Sometimes it's hard to reconcile a God who in Deuteronomy (24:5) tells men to spend their first year of marriage making their wives happy with the same God who in Leviticus (27:4) valued a woman at 20 shekels less than a man. It's also perplexing to watch God's close friend Moses climb Pisgah for a peek at the land of milk and honey only to hear again that he will never enter because he improvised on God's command. (At a recent spring training baseball game someone asked me if I thought the hitter who ignores a base coach direction to hold his swing and goes ahead and bats a home run gets in trouble. Based on this week's reading I could say with Biblical authority, yes.)
Moses never had a problem arguing with God over His intention to punish His people for wrongdoing. Many times, Moses pleaded with God to suspend His judgment on Israel's gross sin and God honored his request. Moses made no such request for himself. He accepted God's punishment for what seems like excusable behavior to usMoses was old, maybe he didn't hear so well anymore, maybe he just got a little carried away when struck that rock twice to make God's point instead of speaking to it as God commanded.
One of many key verses in Deuteronomy is found in chapter 29, verse 29:
The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.
There are few men who knew God better than Moses. Moses knew things that made him more accountable. He knew the mantle of leadership was about to pass the Joshua. What looks capricious to us (changing a step in the process of giving lifesaving water to the people was actually critical to God's message. Moses got that and he spent the remainder of his life making sure that Israel knew what they were accountable for.
Sometimes I get discouraged about what a tough customer God can be. Then I remember that I am accountable for what God has revealed to me, his Son Jesus.
The Lord your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)
That is the work of Jesus.
I can't leave this week's reading without giving a shout out to Joshua and the powerful words in Joshua 5:15.