What does God say to you when He speaks? What has He said to you in the past? This week I read two of my favorite stories from the Old Testament, about Moses and Joshua, the first from the end of the book of Deuteronomy and the second from the beginning of the book of Joshua.
The story in Deuteronomy 34 tells about the end of Moses’ life. The Hebrew nation was poised near the Jordan River, finally, and ready to enter the land God had promised them so long ago. Unfortunately, because of a past transgression, God would not allow Moses to enter the new homeland. God had made that judgment clear to Moses on several occasions and it doesn’t seem Moses ever took advantage of their intimacy to ask God for an exception. Moses accepted his fate with grace and resolve.
But the reason I like this story is because of the way God treated Moses in these last moments. It says Moses climbed Mount Nebo and “there the Lord showed him the whole land.” It says God pointed out the different geographic features and showed where each tribe would make their home, as in, “that’s where Judah will have a great kingdom … and those rugged mountains is where Caleb wants to live …” and like that.
I believe it was a tender moment. I don’t believe God was pointing this out to remind Moses he was being left behind, as in, “Ha Ha, look where you don’t get to go,” but rather God stood with his arm around Moses while pointing out the coolest places.
Of course, I made up much of the conversation I just “quoted,” but I don’t think I am too far away from what really transpired. I believe God was telling Moses, “You did well, sir, and your people are going to be OK from here. Your job, as hard as it was, is now finished. People will remember your name until the end of time. You can stand down; I’ve got your valuables protected.”
That’s the sort of thing I hope to hear from God when my life is finished. I want him to point out the families that are growing in the Lord, and the men who are walking with God daily and making an impact on everyone around them. I want God to say, “Your job’s done, I’ve got your valuables protected. They can handle it from here.”
Another reason I like this story is because of what follows. Just turn the page to the book of Joshua, chapter one, and you can read about God talking to Joshua. God said, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you …” and proceeded to give Joshua instruction for the conquest of Canaan.
It happened so quickly, the transfer of leadership. The king is dead, long live the king; Moses is dead, now then you.
I wonder if Joshua was excited to finally have a turn at the front, or terrified to be doing this without Moses. Probably both. He didn’t hesitate, though. He moved forward and took the responsibility of leadership.
God told him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you no forsake you.” Joshua knew, more than anyone, how much Moses leaned on God. And he knew full well the value of God’s promise to always be with him.
I like this story because even though the transition to leadership was quick, Joshua seized his divine moment and stepped into God’s new role for him. Just like that. I hope that’s how I respond to each next phase of my life, with one giant step forward and no looking back.
What does God say to you when He speaks?
One of times God spoke to me was at a men’s retreat at Crooked Creek Camp near Fraser, Colorado. He spoke first through a movie, then later directly into my heart, telling me that the work he had called me into was bigger than I’d thought. He was asking me to step further up and further in. It was a clear and unmistakable charge, and I have been a different man ever since that night.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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