Prayer for the day
O God of hosts, show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
Scripture for the day
The first few chapters of Deuteronomy are basically a retelling of the previous books of the Bible. Moses sits the people down to explain to them what’s happened so far. Reading this passage, it’s easy to get frustrated with Moses. Why is he telling the people all of this? Haven’t they just lived through all of this stuff? Why reiterate the failures of the people (and blame them for his inability to enter the land!!!)? It seems like an exercise in futility.
What Moses is doing, however, is not setting out to bore the people (or us), but instead, to tell them who they are and where they’ve come from. Moses is giving them a brief history of their time so that their future will be brighter. He is trying to teach the people by way of story and history.
Why is this so important?
It’s often been said that you can’t know where you going until you know where you’ve been. In recounting the story of the Israelites travelling through the wilderness, Moses is not giving dry history but recounting the goodness of God in the face of the unfaithfulness of the people. He is, in essence, giving them a sense of their own failure, likely to prevent it from recurring.
Jesus does a similar thing in reverse with his disciples. Instead of saying where they’ve been, he talks about where they’re headed to inform the present. Because Jesus knows what’s going to happen, his speech to the disciples is designed to ensure that they take the correct path.
In both scenarios, the story of the past and the story of the present, the story is told so that the people will be a faithful people. Whether it’s Moses telling of their failures or Jesus of their eventual success, the stories exist as lessons to the people of the path of God and His desire that they be on it.
God gives us similar stories, both past and future, in the scriptures. Wisdom dictates that if we seek to find our identity in Christ, we pay attention to his story. We already know where we’ve been and we know where we’re going. All that remains is to live faithfully to both.