"The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."Deuteronomy 31:8(NASB)
Moses had led the children of Israel for forty years, but he was not be permitted to lead them across the Jordan. The time came when Moses was led to remind the Nation of the conditional covenant they had with God and urged them to choose life over death and blessings over curses. Faithfulness to God would result in many blessings for His covenant people, but disobedience would result in the entire Nation being cursed and scattered.
And now, at the age of one hundred and twenty, due to his own disobedience, Moses was not permitted to enter the promised land with the people. However, as the time for his departure drew ever closer, he presented Israel with their new leader, Joshua, who would take the people across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. "Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you." Moses told them, and he charged both the people and his successor to "be strong and courageous," as they took the next step in God's redemptive plan for His people.
Moses summoned Joshua and said to him, in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you will go with this people into the land the Lord swore to give to their fathers. You will enable them to take possession of it. The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged."
What an encouraging promise Moses gave to Joshua and all Israel. And this is a promise from the Lord, which is equally true for Christians in today's Church dispensation, as it was for the nation of Israel during the dispensation of Law. The Lord has promised to go before US, just as He promised Israel. He has promised to be with us always - even to the end of the age. What a comfort to know that He will never fail us nor forsake us.
The entire nation had been redeemed from Egyptian slavery by faith, and their faith was reckoned as righteousness. And as the people of God, the Lord promised to bless their faithfulness but warned that He would punish any unfaithfulness. Promises of blessing for obedience and warnings of curses for disobedience had nothing to do with salvation, but had everything to do with victory and future rewards - or suffering defeat and the loss of rewards.
The Lord promised that He would never leave them nor forsake them. "Do not be afraid or discouraged," was the word of hope that was given to Israel as they prepared to pass over the Jordan, and it is a promise that is equally valid for the body of Christ, in this Church dispensation. Like Israel, we have been promised rewards or loss. A faithful steward who lives a life of trust in God will be rewarded with gold, silver, or precious stones, while one that produces works of the flesh will suffer the loss of reward. They will be eternally saved, yet appearing to escape through fire.
God's Word is to be trusted. He has promised to go before us, to lead us and prepare the way we take, even when we let Him down. He has promised to be with us on our journey through life and to stay with us through all the circumstances of life - even during those times when we prove faithless. God has promised never to leave us alone and one day, He will take us with Himself forever. God's Word is to be trusted. God's Word is as trustworthy today as it was in the times of Moses.
The children of Israel saw the very presence of the Lord in the Shekinah glory that filled the tabernacle. He was seen in the pillars of fire and cloud that led the children of Israel through the dangerous wilderness. He was seen in the plagues of Egypt that demonstrated God's mighty strength and awesome power, and He was with them in the midst of the Red Sea waters, which led them to safety but destroyed their Egyptian enemies.
In this church age, we may not have visible pillars of fire and cloud to lead and to guide, but He is with us every moment of the day, for we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who is our ever-present Comforter and holy Helper in time of need. He has promised to guide us into all truth and has given us access into the throne-room of God, for mercy to find help in time of need.
In this verse, at the end of his life, Moses was reiterating the promise that the LORD gave to His people - that He is the One Who would be with them and go before them. And wherever we are in life, we have many precious promises to cling to - and His promises are ALL "YES" and "AMEN" in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Lord promised to be with them. He pledged that He would not leave them or forsake them, and they were not to be afraid or discouraged. Moses reminded the Israelites that for 40 years, God had led them, guided them, protected them, and supplied all they needed. He wanted to reassure God's children that the Lord had kept His Word despite their many grumblings, and He would continue to keep His Word, through time and into eternity. They in turn, were to continue to trust His Word and not be afraid or discouraged about the difficult circumstances of life that would certainly loom up in their future.
Israel failed to keep their covenant promises throughout their entire history, but the promise the Lord gave to Israel is as true today as it was when His people prepared to cross the Jordan into the promised land. His promise is still true today, and although they will one day face the curse of the Great Tribulation, God will finish the work He started in His people, Israel, that first Passover Day.
As in times of old, we too have God's trustworthy Word. We also have innumerable promises that God will lead us and prepare the way that we take. We have His assurance that He will be with us on our journey, stay with us through all the circumstances of life, never leave us alone, and finally take us to be with Himself forever.
Let us never be afraid or discouraged, for we have God's wonderful assurance that He will not leave us nor forsake us - and let us never forget that God's Word is to be trusted. Praise God, that even when we are weak and our faith fails, He remains faithful, for His Word is true and He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
Thank You, Father, for the truth that is contained in the Scriptures. Sometimes I wish I could see the Shekinah glory or be led by a pillar of fire, but I understand that today we live by faith in Your Word and not by sight. Thank You for Your promises to be with me, to lead and to guide me, to protect me, and supply all my needs, according to Your riches in glory. I praise Your holy name that Your Word is true, both toward Israel and the Church. Glory be to Your holy name, in Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.