We are in the last of the 5 books of the Torah. This is where Moshe (Moses) reviews with the people the last 40 years of wandering, their laws and regulations, the history of their travels, warnings to stay true to God and His teachings (the correct meaning of the word, “Torah”) and his song and blessing of the people.
It has been nearly 41 years (this discourse starts on the first day of the eleventh month of the 40th year) since the rebellion at Horeb when the people refused to enter the land, and Moses recounts the fact that he assigned judges over the people to help him, the rebellion at entering the land, the decades of wandering and then, as they re-approached the land the Lord’s command that the Israelites should not battle against certain of their brothers (the Edomites, for example) but will destroy others, such as Og and Sihon. Then he told how those lands were given to the tribes of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh but they would still fight with Israel in the land until all the land was settled. He told Joshua to be brave and to boldly enter the land knowing that God would go before them to conquer the peoples so that Israel would inherit and rule the land.
This final book is the epilogue of the life’s work of the greatest prophet in Judaism. Throughout it we will review all that happened to the children of Israel during their wanderings, constantly reminding them of the way that God had taken care of them despite the many times they rebelled and showed faithlessness. This is a review, a warning, a condemnation and a confirmation of the unique and blessed position that the children of Israel have with God.
What is important here, I believe, is that when anyone who worships God reads this, they should think of their own life. We wander through life, don’t we? Whereas the Israelites wandered at the command of God, we wander at our own command. We go from job to job, house to house, and (unfortunately, in today’s society) we also go from marriage to marriage. We wander, often aimlessly and not even knowing it, just as the Jews wandered in the desert.
And, just like them, we have God protecting and providing for us. However, the Israelites could see the rock give water, the birds gather, and the manna on the ground every morning. They saw the sea split open and the Glory of God on Mount Sinai. They could clearly and unmistakably see the miracles of God happening in their lives.
We don’t. Really, when was the last time you saw a rock split open so you could drink? Do you think that you would eat something off the ground while walking to work? Probably not.
But that doesn’t mean God isn’t providing for you. If you sit down and think, you might come to the same conclusions I have for my own life:
* when I was going from job to job, God provided all those jobs;
* when I was going through divorce, even though I wasn’t a Believer, He still kept me sane (OK, that is an arguable point), provided enough for me to survive and see my children 2 states away every weekend;
* when I met Donna God brought us together despite the worst first date ever;
* when I changed careers, God provided good people to mentor me;
* over 18 years ago, when I sought Him out, God showed me that I can be a Jew, and saved, and still be a Jew. God’s leading my wandering led me to people who helped me realize who and what Yeshua is, and that Yeshua saved me. God also led me to Messianic Judaism, which is what kept me saved. God provided all that for me. Baruch Ha Shem!!!
* God has given me salvation, the marriage I wanted with a wife whom I love more than life, a good job, financial and emotional security, friends, and even though there is still Tsouris in my life, God has carried me through it all.
This is what we can learn from this parashah; in fact, from this entire book of the Torah: God is always there, He is always helping and providing, and He will continue to do so. We may wander here and there, to and fro, but God is steady. He is always watching, never sleeping, and will care for those who care for Him. Even when we are in rebellion and He punishes us, it is not so much punitive as it is restorative- God punishes us so that we will turn back to Him. I know it sounds a little crazy, I mean really? You want me to come back to you so you send trouble on me? Yes, that is how it works with God because the reason for our rebellion is that we think we are in charge. We think that we can get it done on our own, taking care of “Numero Uno”, and all that garbage. God pulls the rug out from under us and makes us fall on our back so that the only way we can look is up- at Him. And while there, trying to catch our breath and hurting, we have to look at Him and maybe, just maybe, doing that will remind us that it is God who can lift us up and keep us up, and that even though we wander, if we wander the way God wants us to go (meaning obeying Torah as we go) He will be there to protect and provide.
Do you ever just stop and review your life? Never, never, never do so with regrets or wondering about , “What if I had…..” because that will never move you forward. We need to remember the past, but try to filter out the dreck and recall mostly the stuff that helps us to keep going. Don’t dwell on the bad things but remember them as having passed, and recognize that you got through it because God was helping you through it.
Review your life and remember the good with the bad, but remember the bad as what God helped you through and the good as what God has, and will continue, to do for you.