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D'varim/Deuteronomy 3:24 You Yourself have begun to reveal to Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand
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Moshe is here relating his plea toHaShem to be allowed to lead the people into Eretz Yisra'el, across the Jordan. He has already reminded the people of their recent travels: how they defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan. Then follow four "at that time I" events, which appear to be sequential actions all taking place after the eastern bank of the Jordan has been subdued: allocating territory to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh (3:12-17); commanding the fighting men of those tribes to keep their promise and cross over the Jordan to fight alongside the other tribes to take possession of the Land (3:18-20); commanding Joshua not to fear the peoples currently holding the land west of the Jordan (3:21-22); and, finally, Moshe's pleading with HaShem for an entry visa (3:23-29).
After a respectful start, addressing HaShem as "My Master, Adonai", Moshe gives the text above as his reason why HaShem should relent and let Moshe go on into the Land. Two verbs are involved; the second - - is a straight-forward Hif'il infinitive construct from the root , to see or look, taking its usual meaning of "to show" or "to reveal". The first one, on the other hand, forms the crux of Moshe's argument. is the Hif'il affix 2ms form of ; the Hif'il stem shows the meanings "to loose or set free", "to open or begin". Preceded by the free-standing 2ms personal pronoun for emphasis, Moshe's case starts, "You yourself have begun to show ...". Put a little more expansively, he can be heard to say, "You have only just begun to open up, to reveal ...". This is Moshe's point: "Surely You can't stop now!" It's not just that Moshe has seen the first few episodes and doesn't want to miss the end of the series; this isn't a soap-opera cliff-hanger, with millions of viewers waiting to know if the beach life-guard will ask the girl he's just rescued out on a date. Moshe has started to see and understand G-d, with the revelation of G-d's glory that passed by while he was shielded by G-d's hand in a cleft of the rock (Shemot 33:21-23); he has then weathered the forty years in the wilderness and seen G-d's hand revealed again as Sihon and Og are defeated, their lands being laid bare before the Israelites. There is so much more to see, so much more to do and experience. "If You've come this far, shown me this much," Moshe is saying, "it must be for a purpose; You must have more in mind for me to see or do."
Centuries later, G-d makes it clear through the prophets that one of His characteristic patterns of relationship is to pre-announce what He is going to do. He does this so that when it happens, His people will recognise that what is happening is being done by G-d because they remember being told that He was going to do it. "Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you" (Isaiah 42:9, NASB). This is reminiscent of the technique used by politicians and military training: 1 - tell them what you are going to tell them; 2 - tell them; 3 - tell them what you have just told them. Amos - probably the earliest of the writing prophets, had explained that "Surely the L-rd G-d does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7, NASB), so Isaiah can then (later) bring the message from G-d: "Therefore I declared them to you long ago, before they took place I proclaimed them to you, lest you should say, 'My idol has done them, and my graven image and my molten image have commanded them.' You have heard; look at all this. And you, will you not declare it? I proclaim to you new things from this time, even hidden things which you have not known. They are created now and not long ago; and before today you have not heard them, lest you should say, 'Behold, I knew them'" (Isaiah 48:5-7, NASB). G-d doesn't want there to be any mistake about this or room for misattribution; by declaring His intention ahead of time, G-d is staking His claim of ownership for when the things that have been prophesied come to pass.
For example, Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 both contain important prophetic foretelling of Yeshua's crucifixion. Originally spoken at least half a millenium before they came to pass, and already subject to interpretation and commentary in Yeshua's time, they were nevertheless both deliberately and involuntarily fulfilled to the letter by Yeshua, the centurion and the soldiers in the crucifixion detail, the chief priests and the bystanders.
The gospels too record things that Yeshua said or did that were not understood or recognised by the immediate witnesses, but needed time to reveal their meaning. At first, the text simply tells us that His parents did not understand: "And they did not understand the statement which He had made to them" (Luke 2:50, NASB). Later, but still in the early part of Yeshua's ministry, the disciples are deliberately kept from understanding: "But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they might not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement" (Luke 9:45, NASB). Finally, John explains: "These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Yeshua was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him" (John 12:16, NASB) - in the right time they would have both the hindsight and spiritual insight to be able to put the pieces together and understand they they too had been a part of fulfilling the prophecy of Scripture. This is what enabled Peter to have his "this is that" moment on the day of Shavuot when he told the amazed people, "this is what was spoken of through the prophet" (Acts 2:16, NASB).
Today, all around us, there are signs of the age that we live in. Each generation of believers since Yeshua's ascension have been waiting for His return. But certain things needed to happen first: the gospel needed to be preached in every corner of the world, so that every people and language group would have the opportunity to respond to G-d's invitation; the nations needed to see and respond to the witness of the Jewish people, so that the powers and principalities might be properly judged; the Jewish people needed to return to their own land under their own governance, so that G-d's promises might be kept and it be clearly seen that the Jews too are just human beings and make mistakes like everyone else. Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled as we see the desert blooming and the nations becoming obsessed with Jerusalem; science and medicine take enormous strides while millions starve. In these days of foreign wars, debt ceilings and humanitarian crises, the words of Larry Norman's 1969 song "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" seem to have a certain poignancy:
Life was filled with guns and war
And all of us got trampled on the floor
I wish we'd all been ready
The children died, the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we'd all been ready
G-d's mighty deeds and strong arm have been revealed in Yeshua. They were revealed in His life and ministry two millennia ago; they are being revealed today as people are being healed, raised from the dead and coming to faith in Yeshua; they are soon to be revealed in even more amazing ways as this age draws to a close and history prepares to see Yeshua's return. The question is not if but when and, relatively speaking, is that tomorrow or the day after? G-d has already done so much, He can't and won't stop now. As He said through the prophet Isaiah, "'Shall I bring to the point of birth, and not give delivery?' says the L-RD. 'Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?' says your G-d" (Isaiah 66:9, NASB). Is your visa stamped?
Further Study: D'varim 8:3-6; Psalm 106:7-8; Isaiah 66:12-16
Application: Current affairs can often provide a major distraction, sapping our emotional and physical energy and drawing us away from the main thrust of G-d's purposes for these last days. Today would be a good time to check that you are still on track and haven't been sidelined by something that, however worthy, is not G-d's plan for your life.
© Jonathan Allen, 2011
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