These words are from Deuteronomy 33:29. In our bibles the words read, “Happy are you, O Israel: who is like unto you, O people saved by the Lord”. The word “are” in the English translation is superfluous in Hebrew: hence it is added in English in italics to help the flow of the language. However, I confess that, for me, there is something very special about the original, and this is the reason for our heading, “Happy You, O Israel”.
Moses was approaching the end of his life. He had been the leader of the Children of Israel during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. There were 600, 000 of them apart from women and children, and they were a difficult, murmuring and thankless people. They frequently tried Moses to the limit of his patience. Yet, now, when the time of his death is near, He speaks of them as a ‘happy people’. Was Moses pretending when he spoke these words? No, what he said was based on facts.
They were a people saved by the Lord. The disobedient, faithless generation that came out of Egypt had passed away, and a new more obedient and faithful generation had taken their place. They were destined to enter into Canaan, into the Promised Land, which God had promised to give them. Hence their happiness in the eyes of Moses. The happiness of the christian is similar in nature, but far surpasses that of the Children of israel.
Their happiness is not just based on their future in heaven, but there is for them a present happiness. What is that present happiness? It is the simple fact that they are saved. Life for them in this world has, perhaps, not been easy, it rarely is; but their trials are not meaningless. They are productive, and full of meaning. They know that their trials are preparing them from heaven. Their present happiness is that they are now irreversibly and unchangeably saved. They have no righteousness of their own. Their righteousness is the righteousness of Christ, which they received when they received Him as their Saviour and Lord. Also, the moment they received Christ, the Spirit of God entered into them, and made their heart His dwelling place. From there He will never move, and cannot be evicted. How wonderful that the God the Holy Spirit makes our unworthy hearts His permanent dwelling place! O happy thought; and how extra happy we are when He makes His presence known. Yes, we often grieve Him, but still he will not leave. Let us live, speak and think in such a way that He is not grieved, but that He rejoices in His dwelling place, making us sing with happiness.
Then, of course, there is heaven. The Bible tells us that there is an inheritance in heaven with Christ waiting for us when we get there. The presence of the Spirit in our hearts is like an ‘earnest’ (advance payment) of heaven (Ephesians 1:13,14). When He makes Himself known, it is like a foretaste of heaven. Yes, there is a sense in which heaven begins in this life. Indeed I would say that we should search and work for these moments when He draws near: in the secret place, in reading the scriptures, in the fellowship of His people wherever the are gathered on the Lord’s day or midweek, visiting the sick, reading good books. All these things are like a pursuit: the pursuit of holiness.
We read of Gideon’s men, that they were “Faint, yet pursuing”, (Judges 8:4). Are you pursuing holiness of life, even when faint? This is truly being RightWithGod. How is it with you, christan?