“The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8.
Shortly before his death, Moses spoke these words to his successor, Joshua. He was offering Joshua his last words of wisdom and encouragement. The time was nearing for Moses to step down and go to his death, but before he did so, Moses wanted to remind Joshua of one important fact: that God would always be with him.
Moses had by this time been leading the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years. Before that, God had called him to lead them out of slavery in Egypt. Moses was completely convinced that he was not the right person for such a task, but God would not take no for an answer from Moses. God worked through Moses to accomplish great tasks and Moses finally understood that it was God who was leading the Israelites, not himself. He was merely the vessel that God used to accomplish His work. It was this humility that allowed Moses to be such a prolific and legendary leader.
As the Israelites wandered through the dessert, they faced a variety of challenges and setbacks, most of which were the result of their own lack of faith in God. Through all the ups and downs, the trials and obstacles, the moments of joy and the moments of sorrow that the Israelites faced during their dessert journey, Moses trusted in God to take care of them. Though it may have worn thin at times, Moses did not lose his faith in God. More importantly, Moses understood and realized that God would not forsake His people. God had made a covenant with the Hebrews, that He would be their God, and they would be His people. God also promised to give them a land of their own once He had freed them from slavery in Egypt. Though their lack of faith was delaying them, God was still keeping His promises. Moses knew that, as long as the people remained faithful to God, God would be faithful to them.
It was of the utmost importance that Joshua understood all these things. God had appointed Joshua to be Moses’ successor quite some time before this point in Deuteronomy, and Joshua knew quite well the task that lay before him. Just like Moses, Joshua had a strong faith in God; he knew that God’s will would be done no matter how much of a long shot it may seem to the people. When others around him doubted God, Joshua remained faithful–it was for this reason that he was chosen to be Moses’ successor. In order for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, they needed to be strong and united in faith, and this would only be possible if the man leading them was strong in his faith. Moses had been, and Joshua would be too. Before he went “to rest with his fathers,” or to his death, Moses gave Joshua words of wisdom that only a person with strong faith who had lived a full life–120 years in Moses’ case– could give: Do not be afraid, God is with you. Always. Though Moses was moving off the scene, God was not. God would continue to lead the Israelites just as He had done during Moses’ time. Though the cast of characters on the ground changes, God remains ever the same. Joshua had no reason to doubt himself or be overwhelmed by the task at hand, for God would be with him, leading the way.
We have that same confidence and reassurance in Christ today. He made the same promise to us as He ascended back into Heaven when He said, “I am with you always, even until the end of time.” Christ will never leave us nor forsake us. He will see us through the deepest, darkest nights and the times of utter chaos and uncertainty. When we have nothing else to hold on to, Christ will be with us. We have nothing to fear, for Christ is with us. Though our friends and family may forsake us, Christ never will. When we are at the end of our rope, Christ is there. He will be by our side through absolutely everything until we are reunited with Him in glory.
Do not lose hope, do not lose heart, do not be discouraged, for Christ is with us. He will never leave us. He will never desert us. He will never forget us. He is with us always, until the end of time.