Friday, July 29, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-07-29 [Moses Meditations] Conclusion

1 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land...
5 And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses.
10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt--to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. Deuteronomy34:1-12

The passage has been long so here are just a few thoughts:

* By letting Moses see the promised land, God gives him a sense of closure.

* Notice the tenderness of the moment with God Himself burying Moses.

* Notice Moses' vigour and strength - is this the result of a life of purpose?

* There is a period of grief - it is formal and unhurried. It allows closure and transition.

* We are introduced to Joshua and reminded of the baton that has been passed on.

* Look at the tribute the text gives of Moses: Someone who knew the Lord intimately and as a result, did great wonders.

This brings us to the end of the "Moses Meditations."
I hope you have enjoyed reading these eDevs as much as I enjoyed writing them.

It has been very humbling to see how much Moses cared for the Israelites, how passionate he was about God, how he learned to trust God, and how teachable he was.

We will start a new series on Tuesday. Any suggestions?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, July 28, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-07-28 [Moses Meditations] Songs and Blessings

And Moses recited the words of this song from beginning to end in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel: Deuteronomy31:30

The end of the book of Numbers details the defeat of the Midianites and takes us to the book of Deuteronomy which contains census stats, regulations, a reiteration of the ten commandments, the final details of dividing the land among the clans and warnings against falling away from the Lord.

Now, at the end of Deuteronomy, the two chapters prior to Moses' death contain a song that God commands Moses to teach the Israelites and his final priestly blessing over the people.

Both the song (ch.32) and the blessing (ch.33) are too long to reproduce here, but they are both beautiful and haunting.

The song warns the Israelites from falling away and it is sad to say that in many ways, this song became an accurate prediction of the Israelite decay that led to the exile nearly a 1000 years later.

The blessings pronounced here to each of Israel's tribes resembles those pronounced by Jacob over his sons at the end of Genesis. The blessings abound with a sense of God's working in the lives and history of His people.

What do we learn from these?
1. Moses is still responsive to God - God teaches him the song and he passes it on faithfully. The song contains painful truths about Israel's future unfaithfulness. It would have been tempting for Moses to avoid ending on a "down" note - but truth is more important than rhetoric and Moses remains faithful.

2. The blessings on each of the tribes reminds us of Moses' deep connection with his people and his knowledge of them. His farewell to them reveals both an intimate knowledge of them and a longing for their well-being.

This is a fitting end to life well-lived.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-07-27 [Moses Meditations] The true heart of leadership

My apologies for the sporadic devotions this last while - it's been quite busy and I have been fighting off a horrible sinusitus and head-cold - which has meant that I am quite brain-dead in the mornings!
Moses said to the LORD, 16 "May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD's people will not be like sheep without a shepherd."

If you've just been told that you are soon going to die, what would your first thoughts be?

Two verses previously God has told Moses that the time has come to die: `Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go up this mountain in the Abarim range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was`

I am amazed and humbled at Moses' response! He does not spare a thought for himself, but his thoughts go immediately to the Israelites with the concern that they will need a leader.

Moses is concerned that the leader will be someone appointed by God. He describes God as the "God of the spirits of all mankind" which echoes the sentiment we read at the appointment of David: "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."(1Sam16:7) Moses wants the best possible godly leader for the Israelites.

Furthermore, Moses longs for a leader who will lead by example going out and coming in (presumably to the presence of the Lord and then back to the people) and then leading the people like a shepherd. (Remembering that in Palestine the shepherd leads the sheep rather than driving them.)

This is the true heart of leadership - caring about the people you lead. Moses is a great example to us.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-07-19 [Moses Meditations] The Bronze Serpent

The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Numbers21:8-9

The Israelites started complaining again. They complained bitterly against God and against Moses. Such was their anger and bitterness that they were going to need a wake-up call.

God sent venomous vipers among them and many Israelites died.

This brought about genuine contrition and the people asked Moses to pray that the serpents be removed. The answer to Moses' prayer was different than they expected...

The snakes were not removed.
Instead, Moses had to make a bronze image of a snake and "lift it up" on a pole. As people were bitten, they could look at the snake and they lived.

It would have been cleaner solution if God had simply removed the snakes, but the cycle of coming across the snakes, being bitten and then being miraculously healed served to remind the people of God's holy wrath and His amazing grace. It nurtured faith as they looked to the "symbol of their suffering."

More than a thousand years later, Jesus Christ would become much more than a "symbol of suffering" - He would carry the full weight of human brokenness to the cross of Calvary and be "lifted up" and as we look to Him in faith, we are healed.

Jesus Himself explained this to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15 "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

And, like the Israelites, we keep falling back into brokenness and we must keep looking to Christ to be healed!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at