Some Things are Better Left Unknown
We know from Scripture that God is sovereign. And it is He, and He alone, that brings nations to the forefront and then orchestrates their decline and ultimate demise (Job 12:23). We’ve seen that throughout all history. And we have accounts of it in Scripture (remember the Babylonians).
In Deuteronomy 31, Moses is 120 years old and is about to pass the mantle of leadership to Joshua. He begins by giving instruction to the one who will lead after him (31:1-8). He then commands that the Law be read in the presence of all people every seven years so that “their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess” (Deut. 31:13).
But what happens next is probably one of the saddest portions of Scripture you will read, both for Israel and for us today. It begins with God reminding Moses that he will soon die (31:14). He then commands Joshua to come to the tabernacle of meeting so God, in a pillar of cloud, may inaugurate Him for his new role in Israel (31:15). And then, in a moment of sovereign reflection, God tells Moses the future. He, sadly, lets His aged servant know what is to come.
And the frightening part of this is that God could have said the same thing about our nation, and possibly about our own lives with Him. We also rejoice in His blessings and then go our own way, doing whatever we want, never actually thinking God will bring the chastisement and judgment on us for our disobedience. That reality of His judgment always seems like something that will never happen, much like a bad dream. But it has happened. And the reasons for His judgment on us are the same for His judgement on ancient Israel.
Read the following verses carefully and take them to heart. Maybe, unlike Israel, we can repent on a personal level and on a national level and forestall what He is bringing our way. Maybe. But if His judgment on our nation is set in stone, it doesn’t have to be that way for you and me. We can still repent and receive His forgiveness and blessing, even in the midst of a well-deserved national judgment.
Read ’em and Weep
The following is Deuteronomy 31:16-21, and I pray His church takes these words to heart.
And the LORD said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
“Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.
“Now therefore, write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel.
“When I have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, then they will turn to other gods and serve them; and they will provoke Me and break My covenant.
“Then it shall be, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify against them as a witness; for it will not be forgotten in the mouths of their descendants, for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I have brought them to the land of which I swore to give them.”
Remember what Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). I think the same truth applies to us, His church, today. We still have time to glorify Him while there is breath in our lungs. But none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. So let’s get at it before the night comes and it will be too late.