Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Parashah Vayeilech / “And he went...” Devarim/Deuteronomy 31:1 - 30
The first words that Moshe speaks in this reading are: “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I can no longer go out and come in, for HaShem has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’”
Moshe’s restriction was not as a result of old age, though he was 120. We are informed in Devarim (Dt.) 34:7 that “(a)lthough Moses was one hundred and twenty when he died, his eye was not dim nor his vigor abated. His eyes could not have been dim nor his strength lessened if he were to ascend Mount Nebo and see the entire Land of Promise, which will occur in in Deuteronomy 34:1 - 3. No, Moses’ restriction was as a result of a time when he went out and did not sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the Children of Israel (Num. 20:11 - 12).
“Went” is a past tense verb. Moses’ time is essentially done. Who will go? Verse 3 tells us. “HaShem, your God, He will cross before you.” Likewise, Joshua will cross before you.
The people are then told by their erstwhile leader in verse 6 to “(b)e strong and courageous...” In the following verse Moses then commands Joshua to be strong and courageous as well. Wasn’t Joshua one of the people? Why did he have to be told again, seemingly immediately? I believe the reasons are at least two-fold. First of all, Moses is passing the baton of leadership to Joshua in the sight of all the people. There can be no doubt in their minds as to who was going to lead them. Secondly, the full weight of leadership is now sitting on Joshua’s shoulders. Shortly he will not have Moses around to ask, “Why did you do this or that?” It was up to him to know the will of HaShem, and the people were going to rely on his leadership.
The word for “strong” in Hebrew is chazaq (חזק - Strong’s Concordance H2388), and it has among its meanings to fasten upon, obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer. Furthermore the word for “courageous” is “a’mats” (אמץ H553 - Strong’s) which means to be alert physically and/or mentally, but also to establish, fortify, harden, increase, prevail, strengthen (self), make strong (obstinate, speed). These words are used in a context that indicates to me that the people are not going into the land as conquerors, not in the same fashion as Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Caesar, crusaders, Muslims, or so called Palestinians. No, this was their land. They were to be “more than conquerors”; they were to possess the land!
As is stated in Romans 8:37 - 39, “(n)ay, in all these things we are to be more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Moshiach Yeshua (Christ Jesus).” Look back to verse 35 and see what else will not separate us from His love: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or the sword.
As much as the people attempted to separate themselves from HaShem through their disobedience after entering the land, they really could not. Why not? It appears to me that the answer is found in the compelling the words that come following the admonitions to both the people and Joshua in the aforementioned verses. The people and then Joshua are told “He will not release you nor will He forsake you.” The rock is gone and so is the pillar, yet, “He will cross before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall possess them" (31:3). Nevertheless, there is no time limit given for for the length of time that He will not release nor forsake.
Abraham did not walk through the carcasses, only the One Who is above all made the covenant. Though there are times of seeming rejection, at no time is there a release or forsaking of the people. Only One was truly forsaken, and He, dare I say He was and is more than a conqueror, conquered Death; showing that His people, Jew and Gentile, the children of Abraham, the seed of Adam, have never been released nor forsaken, nor will they (we) ever be. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever and ever!