Because Hard Chapters Should Never Be Skipped

I didn’t want to read the last few chapters of Deuteronomy this morning.

Maybe because I knew what was coming.

If I could just skip these chapters,

maybe it wouldn’t seem as real.

Moses was about to die.

That’s right.

The man who entered our story as a tiny baby, floating down the Nile River in a basket made of reeds,

was going to be asked at the ripe old age of 120 to climb a mountain and “be gathered to his people.”

I knew reading through the Bible didn’t give me permission to skip over things I wanted to avoid.

I reminded myself that I survived Leviticus.

Could anything stop me now?

So I opened my chronological Bible and began with chapter 31.

Moses doesn’t beat around the bush (no pun intended).

Chapter 31 begins with Moses announcing,

“I am now 120 years old; I can no longer act as your leader. 

The Lord has told me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan.'” 

I’m trying to remember if the people had heard this news before or if this was first time they realized the man who had led them through the desert would soon be stepping out of their story.

What were they thinking as these words soaked in?

Moses, the man who had pulled them back to the straight and narrow time after time, would no longer be their leader.

Joshua is then summoned by Moses.

He is chosen as the one to follow in the footsteps of the man who had climbed Mt. Sinai and whose face had radiated the glory of God.

The transition of power is recorded as a dramatic experience at the tent of meeting.

God appears in a pillar of cloud at the entrance to the tent,

and He begins to speak.

He doesn’t begin with a “thank you” to Moses or any kind of praise for Moses’ faithful leading of the Israelites for forty years.

He begins by saying, “You are about to rest.”

I want to believe God knew exactly what Moses needed to hear.

And I want to believe these words made the transition easier for Moses.

He was surely tired.

Like a runner crossing the finish line of a long race,

Moses had to feel the exhaustion of reaching his goal.

He had successfully led a grumbling, often rebellious group of people from the bondage of slavery to the edge of the Promised Land.

To hear God say, “You are about to rest,” probably meant much more than being handed a ribbon or having a medallion placed around his neck.

I’m reminded of Galatians 6:9,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, 

for at the proper time we will reap a harvest

if we do not give up.”

All along the way, Moses had not given up.

Because of this, he was about to reap his harvest.

But not before he is asked to write down every single word of the law on a scroll.

A scroll that was to be placed by the ark of the covenant as a reminder to the people.

God had not spared Moses the news that the Israelites would turn to false gods after getting comfy in the Promised Land.

In fact, God gave Moses one last task.

He gave Moses a song.

A song he was to write down and then teach to the Israelites before slipping away.

This Song of Moses is filled with reminders of the faithfulness of God to a faithless group of people.

And as it ends,

so does Moses life.

There’s something beautiful about this kind of ending.

I remember Nick’s last morning with us.

How his silence for two days changed to humming.

And then silence again.

The Song of Moses surely carried the people through good and bad days just as The Song of Nick carries me.

I believe with all my heart, Nick was humming in the presence of God while his body was still with us.

And I believe with all my heart he knew “he was about to rest.”

He did not grow weary.

And he was on his way to reaping his harvest.

Life is a gift.

But this morning,

Moses reminds me that death is too.

Deuteronomy has ended.

The law has been written.

The Israelites are about to cross the Jordan.

And Moses has been gathered to his people.

So much can happen in four chapters.

I’m so glad I didn’t skip the last few chapters of Deuteronomy and miss this beautiful goodbye.

Like Moses, my life has had some hard chapters.

But if I had the chance to live my life again, I wouldn’t skip them either.

Because God has a way of showing up in the hardest chapters.

And I believe these are the chapters where our song is written.

And I’m so thankful Moses’ life ended with a song about the faithfulness of God.

I want my life to end with one too.

Because even on my most faithless days,

God is faithful.

As I take my last breath,

I want to be singing or humming a song of praise to Him who loves me most.

 

(Today’s reading was from Deuteronomy 31-34)

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