Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 1-5
Have you ever anticipated something for a long time? Then you get to that moment and someone makes you pause for a moment of reflection. Have you felt the anticipation of what is about to happen and the anxiety of something delaying that moment you have been waiting for?
Christmas morning – you see the gifts piled up but wait, it’s time to read the Christmas story and thank God for how generous He has been. You struggle to listen despite the anticipation of what hides under the beautiful wrapping paper!
You have been driving for three hours to get to the amusement park. You are finally through the gate and you can hear the screams of those fortunate enough to already be on the roller coaster. But wait! We have to pose for a quick picture by the park sign before we ride the rides. But wait! We need to decide where we are going to meet and at what time.
Consider those hot summer days. All morning you look forward to going to the local pool. Your mother took FOREVER to finish all she wanted to accomplish before loading the car but now you are finally standing at the edge of the beautiful blue water. But wait! You need sunscreen applied…let the sunscreen dry first…you just ate lunch, you should probably let your stomach rest for a few minutes before you swim…UGH!
I wonder if this is what the Israelites were feeling as they stood between the desert they had wandered in for so long and the beautiful Promised Land of Canaan. After defeating King Og of Bashan and King Sihon of the Amorites, while camped east of the Jordan River in the Land of Moab, Moses took the time to address the people he had led this far. What could have taken eleven days had taken forty years due to the Israelites disobedience. Moses reminded the people of what God had done for them and of the covenant relationship He had entered into with His people.
The majority of the book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ last speech to the Israelites before handing leadership over to Joshua. He starts by looking back over his time with God’s people, reminding them of God’s faithfulness to them through some of the hardest times. First he reminds them of the previous moment when God said it was time for them to go into the Promised Land and take possession of it.
Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. – Deuteronomy 1:29-33
In response to this lack of faith and obedience, God’s people wandered for 40 years but God did not abandon them:
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has WATCHED OVER your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has BEEN WITH YOU and you have not lacked anything. – Deuteronomy 2:7
Moses continues his speech to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 4:3…
“You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did…” Now obey! This is the main theme of his message. “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember…” Deuteronomy 4:9-10a
There will be tough times ahead of you, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Moses’ strong desire was that history would not repeat itself – that Israel would learn from their past mistakes and move forward in righteousness and faithfulness to their covenant relationship with God. He reminded them of the 10 Commandments and then gave them this very wise advice:
“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” – Deuteronomy 4:39
“So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” – Deuteronomy 5:32-33
Dear God, we thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for the times in our lives when you have carried us as a father carries his child. We praise you for those times when you have made us pause – when you have gone ahead of us in our journey, preparing the way and directing us down the right path. Your plan has never been for us to fear but always for us to trust in your provision. Thank you for watching over us, for remaining with us even when we struggled to trust you, and for your provision. We have not lacked for anything!
Abba Father, we thank you for being a God who is there for us – a God we find every time we seek you with all our heart and with all our soul. Lord, we patiently wait in anticipation of what you have next for us. Give us courage through the unknowns and patience in the waiting. We choose to walk in your way today, to remain in a covenant relationship with you. Guide us into your perfect plan, we pray. Amen.