties with the WORD

Like I said, this is difficult for me to understand.

But that is ok – as a matter of fact, that is great!  If I understood everything, if the mystery completely evaporated, how poor we would be as Christians?

So, if I may be so bold to exhort you, revel in the mysteries, do not be satisfied with some pablum that another man spoon feeds you.  Ask the Word questions, converse with the Living One and struggle with the text.

A Conclusion

So what is the conclusion?

  1. Obey what you know.
  2. Struggle to understand more.
  3. Be happy!

He is the LORD!

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


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