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Summary: In our Scripture today, Moses shares the news with the Hebrew people that He will not be leading the Hebrews into the promised land. With his words, he seeks to prepare the people for the next leg of the journey

Goodbye Sermon

Deuteronomy 31:1-8

Have you ever thought about what you want on your tombstone? On a windswept hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone with an epitaph not easily seen unless you stoop over and look very closely. The faint etchings read: “Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, Who on the 24th of May, began to hold her tongue.” In Deuteronomy 34:10-12 we have what Biblical scholars have called Moses’ epithat, “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”

Moses was born a Hebrew but raised as the adopted child of Pharaoh’s daughter. Though he grew as an Egyptian prince, Moses never forgot who he was. One day after seeing an Egyptian kill a Hebrew slave, he could not control his temper and killed the Egyptian. As a result, Moses fled to Midian where he married and rose up to be an overseer of shepherds. One day, while Moses was leading his flock to Mount Horeb, he came across a burning bush. Coming closer to it, God spoke to Moses and told him to return to Egypt and free the Hebrews from slavery. Though Pharaoh was considered to be a god, Moses demanded the Hebrews be released from slavery. Pharaoh refused and there ensued a prolonged battle between Moses and Pharaoh, including 10 plagues Moses called upon Egypt to persuade Pharoah. The 10th plague was the worst of all, causing the death of all first-born Egyptian males. After this, Pharaoh relented and told the Hebrews to leave Egypt. But then Pharaoh had a change of heart and ordered his army to get the Hebrews back. They chased them to the Red Sea where the Hebrews were allowed to cross but as Pharaoh’s army crossed, the parted waters collapsed drowning the Egyptians.

For the next 40 years, Moses led the Hebrews through the wilderness. He faced problems with both water and food and weathered complaints from the Hebrews about the conditions, dealt with demands they return to Egypt as well as their rebellion. God did many miracles on the wildernenss journey including "manna" or bread that fell from heaven. They were guided by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, both of which led them to Mount Sinai. It was there that Moses went up, met with God and received the 10 Commandments. While he was away, the Hebrews stayed back and started to make a golden calf to worship, which Moses destroyed. He oversaw the construction of the Tabernacle, where they would worship. He experienced Hebrews who disobeyed his commands. Through it all, their faith was tested as they experienced intense heat, hunger, thirst, and war but Moses led them safely through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

After all of that, you would expect that Moses not only have earned the right to lead the Hebrew people into the promised land but also to experience it himself. But that was not to be. Moses is told by God that his life will come to an end and he will not lead the Hebrews into the Promised Land.

As I thought about the last 7 years, my mind came to the story of Moses. We have been on a long journey together through many ups and downs, challenges and successes. We didn’t know what the journey would be like or exactly what the destination was. But through it all, God has been leading us. We have crossed the wilderness together, not knowing exactly where we were going or how we would get there. We have learned much along the way and Adrain and I have felt for quite some time that we are on the verge of something big here, that we’re about to bust wide open with growth. In other words, we are on the edge of the Promised Land but like Moses, a call came which informed me that it was not me who was to lead you into there.

In our Scripture today, Moses shares the news with the Hebrew people that He will not be leading the Hebrews into the promised land. With his words, he seeks to prepare the people for the next leg of the journey. Moses shares five keys for the journey which lies ahead. First, while the future is not certain, one thing is: God goes ahead of you. We don’t know what the future will bring. No one does. Consider these comments on the future: “Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it impossibility--a development which we should waste little time dreaming about.” Lee de Forest, 1926, inventor of the cathode ray tube.” I think there is a world market for about five computers.” Thomas J. Watson, 1943, Chairman of the Board of IBM. “We don’t think the Beatles will do anything in their market. Guitar groups are on their way out.” Recording company expert, 1962. Needless to say each one of the comments prove the future does not turn out sometimes like we expect it too. The Scriptures put it this way “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

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