A Promise That Can Change Your Life

Bible Book: Deuteronomy  33 : 25
Subject: Provision, God's; Promise; God's Promise

Please open your Bible to Deuteronomy 33. I invite your attention this morning to what I believe is one of the grandest promises in the entire Bible. It is such a brief, simple statement that we are prone to breeze right past it; yet it is a promise which, if taken to heart and seriously applied, can make a powerful--yea, profound--difference in our lives. Regardless of what might be going on in our lives--regardless of the hurts, problems, or fears we might be dealing with--if you and I will determine, by the help of God, to live in light of this brief promise, new hope and new courage will rise up within us, and we will be able to live more victoriously.

First, though, let’s look at...


The 33rd chapter of Deuteronomy, in which this wonderful promise is found, records Moses’ farewell address to the people of Israel, given a short time before his death. In that farewell address God, through Moses, gave a word of admonition and encouragement to the twelve tribes of Israel--and by virtue of the timelessness of this book, the Bible, to all people of all generations, including you and me.

As we consider the larger passage in which that promise is found. Let’s look at verses 24-27:

Verse 24: “And of Asher he said [The name “Asher” comes from a Hebrew root meaning “blessedness”], Let Asher be blessed with children [apparently Asher would be a large tribe]; let him be acceptable to his brethren [Asher would be well regarded by the other tribes of Israel], and let him dip his foot in oil.” [The area of the land inhabited by the tribe of Asher was noted for its olive groves. To dip one’s foot in oil apparently was a sign of prosperity--so it seems that God was saying, through Moses, “Asher, you will prosper.” As we shall presently see, that would definitely not be the only component of his life, but it would be one.]

Verse 25: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” I’ll come back to verse 25.

Verse 26: “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun [“Jeshurun” means “upright” or “straight.” This is another name for Israel. When the Lord changed the life of Jacob--the name “Jacob” means, literally, “trickster” or “supplanter”--he also changed his name from “Jacob” to “Israel,” which means “a prince with God.” But in a few places in the Bible--Deuteronomy 32:15, 33:5, and Isaiah 44:2--God used the name “Jeshurun” as a synonym for “Israel.” By using the name “Jeshurun”--straight, or upright--God reminds us that a crooked life can be made straight. No one need remain where and what he is--he can be changed by the power of God; thus, we should never give up hope for that loved one, that neighbor, that co-worker, that friend], who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky” [in order to help his people, our excellent, powerful God moves swiftly across the heavens--nothing hinders him].

Verse 27: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms....”

[If a person will submit himself to the Lord, he will find in him respite from the storms of life, and God will hold him up regardless of what has to be faced, and regardless of the pressures bearing down upon him.]

Now, having looked at the context of the promise, let’s look at...


Back to verse 25: The KJV says, “thy shoes shall be iron and brass.” You may have a translation with an alternate reading. The NIV translates it, “The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze.” Apparently the Hebrew text is such that either translation is possible--and the fact is that either translation makes, in principle, the same point. Let’s look at the translation, “The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze.” According to that rendering, God--through Moses--was saying, “Asher, although you will be blessed with prosperity, at the same time your enemies will attack you; they’ll try to permeate your stronghold--but you’ll withstand them, because the bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and therefore your gates will stand up against the enemy’s assaults.” For you and me, that means that however fiercely the devil attacks us, God can give us strength to resist him.

Now let’s look at the KJV translation, “thy shoes shall be iron and brass.” According to that translation God was saying, “Asher, although you will experience prosperity, it is also true that there will be times when the road of life will be rough and rocky; indeed, at times it will be so jagged and difficult to travel that you will need--figuratively speaking--shoes of iron and brass.”

But then it’s as if God were saying, “But here is a promise to sustain you in the rough times that will come”--the last part of verse 25 says, “as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” [The NIV reads: “your strength will equal your days.”]

Let that promise take hold of your mind and heart; let it really “sink in”--because two of God’s most profound truths for daily living are suggested therein. They are closely related and intertwined, but they deserve separate mention.

A. The first one is this: God’s Strength Comes to People in Daily Portions

God did not say, “as thy weeks,” or “as thy months”--he said, “as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

1. Apparently the people of Asher’s tribe had already settled the issue of placing their faith in God’s Redeemer, whose coming had been promised. They didn’t know all of the details, but the gospel in embryo had been given at the very beginning of human history, and the prophets had elaborated on it down through the centuries. Although he had not come yet, his death on the cross was just as certain as if it had already occurred. People in those days were saved by grace through faith in the eternal Christ, whose coming was--for them--future. People are saved today by grace through faith in the same eternal Christ, whose death on the cross is for us an already accomplished historical fact. There never has been but one way of salvation. So, apparently they had already settled that issue, otherwise God’s strength would not have been available to them at all. Jesus said, in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

So, life’s number one issue until it is settled is, “What will you do with Jesus?” Today, if you’ve never done so, I challenge you to repent of your sins and, in faith, to surrender yourself to him whom to know aright is life eternal. He’s the only one who can save you from eternal condemnation, give you a home in heaven, and provide you with the strength to address victoriously the challenges of life in the here and now.

2. Once you have received Christ as your Lord and Savior, then as you call upon him for strength to live as you ought, he makes that strength available in daily portions--and the clear implication of that is that GOD INTENDS, THEREFORE, THAT YOU AND I LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME. We get in big trouble when we try to do it any other way.

a. We make life really difficult when we try to take today’s God-given strength and use it to wrestle with the problems of the past. One of the devil’s most destructive strategies is to dupe you and me into fretting and worrying about our sins and blunders of days gone by. Once we’ve confessed those sins through Christ, we need to claim God’s wonderful promises concerning what he’s done with them.

Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Isaiah 38:17 says, “For thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” In Isaiah 44:22 God says, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions.” In Micah 7:19 the inspired writer said to God, “Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Once those sins have been confessed and covered by the blood of Christ, the Lord intends for us to consider them a closed chapter. We’re not to sit around berating ourselves because of past waywardness.

b. Neither are we to dissipate today’s God-given strength worrying about what may be “down the pike.” That’s an awfully easy trap to fall into, as well. God would have us to plan intelligently for the future, but then we’re to leave the future in his hands. Along that line, one of the greatest promises in the Bible is found in the book of Lamentations. I turn again and again to Lamentations 3:21-23 for my own personal encouragement. The first part of that passage reads as follows: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning....”

Just think of that! There are times when we feel that we are just about out of steam, when we feel that the wind is gone out of our sails, that we simply can’t face another day--but here in this passage we have the grand assurance that come tomorrow, God will be standing by with a fresh new supply of strength and grace that is ours for the asking.

c. So, we are not to live in the past or in the future. God’s strength comes to us in daily portions, and consequently we are to live one day at a time. Life can be managed victoriously if we will apply that simple strategy--one day at a time. Someone has said, “By the yard, life is hard. But by the inch, it’s a cinch.” That’s an overstatement, of course; life is not a “cinch”--but the basic point of the statement is true, which is that if we take life one segment, one day, at a time, it can be managed victoriously.

(1) Any temptation can be overcome if we’ll go at it that way. When I was a seminary student, one of my fellow students testified that in past years he had been an alcoholic. He had ruined his career, crushed his family, and impaired his health. But then there came a wonderful day when he repented of his sins, placed his faith in Christ, and was born again. He said that following his conversion he would start each new day by praying, “Oh, Lord, please help me, just today, to resist that awful thirst,” and at the end of the day he’d say, “Thank you, Lord, for helping me.” The next morning he wouldn’t rest on his laurels. He’s say, “Lord, help me, just for today, to have the strength to say ‘no’ to temptation,” and that night he would thank God for seeing him through the day. The next morning it was the same procedure. He became a strong, influential man of God, but it didn’t happen in one fell swoop. His conversion took place in one glorious moment and thus was the foundation laid for a life of victory--but the actual realization of that victory came one day at a time.

I don’t know what the temptations are that dog your footsteps, but everyone faces the fiery darts of Satan. No one is so far along spiritually that he doesn’t struggle every day with temptations of one kind or another. But whatever the temptation, it can be resisted if we go about it one day at a time.

(2) Further, any task--assuming that it is God’s will for you--can be accomplished if we go about it that way. Someone has said, “You can eat an elephant if you do it one bite at a time.”

(3) It is also true that any burden can be borne victoriously if we go about it one day at a time. Robert Louis Stevenson was a renowned author. He wrote Kidnapped, Treasure Island, and other works that have delighted readers down through the years. Stevenson was a devout Christian--and he was a very sick man for many years. In fact, his biographers tell us that it was while he was very ill that he wrote some of his most memorable works. Here is an excerpt from a letter that Stevenson wrote In 1893 to George Meredith, a friend:

“For fourteen years I have not had a day of real health. I have wakened sick and gone to bed weary; yet I have done my work unflinchingly. I have written in bed and out of bed, written in hemorrhages, written in sickness, written torn by coughing, written when my head swam for weakness--and I have done it all for so long that it seems to me I have won my wager and recovered my glove. Yet the battle still goes on: ill or well is a trifle so long as it goes. I was made for a contest, and the Powers-That-Be have willed that my battlefield shall be the dingy, inglorious one of the bed and the medicine-bottle.”

Stevenson believed that God had given him the talent of writing to be used for the benefit of mankind, and he was determined that no obstacle would keep him from that work. He didn’t know the meaning of the word “quit.” He once made a statement that I believe is worth sharing, considering where he was coming from. He said, “Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day.”

God’s strength comes in daily portions, and therefore he expects us to live one day at a time--and life can be lived triumphantly if we go about it in that way.

B. The Size of Each Daily Portion is Exactly Right for the Particular Day at Hand

Now, having emphasized the fact that God’s strength comes in daily portions, let me call attention to a second thing clearly implied in Deuteronomy 33:25--and that is that THE SIZE OF EACH DAILY PORTION IS EXACTLY RIGHT FOR THE PARTICULAR DAY AT HAND. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” As noted earlier, the NIV translates it like this: “Your strength will equal your days.”

That is profoundly important. As you well know, not all days are the same. Some days are rather routine; everything seems to run pretty smoothly. Ah, but then on some other days, the “bottom drops out.” The lightning flashes, the storms rage, and everything comes crashing down around you. But God has seen all of that ahead of time, and he has prepared a portion of strength for every one of those days, and each portion is just the amount needed for the particular day at hand.

Years ago Connie and I learned that a friend of ours was very ill. After extensive tests, the doctors determined that it was cancer. They frankly told this friend and his wife that the outlook was bleak--that there would likely be a long period of deterioration, during which there would be a lot of pain.

I’ll never forget what this friend’s wife said to me one day as she was trying to cope with that information. She said, “I am a Christian. I was saved many years ago. I have served the Lord, along with my husband, for a long time. But I’ll be perfectly honest with you. As I search myself, I don’t believe that I have within me the spiritual strength to face what apparently is coming.” I called her by name and said, “I’m confident that you don’t--but I’m equally confident that you will have when the time comes. God doesn’t give us today the strength for tomorrow’s challenges. He gives us today the strength we need today, and come tomorrow, he will give the amount of strength that we need then.”

Sure enough, it happened just as the doctor had predicted. It was a long, drawn out, painful ordeal, but both this friend and his wife were pillars of strength, as God’s grace was poured into their lives on a daily basis--and they were an inspiration to all who knew them. One day at a time, that’s God’s plan. As you call on him each day, the amount of strength that he gives you is just right for that particular day.


Many years ago a missionary to South Central Chile said that for five months out of every year there is no rainfall in that part of the country, and that much of that drought occurs during the crop season. Thus, the people are dependent on irrigation for the life and growth of their crops. However, they have no conventional irrigation equipment--no engines, motors, or metal or plastic pipes. Rather, they dig a network of trenches throughout their fields, beginning at the base of the snow-covered mountains close by. The missionary said that every day snow melts and runs down the sides of those mountains and trickles on out through those trenches into the fields. He said that they are always adequately watered, and never flooded. Just the right amount of snow melts and runs down each day. When I learned of that, I thought, “My, what a parable that is of the Christian life. As the believer calls on the Lord, just exactly the right amount of spiritual strength comes flowing down from the mountain peaks of God’s grace into that person’s life each day.”

“As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” We need not be overpowered by life’s reverses. If God lets us live any length of time at all, there will be burdens, there will be problems and heartaches. That is a normal part of life, just as thorns are a part of roses. But those hard times need not defeat us, because God’s strength is wonderfully adequate--and as we call on him, we can receive that strength one day at a time, in exactly the right amounts.

As emphasized already, though, that promise presupposes that you have, through repentance and faith, come to know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, because there is no salvation apart from him, and there is no access to God’s daily strength except through him.

So, if you’ve never done so, I challenge you to repent of your sins and to place your faith in the crucified, risen Christ. Respond to his great invitation, recorded in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”