Lord, take me to Your eternal promised land.
Read DEUTERONOMY 1:1–18
The Command to Leave Horeb
1 These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. 2 (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.)
3 In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the Lord had commanded him concerning them. 4 This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.
5 East of the Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses began to expound this law, saying:
6 The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”
The Appointment of Leaders
9 At that time I said to you, “You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. 10 The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky. 11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! 12 But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? 13 Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”
14 You answered me, “What you propose to do is good.”
15 So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. 16 And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. 17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.” 18 And at that time I told you everything you were to do.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart; / Naught be all else to me, save that thou art” (Eleanor Hull, 1860–1935).
On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a stirring speech at Memphis: “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop… And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!” On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated. But his vision lives on.
Visionaries are not misty-eyed dreamers from cloud-cuckoo-land. On the contrary, they possess that rare clarity that cuts through the haze to see things as they really are and then how they should and could be. Moses proclaims God’s glorious vision (8)—the vision that has shaped Moses’ vocation (Exod. 3,4), the vision he patiently and passionately has pursued for forty years. Mountaintops were, typically, places of divine revelation. Horeb (6)—also called Sinai—recalled God’s covenant with Israel, but the “all Israel” (1) which Moses addresses has not (except for Caleb and Joshua) collectively experienced that mountaintop moment in their history. So, before Moses dies (Deut. 34:5), he must pass on the vision, ensuring that the vision does not die with him.
In the Hebrew Bible the opening sentence, “These are the words” (1) is the book’s title—an apt title, since Deuteronomy consists almost entirely of Moses’ speeches. On the threshold of the Promised Land, Moses utters many, many words and infuses them with great passion, as he pours his heart into ensuring that the people are enthused, expectant, and energized—not by Moses’ vision, but by God’s. Although the words come from Moses (1), the message is God’s (3). “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint” (Prov. 29:18). In Deuteronomy—literally “second law”—Moses recasts God’s revelation for the new generation.
What old truths need fresh expression today? How can you do this creatively and compellingly, while remaining faithful to the truth? Who needs to hear this message?
Lord, put a modern-day Moses in our midst to remind us of where we have been and to encourage us toward where we are to go.