Parashat Vayelech (He went)
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:1–30
In this week’s Scripture portion, we read of Moses speaking about when leadership of Israel will be transferred to Joshua:
So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ “It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall inherit them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken. “And the LORD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. “And the LORD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. “And the LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.”
There are two key points here, which I believe if we can really take hold of them and apply them to our walk with the Lord, we will see great victory in our lives! The first one is found in verse 3:
It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall inherit them.
Moses was telling the people that although he would not cross the Jordan River with them into the Promised Land, they should not worry but instead put their trust in the Lord Himself who would walk before them. Our human nature is to trust in that which we see, touch, and feel, and in this case, the people trusted Moses. However, the person who brought them out of Egypt could not continue with them and first and foremost, they had to trust in God and God alone. It is only after that, that Moses told them about Joshua.
The second important point is found in verse 6:
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.
Oftentimes, when the Lord calls us to do something, we focus more on the challenge that lies before us rather than on the Creator who created all things and controls all things. In other words, this verse is telling us to be strong and courageous in the LORD, to keep our eyes on Him because He is standing right there with us.
It also tells us not to fear, or in other words, not to tremble at what we see before us! The Hebrew word here is “ta’artsu” (תערצו) which can be translated as “tremble”, but it can also mean, “to admire someone or something, to respect it, or to be afraid of it.” When we focus more on that which we see, it brings us to a place where we may unintentionally hold that scary thing in a higher regard than even the Lord. We focus so much on the “giant” in front of us, giving it such a huge place in our lives, which could be tantamount to making it an idol.
The Lord wants our eyes on Him and Him alone. He wants to be our God. We are to fear, honor, admire, and respect Him over anything else in our lives… especially that intimidating “giant” standing before us. I immediately think of David and Goliath, and how much the people were afraid of the giant:
When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid.
1 Samuel 17:24
However, David feared God more than he feared the giant:
Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
1 Samuel 17:26
David was able to run toward the challenge instead of away from it. Why? Because his focus was on the living God! He did not focus on the giant. In the end, God brought the victory in a supernatural way; instead of falling backward from the force of the stone hitting his forehead, he fell on his face! God’s victory is always greater than we could ever imagine.
I want to leave you with some powerful words from the popular musician, TobyMac: “Sometimes God will put a Goliath in your life in order for you to find the David within you.”