Deuteronomy – When the End is the Beginning
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations," Deuteronomy 7:9
A thousand generations is a long time. Moses is probably using an enormous number like that to signify that Gods steadfast love and faithfulness to His word goes on forever. But think about it, if a generation is about 40 years, then 1,000 generations would be 40,000 years. If Abraham's covenant with God was about 4,000 years ago, and the new covenant of Jesus Christ about 2,000 years ago, then you can see – God's faithfulness to His word is just getting started!
Not that you or I will be around in 36,000 years, but whatever things look like, God's faithfulness and love will be the same, because He doesn't change, as Moses wrote here, "The Lord our God is God," and later in the Old Testament, "I am the Lord, I do not change" Malachi 3:6." Then, as it is written in the new testament about God the Son, "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8.
It is good news that God's love and faithfulness last forever because it means that the end isn't always the end, sometimes it is just the beginning. When Moses finished Deuteronomy and was giving his final charge to Joshua and the new leaders, he was about 120 years old – His earthly days were coming to an end – but the foundation he had laid and the work of God among the people of Israel was just beginning.
And here in Deuteronomy, the conclusion of the Books of the Law, we begin to see the culmination of a repeating pattern common in all of human history. It goes kind of like this:
Genesis – We all need. Genesis shows us that one constant among people is that we all need to be delivered from problems of our own making. It’s not a bad thing if we know where to look for help. Mankind’s main problem is looking for help in all the wrong places. Our biggest need is our sinful, selfish heart and the pain of knowing that because of it I am separated from the One Who created me and loves me more than anyone.
Exodus – God Sees, Hears and Knows. He knows our needs, both the smallest needs that are only important personally and we think no one notices, and our greatest need, deliverance from bondage to sin. God is our Deliverer.
Leviticus – How to Be Holy. God sees our need, provides our deliverance and calls us to be holy as He is holy. And since our selfish minds could never figure out what God's holiness would look like in practice, He gives a blueprint to follow, the law and commandments. The definitive way to worship and conduct oneself, down to the very letter. But keeping the letter of the law is difficult, or rather, impossible, for people and we discover our weakness and sinfulness.
Numbers – He Remains Faithful. The law exposes our sinfulness and we realize how incapable we really are, even with the best of intentions, to keep the law in a holy way, which leads to frustration, disobedience, unbelief and wandering around in a wilderness that was never meant for us. But God does not leave, even when we deny Him, Because He can't deny Himself, He is faithful.
Deuteronomy – When the End is the Beginning. The word Deuteronomy means 'second law' and it is essentially the retelling of the law to the new generation of Israelites who had grown up in the wilderness. But instead of responding like their fathers, with fleshly overconfidence, they received the law with the understanding of their own limitations based on what they had seen their parents go through. And this what right where God wanted them – where He had wanted the nation from day one, at a place where they were truly ready for Him to lead. And grace begins to flow over their lives.
Moses passed the leadership of the people over to Joshua, whose name is the Hebrew word for Jesus, and Joshua is a type or symbol of Christ in that he leads the people, in God's strength, into their land of promise.
You can't force your way into the promised land. You won't get there until you stop trying so hard. Eventually, you realize this and surrender. But you don't surrender to failure, you surrender to God. Then, what you thought might be the end, is really just the beginning – and He will lead you in.