Thursday, March 01, 2007

Deuteronomy 9:23-10:5; Psalm 50; Hebrews 4:1-10; John 3:16-21

Poor Moses was chosen for an uphill climb, an impossible battle to get the nation of Israel to just listen for once. This long, emotional monologue of Moses to his people in Deuteronomy, chapter 9, recounts how God has provided for the Hebrew nation, and how they have responded with a general lack of faith and obedience. It’s more a diatribe than a sermon, and I love it. Moses is frustrated with everyone here, and he lets us see it. No suppressed emotions for him.

He’s frustrated with his people. “You have been rebellious against the Lord ever since I have known you.” (Deut. 9:24.) This presumably includes Moses’ entire adult life, starting with the burning bush.

Come to think of it, Pharaoh didn’t listen to Moses either. But Moses was forewarned about that when God gave Moses his job description of “uphill climb” (Exodus 4:21 and following). God told Moses that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen, that God would harden Pharaoh’s heart.

Moses is also frustrated with God. The occasion of this address is the upcoming crossing of the Jordan to claim the Promised Land. Moses is recounting to the Hebrews many instances of their lack of faith, but he also tells them that he pleaded with God on their behalf. The Jews had provoked God to anger, so Moses fasted and prayed for forty days on their behalf, as God had threatened to destroy the Jews for their lack of faith. Moses in essence said to God, “Think about this. Your reputation is at stake. If you destroy the Jews, the other nations will say you wimped out and couldn’t deal with your own people.” (Deut. 9:28.)

Psalm 50 also says in effect, “You aren’t really listening. You know how to go to church and do what’s expected, but your heart isn’t in listening to my instructions.” (Psalm 50:17.) The reading in Hebrews 4 is a commentary on our Old Testament readings. The author of Hebrews notes that we have to hear the word but also combine it with faith. (Heb. 4:2.)

So Moses was chosen for an uphill climb to do God’s work. He had a life of uphill climbing, next to God the whole way. Was it worth it? I think so. When he died, it was said that no other prophet knew God face to face (Deut. 34:10) and that he and God used to speak face to face, like friends (Ex. 33:11). May our uphill climbs for God take us to seek his face.

Linda Merola

No comments: