Last week, in Parasha Devarim (Words), Moses recounted to the Israelites the giving of the Torah, the appointment of leaders, the 12 scouts who were sent into Canaan, and the giving of the land on the east side of Jordan to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
This week’s Parasha begins with Moses recounting how he pleaded with God to allow him to enter the land beyond the Jordan (Deuteronomy 3:23–27).
God, however, refused and instructed him to ascend a mountain so that he could see the Promised Land.
“Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan.” (Deuteronomy 3:27)
The Promised Land was Moses’ dream, vision, purpose and goal.
And after all his hard work, and all the complaining and trouble he put up with, not only was he not allowed to enter, but he had to support his successor who would—Joshua.
Here is a true test of our character: not only accepting that we won’t have our heart’s desire, but also being happy for those who will, even encouraging them.
Still, imagine the disappointment of Moses at not being personally able to experience the fulfillment of God’s promise!
How Should We Respond When God Says No?
Sometimes, we desperately want something with all of our heart and soul. We plead with God over and over again, but in the end, He refuses to grant our request.
We can learn how to respond to these situations through the example of Moses and even King David.
When his infant son from an adulterous affair with Bat Sheva became gravely ill, David begged God to spare the child’s life. He fasted and prayed and prostrated himself face to the ground all night (2 Samuel 12:16). Nevertheless, the child died.
How did King David react to God’s decision?
When David learned that his child was dead, he picked himself up, washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went home and ate something (2 Samuel 12:20).
What a picture of submission to the will of God!
David realized that God in His wisdom had made His judgment, and he accepted it, recognizing God’s divine rule and sovereignty.
In the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant), we see an example of perfect submission in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
Even He was met with the answer “No” from His beloved Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Yeshua asked if the cup of suffering could be taken from him.
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Although Yeshua was sorrowful and deeply distressed to realize the terrible suffering He’d endure, even death on a Roman execution stake, He submitted to the will of God, saying,
“O My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
In Hebrew, the Garden of Gethsemane is called Gat Shemanim (oil press). Shemanim is the plural form of shemen, the Hebrew word for oil.
Since oil represents the anointing of Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), it was an appropriate place for Yeshua to submit to the will of His Abba (Father) and receive an anointing to carry it out.
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)
What can we learn from Moses, David and Yeshua?
We learn that there will be times when God’s resounding NO may cause us pain and sorrow. We can also learn that God says no for a variety of reasons; for instance, in the case of Moses and David, their sin certainly played the key role.
In the case of Yeshua in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was not sin that led to God saying no, but, rather, it was because the will of God—mankind’s redemption from sin—needed to be accomplished.
Only Yeshua could fulfill God’s will.
From these examples, we can also see that if we graciously accept and trust God’s answer of no, our trials may refine our character and make us more like Yeshua.
May we all be wise enough to recognize when God is saying no.
Encouraging the Next Generation
“But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” (Deuteronomy 3:28)
Just as God told Moses to encourage Joshua to cross over the Jordan and to take the next generation into the Promised Land, we may also be called to pass the torch of faith to the next generation.
This Parasha discusses this very thing—the importance of encouraging and strengthening the next generation to follow God, perhaps even more wholeheartedly than we do!
In Deuteronomy 4, God commands us to teach His Torah to the generations to come:
“Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
Our observing and doing the commandments of God shines a light into the darkness and is a testimony of wisdom and understanding to the nations. And God’s people certainly should be known as a wise and understanding people.
“Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deuteronomy 4:6)