Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 31-34
Today we finish up the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible. This last month has given us a great opportunity to picture God’s relationship with humankind – from the Garden of Eden to crossing over into the Promised Land. He has clearly laid out how to enter into a covenant relationship and what will break that covenant relationship. We have a choice. If we truly love God, obedience will flow from that love relationship.
“When you go out to fight your enemies and face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, is with you.” – Deuteronomy 20:1
Moses told the people that he would not be going with them into the promised land but that God would be with them. In fact, not only was God going with them, He was also going before them. As he handed leadership over to Joshua, he gave them words of encouragement to be strong and courageous.
“The Lord will destroy the nations living in the land, just as he destroyed Sihon and Og…So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them…Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” – Deuteronomy 31:4-8
Then the Lord commissioned Joshua son of Nun with these words: “Be strong and courageous, for you must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you.” – Deut. 31:23
The reason Moses would not be going with them into Canaan was because he did not fully obey God’s instructions. When God told him to speak to the rock to make water flow, Moses struck the rock instead. I find it ironic that God gave Moses a song to sing and teach the people in his last moments – a song that speaks of a different kind of rock. The song warned the people that they would again abandon God and God would again respond to their disobedience. His hope was that they would know their fate and choose life instead of death.
“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak!
Hear, O earth, the words that I say!
Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew.
Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants.
I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God!
He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.
Everything he does is just and fair.
He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!
“But they have acted corruptly toward him; when they act so perversely, are they really his children?…
They abandoned the God who made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation…
The Lord saw this and drew back, provoked to anger by his own sons and daughters.
He said, ‘I will abandon them; then see what becomes of them.
For they are a twisted generation, children without integrity…
Israel is a senseless nation; the people are foolish, without understanding.
Oh, that they were wise and could understand this!
Oh, that they might know their fate!
How could one person chase a thousand of them, and two people put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the Lord had given them up?
But the rock of their enemies is not like our Rock, as even they recognize…
Indeed, the Lord will give justice to his people, and he will change his mind about his servants, when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free.
Then he will ask, ‘Where are their gods, the rocks they fled to for refuge?…
Look now; I myself am he!
There is no other god but me!… – Deut. 32:1-5,15,19-20,28-31,36-39
Then Moses went up to Mount Nebo where he could see all of Canaan to the east. The Lord showed him the land he had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then Moses died, just as the Lord had said he would, and the Lord buried him in a valley but to this day no one knows the exact place. Moses was strong and his eyesight was clear when he died (34:1-7). The same Moses who had argued with God when called, who questioned his own ability to be used by God, and who had a moment of trusting more in his own strength than in God’s word – this Moses had an intimate relationship with God like no other man had ever had.
There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharoah, and all his servants, and his entire land. With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel. – Deut. 34:10-12
Thank you for being a personal and intimate God! Thank you for your grace and mercy that picks us up when we fall and gives us new opportunities to be used for your purposes. Father God, we praise you for your steady and faithful presence in our lives. May we see moments today when you make us strong and courageous, trusting in the Rock that goes before us and is with us. May it be said of us when we die that we had a personal relationship with the Rock of our Salvation! Amen.