Friday 25 November 2016

Bible Book:

“Take to heart all the words that I am giving … This is no trifling matter for you, but rather your very life.” (vv. 46-47)

Deuteronomy 32:44-52 Friday 25 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 57


This passage sums up Moses' legacy to Israel - the law and asong. It also explains why Moses did not himself enter the promisedland of Canaan.

Verse 44 refers to the Song of Moses in verses1-43. Verse 45-47, however, relate to Moses' recitation of thelaw in Deuteronomy 31:28 (which itself is analternative story to Moses writing down the law and makingprovision, every seventh year, for it to be read aloud, in Deuteronomy 31:9-13).

Moses' burial place was unknown (Deuteronomy 34:6). Here, at verses 48-49,Moses' final act is to climb Mount Nebo, on the eastern side of theriver Jordan, opposite Jericho. (In Deuteronomy 3:27, the mountain is referred toas Pisgah; in 34:1 the two names are alternates.) Aaron diedon Mount Hor (verse 50), whose location is also uncertain.

Israel always found it puzzling that, after all Moses had donefor them, he did not set foot in Canaan. The author of Deuteronomykeeps returning to the point (Deuteronomy 3:23-29; 4:21; 31:2; 34:4). A bitlike the puzzle of why Churchill, the successful war leader, wasnot elected prime minister in the immediate aftermath of World War2.

Verse 51 refers to Meribath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin.The very mention of this place triggers a deep and powerful memoryin Israel's story. Here the people of Israel, during their 40-yearwandering in the wilderness, lost their nerve. They could no longertrust God to care for them. So they moaned because they weredesperately short of water. Moses and Aaron are held to account forthe people's lack of faith. They are implicitly criticised for notsaying to the people: 'Trust God; God will provide'. Instead theytook the people's complaints to God, who then miraculouslyintervened to bring water out of a rock (Numbers 20:2-13). God's judgement on Moses andAaron explains why they were allowed to see the promised land butnot to enter it.

To Ponder

  • The Book of Deuteronomy puts much emphasis on the interiorlife: 'taking to heart' the words of God's law - learning andmemorising it, and trusting God's love through thick and thin. Howmuch, in your experience, is that at the core of the Church's life?In the midst of difficult meetings, and complaints about the choiceof hymns and music in worship, how can the Church recover thisemphasis?
  • Life is often cut short before a person's story reaches a'natural' conclusion or before they achieve something to which theyhave devoted much energy and care. How do you make sense of suchevents? To what extent does the story of the death of Jesushelp? 
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