January 03, 2008

Lessons From History: Whose Refusal?

Deuteronomy 1:26-33, 41-46

"You did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you."
Deuteronomy 1:32-33


"You were unwilling," Moses accused the Israelites. "You," he said-not "they." But "they" were only children at that time, or perhaps not even born. Why were these children blamed for what their parents had done?

As with Adam and Eve and their descendants, so the sin of the first generation in the desert affected all their descendants. This story of the people's rebellion is a mirror in which Israel sees the truth about itself. It reminds them, encourages them, and pushes them in the right direction. It comes down to this: Don't repeat the sins of your past.

But we do. As true descendants of Adam and Eve, we listen often to the voice of the tempter. We touch what is forbidden and gaze at what our eyes should shun. We're experts at showing God and our neighbors how little we truly love them, and how much we've turned in toward ourselves. That's the burden of human history as the Bible reflects it to us: no one is righteous; no one is without sin before God.

"You did not trust in God," Moses says to you and me. "You did not trust the promise of his gift of life." But let's trust him now. Believe in him who trusted that God would raise him from the dead on the third day. Let Jesus Christ be the mirror in which you see your true self reflected.

It was I, O Christ, who crucified you. But "glory to God in the highest," who raised Christ from the dead. Help us to trust your promises this day, Lord, and forever. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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