Snapshots: Day 98
The Snapshot: “the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert.” (Deut 1:1) On the plains of Moab (1:5 & 34:1,8) Moses paused up. He’s near the end of his journey. The people will shortly enter the Land but he won’t. It is a significant time. Deuteronomy is the long record of his instructions to Israel there on the plains (except for ch.34 added by another recorder). At the end of it, he declared to them, “They are not just idle words for you – they are your life.” A book full of exhortations to obey the Lord, reject idol worship, and live for God. They could never say they weren’t told. A blueprint for a nation blessed by God, but the trouble is blueprints get lost and forgotten. Israel forgot that. We have our New Testament; may we never forget this blueprint for blessing.
Further Consideration: In some ways Deuteronomy is quite repetitious with similar sounding calls to obedience coming and calls to keep from idol worship, and so on, but we need repetition if we are to remember things. I teach a group about strengthening memory and of course the use of repetition is one such way, so don’t be put off by reading the same things more than once – we need that!
I wonder how Moses felt on the plains of Moab as he taught Israel over a number of days. His memory clearly went back to the times of their failures because we see him reminding Israel of them in the early chapters. We need reminding of such times, if for no other reason than to remind us what not to do again. It also reminds us how gracious God is for putting up with us. Yet in the midst of that there is the warning of being held accountable. Many lessons.
So perhaps Moses is very much aware of how vulnerable Israel are to getting it wrong and so he keeps on saying the same thing to try to get them to get the message to obey God in the new land. But at that point he has the recognition that he will not be going in with them. He has a date with God in heaven, so they will be going in without him. Mixed emotions surely. Regret at having blown it at the rock? Regret at not going in, perhaps? Or maybe relief that he’s come to the end of his road with Israel. It has often been a tough time and he’s now 120, it’s now time to go home. I wonder if he felt like the apostle Paul felt centuries later: “The time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:6,7)
Yes, probably a mixed bag of emotions, but whatever they were he remained faithful to his task of shepherding and guiding Israel so that there on the plains as his time draws near to leave, he pours his heart out for this people to remain faithful. What an example!