Lent Devotion for March 7
“A Covenantal God”
Reader: “Please let me cross the Jordan…”
Response: “…to see the wonderful land on the other side.”
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 3:23–29
23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”
26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Deuteronomy is another of the great books of the Old Testament. As I’m reading, I’m finding that each book is so powerful. This book is about the suzerain-vassal covenant God made with His people, a covenant between a superior party, (a great king) and his subjects. Demands would be made and upon obedience, benefits would follow. Deuteronomy, as such, is the text of that treaty. These first three chapters review the history of the exodus and pick up right where Numbers stopped. The Israelites are poised, just across the Jordan River, ready to enter into Canaan. The embarrassing thing, which the book points out, is that an eleven-day journey took thirty-eight years to complete due to rebellion! Our text comes from the very end of chapter three. Moses sounds a bit like a little boy begging his father to take his first bike ride out into the neighborhood. He comments on what a great dad he is, as though that will help. But Dad said, “Son you were not obedient in what I asked you to do and these are the consequences of your disobedience. That’s enough. The answer is no. However, you can go up to my bedroom and look out the window at the neighborhood. You can see quite a bit of it from there. Your little brother has been obedient and I’m giving him permission to go look things over.” Do you see the bitter sweet in this answer? I can imagine Moses was pretty chagrined! Not everything has a “do-over.” I wonder how many years we “wander in the desert” of our lives due to our lack of faith and obedience when God has something wonderful for us in mind. There clearly are consequences for lack of faith and failure to obey God. May we not cram an eleven-day journey into thirty-eight years! Trust and obey.
“Trust and Obey” by Chelsea Moon, with the Franz Brothers (Watch on YouTube)
Lord, this is all my desire—to walk along the path of life that Thou hast appointed me, even as Jesus my Lord would walk along it, in steadfastness of faith, in meekness of spirit, in lowliness of heart, in the gentleness of love. And because outward events have so much power in scattering my thoughts and disturbing the inward peace in which alone the voice of Thy Spirit is heard, do Thou, gracious Lord, calm and settle my soul by that subduing power which alone can bring all thoughts and desires of the heart into captivity to Thyself. All I have is thine; do Thou with all as seems best to Thy divine will; for I know not what is best. Let not the cares or duties of this life press on me too heavily; but lighten my burden, that I may follow Thy way in quietness, filled with thankfulness for Thy mercy, and render acceptable service unto Thee. Amen.
- Maria Hare from Prayers Ancient and Modern, p.20