God’s Work Across Generations

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 34.4-12
4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” 5 And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over. 9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Reflection: God’s Work Across Generations
By Makayla Payne

The beauty and wonder of Moses’ ministry were real. God used him to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and to cross the Reed Sea on dry ground. He brought God’s people the Ten Commandments and spoke with God face to face. (Deuteronomy 34.10) God even tenderly buried him in a place only he knew. This passage acknowledges the significance of his life in advancing God’s plan. Moses’ ministry is worth remembering, and the end of his life is worth grieving.

The final chapters of Deuteronomy make clear that Moses’ absence didn’t mean God was absent. Just a few pages prior, God promised to always be with his people. (Deuteronomy 31.6) This is God’s mission, not Moses’. God was always the source of Moses’ ministry, from beginning to end. God’s work is never dependent on any one person.

Chapter 34 brings Deuteronomy, the Torah, and the life of Moses to a close, Walter Brueggeman notes. As Moses looks out at the Promised Land, his assignment is now complete. God is the one who will lead his people into it, just as he was the ultimate one who delivered them from slavery and sustained them in the wilderness. 

Even as this passage hones in on the specifics of Moses’ ministry, it also zooms out to remind us of God’s sweeping plan. This land was promised before Moses even came into the picture. (Deuteronomy 34.4) The story began with Abraham and Sarah. It moved on to Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. On and on it went, as the genealogies remind us. The Israelites would now see God continue his work under Joshua’s leadership. 

As we consider our own lives, the grief we feel after a good leader dies is honorable and even necessary. Yet, that grief need not turn into hopelessness. The miraculous rescue of baby Moses from the Nile shows how eager God is to raise up leaders of integrity and justice.

God is always at work in the next generation. His plan spans across transitions, leaders, cultures, and times.

Thank you, Father, Son, and Spirit, for the faithful lives of good leaders who’ve gone before us. Give us grace and strength to live well in the particular time and place you’ve called us, as Moses did. Give us courage to persevere amidst grief as Joshua did, for it’s the same Spirit who lives in us today. Amen.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The Lord has sworn an oath to David; in truth, he will not break it:
“A son, the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne.” — Psalm 132.11-12

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 33-34 (Listen6:35)
Romans 13 (Listen 2:35)

Read more about Faith of a New Generation
Identifying the spiritual and social flaws of the past is important…new generations follow God’s lead with faith refined.

Read more about Josiahs Need Zephaniahs
If we long to see youth, like Josiah, rise up to lead revival instead of abandoning faith, we need to be like Zephaniah.

The Garden of Psalm 119

Psalm 119.174-176
I long for your salvation, Lord,
    and your law gives me delight.
Let me live that I may praise you,
    and may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep.
    Seek your servant,
    for I have not forgotten your commands.

Reflection: The Garden of Psalm 119
By John Tillman

We finish Psalm 119 today and reflect on it with some words from Charles Spurgeon: 

“Those who have studied this divine hymn, and carefully noted each line of it, are amazed at the variety and profundity of the thought…The more you look into this mirror of a gracious heart the more you will see in it.”

Spurgeon is convinced that David wrote the Psalm and if not he, then some other writer who spent long years in its work and created it not over a short span, but through a lifetime of faithfulness.

“There is evident growth in the subject matter. The earlier verses are of such a character as to lend themselves to the hypothesis that the author was a young man, while many of the later passages could only have suggested themselves to age and wisdom.”

In the end, rather than rising in acclaim or celebration, the aged wisdom of the psalmist leads him to a humble and prostrate stance.

“The psalmist is approaching the end of the Psalm…he seems to break into the inner circle of divine fellowship, and to come even to the feet of the great God whose help he is imploring. This nearness creates the most lowly view of himself, and leads him to close the Psalm upon his face in deepest self-humiliation, begging to be sought out like a lost sheep…It is a very sweet thing to a suppliant when he knows of a surety that his prayer has obtained audience. It is to Jehovah that this prayer is expressed with trembling earnestness…we crave audience of none else, for we have confidence in none beside.”

Meditating on Psalm 119 daily has been a common spiritual practice over the centuries and many have reported its wealth of spiritual benefit.

“This sacred ode is a little Bible, the Scriptures condensed, a mass of Bibline, holy writ rewritten in holy emotions and actions. This Psalm, like the whole Scripture which it praises, is a pearl island, or, better still, a garden of sweet flowers.”

It is our hope in each cycle of our two-year-long tread through the garden of scripture to produce not pride, but humility. Not judgmental attitudes, but merciful gratitude. Not clamoring commands for others, but tender notes of correction in our own hearts.

*Quotations abridged from “A Treasury of David,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, and the oppressed who has no helper.
He shall have pity on the lowly and the poor; he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, and dear shall their blood be in his sight. — Psalm 72.12-14

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 33-34 (Listen – 6:35)
Psalm 119:145-176 (Listen – 15:14) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 1 (Listen – 3:11), Psalm 120-122 (Listen – 2:12) 
Joshua 2 (Listen – 3:49), Psalm 123-125 (Listen – 1:52) 

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift. 

Read more about Quotations from the Desert
Connecting to God’s Word and relying on it for our sustenance, for our source of life, is a consistent theme of scripture and the purpose of spiritual disciplines.

Read more about Setting Aside the Scriptures
The reason that we cannot set aside the Scriptures that we don’t like, is that Scripture must be considered holistically. Each part is bound up with the others for a purpose.