Saturday, June 1, 2024

God Goes Before Us

Deuteronomy 31:1-8

Do you like change?  Some people do, but many do not, including myself.  I can deal with it, but for the most part, unless the way it’s been is totally not right, I’d rather things not change.  However, throughout life there are going to be changes, and we need to face them without fear.  New leaders will come and go, whether in the political world or the business world.  We might have to adjust to a new boss who brings changes to how some things are done.  The pastor or priest that we have grown to love and depend on may be called to a new location.  Even in our families, there comes change which we may not like, but have to deal with.  A beloved spouse dies, and we have to continue on without them.  An adult child that we might count on for help or companionship, decides to move out, maybe gets married, and we have to adjust without them.  Are we going to panic or fall to pieces in these changes?  Our Scripture today tells the account of a very big change that occurred with the people of Israel, and how they were to deal with it.

As our Scripture opens, the people of Israel were on the eastern side of the Jordan River, and they would soon be ready to cross the river and take the land that had been promised to them by the Lord God, the land which He had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be theirs and their descendants.  For the past forty years they had been in the wilderness, and Moses had been their leader.  He had been their only leader since the days right prior to their crossing the Red Sea and escaping bondage in Egypt.  Most of them couldn’t even remember a time when Moses wasn’t there.  Now, just when they were preparing to cross the Jordan and take the Promised Land, Moses told them that he would not be going over with them (vs. 1-2).  What?!  How could they possibly go over and conquer the Canaanites and other nations without Moses and his leadership?  They will surely fail!  A fear and panic spread among the people.

Why couldn’t Moses go across the Jordan and be a part of their taking the Promised Land?  After all the years and trials he went through with the people of Israel during the forty years in the wilderness, it would seem to all be pointing to this moment, a triumphant moment for Moses.  However, the Lord told him he could not cross over with them because of his sin at the waters of Meribah where he disobeyed God’s command (Numbers 20:2-13).  We need to be careful in giving God our complete obedience, as one seemingly small act of disobedience can have tremendous consequences, including removing from us great blessings, like with Moses being allowed to enter the Promised Land.

God, though, was not going to leave the people on their own.  He did not bring them out of Egypt, and all through the wilderness, just to dump them on the border and say they now had to fend for themselves!  God had provided them with Joshua, who would be their next leader (vs. 3).  And though Joshua would be the new human leader, it was the Lord Himself who was the real leader and the real power.

As mentioned, Moses had been the leader of the people of Israel for forty years.  Now he told them that he would be dying, and would not actually lead them into the Promised Land.  The people were afraid and fearful, and he, like the loving leader he had been, gave them encouragement (vs. 6).  Their new leader, Joshua, also needed encouragement, for he was apprehensive about stepping into the shoes of someone like Moses.  Moses told them all not to be afraid.

God’s Word gives us a great truth that should sustain us no matter what happens. The Lord God is the One who goes with us.  We don’t have to face our trials by ourselves.  Leaders and loved ones may come and go but Jesus is always right there with us.  We don’t have to be afraid.  God is with us, and he will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5).  God is committed to us.  He always works in our best interests.

We may face uncertainty about what lies ahead in life, and then become fearful.  Life can be full of trouble, but we can have confidence in God.  Some situations may seem hopeless.  However, as believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are in good hands (vs. 8).  God’s knowledge exceeds ours.  With Jesus as our Helper, our fear can give way to a sense of peace and security.  We can trust Him in all things.  No matter what obstacle we face, He has already made a path through it for us .  We just need to keep our eyes on Jesus, and He will lead us in the very best way possible.

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