What is my next best step?
Do you ever feel like you missed God's ideal plan for your life? That you've ended up choosing plan B? Is all lost?
When I think of my choices in life I am reminded of a friend who would ask this question: "What is my next best step?"
No matter how many times I've chosen plan B, my next choice provides an opportunity to choose between a new plan A/plan B.
Moses made some plan B choices that were seriously off the mark. At Kadesh Moses struck the rock to cause water to flow. God stated, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
At 120 years old, a still vigorous Moses climbed to the top of Mt Nebo. He viewed the land that had been his quest for 40 years. He is told, "You can look but you can't go there." I imagine Moses was disappointed. Still, it must have been a moving experience to finally set eyes on the promised land. Moses then died. God, uniquely, served as his undertaker. The Bible states that God buried Moses down in the valley. I'd love to know how that happened . . . 4-wheel drive hearse? . . .Nah! Clearly Moses was resurrected at some point because he appeared with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, which ironically gave him belated entrance to the earthly promised land! It is true that Moses suffered for some of the choices he made, but it is also true that God did not forsake him because of those choices. He had a plan B for Moses in which He was still able to use him.
was born in Wales and lived in England and Scotland until his family moved to the U.S. when he was 16 years old. He met his wife, Gloria, while attending Southern Adventist University. Following Seminary at Andrews University, Russell pastored in the Carolina Conference and then, following a year of Clinical Pastoral education, served as a Healthcare Chaplain at Smyrna Hospital near Atlanta, Georgia, and then with Adventist Health here in Portland where they have lived for the past 27 years. Russell and Gloria are grateful that their children, Gillian and Brian, and their spouses do not live too far away. Russell recently retired from his role as Chaplain for Adventist Health Hospice and has now taken up painting more seriously: portraits, landscapes, and wildlife.
The Song of Moses
1 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2 Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As raindrops on the tender herb,
And as showers on the grass.
3 For I proclaim the name of the Lord:
Ascribe greatness to our God.
4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.
5 “They have corrupted themselves;
They are not His children,
Because of their blemish:
A perverse and crooked generation.
6 Do you thus deal with the Lord,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is He not your Father, who bought you?
Has He not made you and established you?
7 “Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of many generations.
Ask your father, and he will show you;
Your elders, and they will tell you:
8 When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations,
When He separated the sons of Adam,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the children of Israel.
9 For the Lord’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the place of His inheritance.
10 “He found him in a desert land
And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness;
He encircled him, He instructed him,
He kept him as the apple of His eye.
11 As an eagle stirs up its nest,
Hovers over its young,
Spreading out its wings, taking them up,
Carrying them on its wings,
12 So the Lord alone led him,
And there was no foreign god with him.
13 “He made him ride in the heights of the earth,
That he might eat the produce of the fields;
He made him draw honey from the rock,
And oil from the flinty rock;
14 Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock,
With fat of lambs;
And rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats,
With the choicest wheat;
And you drank wine, the blood of the grapes.
15 “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
You grew fat, you grew thick,
You are obese!
Then he forsook God who made him,
And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons, not to God,
To gods they did not know,
To new gods, new arrivals
That your fathers did not fear.
18 Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful,
And have forgotten the God who fathered you.
19 “And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them,
Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters.
20 And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their end will be,
For they are a perverse generation,
Children in whom is no faith.
21 They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God;
They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.
But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation;
I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled in My anger,
And shall burn to the lowest hell;
It shall consume the earth with her increase,
And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
23 ‘I will heap disasters on them;
I will spend My arrows on them.
24 They shall be wasted with hunger,
Devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction;
I will also send against them the teeth of beasts,
With the poison of serpents of the dust.
25 The sword shall destroy outside;
There shall be terror within
For the young man and virgin,
The nursing child with the man of gray hairs.
26 I would have said, “I will dash them in pieces,
I will make the memory of them to cease from among men,”
27 Had I not feared the wrath of the enemy,
Lest their adversaries should misunderstand,
Lest they should say, “Our hand is high;
And it is not the Lord who has done all this.” ’
28 “For they are a nation void of counsel,
Nor is there any understanding in them.
29 Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would consider their latter end!
30 How could one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
And the Lord had surrendered them?
31 For their rock is not like our Rock,
Even our enemies themselves being judges.
32 For their vine is of the vine of Sodom
And of the fields of Gomorrah;
Their grapes are grapes of gall,
Their clusters are bitter.
33 Their wine is the poison of serpents,
And the cruel venom of cobras.
34 ‘Is this not laid up in store with Me,
Sealed up among My treasures?
35 Vengeance is Mine, and recompense;
Their foot shall slip in due time;
For the day of their calamity is at hand,
And the things to come hasten upon them.’
36 “For the Lord will judge His people
And have compassion on His servants,
When He sees that their power is gone,
And there is no one remaining, bond or free.
37 He will say: ‘Where are their gods,
The rock in which they sought refuge?
38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices,
And drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise and help you,
And be your refuge.
39 ‘Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
40 For I raise My hand to heaven,
And say, “As I live forever,
41 If I whet My glittering sword,
And My hand takes hold on judgment,
I will render vengeance to My enemies,
And repay those who hate Me.
42 I will make My arrows drunk with blood,
And My sword shall devour flesh,
With the blood of the slain and the captives,
From the heads of the leaders of the enemy.” ’
43 “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And render vengeance to His adversaries;
He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”
44 So Moses came with Joshua the son of Nun and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people. 45 Moses finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 and he said to them: “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. 47 For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess.”
Moses to Die on Mount Nebo
48 Then the Lord spoke to Moses that very same day, saying: 49 “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho; view the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession; 50 and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; 51 because you trespassed against Me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Zin, because you did not hallow Me in the midst of the children of Israel. 52 Yet you shall see the land before you, though you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel.”
Moses’ Final Blessing on Israel
1 Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said:
“The Lord came from Sinai,
And dawned on them from Seir;
He shone forth from Mount Paran,
And He came with ten thousands of saints;
From His right hand
Came a fiery law for them.
3 Yes, He loves the people;
All His saints are in Your hand;
They sit down at Your feet;
Everyone receives Your words.
4 Moses commanded a law for us,
A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.
5 And He was King in Jeshurun,
When the leaders of the people were gathered,
All the tribes of Israel together.
6 “Let Reuben live, and not die,
Nor let his men be few.”
7 And this he said of Judah:
“Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah,
And bring him to his people;
Let his hands be sufficient for him,
And may You be a help against his enemies.”
8 And of Levi he said:
“Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one,
Whom You tested at Massah,
And with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah,
9 Who says of his father and mother,
‘I have not seen them’;
Nor did he acknowledge his brothers,
Or know his own children;
For they have observed Your word
And kept Your covenant.
10 They shall teach Jacob Your judgments,
And Israel Your law.
They shall put incense before You,
And a whole burnt sacrifice on Your altar.
11 Bless his substance, Lord,
And accept the work of his hands;
Strike the loins of those who rise against him,
And of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”
12 Of Benjamin he said:
“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him,
Who shelters him all the day long;
And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”
13 And of Joseph he said:
“Blessed of the Lord is his land,
With the precious things of heaven, with the dew,
And the deep lying beneath,
14 With the precious fruits of the sun,
With the precious produce of the months,
15 With the best things of the ancient mountains,
With the precious things of the everlasting hills,
16 With the precious things of the earth and its fullness,
And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.
Let the blessing come ‘on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’
17 His glory is like a firstborn bull,
And his horns like the horns of the wild ox;
Together with them
He shall push the peoples
To the ends of the earth;
They are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
And they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
18 And of Zebulun he said:
“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
And Issachar in your tents!
19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain;
There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness;
For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas
And of treasures hidden in the sand.”
20 And of Gad he said:
“Blessed is he who enlarges Gad;
He dwells as a lion,
And tears the arm and the crown of his head.
21 He provided the first part for himself,
Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there.
He came with the heads of the people;
He administered the justice of the Lord,
And His judgments with Israel.”
22 And of Dan he said:
“Dan is a lion’s whelp;
He shall leap from Bashan.”
23 And of Naphtali he said:
“O Naphtali, satisfied with favor,
And full of the blessing of the Lord,
Possess the west and the south.”
24 And of Asher he said:
“Asher is most blessed of sons;
Let him be favored by his brothers,
And let him dip his foot in oil.
25 Your sandals shall be iron and bronze;
As your days, so shall your strength be.
26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’
28 Then Israel shall dwell in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens shall also drop dew.
29 Happy are you, O Israel!
Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord,
The shield of your help
And the sword of your majesty!
Your enemies shall submit to you,
And you shall tread down their high places.”
Moses Dies on Mount Nebo
1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”
5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. 6 And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day. 7 Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. 8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended.
9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.
10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
Oppressed by the Wicked but Rejoicing in the Lord
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
1 Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation;
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,
3 Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words,
4 That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.
5 They encourage themselves in an evil matter;
They talk of laying snares secretly;
They say, “Who will see them?”
6 They devise iniquities:
“We have perfected a shrewd scheme.”
Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep.
7 But God shall shoot at them with an arrow;
Suddenly they shall be wounded.
8 So He will make them stumble over their own tongue;
All who see them shall flee away.
9 All men shall fear,
And shall declare the work of God;
For they shall wisely consider His doing.
10 The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him.
And all the upright in heart shall glory.