In the final chapter of Deuteronomy – we see the end of the life of Moses. This man – who started out as the son of a Hebrew slave, redeemed as a prince of Egypt, hunted as a murderer and fleeing into the life of a nomadic shepherd – obeys the call of the Lord to return to Egypt and lead this motley crew of slaves into a full-fledged nation of God’s people. As we have read, we have seen Moses stand mighty against seemingly impossible odds, but also we have watched him struggle with his own limitations, doubts and flesh.

In the end, it was these moments of doubt and flesh which cost Moses the opportunity to enter the very land which he had been speaking of all those years. God did allow him to view it upon Mt. Nebo – and it was there that Moses died (with only the Lord Himself attending to his funeral!). But – as we read, did you notice the interesting tidbits about this amazing Prophet? Even at the ripe age of 120 years “his eyes did not dim nor his natural force abated” (Deut 34:7). As well, whoever wrote the closing remarks to this great man’s life, inserted that “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (Deut 34:10).

That is how I want to be remembered… as a man whom the Lord knew face to face.

With the closing of the book of Deuteronomy – along with the closing of Moses’ life – we also reach the end of what is referred to as the Torah. As you may recall, the word “Torah” means “teaching” or “Law”. In one sense it refers to the opening five books of the Bible – Genesis through Deuteronomy – all written by Moses. To the Jewish people it is not simply a list of rules and regulations, nor simply a narrative of the journey of their heritage. More so, they view these first five books as the very cornerstone of their lives. Every Jewish child would have these books memorized by the time they reach middle school age. (That means ALL that we have been reading since the top of the year!).

As we close out the Torah – what stands out to you?

Maybe you (as many others have noted throughout history) struggle to understand the harsh method God uses in training up His people. This struggle comes mainly because we have such little information about what else is happening during this time. After all, the Bible does’nt record many of the historical and political happenings in the other nations (such as Egypt) that existed during that time. The reason this is so is because the purpose of the Bible is to speak of God’s relationship with man.

When we read through the various laws and rules of the Torah, it can strike us as unfair and harsh. Countless details which, if not followed to the letter, result in sometimes deadly punishment. While we have already spoken of the larger picture and how sometimes things that appear harsh to us are actually actions of love from an all-knowing God, there is another part to this puzzle we must briefly touch on.

Paul tells us in Romans that for the first 2000 years (from Adam to Moses), God did not hold man accountable for their sin.

[To be sure] sin was in the world before ever the Law was given, but sin is not charged to men’s account where there is no law [to transgress]. “Romans 5:13 AMP

For many, it is shocking to hear that 2000 years actually passed during that time. (The book of Genesis alone encompasses 1500 years of human history). But just as shocking is to hear that God was acting in mercy all of that time. Sin was overlooked time and again. (Not always – as we see with Noah and Sodom/Gomorrah) – but most of the penalty for sin was not administered during that time. During that time God was longing for mankind to see the devastating effects of the broken condition and come to Him – allowing Him to bring Jesus and repair the breach. God eventually finds Abram (who believes Him) – and begins to build a people – but eventually even those turn from Him and allow sin to destroy the earth.

By the time God raises up Moses, the earth was in complete chaos. Sin had done it’s dirty work and satan was using men to destroy themselves. Sin was easily overlooked and explained away on every level – while God was completely ignored. It was, therefore, necessary for God to establish strict guidelines for what sin is and literally persuade His people to return back into some form of holiness in order for Jesus to one day be born.

So, while the Law can appear harsh and overly strict – the bigger picture (once again) tells us the whole story. God’s heart has always been love and mercy, but the ravaging effects of sin on His beloved creation necessitated all that we have read about thus far.

As the Torah closes – we now enter what is known as the History Books. Joshua will take over leadership of this young nation, wars will be fought, God will continue to intervene in the lives of the Israelites… and yet many will continue to reject Him.

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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