Deuteronomy 7:1-26 (Part 2) – That Right Moment In Time Where Everything Comes Together

Posted: January 11, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 7:1-26 (Part 2 of 3)

The Privilege of Holiness

 

I missed writing my blog yesterday due to the fact that early Tuesday morning, my favorite college team, Clemson University, won the college football championship in thrilling fashion, scoring a touchdown with one second of game time left on the clock. It was a comeback for the ages. Down by three points with two minutes to go in the game and 69 yards away from victory against Alabama. The Tigers methodically moved down the field with same amazing passes and even more amazing catches. And, then, as the clock hit 0:01, Deshaun Watson hits Hunter Wenfrow in the lower right hand corner of the end zone with the game winning touchdown pass. It was redemption for the coming up five points and a minute short last year against the same team in the same national championship game last year.

 

For me, it caused tears of joy, a raspy voice from standing on my front porch yelling to the top of my lungs about the fact that the Tigers were national champions for a second time in school history. It was a long journey for the team, football program and school that I love to get back to the top of the mountain. I was a 19 year old boy in 1981 when we last stood atop the mountain. The Clemson Tigers were one of the most successful football programs in the country from 1977-1991. And from 1987-1990, no program won more games than Clemson other than the U (University of Miami). Back those days, we won the national championship in 1981 but were always a top 10 or top 15 team during those years.

 

Then with a change in coaches in 1990, the program came unraveled and settled into a stretch of mediocrity from 1992-2008. In those glory years, 10 or more wins (in seasons where 12 games were the maximum you would play) was the expectation. Between 1992-2008, we would be lucky if we won 8 or 9 games. Mediocre seasons and mediocre bowl games, if any bowl game was to be had. The lowest point was 1998 when Clemson had gotten so bad that we finished 3-8. Then, along came Coach Tommy Bowden in 1999. He improved recruiting and we got started getting talented players again, but we could never win the big games. We would get outcoached by the top programs’ coaches. We were almost there but not quite. Finally, in 2008, in the middle of a season that we supposedly going to contend for the national title again after many years. But the Tigers stumbled out the gate getting shellacked by Alabama in the season opener 38-9 and by the sixth game of the season, the Tigers were 3-3 and had lost, God forbid, to Wake Forest. Bowden resigned.

 

Terry Don Phillips, the athletic director at the time, listened to the players at the time and hired Dabo Swinney (who had never been a head coach, never even been an offensive or defensive coordinator) as interim head coach. Dabo and the Tigers finished out that 2008 with a 4-2 record, barely missing the ACC Atlantic Division crown because of 3 point loss to Georgia Tech. But there was something different about the team and the program. There was hope again. The team has steadily climbed back into the national spotlight and over the past 6 years have won 10 games or more each year. For the last two years, the Tigers are 28-2 and have been national runner up last year and national champions this year. The journey has been long and we are experience the glory years of Clemson football right now. Although some expect us to drop off the radar next year because DeShaun is leaving, but the program is stocked with talent, recruiting is consistently at a high level, the coaching staff is stable and they are talented. The Tigers are set to be successful for a long time.

 

Because the journey back to the glory years that these last six years have been and how it seems that we are set to continue for a while now and how sweet this time is to be a Tiger fan (and how this era is a redemption for us who suffered with them through those lean years), it got me to thinking about how the fortunes of college football programs can change quickly.

 

You can have a program that has all the best support in the world, but don’t have talented coaches, you will not win at a high level. If you have great coaches but don’t have coaches who can go out and recruit well, you can’t win. If you have great facilities, but poor coaches or poor recruiting, you can’t win. If you have great recruiting, but coaches who can’t develop them you are not going to win. You have to have that rare combination of great fan bases willing to build great facilities, you have to have great coaches who can recruit the best players, you have to have coaches who can coach in critical situations and who can develop players to that fullest potential. Then, you have to have a culture where the team has developed a winning attitude where they expect to win. And, you have to have a sense of brotherhood among the teammates, coaches and fans.

 

That rare combination is what Clemson has right now. I hope that we can keep it for a while. If you lose one of the components, it can come unraveled quickly. What makes that rare combination come and go in the college football is a mystery to me. Just look at Miami, they were successful at a high level from 1984-2002, but that rare combination went away and they are now where Clemson was between 1992-2008.

 

Just as similarly, what if Hunter Wenfrow does not catch that Watson pass at 12:28am Tuesday morning and we would have suffered the heartbreak of another close loss to Alabama in the championship game again. The difference between victory and defeat is sometimes razor thin and we could easily not be national champions this morning. We could be runners up again.

 

The rare combination of the right people, at the right school, at the right time is hard to find and hard to maintain. Why do some schools have and others don’t. And then and even then sometimes you need God’s grace to smile upon you in critical moments such as the last play of the game. Everything had to be executed perfectly and the opponent had to react the way they were predicted to for the play to work and for the Renfrow to make the catch.

 

Today, when I was reading through Deuteronomy 7 again for the second time, I focused in on vv. 6-8, where it says that God chose Israel. It was not something that they did to earn it. He chose them. That’s what got me to thinking about how the top college football programs are the rare combinations of time, place, people, etc. and how it cycles in and out and thus it seems how God smiles on a program from time to time:

 

7 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.[a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles[b] and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

 

7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But

 

those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;

    he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.

 

11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

 

12 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14 You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. 15 The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. 16 You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.

 

17 You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” 18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. 20 Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. 21 Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. 22 The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. 23 But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. 24 He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. 25 The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God. 26 Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.

 

God chose Israel. How did they deserve to be chosen above all other nations at the time? It was not a matter of Israel merit, but of God keeping his covenant promise to Abraham who He counted as righteous. Just as God chose the nation of Israel, God has chosen all believers in Jesus Christ today to be His treasured possession not because we have earned it but because we have faith in Jesus Christ. We do not earn grace and we do not deserve it. It is a gift freely given.

 

Similarly, with great college football programs, they are rare combinations of factors coming together and of moments where everything has to go right. You can have all of the factors needed to be a great program but still not win the big games. You cannot predict when you will lose one or more of those factors. It is timing of people, places, talent, skill, and perfect timing. A school can do all the right things and still not be winners. Sometimes, it is simply the grace of God that these factors come together in the right place and the right time. This favor and sunshine upon the Clemson program will not last forever. I know that and I need to appreciate it while it lasts. People move on. Things change. I am going to appreciate this era of Clemson football. I really am.

 

In the same way, I must appreciate my salvation. It is that rare combination of me humbling myself before the Lord and accepting the gift He has given me. It is a beautiful moment that I didn’t deserve. It gives me sunshine where I had none. It is also not because I did all the right things in life. I can do all the right things in life but still not deserve grace. Grace is a gift. I can be all the right things. I can do all the right things and still not win heaven on my own merits. I have no merit before the Lord. It must come from the right timing of me realizing that I am nothing before the Lord and do not deserve anything but hell and damnation and throw myself at his mercy and beg for forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ.

 

We don’t deserve it. We know what we deserve. We know the pits that we belong in. He grants us grace. He sets us on the mountaintop. Let us enjoy the moment of our salvation and the mountaintop that we currently stand on.

 

Amen and Amen.

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