Rehearse the good…

So that you won’t be so inclined to focus on the bad.

I have a long way to go until this baby is born. The tentative due date is May 14th, although I have yet to visit the midwife to have that date confirmed. Either way it goes, I know I have at least six or seven more months of discomfort left ahead of me. Right now, I have a little belly but that is not the major issue. The major issue is the nausea and fatigue–mainly the nausea. I am a foodie. I love cooking, I love using different spices and trying new flavors. I love spicy food. I love pasta. I love sauces and condiments.

Unfortunately, this baby doesn’t like ANYTHING at all. And guess who is in charge right now?

Not I.

No, this kid has already pulled rank and is commanding what I can eat, when I can eat, and how I feel after I eat. I understand that there are a whole bunch of hormonal things going on that contribute to the nausea. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Already I found myself complaining to God. Does it have to take nine months? Why couldn’t it be something reasonable like four or five? When can I eat regularly again?

Then I remembered that this baby, as are all babies, a blessing. God decided my husband and I had been faithful stewards of the two he has already given us and thought we were worthy of another, one that can bring special joy to this family in the midst of our grief. Being able to carry my own children has been a blessing that I know some other women can only hope for. It is a special thing to have another life inside of me–and yes, this is LIFE. I know I am at an early stage but I cannot understand how someone could get rid of such magic.

I often think of my grandmothers. My paternal grandmother birthed twelve children naturally, my maternal grandmother, eleven. The families my parents grew up with were all pretty big. I think the largest one consisted of 23 children (a nightmare in my opinion!). They birthed and raised them with limited means and did a darn good job.

So as for my little nausea, I will take care of myself as best I can and grin and bear it. At the end of the day, there is nothing else to do. When it passes, I will thank God for it. I thank God REGARDLESS. He has been super good to me, good beyond anything I’ve ever deserved. I have not always been a good representative for Jesus and yet He has kept me anyway.

Just like everyone else, I get overwhelmed with things. I’ve made it a point when that happens to rehearse, recite, or even write down the good in my life and compare it to the bad. The good side always outweighs the bad–as a matter of fact I usually have to quit writing the good because I find myself unable to stop.

Now, before this little pumpkin commands me otherwise, I’ll finally finish up Deuteronomy 🙂

We were in chapter twenty-nine. In this chapter the covenant that God is making with the Israelites is renewed. Again, God is preparing the people to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. This is kind of like the pep talk coaches give their teams before they begin a game. “Okay… Now this is what we have been training for…” The coach may give players last minute reminders based on footage they’ve watched of the opposing team. The coach also reminds the team that there is victory when the team is united… whether they do this indirectly or not, when coaches design plays that involve all players, there the concept of unity is strengthened. The Israelites were a team and the people in Canaan were their opposition. Deuteronomy kind of serves as that pre-game “pep talk”.

The location was Moab, which no longer exists in name but is considered part of current-day Jordan. The Moabites were descendants of Lot–with his daughter. Surely you remember the sordid story in Genesis of how Lot’s two daughters got their father drunk and lay with him in order to conceive sons, right? The son of Lot’s firstborn daughter was Moab, and he became the father of this group of people, the Moabites. The second son by the other daughter fathered the Ammonites (see Genesis 19 for the whole story). All of Israel is before Moses, where he reminds the people of all of the many signs and wonders. In the forty years that they have wandered in the wilderness, their needs have been met–even though they were technically being punished for their disobedience and lack of faith, God still provided for them. Their clothes have not worn out, nor have their sandals become tattered and torn. The Bible says “You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God” (v. 6). They have already defeated the people on that side of the Jordan and gave their land to the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh. The people should have full faith and confidence in God at this point that can travel with them during the rest of their journey.

All of Israel is present, and God is entering into this covenant with the entire assembly. They are warned again to refrain from idol worship. If anyone within the assembly accepted the covenant (at least by appearance) but conspires within himself to be stubborn, they will feel the fullness of God’s anger: The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. And the Lord will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law” (vv. 20-21). If the Israelites break this covenant, generations after them and foreigners will look upon their desolate land and wonder what the people did to the Lord to make him so angry. They will know the answer to that question–because the people abandoned God.

As always with our loving God, there can be forgiveness if the people repent and turn from their sins. This is discussed in chapter thirty. Our all-knowing God knows full well that these people are going to do exactly what he is telling them not to do. So the next thing is to remind them that they can come back to the Lord after they have sinned. If they come back to the Lord they will be restored, and he will gather together all of them, even those who have been scattered. They will be numerous and prosperous, more than their forefathers. If the people take delight in prospering in the Lord, the Lord will in turn delight in prospering them. God tells the people that the commands he is giving them is not too hard for them to keep. God presents his way as that of “life and good”, as opposed to the worldly way, which leads to “death and evil”. If the people keep God’s commandments and statutes, they will have it good. If they turn from him, they will surely perish: But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (vv. 17-20).

A very important event occurs in chapter thirty-one. Moses has reached the ripe old age of 120 years and as we already know, he will not be the one to lead Israel into the Promised Land. That job will go to Joshua, son of Nun, who has already been acting as Moses’s right-hand man, thus being mentored and prepared for his role by the best source available. God will go before the people and destroy the inhabitants of the Promised Land so that Israel may dispossess them of their land. The land will be given over to Israel. Knowing that God is with them in this endeavor, the people are exhorted to “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (v. 6). I tend to think that is a good verse for all of us Christians to commit to memory. Every day we leave the comfort and solitude of our Christian homes we open ourselves up to worldly temptation. Even in the face of evil and adversity we have to be strong and courageous representatives of the Lord. Even though our beliefs are not popular in today’s carnal microwave society where people demand instant gratification, we still have to adhere to them and tell people about Jesus. As I tell the kids in Sunday school, whether or not people accept the Gospel message is not up to you. The only job we have to do as Christians is to tell people about Christ. If they reject the Gospel message it is not a person rejection–that person has rejected Jesus, as has the world. And unfortunately they will have to pay for it.

Now Moses summons Joshua and gives him a little pep-talk: Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (v. 7-8). This was done in front of the entire assembly of Israel. It was important for them all to see Moses, their current leader, do this mini-coronation of sorts of their new leader. Then they could truly accept Joshua’s authority.

The law is given by Moses to the priests. The law is to be read to the entire assembly every seventh year at the Festival of Booths. The Lord tells Moses the time is near that he will die, and requests that Moses bring Joshua to the tent of meeting where the Lord will commission him. Moses does as told (wonder how he felt knowing he was about to die?? I tend to think he might have been a bit relieved–after all he was an old man and the Israelites had been giving him the blues for DECADES) and once Joshua is in front of the tent of meeting, the Lord comes down in a pillar of a cloud and stands over the entrance of the tent.

Here, we find that God absolutely knows what the Israelites will do:

And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods” (vv. 16-18).

It’s like when we are born the first time. God knows that because of our sin nature handed down to us by Adam that we are going to do wrong. So he has established a way for us to come into fellowship with him–through his son Jesus Christ–and ways for us to remain on “good terms” with him–through confession of sins and repentance. God knows that we are not going to be perfect while we’re down here. He doesn’t expect that. He does expect spiritual maturity and growth.

Side bar–I must admit I am fighting getting extraordinarily irritated right now. At one point in time in Bible class we were discussing how it is easy to get distracted from reading and praying every day, and that sometimes the devil himself will put stumbling blocks in our way. One of the ladies in the class happened to bring up how her daughter always found a reason to interrupt her when she was doing Bible study at home, causing the teacher to ask her jokingly, “Are you saying your daughter is a devil?” Of course the answer was no–she was just making an observation about how some things, some of them priorities in her life such as her daughter, always seemed to get in the way of the time she wanted to devote to God. We discussed ways around that. Sometimes maybe she would have to get up earlier or go to bed later to get her time with the Lord, or keep her Bible on her and during a rare down time at work, maybe get a Scripture or two in.

The reason I brought that up is because my daughter keeps interrupting me right now and I am getting annoyed. It is not because she needs anything. It is because she has decided she doesn’t want to go to sleep.

Time has passed and I am alone. Let’s wrap this up before one of my two kids (or even this third one–the nausea still has not subsided completely) decides they need my attention.

God gives Moses a song to write down to teach the people to be a witness for him against the people of Israel. God knows once they get into Canaan and get settled in and comfortable and begin reaping the benefits of the land they will forget about God (isn’t that how we do now–when things go well we forget that it was because of God’s blessing and start getting the prideful big head, like we did it on our own??) and turn to idols. The song is given in chapter thirty-two. I’ll let you read that.

However as chapter thirty-one concludes we see the Lord formally commissioning Joshua: Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you” (v. 23).

The Book of Law that Moses has just compiled is given to the Levites, who are to place it by the side of the ark of the covenant. Once again Moses reminds the people that God already knows what they are going to do. He knows of their sins to come.

As I just mentioned the song that God gave Moses makes up the bulk of chapter thirty-two, but at the end of that chapter God tells Moses to go up to Mount Nebo which is in Moab, where he will die. AGAIN, God reminds Moses as to why this is happening in this manner–because he did not treat God as holy. Therefore he will only see the land, not cross into it.

In chapter thirty-three Moses bestows blessings upon the twelve tribes. In these passages I found the word “Jeshurun”. I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else in the Bible leading up to now, but from what I understand it is another way of referring to Israel as a nation. The root of the word means “upright” or “straight”… which is befitting, knowing that Israel was supposed to be an upright, Godly nation. The most interesting of these blessings is the one that is bestowed upon Reuben. It is brief and kind of a blessing and a… non-blessing??

Let Reuben live, and not die, but let his men be few” (v. 6).

Interesting. I suppose that this is because of the sin Reuben committed against his father Jacob when he slept with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Genesis 35:22).

The rest of the blessings are more happy-happy-joy-joy than the one bestowed upon Reuben.

The book of Deuteronomy concludes in chapter thirty-four with the death of the leader of Israel, Moses. God allows Moses to see the fruit of his labor–he allows him to see Canaan, but up there on Mount Nebo Moses died and was buried by none other than the Lord: “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended” (vv. 5-8).

Joshua is now fully in charge. Since Moses laid hands on him, Joshua is filled with the spirit of wisdom and the people of Israel obey him. (Laying on hands is not necessary now because once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit comes to live and dwell within us. No one needs to put their hands on us for that to happen). As for Moses, the Bible says:

And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel” (vv. 10-12).

That concludes the first five books of the Bible. Referred to as the Torah by some, the Pentateuch by others, these first five books are the very foundation for all the rest that follow. There would be no New Testament without the Old, and the importance of Moses’s writings (and his deeds, of course) cannot be underscored. Christians ought not neglect reading these books. When we read about Moses and his life, we can draw many parallels between him and Christ. Moses was the “middle man” so to speak, the Israelite’s connection to God the Father, just as Jesus Christ the Son is our connection to God the Father. Moses delivered the people from sin and bondage, just as Jesus does for us presently. And as much as the people got on Moses’s last nerve, he did not leave them. On many occasions, he pleaded on their behalf, just as Jesus, our Advocate, Intercessor and Intermediary does for us when we fall short of God’s expectations.

We can also look at Moses’s life to see an example of true leadership. True leaders depend upon God. Moses had undeniable faith. If he didn’t, surely he would have broken under the pressure of dealing with such a large and demanding group of people. When they people had an issue, he took it to the Lord. When HE had an issue, he took it to God. In all things, Moses consulted God.

What I love about the Bible is that God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. What I mean by that is that there was nothing special about Moses. He wasn’t a good speaker–he admitted that himself. What was important was not his ability to speak well, but to be flexible and faithful enough for God to use him. Now, we know that there are no more prophets, but certainly God can and does use his children to accomplish his will. People use other people all the time. I can think of no better example than in the corporate world, where people get to the top by climbing on the backs of others. There is no benefit when someone in this world uses you. But look at where you can end up if you allow God to use you! Look at what Moses has accomplished. While we are not going to be a prophet or deliver a nation from bondage, we can do great things through Christ if ONLY we are willing to let go of self and give our lives over to God.

Congratulations on reading through the first five books of the Bible! The story gets good in Joshua. But right now I have to go tend to my stomach. This baby is killing me softly right now. Part of me wants cookies and the other part of me is hoping to just puke and get it over with (TMI, I know).


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