Let’s look at Edwards’ sermon intro…
Edwards chooses the phrase, “their foot shall slide in due time” from Deuteronomy 32:35 to demonstrate:
Unbelieving Israelites were always exposed to destruction.
This destruction was sudden and unexpected.
Unbelieving Israelites were liable to fall of themselves (not because of outside negative influence).
Their fall would take place at a God-appointed, specific time.
Like most sermons, we need to hold on to what is good and discard the rest. Here’s what is good about Edwards’ intro. Everyone is exposed to destruction, which can come quite unexpectedly. Sometimes people bring destruction upon themselves. Whether we find ourselves in the midst of destruction from without or destruction from within, we have a Savior who came to seek and save the lost (Greek – destroyed).
Now, regarding “Their fall would take place at a God-appointed, specific time” I have two reasons to believe this is true. First, God knows the end from the beginning. God sees our mistakes before we make them. Second, I have witnessed firsthand the practical application of this concept.
I knew someone who believed God had given him the verse “no weapon turned against you will succeed” as a personal promise. I witnessed God’s hand of protection on him. Sometimes, I marveled at the grace of God, because this guy was good at making enemies. But then something happened that made me realize his destruction was immanent — not that God was about to break His promise, though. A weapon turned against him would not succeed, but he was becoming his own weapon, like he had his own internal ticking bomb. And at the appointed time, God lifted His protection, and boom!
None of us is above falling falling down the slippery slope of moral failure. Thankfully, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The irony of Jesus’ words often go unnoticed. Who among the human race is not in need of a Savior?
Edwards says, “one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall.” This is so true. The part that we must never forget, though, is that the whole world is a slippery slope and every single one of us slips and falls. Let’s not stand up, covered with mud, and look around in judgment, saying, “Well, at least I didn’t fall as far as that one.”
Nearly everyone can recollect the first falsehood, the first profane word, the first dishonest act, after they have reached depths of depravity of which they never dreamed. (J.O. Peck, D.D.)
The problem with Edwards’ intro is that he takes the idea of destruction, within the context of unbelieving Israel, and equates it with eternal torment in hell. This is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin.
But begin I will… next week.