I was fortunate to get over to Glasgow for a few hours today. While there, this synagogue caught my eye. On leaving, I felt led to take a picture of it – mainly, I admit, because of the beautiful Hebrew written above it! My Hebrew is still a work in progress, so I needed a bit of help from Google to piece it all together. It turned out it was a passage from Deuteronomy 32:12: “The Lord alone led him [Jacob/Israel]; no foreign god was with him” (NIV).
I was amazed. I have not read Deuteronomy for many years, but have been reading it gradually since June, and astonishingly, I read these very words this morning (in a bit of a hurry before my long run)!
This to me seems more than a coincidence; I would call it a “God-incidence” – an instance of God speaking to me and possibly to others too, hence my sharing. These words are from Moses’ song towards the end of Deuteronomy not long before he dies, having led the Israelites out of Egypt, and in the wilderness. Yet, Moses does not lead Israelites into the promised land; this role falls to Joshua – or as he is otherwise known, Yeshua (Hebrew) or Iēsous (Greek), meaning “saviour”, from which we derive the name Jesus in English.
We have been in a time of wilderness and darkness not unlike Israel’s. While we may now be gaining occasional glimpses of a post-COVID “promised land” as things open up again, we know there is still some way to go. The Lord alone led Israel in the wilderness; there was no other god. The Hebrew word for “alone” (badad), when used as a noun, can also mean isolation. Similarly, I believe that the Lord has been with us too in these times of isolation.
So, where do we go from here? Sadly, so much of Moses’ song and Israel’s history is about how this was forgotten, as God’s people turned to other, false gods. We often do the same thing looking elsewhere and forgetting about the God who loves Israel and all nations. Yet, the saving love of God through Jesus is a pandemic in that it is freely available for all people. We are called to turn to it, to receive it, and to be led by it and nothing else. Through it, we move from the wilderness into an eternal promised land.
At this time, may we be a people led by the Spirit of the Lord.