3/13/2016 9:38:56 AM
A Reflection on Deuteronomy 34 and the end of the Torah
The first five books of the bible, otherwise known at the Torah, begins with the creation of the Earth and ends with today's first reading. Moses, after leading the people out of slavery from Egypt, stands on a mountain overlooking the Promised Land. The Israelites, gathered below, are preparing to cross the Jordan river to begin their settling and conquest of this new land. For 40 years, they wandered the wilderness, with no place to call home. But after tribulations and trials (some they caused, others inflicted on them), a new generation is about to complete what their parents started. Moses' work is complete and he dies. God buries Moses in a place no one else knows, solidifying their relationship and ending any chance that people might worship Moses rather than the God who Moses always pointed to. The Israelites are now, according to the narrative, ready for what comes next.
So are we ready for what comes next?
Now, I don't necessarily mean ready for what happens when we die, even though "what comes next" can be used in that way. I'm really wondering if we're ready for whatever we have on our mind. It can be as simple as going out to brunch after church with friends to doing yard work to prepare our lawn for Spring. We might be worried about a history test this week, next week, or final exams in May and June. A medical test might be on the horizon or we might be thinking about making a career transition or trying something new. For whatever is on our mind, whatever makes us anxious, are we ready for whatever comes?
Moses dies before he sees the challenges that the Israelites will face. He doesn't know what will happen to them next. His anxiety, which we hear throughout Deuteronomy, is palpable. He is concerned but he's also hopeful. Moses has his faith. He's experienced God active in his life. Moses hasn't been perfect but he knows that he belongs to God and God belongs to him. His relationship with God doesn't remove his anxiety but his relationship with God lets Moses not be defined or limited by his anxiety. The next step in the journey is about to happen. It's time to step into the future with boldness because God is with them.