Lord, we are aware that one day we will leave this world.
Read DEUTERONOMY 31:1–13
Joshua to Succeed Moses
31 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ 3 The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. 4 And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 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.”
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Public Reading of the Law
9 So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
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.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psa. 139:7). Take time to quiet your heart and be fully present in God’s presence.
Moses, that great father-figure, who has led the people out of Egypt and accompanied them through all the ups and downs of four decades, is not going to cross over with them into the Promised Land (2). The children of Israel will surely miss Moses: his rock-solid presence, his wise counsel, his patience, his prayers, his sermons, perhaps even his perpetual scolding! Years before, Moses pleaded with God: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Exod. 33:15). “Presence is a delicious word, because it points to one of our truly great gifts. Nothing else can take the place of presence, not gifts, not telephone calls, not pictures, not mementos, nothing” (Gordon Fee, Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God, 9).
Though poised for death, Moses holds out words of hope. Despite Moses’ absence, God will be ever present. God will be directing them, crossing over ahead of them, preparing their way to take possession of the land (3–5). His will not be a distant presence, delivering them from afar, but rather a personal presence, continually with them through perils and problems, fears and frustrations, as they press forward to claim their inheritance (6,8). A little boy once huddled under the sheets during a storm: “Why were you so scared? God loves you,” said Mum, as she hugged him. He whispered, “But I needed someone with skin on.” In Joshua (3,7,8), God will provide someone with “skin on” to lead his people into the Promised Land.
At the incarnation God’s promise of presence was clothed in flesh, becoming Immanuel, God with us, a God with “skin on,” One greater than Joshua who came to eternally save his people. Before his ascension, Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Post-Pentecost, God is personally and powerfully present within every believer by the Holy Spirit.
“Spirit divine, attend our prayers; / Make this lost world your home; / Descend with all your gracious powers; / O come, great Spirit, come!” (Andrew Reed, 1787–1862).
Lord, Your people thank You for Your presence as You continue to lead and guide us through thick and thin every day.
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