Thoroughly Equipped: Copies and Shadows

Today’s reading includes Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22, Luke 8:4-21, Psalm 69:19-36, Proverbs 12:2-3.

In today’s reading we find Moses not only recounting their 40 year journey, but also providing plenty of warning to the people, along with the assurance of the promises and capabilities of God.

Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you.

                                                                                                Deuteronomy 9:1-3

Moses does not sugar-coat the challenges that lie ahead of them, but he also reminds them from where their strength and victory come.  God is the one who goes ahead of them preparing the way.  God is the one who will destroy their enemies on their behalf.  God is the one to fulfill His promises, every one.  And it will not be because of who the people are, it will be because of Who God is.  In fact, if the strength for the victory came from a measureable amount of righteousness, the people would indeed fail.

Though the Lord takes away our sin and our shame, we should not forget the lessons learned by our failure.  The memory of our failures should not continue to bring us shame—Jesus took that shame away.  But we should remember in Whose righteousness comes the victory—and it is not in ours.  The same was true of the God’s chosen people.

It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

                                                                                                Deuteronomy 9:5

Our covenant God keeps His promises even when we do not.  And for that, I am very grateful.

Moses continues in his review of the previous years, recounting the big episodes of unfaithfulness and failure, reminding them how he had to intercede on their behalf.  Look at the following accounts and see what is the repetitive cycle in each.

18 Then once again I fell prostrate before the Lord for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the Lord’s sight and so arousing his anger.

                                                                                    Deuteronomy 9:18

23 And when the Lord sent you out from Kadesh Barnea, he said, “Go up and take possession of the land I have given you.” But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. You did not trust him or obey him. 24 You have been rebellious against the Lord ever since I have known you.

25 I lay prostrate before the Lord those forty days and forty nights because the Lord had said he would destroy you. 

                                                                                    Deuteronomy 9:23-25

10 Now I had stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights, as I did the first time, and the Lord listened to me at this time also. It was not his will to destroy you. 11 “Go,” the Lord said to me, “and lead the people on their way, so that they may enter and possess the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

                                                                                    Deuteronomy 10:10-11

Each time, Moses acted as a mediator between the sinful people and a holy God.  Each time, he went before the Lord for forty days and forty nights.  This holy number, forty, represents a time of cleansing and preparing, as well as a probationary time period or a time of testing or trial.  In these cases, it is a time of cleansing and preparation.  But it is not Moses who needs cleansing.  The cleansing is needed for the people, and Moses serves as a savior symbol—a reflection of the Savior to come, who goes before the Father on our behalf and pleads our case.  Our plea is guilty, of course, but also with a “paid in full” sign placed on us by the blood of Jesus.

Think about other times God used the number 40 for cleansing and preparation.

Noah was in the ark for 40 days and 40 nights.

Moses was in Egypt for 40 years, then in the desert for 40 more.

He spent 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai on two separate occasions.

The spies went to scout out the Promise land for 40 days.

The people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

This preparation time, Moses’ last work, lasted 40 days.

The prophet, Jonah, preached to the sinners of Ninevah for 40 days, and                    thwarted its destruction.

Ezekiel laid on his right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sin.

Elijah went for 40 days without food or water at Mount Horeb.

And Jesus, the One who is reflected in all of the above accounts, went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days in preparation for the great work He would do on our behalf.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see brave, righteous men go before God as a mediator between a sinful people and a holy God.  But these are only copies and shadows of the Only One who could truly make things right.

Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

…there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.

                                                                      Hebrews 8:1-5

What a humbling thing to know that Someone is willing to stand in the gap for us,  for without that sacrifice we would perish.  So, what is our response to this glorious truth?

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God…

                                                                   Deuteronomy 10: 12, 13, 20, 21

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