Deuteronomy 34:1-12 – Reflections on Intersections (Those Key People & Events of Our Lives)

Posted: May 9, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 34:1-12

The Death of Moses

Here we are at the end of Deuteronomy. We started this journey back in the last week of November, some 5 ½ months ago. This is also the end of the first five books of the Bible, all of them attributed to Moses. This is also the end of Moses. He dies here at the end of Deuteronomy. Someone else will write the history of Israel and provide it leadership now. It is time to reflect.

 

Moses was OK with being a son-in-law of a sheep herder. When he fled Egypt for Midian, he spent 40 years there, gained a bride and a father-in-law. He was content to live his existence out there. He was a man who did not want to go to Egypt. In Exodus 4:10, he tells God that he was “not very good with words” but yet here in the book of Deuteronomy, he delivered three very lengthy addresses to the entire nation of Israel. These three (3) speeches make up the book of Deuteronomy. What a change God had wrought in this man, Moses.

 

It reminds of what God can do in you and me. It reminds me of what He has done in me. He brings intersections and people into our lives that are instrumental in making us who we are in service to Him. My story is no different. When I reflect back on the years since I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord in December 2001, he has brought me so far and has matured me in ways that I could have never done on my own.

 

It all started when I was in my second marriage. It was a marriage in which I had made my second wife my god. She was my idol that I worshipped, not too unlike my first marriage. It was the Holy Spirit that prompted me to begin going to church again. In my first marriage, church was a small community/family farm community church that I attended from 1976 when my dad became pastor there until 1993 when my first wife and I broke up for good. It was more a weekly three extended families social gathering than it was a church. So, when my first wife and I broke up, it was not hard for me to leave the church totally. From the summer of 1993 to the fall of 2001, my second wife and I hardly ever darkened the doors of a church. She was my idol that had saved me from the insanity and violence that was the final 5 years of my first marriage. She was everything to me. I had to completely break off all that I had known for 17 years that was my life with my first wife (through dating and marriage). It was a complete break. All new friends and new family. Because of that my second wife was my lifeline. She was the source of everything. She was my god and she knew it. And anything to do with my past was taboo. Anything to do with my past was a burden she did not want to bear, including my children. Ultimately, it was the care of my children beyond the child support order that made our marriage come undone. But it was during this marriage that I found Jesus Christ as my Savior. It was Jesus that gave me the courage to stand up for my kids and do what was right by them and let the chips fall where they may. I know that God detests divorce and I am not claiming that my newfound relationship with Christ ended that marriage. But since God was never at the core of either of the first two marriages, neither marriage was founded on God. Both marriages were idol worship for me. Both marriages were about what we could get out of the relationship. God was nowhere to be found.

 

At the end of the second marriage, I went through a really rough period of life at first where I was going through withdrawal from idol worship. In those days, I was at my lowest. I could barely get out of bed each day. And, weekends, when I did not have my job to occupy my days, were excruciating and lonely. God wanted me to put Him at the center of my life instead of women and that was a long hard road to learn. It started there at the break up of my second marriage in the summer of 2004. This was the one thing that God had to work long and hard to rid me of and it was until some three years later that he changed all that. So, if you think accepted Christ as your Savior is like the skies part and everything changes suddenly for the better, you are wrong. Often, our lives get worse, before they get better. When I look back at the man I was before Christ, the man I was immediately after Christ and all the work that Christ had to do in me, I am ashamed of who I was. I also amazed at how He uses time and people to grow us into maturing Christ followers. Moses had his intersections with places and people. He had Midian and Jethro. He had Aaron. He had Joshua. He had the past life in Egypt. He had his intersections in life that made him into the man God wanted him to be – the leader of the baby nation Israel. He was the right man for the right job that God had for Him. If it weren’t for these people and events that happened in his life, Moses would not have been ready for his moment as leader of the people Israel and would not have been ready for the intimacy that He had with God.

 

There are intersections for me that changed my life. There are people that changed the course of my life once the Holy Spirit led me to the cross. There was Virgil & Debbie Whitted who were so instrumental in demonstrating the life of a couple passionately in love with the Lord. They were real people who showed me that being a Christ follower was not the end of who I was but the beginning. There was the woman who became my third and final wife, Elena. She taught me that love is about being friends first and foremost. She taught me about unconditional love. She is Monica to my Chandler. Once when Monica and Chandler got in a fight right after they had started going together, Chandler thought they were going to break up because of it. Monica told him, “People don’t break up just because they have one fight. You figure it out and you move on.” And then she said the classic line, “Welcome to a grown-up relationship!” Elena was my first grown-up relationship. She showed me that love was unconditional and was more than just about loving sex and then putting up with everything else just to get back to the sex. She never demanded that I act a certain way to gain her approval. She just loved me.

 

The other people of impact since I became a Christ follower have been preachers. The first was Luke Brower. Luke Brower taught me to be more than an armchair Christian. He challenged my faith. He taught me that being a Christ follower was more than Sunday morning. It was an everyday thing. He challenged me to grow up as a Christian. He challenged me to live out the life of a Christian and he pointed out the contradictions in my life compared to Scripture. He taught me that you can’t pick and choose what you want to believe. Man, Elena and I were both challenged by this pastoral couple of Luke and Felisha. It was an intense year that they were in our lives every day. They taught us so much about being Christ followers. When I look back at the Christ follower I was before I met Luke and the year later, the difference was amazing to see. Without the intersection of Livermore, CA and Luke and Felisha and all the people that were at Livermore Alive Community Church that year, wow, where would I be? Where would Elena and I be?

 

Next up came my current senior pastor, Jeff Hickman. What an impact he has had on my life! When it was time, God moved us from the nurturing, babe in arms relationship we had with Luke and Felisha to the time to grow up and serve relationship we have with Jeff. Prior to coming to LifeSong, when we moved back to South Carolina in 2010, I measured the depth of my spirituality by how close I was with the pastor. In Livermore, CA, the pastor and his wife, Luke and Felisha, were our best friends. We did so much together and we ate right out of their hands as they began the baby to toddler Christ follower process with us. They were exactly what we needed at the time. We found traction to our faith there. But we were young in our faith and felt like that the preacher had to shoulder tap you to do things for it to be real Christian stuff. Along comes Jeff Hickman. He teaches us that being a Christ follower is about being led by Christ not being led by a preacher. A preacher is there to point things out to you but He is not the reason for your faith. He challenged us to be Christ each and every day and that we are responsible for deepening our relationship with Christ. He also taught us that if God calls you to do something, do it. It should not matter whether the pastor pats you on the back for it. You are not here to win favor with Jeff but rather to please God by following His call on our lives. Without Jeff’s pushing us to grow up and be Christ followers in our own right and not be dependent on him for the validity of our faith, we would never have become leaders in the church and I would never have gone to seminary and would have never considered pursuing my doctorate. I have done these things in faith in Christ not knowing what God will do with it. I have done these things not because I expect Jeff to pat me on the back for it. I do these things because I am seeking after the Lord. Without Jeff’s pushing us to take responsibility for our own faith, where would I be, where would Elena and I be?

 

I stand amazed where Elena and I are today compared to where we were a decade ago. It is amazing the difference. We are light years deeper in love with Christ than we were years ago. God orchestrated it. He did it all. We were just along for the ride. We are by no means fully grown. We are and will always be in a process of maturation with the Lord. We will look back a decade from now and go wow, we were such babies back in 2017. But wow how far he has delivered us from where we were. Amazing. Amazing love. Amazing grace. Chiseling and channeling. Growing us. It has been painful at times. Growing. Learning things that needed to be learned at the hands of people that intersected our lives that were necessary intersections to make us into who we are today. There will be more intersections to come to take us to the next phase of our deepening relationship with Christ.

 

That was the thing that I see in Moses here at the end. What a life. What God did through him! What important intersections Moses had to make him in the amazing man of God that He was. Normally, I will close out with some final thoughts after each passage in each blog, but today, since it is the end of Moses and the end of Deuteronomy, I have said all I need to say before I present the passage. Let’s end today simply with the Word of God:

 

34 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—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”

 

5 And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him[a] 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[b] 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 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.

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