Last Shabbat we finished the reading of the book of Numbers and we are now starting the book of Deuteronomy. The Greek word “deutero” means second and the word “nomos” means law. In short, in all languages other than Hebrew, this is the meaning of the word “Deuteronomy” = the second giving of the Torah (law).
This coming Shabbat we read from Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22, and from the Prophets we read Isaiah 1:1-27 and from the New Testament we read 1 Timothy 3:1-7. All these readings are hard to digest emotionally and spiritually and intellectually.
Let us take Moses, beside Yeshua the greatest prophet and leader of the people of God. He had invested 80 years of his life to bring the children of Israel out of bondage and slavery. He has been a prince of Egypt for 40 years living in one of the most luxurious palaces in human history. The word luxurious came from the city of Luxor – where Moses was raised in the palace of the Pharaoh.
If you haven’t visited Egypt I suggest that in a few years when the coronavirus settles and the economies of the world also settle down, that Netivyah plan a special grand prayer and study tour with academic authorities from Israel, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt.
If Syria and Lebanon will be opened by that time we ought to include these countries as well. It will be a grand tour, of 21 days to first pray for these countries and the salvation of their people. Second it will be a tour to celebrate the histories of these countries and see the hand of God moving in their histories.
Third it will be for the inspiration and education and celebration of God’s work in human history that started in this part of the world and will end in this part of the world. I would say that an addition to all of the above will be the encouragement and motivation for each participant to make disciples for the King and for His eternal kingdom, Yeshua the king of the Jews and all the Gentiles.
Now, Moses was raised in Luxor for 40 years. He then spent 40 years doing what the Egyptians considered the most abominable job possible, shepherding of sheep. The last 40 years of his life he led a rabble of hundreds of thousands, yes around 2,000,000 ex-slaves, through one of the harshest deserts in the world, the Sinai Desert. Now Moses is about to go up Mount Nebo, and die a physical death.
The book of Deuteronomy is Moses last and longest speech to the people of Israel and to the world. The book of Deuteronomy is sad from the beginning and sad in the end. It is sad but very important. The sadness is not ours, it is Moses’ – He begs the Lord in next week’s reading that starts with the word “Va’etchanan”:
“Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying: ‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’ But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.’” – Deuteronomy 3:23-26 [NKJV]
Please consider that this Moses is the same Moses to whom the Lord himself revealed His character:
“Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.’” – Exodus 34:5-6 [NKJV]
I am sad for Moses not entering into the land that he waited 40 years to enter, but I am more sad for the answer he received from the Lord God of Israel who is “merciful and gracious and longsuffering…”
How would I feel if the Lord would deny me something that I have worked for and labored for so long? How would you feel? My sadness is mitigated by the fact that I know that I am only a servant of flesh and blood and that God is the master and father and creator of the universe, and I trust that He knows what is right and wrong and what is best for me!
This is the only mitigating factor in this situation, and it was good enough for Moses and it ought to be good enough for us when God tells us “No!” The end of Moses’ speech (that would take at least three hours to deliver on the plains of Moab in the spring of the year, without air conditioning and probably sitting on the ground and not on chairs or benches.
The end is also very sad, even sadder than the beginning of the book of Deuteronomy. Here is what God said to Moses and to Joshua before Moses goes up the mountain to die:
“And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, “Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?” And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.’” – Deuteronomy 31:16-18 [NKJV]
How much sadder can it be than this, when a man’s career looks like a total failure after years of suffering and investment? God tells Moses that the nation that He invested his life for will actually do these terrible things and God will have to “hide His face” from them.
This means that God will ignore them and their needs and their communication will not go up even above the ceiling of their homes. Just to end this with a positive note. Read Ezekiel 39:22-27 and you will understand that in the end all will be good and all Israel will be saved (See Romans 11:25-27) and that God will restore Israel and reveal His face to them!
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.