“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
As 2015 winds down, 2016 prepares to emerge with new opportunities and challenges. In Asian culture these two realities of life, opportunities and challenges, are often combined into one word which is interpreted as “change”.
In our text today, Moses is communicating several key changes for the Israelites. Moses announces that he will not be accompanying them into the Promised Land and that God had chosen a new leader to continue the Exodus journey. It will now be Joshua who must complete the work that Moses began. This announcement, I’m sure, caused great fear and anxiety for the 2+ million people who had put all their trust in Moses.
However, God wanted Joshua and the Israelites to know that they would not be expected to accomplish these new challenges by themselves. God would not send warriors or angels to help them but it would be God Himself Who would assure their success. God would go before them (vv. 3 and 8) and God would be with them (v. 6). To “go before and with them” speaks to God’s omnipresence. He is “everywhere present” in His totality and at the same time. No one but God could make such a promise. To further dispel their fears, God added His promise that He would “never leave nor forsake them”. Jesus offered similar words of comfort to His disciples prior to His crucifixion (John 14:1-3).
God’s promise to the Israelites and Joshua should be a source of strength and comfort as believers experience the enormous changes in the 21st century. Change comes on many levels in our lives. Change may occur at a macro-level–that which deals with the events on a broad social, political, or economic level. Look at the affect world events have on the price of gas, or medical discovery has on the availability of adequate healthcare. Change may surface on a micro-level–up close and personal. We may change our job, relocate to a new city, or introduce new people into our circle of friends. Wherever the point of entry of the change or the size of the challenge, believers must remember we are never left alone to face them. We can rest assured that not only does God continually goes before us (Ps. 85:13) but we can confidently proclaim that we are never out of the presence of God (Ps. 139:7-10).
Good to the Last Byte…
Living in this fast paced, ever changing world, we need the Triune God Who will not only go before us but will also never leave us. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrew 13:8). All His promises are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).