Deuteronomy 31:1-8 Reflection:
Our God appears to be a harsh God. In today’s first reading Moses assures the people that God will go ahead of them killing anyone who stands in their path. Moses has told the people that he is not the one to lead them into the Promised Land and that Joshua will lead them but the Lord will be at his side:
“It is the Lord your God who will cross it at your head to destroy these nations facing you and dispossess them; and Joshua too shall cross at your head, as the Lord has said. The Lord will treat them as he treated Sihon and Og the Amorite kings and their land, destroying them.”
There are a couple of ways we can read this story. The first is to understand that for the people of Israel God was a God who intervened directly in their history—he was on their side and while they were with God no one could stand up to them. There are many people today who still believe this, and who claim that God is on their side in the battles that they fight.
Often when we look into our own past we see God at work in healing us or helping us in some way. This God who is part of our lives is very important to us.
Another way of seeing the story of God destroying our enemies is to look at it from a very personal viewpoint and understand that our enemies are our sins and hurts and addictions and that God will destroy these when we allow him to walk at the head of our lives, guiding and directing us. We shall see him wash away our sin and addiction and heal our hurts.
Such an understanding of God’s work in our lives makes God real and personal and brings him a lot closer. And it helps us get rid of those things that are blocking us from living the Christian life!