Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 30-31.
I don’t know which is more remarkable – that God foresees the falling-away of his people, or that he remains faithful to them in spite of what he knows. Once again I am awed at what these books of the Law teach us about the character of Jehovah, the promise-keeping, the compassionate, the ever-faithful, the future-knowing God.
The LORD then said to Moses: “Soon you will rest with your ancestors, and the people will rise up and act unfaithfully, going after strange gods of the land they are entering. They will abandon me, breaking my covenant that I made with them… When I bring the Israelites to the land I swore to their ancestors, which is full of milk and honey, and they eat, get full, then fat, and then turn toward other gods, serving them and disrespecting me and breaking my covenant that I made with them… Yes, I know right now what they are inclined to do, even before I’ve brought them into the land I swore.” Deut. 31:16, 20, 21
The Old Testament is full of predictions, but I’m not sure there is one more clear than this one. No symbolism or metaphors. Plain talk. Moses will die. The people will be unfaithful. They will leave the LORD for other gods. They will not keep the Law. As soon as they become self-sufficient they will forget all about God.
It won’t take long. As soon as Moses’ successor, Joshua, dies, the people fall into that long cycle of abandoning God known as the time of the judges. Samuel, Saul, David, and Solomon bring a reprieve, but then the kingdom splits. The northern kingdom of Israel never has a godly king and the Assyrians carry them into captivity after 300 years. The southern kingdom of Judah lasts another hundred years with only a handful of godly leaders.
Yet God remains faithful. He promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land, and Moses sees that happening. He also promised that Abraham would have as many children as stars in the sky, a promise which he renewed with Jacob. But will all the children be rebels?
God said the world would be blessed through Abraham’s children, a promise that remains unfulfilled in Moses’ time. As God started with a man, Jacob, and faithfully stayed with him as his children became a tribe and then a nation, so God will remain faithful to this rebellious nation as they become a kingdom. From that kingdom will come the family of David, and from that family God will raise up a savior who will fulfill the promise to bless the world.
God’s faithfulness paves the way for redemption whether it’s a prodigal son or nation. Perhaps there is someone you know who has tested the limits of your faithfulness. I encourage you to follow God’s example and not abandon them, but continue to remain involved in their life. With God’s help, prodigals can find their way home.
Image by coolinsights on Flickr, CC by 2.0