Whom does God bless?

Or, what happened to the Emites, Horites and Zamzummites?

In the second chapter of Deuteronomy Moses relates to the Israelites how Yahweh forbade them from attempting to conquer the land belonging to the Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites respectively (2:5, 9, 19). The reason was that He, Yahweh, had blessed the descendants of Esau and of Lot with that land. In fact, the language used of these other nations is very similar to the language used of Israel elsewhere in the Old Testament:

The Emites used to live [in the land of Moab]—a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites. Horites used to live in Seir, but the descendants of Esau drove them out. They destroyed the Horites from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did in the land the LORD gave them as their possession. (2:10-12)

[The Zamzummites] were a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. The LORD destroyed them from before the Ammonites, who drove them out and settled in their place. The LORD had done the same for the descendants of Esau, who lived in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites from before them. They drove them out and have lived in their place to this day. And as for the Avvites who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorites coming out from Caphtor destroyed them and settled in their place. (2:21-23)

See also Deuteronomy 31:332:8Amos 9:7 and Acts 17:26.

TL;DR: The God of Israel removed the previous inhabitants of these lands for the benefit of nations that would become Israel’s enemies.

So what?

Psalm 145:9 tells us that God is loving towards all He has made, and Jesus taught His disciples that their heavenly Father sends sunshine and rain indiscriminately on all (Matthew 5:45). Christians should therefore be careful not to lay exclusive claims to God’s blessings. (To be sure, there are covenant blessings reserved for the obedient.)  Rather, let us point out that God’s goodness to those who don’t acknowledge Him is part of His undeniable witness of Himself, that they may turn to Him (Acts 14:17).

Question: Whom does God bless? Answer: His enemies and His former enemies. Which group are you in?

I learned to care about the Zamzummites by listening to Chris Wright. Other things he’s said have found their way into this post.

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