Moses died.

Deuteronomy—and particularly the end of that book—is one of my favorite sections of the Bible. I find it fascinating.

Moses is THE man of God. THE prophet. Even the end of Deuteronomy says that there’s never been a prophet in Israel since him. No one since has seen God’s face.

(Now, Jesus changes all of this, but that’s another story.)

But what’s so fascinating about Deuteronomy is that Moses knows he’s going to die, and this is his “curtain call.” He is LITERALLY standing on the edge of the land of Canaan, the “Promised Land,” and Israel is about to enter.

But not him.

Because of a lack of judgment, a bad decision, etc., Moses will not be entering in with the people. God has told him that he will die on the border.

I try to put myself in Moses’ shoes: I’d be so angry and hurt. Faithful for how long: 40 years? 50?

Confronting Pharaoh, THE leader of THE super power…

Leading people out of slavery with no plan or map except YHWH will go with us…

Adminstering justice to an entire people…

Navigating years in the wilderness…

But God says, “no.”

To my mind, this simply isn’t fair.

My world doesn’t work this way.

I wonder if Moses railed against God. I wonder if he second guessed him. I wonder if he went to Lifeway and bought books about discerning God’s will because, “This just doesn’t make any sense.”

I wonder if decided (a la the prosperity gospel) that he just didn’t have enough faith. Did he send some money to Osteen to show that he really did believe?

I guess not.

In what’s one of the most amazing passages in the Bible, God guides Moses up the mountain and he gets a vision of “the whole land” that Israel will possess.

(Israel doesn’t even get this vision of the whole land; human perspective doesn’t allow for that.)

But then Moses—in defiance of our “bigger and better ministry”; the prosperity gospel; the idea that we always see the trend line go up and to the right—lays down and dies.

He is “gathered to his ancestors”. (What a beautiful phrase.)

Moses’ acceptance and submission of his reality is an amazing challenge to me. I think of how much I am attached too, the results that I think I “must” have.

The story of Moses reminds me that I may not see the end of many (any?) of the stories I write. And that’s okay.

PS Deuteronomy 34 tells us that the LORD—YHWH himself—buries Moses. What a statement of intimacy and friendship!

I guess in the end, Moses doesn’t get to see the “mission” completed, but the relationship he has with his God stays intact and thriving to the very end.

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Stop Worrying…

Note: My first ever iPad-only post, and I’m still learning… I’ll fix the links when I get back home… 

An atheist organization started this bus campaign in England.  Frankly, I’m not too hung up on arguing or “evangelizing” them (how can you make “good news” good to those who don’t want to hear it?!?)

For those of us who’d claim some faith, however, I’d recast their slogan this way: There is a God, now stop worrying and get on with your life.

Though God’s ways are sometimes strange and difficult to understand, I am coming to believe that God’s love somehow overflows to us, for us.

Consider Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 30:

Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and eath, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

All Wham! references aside, two things jump out at me:

  1. Moses seems to practically beg Israel to “get it right”… The tone in this passage is such that you get the feeling that God (through Moses) is just cheering on his people to make the right decisions so that they can have a life of fullness and peace. Even when Moses cautions the people, he doesnt’ say, “God will destroy you; he says you will be destroyed.
  2. Relatedly, God doesn’t call Israel to worry about his love; He maintains, “make this decision then get on with life. I am for you, and for your descendants. There’s a good life waiting for you; just get the foundations right and then stop worrying.

What does it mean that God is inclined towards us, cheering us on to obedience and life?

Remember

Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

I used to read about how worship was about “remembering”.

I disagreed.

I didn’t like that language. To me, at the time, worship was about passion, intensity… Tears, repentance, joy.

The list went on and on; I preferred words like that over “flat-line” words like “remember.”

I mean, I remember to get milk from the store; I remember to pick up a pen before I leave for work (no really, I do).

I wanted worship to be more about “remembering.” I wanted it to be like … well…

A Rage Against the Machine Concert…

… Or … what was that band from Ireland?

THAT was what I wanted worship to feel like.

(and yes, EVERY Sunday)

But this weekend I reconsidered.

To put it bluntly, worship is absolutely based on remembrance: of our salvation, of the things God has done for us.

If it’s not, it’s idolatry.

Harsh, I know, but if worship isn’t grounded in the acts of God, than we are either making up things up or worshiping “worship.”

And that adds up to idolatry.

It’s easy to sing songs; it’s not too difficult to get people to sing with you  (well, some Sundays it is).

But that’s not the point.

Over and over, God tells people to “remember” how He set them free from slavery, and brought them through the wilderness to the land that He promised them. He could’ve put on an amazing light show; he could’ve parted the sea (again)…

… He probably could even have played “Fix You” (just to get ’em all crying and to show how relevant He is).

But He didn’t. He just said, “Remember that I’ve done this thing for you and for my mission in the world. That tells you everything you need to know about me.

The point is to get people to remember their salvation, and to thank God for it, and to remind themselves what He is capable of, what His character is.

That’s a bit harder.