By Russ Ramsey
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 2:24-37, Deuteronomy 3:1-29, Hebrews 3:13-19
Do you ever look at your life, see all the changes looming on the horizon, and wonder if things are going to be okay?
I have a vague memory of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was just a kid when it happened. In those days we didn’t have up-to-the-second news cycles streaming through social media feeds, so I wasn’t particularly savvy on what it all meant. But I remember sensing that the world was changing. And change it did. Eventually the leader of the USSR was replaced and the Soviet Union fell apart.
Whenever changes like this happen, people wonder what the next cycle of leadership will be like. Will things improve, stay the same, or decline? What will be the story? The book of Deuteronomy opens with Moses giving the people of Israel notice that changes are coming. He would step aside and Joshua would take over. (The Lord wasn’t going to allow Moses to enter the promised land because he disobeyed God when he struck the rock in anger in Numbers 20:9–12.) The people will, at long last, finish their wilderness wanderings and take possession of the promised land. Change is imminent.
But Moses is all they’ve known. And the wilderness is the only place they’ve called home. The world is about to change, and for them to embrace that change, they need courage. So Moses frames what’s coming next in the context of their larger, ongoing story.
To get to the eastern banks of the Jordan River where they would eventually enter the promised land, God’s people followed a route called the King’s Highway along the eastern side of the Jordan. On that route, they encountered Sihon and Og—mighty, vicious kings. The Lord delivered them both over to the Israelites. These victories, Moses said, were meant to remind them that “the LORD your God fights for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22). Israel had no good reason to think they had the military fortitude to defeat Sihon and Og, but the Lord showed them that they were not on this journey alone.
God had not abandoned them. And just as sure as you wonder what may be coming around the corner in your own life, God’s people in Deuteronomy wondered if they would be okay with all the changes happening around them. The Lord reminds them, as He does us, that we are in the middle of a story He is writing—one He will direct, and the outcomes of which He will bring about in His time. Nothing surprises him, and nothing is too difficult for him. As sure as he takes care of Israel, He takes care of you.
Written by Russ Ramsey