Context is key. In the previous blog, we looked at Moses who was giving the charge to the Israelites to cross over the Jordan and take authority of the land promised to them. It is a strong scene with Moses transferring his mantle to Joshua and making a proclamation to all of Israel to “Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God goes with you.”
But, the key lies in the chapters leading up to Deuteronomy 31. The proclamation “Be strong,” is almost like the parting words in a commencement speech. The chapters leading up to the proclamation are chalked full with instruction. These instructions are the game plan for how the Israelites are going to be successful and victorious in the new territory.
Moses gives them four main points:
- Do not abandon the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers. Do not worship and bow down to other gods, gods he has not given to them.
- Obey and keep his commands written in the Book of the Law. Those who do will receive compassion, be gathered together, and be restored to fortune (from captivity).
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers.
- Choose life. They have a choice: Life and prosperity or death and destruction. He who does these things above will live and increase; the Lord will bless him in the land.
Without these life-directing words, the Israelites may have ended up charging into the new territory and being utterly destroyed. Deuteronomy 31:17 says that if they, “bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.” They could have fallen flat on their faces.
I wish my husband and I would have meditated on these chapters before heading into our 14-month deployment. Nope, instead we ended up charging ahead in our own strength. We did not turn and hold fast to God. We tried to handle the grief, loneliness, and hardship of deployment by ourselves. We did not lose our marriage, but we were met with a lot of challenges.
His grandfather died within 2 months after he left and that same month he broke both his legs during training. During the deployment, seven of my closest friends got pregnant and were unable to see or meet with me regularly. They had to focus on getting their homes and lives ready to receive a new baby. We ended up falling flat on our faces.
Quickly, we learned to obey and love the Lord with all our heart and soul. Not halfway.
New seasons are wrought full of unforeseen challenges and fearful circumstances. We too like the Israelites need to have that direction and instruction on how to keep our lives intact when entering into a new season of life. We are going to unpack these instructions over the next couple blog posts.
This is the game plan. This is how to succeed in the new territory. This is how not to fall prey to loneliness, despair, and hopelessness. Come with me and we will discover the plan together!
Lord, We thank you for your living Word. We thank you for the instruction and commands in Deuteronomy and the Book of the Law, that you gave to Israelites and to us. I pray that you would give me a mind to understand the truth of your Word (Deut. 29:4). I desire to turn to you, to obey you, and to love you with all my heart and soul. God, help us to choose you, to choose life today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.