While reading through Deuteronomy this morning I ran across these verses:
23 At that time I pleaded with the LORD: … 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.” 26 But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”
Deuteronomy 3: 23, 25-26
I had to stop and read verse 26 again. Did Moses just switch from writing a narrative to directly interacting with his audience? Who is the “you” he is referring to in that verse? I read the first section of that chapter again, and could find no direct clues. I had my hunches, but I thought it best to look further. So I kept reading.
This is what I ran into:
The LORD was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance.
During this section, Moses was talking directly to the Israelites so he was most definitely meaning, “you fellow Israelites,” when he used the pronoun, “you.”
He DID mean, “you fellow Israelites,” back in chapter 3. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that Moses, of all people, would blame others for what God clearly told him was his fault. I have always struggled a bit with how harsh God’s punishment seemed to be for Moses when he struck the rock instead of speaking to it (see the story in Numbers 20). But only God knows the heart, so He must have seen something that He realized required discipline.
As I am writing this I am realizing that Moses’ patent refusal to accept responsibility for his own actions, that were in direct conflict with what God had explicitly told him, show why God didn’t allow him to lead the Israelites farther into Canaan. Conquering Canaan was going to require all sorts of crazy, strange, unique and downright ridiculous-seeming strategies that would need to be followed without editing or questioning. Moses liked to question.
Moses had done an amazing job getting the Israelites this far. But he was getting tired.
It is heartening to me that God chose to use someone as human as Moses, who, even at the end, wasn’t perfect.
This passage is also getting me thinking – what in my life is out of reach because of actions that I have not taken responsibility for?
Speaking from the experience of being a person with autism, and having relatives with autism, I can say with some confidence, that blaming others for things we should take responsibility for is a common struggle for us. Neurotypical people can struggle in this area, too. But it seems especially prevalent among those of us with autism.
Here’s to owning our mistakes and making it a better day, with God’s help, of course!