1-2These are the sermons Moses preached to all Israel when they were east of the Jordan River in the Arabah Wilderness, opposite Suph, in the vicinity of Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. It takes eleven days to travel from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea following the Mount Seir route.
3-4 It was on the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year when Moses addressed the People of Israel, telling them everything God had commanded him concerning them. This came after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled from Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who ruled from Ashtaroth in Edrei. It was east of the Jordan in the land of Moab that Moses set out to explain this Revelation.
There are certain books of the Bible that keep each of us away - simply because they don't seem to speak "loudly" to us or they just don't seem pertinent to the day and the hour in which they live. Yet, even our curriculum within our schools include history as a major subject of study. Why? It is important for us to remember where we have been as we are moving to where we are going!
As pilgrims and strangers, Israel set out from Egypt's brickyards and servitude to Pharoah's people. In their venture into the unknown, two dangers really laid ahead of them that we often face as well: 1) Our present condition has become comfortable to us, so it is easy for us to be "at ease" there. 2) We might know that we want "something new", but rushing into it is seldom the best plan. In all we do, God asks for one thing - commit our ways to him so that he can direct our paths before us.
Here begins the story of Israel's wanderings around a desert that took no more than 11 days to cover. It took them 40 years! Guess what....they are not too unlike each of us! Has it ever amazed you to see just how much you cover the same old ground in your life over and over again? Sometimes we are just plain "slow" in our travels through life lessons!
We are slow travelers simply because we are slow learners - we want to move on, but find ourselves held back. When this happens, it is usually because we are certain that we are ready to move on, but we haven't fully dealt with what has us in bondage in the first place. God wants us right where we are until we allow him to deal with those things - then we can move on. This is not a measure of God's "punishment" in our lives - in fact, it a measure of his intense love for us. Even though we are insanely slow to learn, he is awesomely gracious to take the time to teach us and to do that teaching thoroughly. He wants us to get free of the old and to be ready for the new.
It was the eleventh month of the Jewish calendar when the started on their journey (sometime between January and February - the month of Shevat) - kind of midwinter. Sometimes, God speaks when things are the "coldest" and the "hardest" in our lives. Sometimes the "richest" message is received in the "hardest" of times. What God wanted was that they would embrace the richness of his words for them - to accept his guidance and to submit to his care.
As we explore a little further tomorrow into the journey that took close to a lifetime, let's begin today to examine where we are on this journey we call "life". Maybe we are on the path to deliverance from some type of bondage - those things that just won't let go or that we won't let go of. Or maybe we are getting pretty closed to the realization of the promises of God for our lives. Regardless of where we are, we'd do well to consider the history recorded for us in this book of Moses. There is much to be discovered about our journey.