“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deut. 31:6)
Moses’ last words to Joshua before he died were words of encouragement. As he passed the mantle of leadership to his long-time second-in-command, Moses was also passing to Joshua a promise from God that had sustained Moses through all his many years of leading God’s people. There were many challenges during those 40 plus years. Moses had to confront the Pharaoh, likely the most powerful person in the world at that time, armed with nothing but a staff and the promise of God’s presence. There were times when the Israelites rebelled against God and Moses’ leadership to the point that they wanted to destroy Moses and God wanted to destroy them.
But Moses did not get discouraged. He yearned for a deeper relationship with God. In Exodus 33, we read:
One day Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”
The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”
Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”
The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” (Exo. 33:12-17)
Do you see it? God’s presence with the Israelites was what set them apart as the people of God. God’s presence is what Moses needed if he was going to lead God’s people to the Promised Land. God promised to be with Moses and his people, and Moses passed on that promise to Joshua.
This is not just a promise for the ancient believers in God. That promise continues for us today and was re-affirmed for us by Jesus when he said, “…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20)
We are living in extremely difficult times, but we can trust in the promise of Jesus’ presence. Our sin will not separate us from Jesus for he has taken care of that by going to the cross and dying for our sins. Death will not separate us from Jesus for he has taken care of that rising from the dead.
It is Jesus’ presence that gives us courage and strength. Therefore, I invite you to pause for a moment at various times throughout the day to think of Jesus and remember that he loves you, he is with you, and you are forever safe with him.
Dear Jesus, help me keep my wavering eyes on you. Help me to remember that you have not only rescued me from condemnation, you have carried me into a wonderful life with you where you give me peace that surpasses all understanding. Thank you for your love. I love you too. Amen.