readings from Deuteronomy 1-5; Moses is talking to a New Generation of Israelites; the previous generation died in the wilderness because of their disobedience. These then are the children of those who failed to go into The Promised Land. Think about for a minute – everyone above the age of 20 years old died in the Wilderness when they could have enjoyed forty years in the Promised Land! Needless to say, the children would “get in” where the parents refused to go. Moses plays the role of educator in these chapters. Moses begins with the journey to Mount Sinai not the deliverance from Egypt. Interesting since the focus of their parents was always to return to Egypt. Moses doesn’t spend a lot of time with the rebellious events of their parents, but quickly tells them [and repeatedly] about the statutes, commands, judgments and ordinances. The Law is repeated, hence the name Deuteronomy = Second Law. While 40 years has passed, the desires and Laws of the Promised Land did not change. The Laws Moses stipulated were for the necessary conquest and success in the Promised Land. The New Israel were to be a people who observed the Law of God and served Him only. Moses even recounts to them why he is not going with them – his own disobedience for striking the rock.
Moses begins telling them of the conquests on the East side of Jordan. There are three tribes that decided to live on the wrong side of the river – Reubenites, Gadites and 1/2 tribe of Manasseh. This is interesting because we are reminded of the Gadarenes story of the Lunatic man with demons. The district of Decapolis – sometimes called Gersanes. Anyway the area is on the Est side of the Sea of Galilee; when the demons were cast out of the man, they went into the herd of pigs – now how far had the tribe of Gad fallen, wrong side of the river, not in the Promise Land and herding pigs!
The victories over King of Sihon and King of Bashan are recalled, the need was for the nation of Israel to get into position for crossing over Jordan and occupying the Land. Moses reiterates the necessity to obey God and His Law – reminder of the statutes and Law are culminated in recounting the 10 Commandments. Moses was there, got the Law, and was passing on first hand that which Yahweh had written. I found it interesting that the Commands contain four verses about the keeping of the Sabbath. Great emphasis on Rest for all things, man, animals, slaves, fields etc.
Why the history lesson? As people we forget what happened in the past – and so we often times repeat the same errors. Here I think Moses was “charging up” the people to follow Joshua. He was giving them a pep rally of sorts. Being reminded of how their parents refused to go into the Land, should spur them on to take the Land God had already said was theirs.
I think of today with so many churches declining, dying or plateaued; could it be that they are a generation that will not move into the Promised Land of milk and honey that God had said was theirs for the taking? Do churches get comfortable? Yes, after a period of time, the urgency to evangelize and impact the community decreases because, the church has a building, people and money so the church becomes an end unto itself. While The Parents were anything but comfortable in the Wilderness, they tolerated the conditions of daily manna and quail over going and doing the Will of God. Does a church have to lose a generation of people before they will finally do what the Lord told them to do in the first place? How many church stare “looking over Jordan” when they could be wading through the waters to the other side?
History – we all have one, most of them are not very favorable. I find that we can ether relive history or make a New Story; which do you want to do?