Posted By PHall on May 22, 2013
Certain cultural norms are more meaningful and worth emulating than others. Talking to our children before we die is definitely one of those. Before Moses dies, he blesses his “children” (Dt 33). Moses “looks at each tribe and prays for its well-being in the light of its characteristics, inclination, and capacities. The blessing, a poem like Jacob’s testament, is both prayer and prophecy” (Plaut, The Torah, p.1567). What is essential for us is not the individual blessings upon each tribe-child. The reason is we, unlike Moses, cannot bless our children with an inspired personal revelation. We can and should however, know our children well enough to help them predict their own future with comfort and forewarning. For us looking at Moses’ prayer blessing, what is important is the beginning and the end.
In the beginning of the blessing, Moses extols Yahweh by going back to their beginning at Mt. Sinai. It speaks of God’s power and closes with His majesty. God is powerful and frightening, appearing with 10,000 holy angels, with lightening from His right hand (33.2). God came with instruction as Israel assembles at His feet, receiving His words (33.3). And unlike the pagan world where the kings are also gods, in Israel the one true God is their King (33.5). God as King foreshadows the succession of the Son of God as King. Moses even uses an endearing term of affection for Israel used twice in the prayer blessing (33.5,26), once in the previous song (32.15), and once in Isaiah (44.2). He calls Israel, Jeshurun, “the upright one.” Israel is to be like their God. In the middle is the comforting covenantal truth, “Indeed He loves the people” (33.3).
In the end, we come back to God, the unique God (33.26), who “rides the heavens to your aid” (33.26). Focus intimately and intensely on the next phrase, “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (ESV). This dwelling place is a “refuge” (NET) or “safe resting-place” (BBE). God is our home! I repeat and shout, GOD IS OUR HOME! The result is “So Israel dwells securely” (33.28), is “untroubled” (33.28), “happy” (33.29), “saved” and unique – “who is like you, a people saved by the LORD?” (33.29).
When laying on my deathbed, I hope to be free enough in mind and body to talk to my children and bless them with final words. I want to remind them to keep the words of God, so they can be called Jeshurun, the upright one. I want to remind them they were raised in the Lord to live in the Lord. I am only a father, but God is their Father, and Jesus is their King. I love them deeply, but the Father, Son and Holy Spirit love them divinely deeply. They need to know this. They need to know God is their home. God keeps them happy and safe. And one last thing; I have told my wife already what my last words will be. “See you later.”
Prayer Challenge: It should be axiomatic that talking to our children about God on our deathbed will only be effective if we are talking to them already. Pray for a closer, spiritual relationship with our children so our last words will be a blessing.