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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Deuteronomy 18:15–18

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. (NRSV)

This passage is an early prophecy that God will send an intermediary, Jesus, to help all of God’s people. It’s helpful to know what preceded this assurance.

The Israelites experienced a dramatic encounter with God on Mount Sinai when Moses was given the Ten Commandments. It was their belief that one could not have a face-to-face encounter with God without dying. Being near the mountain ablaze and hearing God’s voice, they were afraid, overwhelmed, and feared for their life. They were being shown God’s greatness and glory, and it was just too much, so they asked Moses to “go near the fire and listen to what God has to say to us, let us know and we will listen and do whatever God directs us to do.” Moses does this and God responds with, “I hear you are afraid and that I am too much for you to handle right now. Go back to your tents, and I will work with Moses. I also want you to know I appreciated your candor, your fear, and respect of me, and your devotion” (Deuteronomy 5:28, 29).

In Deuteronomy 18, the Israelites—knowing Moses will not accompany them into the promised land—once again ask God to give them an intermediary, and God again responds positively. God reassures them this will happen and the person will be one of their own. This points far into the future to Jesus’ birth. This story teaches us that God listens, empathizes, understands our vulnerability and limitations, and responds to our requests. Jesus was a promise and a gift to help us have a closer relationship with our God.

Thank you, God, for understanding our limitations, even our fear and hesitancy to get close to you. Thank you for sending us Jesus and for all the ways his life and teachings help us be in a closer relationship with you. Amen.

Written by Tom Schemper, Director, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

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