By Peter Enns
Today’s reading in Deuteronomy is a new beginning for Israel. We are picking up the story of Israel’s trek from slavery in Egypt to its entrance into the land of Canaan, the land God promised to Abraham back in Genesis 12.
But the Israelites took a bit of a detour. What was to have been a fairly quick move wound up being delayed forty years. Israel had earlier rebelled at the moment they were about to enter Canaan. The spies had reported to them that the land was indeed lush, but was also populated by a strong warring people, even including the dreaded and ancient Nephilim, a race of giants (Numbers 11:31-33; also Genesis 6:14).They were afraid, and so that generation was made to wander in the desert to allow time for that distrusting element to die off.
That episode lies in the background of Deuteronomy 1-3. Now we see Israel poised to enter the land, forty years later, a second try to trust God and go forward. But before they do, Moses has a few things to say.
He reminds them of the past—not as a dig, but to make sure they remember what had happened forty years earlier, to make sure those mistakes aren’t repeated. He reminds them of all that happened, and how their lack of trust landed them in a long trek through the desert. At the end, even Moses was denied entrance to the land (chapter 3).
Remembering past spiritual failings is part of spiritual growth, though brooding about them is spiritually harmful. Sometimes you have to be reminded of the past and repent before you can move forward well.
As you read the Bible, do you see this sort of focus on failings to be spiritual depressing or something to learn from in your own life?
Have you looked honestly at spiritual areas you need to work on as a means of true spiritual growth?
Patient Heavenly Father, show me where I have not been faithful to you, and in your great love and forgiveness, show me the path forward; through Jesus Christ out Lord, Amen.