Deuteronomy 31:1-32:27; Luke 12:8-34; Psalm 7832-55; Proverbs 12:21-23
When you were reading today’s Old Testament passage, did you feel sorry for Moses? I’ve always felt a little bad for that guy – here he leads a people out of slavery and into the wilderness, where they complain and disobey for FORTY YEARS and then just as they are finally about to head into the Promised Land, God tells Moses that he won’t be going. Remember why? We read about it on March 13th – as Sarah told us in this post here, Moses takes matters into his own hands (and attempts to take the glory) to solve the Israelites’ complaints about a lack of water.
So right on the literal edge of the Promised Land, Moses is reminded that he won’t go into the land flowing with milk and honey because of this past (seemingly small?) indiscretion. How fair is that? But then as I read a bit further in today’s passage I began to wonder if perhaps Moses wasn’t a little bit relieved. We read in Deuteronomy 31:16 that the “people will rise up and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering.” After all God has done, after all they have seen, after walking victoriously into a land with vineyards they didn’t plant, houses they didn’t build, wells they didn’t dig – after all of that, they will still turn their backs on God. Not just a little – they prostitute themselves out to other gods. Scripture doesn’t tone down what they do and we can’t either. It’s graphic and it’s terrible. They rebel against the one true God and chase after lies and idolatry. Yeah, I can see how Moses might prefer to go on to God’s good presence rather than walk one more day among those people.
And yet, Moses still commissions Joshua with a beautiful blessing for leadership. Moses doesn’t forget that even though he himself is going to be with God, Joshua will be leading in his place. Moses tells him, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Dt. 31:7b-8). And did you notice how Moses did this? “In the sight of all Israel” (Dt. 31:7a). That’s the way to pass the mantle, so that everyone knows Joshua has the authority and Moses’ blessing.
I tell you, Moses has class. He’s at the end of a long life that wasn’t always easy – adopted as a child into the palace of the Pharaoh; raised as a prince, but then forced to run away because of a crime committed to save one of his own people; called into leadership at the age of 80, when he had to return to his adopted family’s house and bring great tragedy upon them; then asked to lead a rebellious and complaining people through the desert for 40 years – and at the end of it all, he passes the torch onto Joshua with such grace and style that it’s truly an inspiration for leaders everywhere.
Well, naptime is almost over and I hear my youngest stirring. I didn’t get to spend the time I would have liked on the Luke reading, which is such a comfort and a challenge at the same time. Imagine our God, caring so intimately for us, clothing us, feeding us, providing for all our needs. Thank you, Lord! And also, what a call to trust in him and not worry for our needs but rather “seek his kingdom and these things will be added to us” (Lk. 12:31). Help me to live into this exhortation.
And what about the beautiful symmetry of the Psalms passage, which also recounts the rebellion of the Israelites and God’s great compassion and mercy on them?
So much good stuff, so little time! I’m so grateful for the One Year Bible and for this journey we are on together.
- Esther McCurry
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