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Since the beginning of the year, we have a long period of association with the man Moses and his writings. We have read of the Creation, the beginning of all things; of Adam, Enoch and Noah; of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Promises to them and their seed; and of the 40 years' wanderings and tribulations of Israel as they made their way to the Promised Land.
In our readings from Exodus to Numbers, Israel moved some 42 times from the departure from Egypt until their arrival at the Jordan River. Num. 9:15-23 gives the commands concerning the moving of the camp-
"When the cloud was taken up ... the children of Israel journeyed ... When the cloud tarried long ... the children of Israel journeyed not ...
"Whether it was by day or by night ... they journeyed. Whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried ... Israel journeyed not."
The responsibility of supervising these repeated movements of this many people was one of Moses' many duties.
The book of Deuteronomy presents Moses as a 'man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.' He deeply loved his nation, and it disturbed him to observe the people turning to ways which would inevitably lead to destruction.
In addition there was personal grief. In the first month (Num. 20:1), his sister Miriam died. Sorrow was added to sorrow when, a little later, his brother Aaron died (Num. 20:23-29). The strong bond of family over the long and difficult years of association together was now broken. They had shared much work together in the service of Yahweh. Now his brother and sister were dead, and he alone remained.
Between the deaths of Miriam and Aaron, had occurred the tragedy of Kadesh (Num. 20:7-13); provoked by the attitude of the people, Moses had 'spoken unadvisedly.' He too was told that he must die-
"Ye shall not bring this congregation into the land" (20: 12). God denied him his deepest desire, and in response to his entreaties, God said in Deut 3:26-
"Let it suffice thee: speak no more unto Me of this matter." The people he had defended in Egypt, and whom he had led with love and longsuffering through the long wilderness journey, had put a stumbling-block in his path. He had fallen: the great leader, the meekest of all men (Num. 12:3). But observe how his character emerges so strongly, even in his bitter personal disappointment. There is a lesson in this for the called.
Reading the record, chapter by chapter, we do not find one word of reproach from Moses against Israel for his error. What a wonderful example was Moses, not only under all the trials and the struggles to keep Israel on the right path, but his regret in not being allowed to enter the Promised Land. We certainly can feel for him in his sadness and disappointment. But we know that God's judgments are always just.
Overcoming the personal grief of exclusion from the beloved land he had so longed to enter, he continued to give the people God's instructions relating to its orderly settlement. In humbleness and sincere appeal he asked God to give them a strong and faithful leader to replace him, and was instructed to appoint Joshua. He selected cities for the priesthood, and established God's laws for the preservation of the land inheritance.
He also rigidly set his face against the surrounding heathen nations, and against Israel's slackness. In all things, he desired to uplift the people from the ordinary to the glorious heights of Yahweh and His Truth in their midst. With energy and self-denying zeal, such as Christ exhibited the six days before his crucifixion, he strove to prepare the people he was about to leave for the work before them.
This is the purpose of the book of DEUTERONOMY. The old generation had died off, except for faithful Joshua and Caleb.
By BRO. D. CLUBB