Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land ~ Exodus 23:30
God telling Moses that He will send an angel ahead of him to prepare the way and bring the Israelites to the promised land, stresses on the procedure in occupying the land- little by little. For the all-powerful God known for big things and who can make anything happen at the snap of the finger, He somehow prefers to do things little by little. He is the God of big things and little things- the God of all things. When He does things little by little, it is not because He is unable to do things all at once, but because we are not able to possess things that He has in store for us all at once. In the age of instant and ready-made things, we surely would not prefer anything to be done in bits, especially not little by little. We want the more and more. Quick and quick. Now and now.
The land promised to the Israelites was already occupied and I wondered, why wouldn’t God just give them an uninhabited land where they can settle without having to draw their swords, struggle, fight then come to rest? The Lord subtly responded, ‘participation’. When we receive promises from God, we think that they will appear magically on our laps, all at once. As good as that may sound, God knows the danger in that and tells Moses of the nations already occupying the land, ‘But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become too desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you’(v29).
In all matters, God goes before us to prepare the way, and ours is to advance at His command. It is a collaboration and neither can the order be reversed. It is God leading and us following. Our advancement in whatever form is done in steps, because as we are collaborating with an all-powerful God, He strengthens us weak vessels along the journey. Once we advance little by little, we gain strength little by little so that the works enemy that lie in wait can be destroyed with maximum victory and not overpower us. If the enemy were to see our strength all at once, then he would attack us and make us desolate.
Like the Israelites journey towards the promised land, our journey towards the Promised Land, towards eternity has already been paved for us by Jesus Christ who went before us. As we make our pilgrimage step by step, God drives out from before us every work of the flesh and of the enemy little by little. He replaces the flesh and the works of the enemy with His Spirit. This happens little by little so that ‘when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears’ (1 Corinthians 13:10). If He were to do it all once, it would require no participation from our end. But because God likes to collaborate with us, He knows our pace and weaknesses and thus does His works in us little by little.
God’s majesty and awe cannot be fathomed all at once, no wonder He takes us from glory to glory because as David says, ‘such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain’ (Psalms 139:6). Or like Moses who ‘could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud (God’s glory) had settled upon it, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle’ (Exodus 40:35). God desires that He dwells in us and so He draws back the curtain little by little so that we can experience Him fully. Paul writes, ‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13:12).
‘It is like precious oil being poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes’ (Psalm 133:2). Little by little, in the same way, the oil of the Spirit flows until it drenches our entire being. Or like the yeast which works little by little all through the dough (Matthew 13:33) because ‘God sometimes does His work with gentle drizzles not storms. Drip! Drip! Drip!’