I’m continuing to read the Bible through in 90 days. I’m something like 18% done already. Woo hoo!
I finished Joshua today and am onto Judges.
What I noticed is that at the end of Deuteronomy, Moses dies. The transfer of power to Joshua is complete. There is now a Levitical priesthood, the religious order, which is separated from the government of the people, headed up by Josh.
Joshua and his people, now a nation of warriors, get to complete the task of conquering the occupying nations and taking possession.
As I think back on Moses’ life, I can only marvel. Set adrift on the Nile as tiny baby, collected by Pharoah’s daughter and raised in the Egyptian court, he arose to become a humble yet powerful leader of God’s chosen people. He and Aaron interceded for the people numerous times whenever the tribes’ complaining incited God’s wrath. He fasted and prayed for 40 days at a time – twice! Who else would? Who else would be able to be in God’s presence, day and night, without sinning? Moses was not perfect. He had a temper (remember he broke the first set of stone tablets) and his fatal mistake at Meribah Kadesh (Num. 20:11-13) excluded him from inheriting any part of the new territory. Yet, without Moses, where would the Israelites be? Still wandering in the desert? In the same way, it’s important to honor the leaders God puts over us. They’re not perfect, either, but they will do their best.
Most of Deuteronomy is Moses telling the Israelites exactly what God wants from them in several points of the law and worship. It’s a monologue. To us, it might seem kind of oppressive and overbearing. But it’s all written down for them. Under Moses, it was a theocracy. Moses interacted directly with God and the people did what Moses told them to do. This seems to be part of the Israelites “growing up”, from little children in slavery, to teenagers, and eventually adults able to look after themselves in their new land.
I submit to you that Moses was a father figure to the Israelites, representing God’s holiness and mercy in the flesh. Deuteronomy 34:10 says: But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. I wonder if Joshua trembled in his sandals at the thought of taking up where Moses left off.
Moses died. The children of Israel mourned him 30 days. Moses died on Mt. Nebo, a vantage point where he could see the entire land of Canaan. He gets to see all the land God promised Jacob but never sets foot in it. I read in a commentary footnote that in ancient times, that “to see it with your own eyes” was a symbol of acquisition by which property became legally that of the viewer (Gen. 13:14-15). So Moses accepted ownership of the Promised Land from God on behalf of all Israel. How gracious God is!
Here’s a perspective using today’s country borders