Recount

The LORD’s plans prevail even when his people fail

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Read: Deuteronomy 1

In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them. (Deuteronomy 1:3)

Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either.” (Deuteronomy 1:37)

Reflect:

In Deuteronomy, Moses is recorded giving a series of sermons. I think I’ve read that there are five, but there isn’t total agreement about where each sermon begins or ends. My Bible translation (NIV 2011) does not include speech marks because the quotations are too extensive, basically being the whole book. Instead, the beginning of Moses’ first sermon is delineated with a line break.

Moses preaches these sermons before the people enter the promised land. It seems Moses’s first sermon is not chronological, but categorical in its order. He begins by recounting the major events that have brought the people to this place:

  1. God told them to leave Mt Horeb (aka Mt Sinai) and go to the promised land.
  2. Moses decided the people were “too heavy a burden for me to carry alone” (1:9) so leaders of the twelve tribes were appointed. He apparently gave no thought to the fact that God was actually carrying the burden for him. This may relate to Exodus 18:25-26, which is recorded before Moses received the law and the people left Mt Horeb.
  3. The people reached the edge of the promised land.
  4. The people asked to send spies into the land so (in similar style to point 2) twelve spies were appointed by Moses, including Caleb.
  5. The people refused to go into the promised land, grumbling in fear, despite Moses’ reassurance.
  6. The LORD refused to let Israel into the promised land.
  7. Moses blames the people because the LORD won’t let him enter the Promised Land either (even though his own disobedience was to blame, Numbers 20:6-12; again, this event is out of chronological order, but fits with a prior category topic).
  8. The people are told by the LORD to wander for 40 years.
  9. The people unsuccessfully attempt to enter the promised land and weep before the LORD.
  10. The people wander for 40 years.

This story makes me think of God’s steadfast faithfulness as he patiently waits for me to repent and fall in with his plan.

crux:

The LORD’s plans prevail even when his people fail.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Your people failed you when they refused to enter the Promised Land because they were afraid; but your plans to teach them to trust you prevailed as they wandered in the desert and ultimately as the disciples learned to trust Jesus.

Moses failed you when he struck the rock twice, dishonouring you and your miraculous provision; but your plan to be the only sovereign authority of your people prevailed with Moses’ death and ultimately with Jesus’ birth.

I have failed you many times; yet your plan to rescue me from my sins and reign as Lord over my life has prevailed with the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of your Holy Spirit.

Your plans prevail because you are in charge of the universe. Sometimes, this means your people face your judgement. Thank you for Jesus, who has faced your wrath for my sake.

Amen.

 

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