This week’s parashah, Va’etchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:111, begins with what many consider one of the saddest prayers recorded in Scripture. Flashback: Moses began his life under a death sentence simply for being a Hebrew male child. He was born in slavery and oppression. Then miraculously saved by a Pharoah’s daughter and raised as a prince in pharaoh’s household. Later circumstances caused him to flee to Midian, where he became a lowly shepherd compared to his status as a prince. His life circumstances changed once again after his extraordinary encounter with HaShem, after which the slave / prince / shepherd became the instrument of HaShem to bring judgment upon Egypt and her gods and lead the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the land promised to them. During the thirty-eight-plus years the journey took, there were times of high exaltation as well as times of great depression, but through it all, HaShem empowered Moses with the ability to lead Bnei Israel. Also, throughout the years of travel, HaShem cared for his am segulah even when they grumbled, complained, and outright disobeyed.
But then, as the journey was coming to an end, the people complained again. This time Moses seems to have “blown a fuse.” Instead of obeying the word of HaShem, Moses reacted, whether in anger or frustration or both, he struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it as HaShem commanded. Even after all that had happened in his long life, in the end, Moses was forbidden entrance into the promised land. Moses pleaded with Hashem to avert the decree, which led to the prayer mentioned above.
I pleaded with ADONAI at that time, saying, “O Lord ADONAI, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand—for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do deeds and mighty acts like Yours? Please! Let me cross over and see the good land across the Jordan—that good hill country and the Lebanon.” (Deut. 3:23-25)
All those years, all the trials, all the high points and the low, were blown away like chaff in the wind. The exodus and the wilderness travels, all leading toward the goal of the homeland promised to Abraham and reaffirmed to Isaac and Jacob, were now brought to a halt, at least for Moses, as he received HaShem’s final answer,
“Enough!” ADONAI said to me, “Do not speak to Me anymore about this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah, look around to the west and the north and the south and the east, and see with your eyes—for you will not cross over this Jordan.” (Deut. 3:26b-27)
Moses continued to lead the people under HaShem’s authority, but his disobedience, while not separating him from HaShem, had consequences. We all need to remember this lesson throughout our lives and walk with Messiah. When we err, there is forgiveness if we repent and return. Sometimes there is a restoration of life circumstances or even ministry – but sometimes there are consequences for our actions. King David, forgiven for the adulteress episode with Uriah’s wife and subsequent murder of Uriah, still lost the son from his affair with Bathsheba.
Before one think that this is just a pre-Calvary concept or occurrence, consider these words from Sha’ul to the Galatians,
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also shall reap. For the one who sows in the flesh will reap corruption from the flesh. But the one who sows in the Ruach will reap from the Ruach eternal life. (Gal. 6-7-8)
While John’s words are true, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9), there is nothing in the Apostolic Writings that can lead one to believe that there may not be consequences to our erroneous actions, words, or even thoughts.
We serve a gracious, loving, forgiving God. The very essence of HaShem’s nature was described when HaShem passed before Moses on the mountaintop,
ADONAI, ADONAI, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, showing mercy to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means leaving the guilty unpunished, but bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation. (Exodus 34:6-7)
However, just as he is gracious, loving, and forgiving, or maybe better said because he is gracious, loving, and forgiving, he disciplines those he loves, those who are called by his name.
My son (or daughter) do not take lightly the discipline of ADONAI or lose heart when you are corrected by Him, because ADONAI disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He accepts. … Now all discipline seems painful at the moment—not joyful. But later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-6 and 11)
It can be said that at least part of the discipline brought about by our actions, words, and thoughts result from the consequences of our actions. A bank robber or murderer can be forgiven, but the consequences are usually prison time, community service, or both. Even after repenting, the natural consequence of a hardened heart or an unforgiving spirit may manifest in health issues. As we learn to accept the discipline and successfully live through the consequences, hopefully, we can see the peaceful fruit of righteousness manifest in our lives.
Wherever we may be on our journey with HaShem, whether it be in the wilderness or on the bank looking over into the land of promise, may we find strength and comfort from the words of Sha’ul,
Now to Him who is able to do far beyond all that we ask or imagine, by means of His power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the community of believers and in Messiah Yeshua throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)
Shabbat shalom u’mevorach!
1All Scripture references are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.