When Moses had finished speaking all[a] these words to all Israel, he said to them: ‘I am now a hundred and twenty years old. I am no longer able to get about, and the Lord has told me, “You shall not cross over this Jordan.” The Lord your God himself will cross over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua also will cross over before you, as the Lord promised. The Lord will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. The Lord will give them over to you and you shall deal with them in full accord with the command that I have given to you. Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.’
Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: ‘Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’
This reading caught my eye as I was looking through the choices as I’m a great fan of Joshua and his story. It then struck me that today (11th September) is our 27th wedding anniversary so I was reminded once more how God does indeed move in mysterious ways. And the passage today is certainly mysterious. First of all, Moses doesn’t get the ’happy ending’ he must have hoped for to his long and exhausting journey – he will never get to enter the Promised Land he has spent so long leading the Israelites towards. Instead, Moses must hand over that responsibility to his younger colleague Joshua.
It’s challenging enough not to be able to fulfil our dreams, no matter how God-given they might appear to be, and surely it’s even worse to commission someone else to fulfil that dream instead. I think if I’d been Moses all those years ago, I certainly wouldn’t have been so gracious or so compassionate in word or action. But Moses understands that God is always generous in love and deed, and he commissions Joshua in the same way that God originally commissioned him – that is, with love and confidence and the knowledge that God will always be with him. Because it is God Himself who chooses and directs our path and works out what is best for us and not we ourselves. In this way, the imposing of limitation is as much a blessing as liberation. Both can be gifts.
Dear God, help us to trust in You and Your plans for us. Help us to understand and accept Your divine will, no matter where it leads us or where it does not. Amen.
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