God sees it all. The good and the bad. In the case of our reading today, we learn of a man named Achan. Surely, his claim to fame in this story is nothing to be proud of. Did he seriously think he could do what the Lord had forbidden and be okay? His belief in God must have been a little shaky. His trust was in his own abilities, and his desires for wealth or prestige must have totally clouded his good sense.
Now, it’s easy for us to point fingers at Achan, isn’t it? We’re probably wondering how he could have done such a thing. But how often have we stretched the truth, broken a commandment, or dishonored God in some way only to try and keep our sins hidden from view. Maybe those around us are oblivious, but the one who counts is God. He sees it all.
After our reading yesterday, I feel like the light switch was just turned on. Truly our mourning is turned to dancing. Psalm 30:11-12 pictures it like this. “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Such a beautiful compliment the praise given here for judgment and salvation.
I had highlighted verse 1 along the way, and it’s good to see those “notes to self” in my Bible. I wish I had put a date on it – there was even a yellow sticker which signifies “God’s Plan and Promise.” I think that is a surprisingly good summation of what we have going on in this whole chapter. It was God’s plan, his will, and his intention, that his people would go through their time of desolation. For those who endured, the promise of salvation and a feast in his presence would come. “O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God.”
I absolutely love what Moses is saying here in verse 6. “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” I think that is more than just a message for the Israelites that day, and also to Joshua who would be taking over leadership. It is a promise to us as well.
I often pray for God to go ahead of me to prepare the way. In fact, it’s even one of the affirmations I use to get my day started. I can show up with confidence knowing God has gone ahead of me and prepared the way. There is a peace and assurance that comes with picturing God is already there waiting for me. I’ve used this, for example, before leading worship in church. Why? Because that is such an awesome responsibility. I don’t feel capable on my own strength and want to make sure my priorities are straight when I’m facilitating a group entering the presence of God together.
Grace is that undeserved favor we receive from God. It’s all sufficient, and it’s all a gift. Moses wanted the people to understand that God wasn’t doing all of this for them because they were righteous. We read over and over again the Bible accounts that show the stubbornness and disobedience of God’s chosen people. He didn’t choose them because they were the best students in the class.
It would be easy to become over-confident and think we are better than we are, too. When we have success in our life, it would be all too easy to take the credit. We do need to realize who is in charge, who has made a way for us, who has gifted us with the skills and abilities we use to reach our level of success.
When you watch a television show, they will often start the new episode with a look back at what has come before. It’s good to jog our memories a little bit. This is what is happening in the first couple chapters of Deuteronomy. Moses was setting the scene by recalling where their journey in the wilderness had taken them thus far. In Chapter 1, Moses points out the failures and frustrations they have encountered along the way. What stood out to you in our reading today?
We might question how an eleven-day trip took 40 years. We may also notice how Moses made a lot of references to what the Lord has said or commanded. Of course, there are lots of examples of how the people have done their own thing and not followed God. Clearly, Moses has been chosen by God to lead the people during this time in history, and there is a lot of we can glean from the mistakes made, the divine intervention provided, and the faithfulness of leadership.