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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, March 22, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Deuteronomy 32:48–33:1, 28–29

On that very day the Lord addressed Moses as follows: “Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites for a possession; you shall die there on the mountain that you ascend and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; because both of you broke faith with me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to maintain my holiness among the Israelites. Although you may view the land from a distance, you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelites.”

This is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Israelites before his death. So Israel lives in safety, untroubled is Jacob’s abode in a land of grain and wine, where the heavens drop down dew. Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread on their backs. (NRSV)

The context of this scripture is the impending death of Moses. All of the effort. All of the struggle. And Moses does not get to enter the Promised Land with the people of Israel. How can he stand there and view all that he devoted himself to with the knowledge that his own journey won’t be completed with them. Is God so unfair that Moses’ transgressions—despite his amazing devotion, leadership, and guidance—have been held against him and he is being punished? Forty years of effort and the payoff is denied him? On the surface it certainly seems the case.

But the final words of Moses tell us otherwise. And as the God-chosen patriarch of God’s chosen people his final blessing and benediction elegantly proclaim the fullness of God’s blessings for the people of God. Moses affirms the abundant love and protection of God. He knows that it isn’t about him. It’s about giving one’s self over to the protection and surety of God. 

What better time than during the Lenten journey to be reminded that it is not our will to be done, but to live into the hope of freedom as an Easter people. Like Moses, it isn’t about us. Through faith we are all the Israel of Moses’ blessing and will dwell in the land of “grain and new wine where the heavens drop dew.” We have been gifted grace and blessed with the abundance of God’s love. Such is the promise of Easter morning.

Lord of Moses and of us all, God of love personified, remind us that the promised land at the end of our own journey is one we can live into each day by trusting in you. Amen.

Written by Kenneth Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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