Deuteronomy 31:1-13

Joshua Becomes Moses’ Successor1

When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them: “I am now one hundred twenty years old. I am no longer able to get about, and the Lord has told me, ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will cross over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua also will cross over before you, as the Lord promised. The Lord will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. The Lord will give them over to you and you shall deal with them in full accord with the command that I have given to you. Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Law to Be Read Every Seventh Year

Then Moses wrote down this law, and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. Moses commanded them: “Every seventh year, in the scheduled year of remission, during the festival of booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people—men, women, and children, as well as the aliens residing in your towns—so that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God and to observe diligently all the words of this law, and so that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.”

John 16:16-25

Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

“A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”

Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

My dad used to obsess about the weather, as a hobby, I think. Sometimes it seemed a little more than a hobby. He bought several digital weather machines to hang on the roof of the house and measure wind speed, barometer, humidity, and temperature. The dog ate the first one, thinking it was a toy. Today we have phone apps that can tell you most of that stuff. But back then, as today, I always told him, the best way to determine what the weather was doing was to simply poke your head outside and see.

The problem with that method, despite its incredible accuracy for the present moment, is that it does not help you figure out what the weather will be like tomorrow. This is especially pertinent in places like the Midwest, where the weather can change pretty drastically within 30 minutes or so. It is not unheard of for a warm, sunny day to drop 20 degrees and begin pouring rain at the drop of a hat. Tomorrow is the mystery we continually seek to unravel.

If tomorrow is beyond our understanding, how can we make covenant promises that not only last for days, but lifetimes? How can we make promises to God that will affect the lives of those long after we are gone? Would it not be better to simply refuse to promise anything you cannot fulfill immediately?

That is not the Way of Love. Love is a covenant that embraces Hope which makes plans for tomorrow, even sacrificial plans. It is a commitment to choose to remain in relationship regardless of the given choices of any particular moment. It is not saying, “I know”, it is saying “I will”. that hope does not make everything work out, but it does affect everything. Where there is no hope, covenant ends… but where even the smallest glimmer of hope remains, covenant will always exist.

That is the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! It shows that no matter how badly we mess up in our covenant with God, no matter what few choices we have left to us… there is always hope. There is always hope. That covenant has the endurance to last for eternity. How do we embrace that hope? We ask God for help.

Up until Jesus died and was raised again, the disciples sought to maintain their place in God’s Kingdom by what they did for Jesus. After He left, they had no way of serving Him or even knowing what to do the way they had in the past. From that point on, they had a greater awareness of how dependent they were upon Him. They saw their unfaithfulness and had no way of remedying it. They needed help from the other side. That is what Jesus offers when He says, “Ask in my name.” When we cannot see tomorrow, we need only ask Him Who is already there.

Where do you need hope today?

  1. (Num 27:12–23)

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