The book of Deuteronomy is a collection of the last few times Moses spoke to the Children of Israel before he died and they entered the Promised Land. It ends with two songs and a farewell address, but the majority of the book is a series of sermons encouraging the people and re-giving the Law. When I started seriously studying it to teach it in Bible class, I was amazed at just how much these sermons resemble sermons we might preach today.
For example, the first sermon (chapters 1-4) begins with a quick recap of how their fathers had rebelled against God and refused to take the Promised Land. They had been too afraid to go into the land. Deut. 1:28 "Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”’ Looking back on this, we shake our heads at their lack of faith but in reality, their fears were reasonable. 1) The people in the land out-numbered them and were generally bigger. 2) The cities were huge and strongly fortified. 3) In addition to the populous generally being bigger, there were actual Giants living in the land. (In Josh. 11:22 it states that the few Anakim who survived the conquest settled in Gath. Now, who was the most famous resident of Gath?) These fears were completely reasonable except for the fact that God was on their side.
Moses then uses the history of his listeners to show just how ridiculous this fear was. In chapter 2 he recounts the march to their current camp just east of the Jordan River. On the way, God told them not to bother the Edomites because He had given them the land they occupied. There had been other people there before, but when God decided to give the Edomites the land, they had no trouble occupying it (vs 5,12). Then they were told not to bother the Moabites, because God had given them their land. There used to be Giants there, too, called Emim, but the Moabites had no trouble driving them out when God gave them that land (vs 9-11). This was repeated with the Ammonites (vs 19-22), who drove out another Giant race (the Zamzummim) to take their land. The Israelites would have remembered God's instructions through Moses concerning these nations, and Moses uses that knowledge to refute two of the fears. When God decided to bless these pagan peoples who had no relationship with Him, it didn't matter that there were people already living there nor did it matter how strong they were, God gave them that land. So, what would He do for His people?
Moses then uses the victories of Israel over the Amorite kings Sihon and Og to dispel with the third fear (2:32-3:6). In defeating these kings, the Israelites captured all their cities, many of which were strongly fortified. Moses graphically displays that if God is on their side, nothing could stand in their way: "And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings. So will the LORD do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.’" (Deut. 3:21-22)
Is it ever scary to be a Christian? Be honest; sometimes it is terrifying. To be different from everyone around you all the time, to be accused of self-righteousness or mean-spiritedness because of taking a stand for the truth can be pretty frightening. To miss out on promotions because you won't work Sundays or because people think of you as judgmental can be scary. To be attacked on social media and needing to erase your accounts because you declared that some things are right and some things are wrong can be unnerving. Nowadays, some people are losing their businesses which they worked their lives through to establish because they won't' accommodate sin or are even being thrown in jail for refusal to follow immoral government mandates. That can be terrifying. These are all reasonable fears, from a worldly perspective. But as Moses used the example of pagan kingdoms God wished to bless to encourage the Israelites, we can use the example of God's blessings on His earthly kingdom to find strength to carry on (Col. 2:17, Heb. 8:5; 10:1). Joshua was told not to fear because God was fighting for them. How much less reason do we have to fear as part of the Kingdom God established by the sacrifice of His Son? Won't God fight even harder for us?
Fear is natural when Satan's forces are arrayed against us, but remember who fights on our side and keep marching forward to the Promised Land.
Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Heb. 13:6 "So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'”