“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (31:6)
Deuteronomy is Moses’s farewell address to the Israelites as he transfers power to Joshua just before he dies. Excluded from the promised land, he reflects on God’s call and provision as he led the people out of bondage to the edge of the promised land. The importance and blessing of keeping the covenant is set in contrast to the curse that will follow disobedience. His impassioned plea is accompanied with a reminder of the faithfulness and love of God towards his people in all circumstances. God allows Moses to see the promised land from the mountain top before he dies, completing his mission from Egypt to Canaan.
I stand at a distance on the edge of the promised land.
How long until my people squander their inheritance?
The promise is great.
I remember our failings.
I fear their future.
Which face shall they see?
Will you shelter them in your arms with a blessing;
Or execute justice with a curse?
430 years in Egypt erased the memory of Canaan.
Exile tamed them through trials, signs, wonders, and fearsome power.
The law chastised.
The word spoke through fire.
I saw your glory pass over and met you face to face.
It is not our righteousness
but the wickedness of nations that opens the land before us.
Lest we take credit for victory,
Remind us of the sacrifice.
God’s faithfulness supplants our doubt.
Seek out a remnant to give voice to resistance.
Let your power rest on those who trust in you.
My mission complete,
We shall meet again on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The painting is from Mindi Oaten’s “Garden of Grace Collection.” The writing is by Elaine Knudtson