Israel Will Reject
14The Lord told Moses, “You will soon die, so bring Joshua to the sacred tent, and I will appoint him the leader of Israel.”
Moses and Joshua went to the sacred tent, 15and the Lord appeared in a thick cloud right over the entrance to the tent. 16The Lord said:
Moses, you will soon die. But Israel is going into a land where other gods are worshiped, and Israel will reject me and start worshiping these gods. The people will break the agreement I made with them, 17and I will be so furious that I will abandon them and ignore their prayers. I will send disasters and suffering that will nearly wipe them out. Finally, they will realize that the disasters happened because I abandoned them. 18They will pray to me, but I will ignore them because they were evil and started worshiping other gods.
19Moses and Joshua, I am going to give you the words to a new song. Write them down and teach the song to the Israelites. If they learn it, they will know what I want them to do, and so they will have no excuse for not obeying me. 20I am bringing them into the land that I promised their ancestors. It is a land rich with milk and honey, and the Israelites will have more than enough food to eat. But they will get fat and turn their backs on me and start worshiping other gods. The Israelites will reject me and break the agreement that I made with them.
21When I punish the Israelites and their descendants with suffering and disasters, I will remind them that they know the words to this song, so they have no excuse for not obeying me.
I will give them the land that I promised, but I know the way they are going to live later on.
22Moses at once wrote down the words to the song, and he taught it to the Israelites.
23 The Lord told Joshua, “Be brave and strong! I will help you lead the people of Israel into the land that I have promised them.”
24Moses wrote down all these laws and teachings in a book, 25then he went to the Levites who carried the sacred chest and said:
26This is The Book of God's Law. Keep it beside the sacred chest that holds the agreement the Lord your God made with Israel. This book is proof that you know what the Lord wants you to do. 27I know how stubborn and rebellious you and the rest of the Israelites are. You have rebelled against the Lord while I have been alive, and it will only get worse after I am gone. 28So call together the leaders and officials of the tribes of Israel. I will bring this book and read every word of it to you, and I will call the sky and the earth as witnesses that all of you know what you are supposed to do.
29I am going to die soon, and I know that in the future you will stop caring about what is right and what is wrong, and so you will disobey the Lord and stop living the way I told you to live. The Lord will be angry, and terrible things will happen to you.
It’s hard to imagine how it would feel to be told that your children will not follow the Lord. Moses has invested his whole life into the “saving” of God’s people. They have been rescued from Egypt, they have been taught in the wilderness, and now they are about to be given the Promised Land. But even still, they will not choose the Lord with their whole heart.
God sees this future and he instructs Moses to write a song. This is a song of testimony that will be found by these people when they drift away. It is a song of witness, to remind them of God’s plan for their life. It is a map to find their way home.
It must have been heartbreaking for Moses to confront this conclusion to the story. Even today, it is sobering to realize that despite all God has done, people will still choose to ignore God.
My own story reminds me of how easy it is to drift away from God. For all of us, this need to choose God again each day is the pattern for our lives. Help me to accept that people will choose to not follow even after you have done so much to help them see. But like Moses, help me to keep trying, in your strength and by your guidance, to offer testimony of your goodness and plan.
Father, help me to learn from the journey of your people. Help me to be alert to how I can drift from you. Help me to be among those who choose you and wait on you. I want to be able to say, follow me as I follow Christ.