Read Deuteronomy 31:1-8. What stood out to you in this reading of the text?
Today’s theme is leaving things behind to start anew. That makes sense for the transition from one year to the next. I’ve heard that change is one of the few constants in life. Change and transitions can be hard.
In the Deuteronomy verses, the Israelites were transitioning from one way of life to another. They had been nomadic for decades and were now preparing to settle into the Promised Land. I’ve always imagined the people being eager to arrive in that land of “milk and honey.” I never really thought about how they might fear leaving behind what they knew, the traveling life. Change can be hard. The fact that whole societies of people were going to be slaughtered in order for the Israelites to make their transition to this new land and new way of life must have certainly caused some disconcerted reactions.
At least the people had Moses, the leader they had followed for decades. Surely, they could trust him to lead them to success. But wait, what’s that he was saying? Moses would not be crossing over to the new land to lead them? Moses was handing them over to Joshua, a different leader with a new leadership style? Wasn’t Joshua that whippersnapper who thought they should just storm into the Promised Land over a generation ago and simply take it? How could they trust someone as impulsive as that? Oh, I can imagine the murmurings that must have been an undercurrent in the group.
After all the Israelites had been through since Egypt, I think they must have been tempted to worship Moses and to look to him instead of to God for their guidance and well-being. Perhaps this is a good reminder of God’s constancy. People come and go, but God remains steadfast.
The Israelites had to be willing to give up their old way of life to embrace the new opportunities that God had for them. What do we need to be willing to let go of in order to receive God’s new gifts for us?