Saturday, April 07, 2007

Don't tell me the future

Paul Atriedes, the protagonist in Frank Herbert's Dune, sees the future in frightening detail. As he lives out his life -- joining a band of desert-dwelling Fremen, ascending to become the leader of a planet and then the galaxy -- he experiences déjà vu time after time. He often feels trapped in his vision and sometimes tries to escape it by doing something he hasn't "seen".

In today's reading from Deuteronomy, Moses learns the future, too. But Moses doesn't have the same problem as Paul Atriedes, because the Lord doesn't tell him until the end:
16And the Lord said to Moses: "You are about to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.
Deuteronomy 31:16
The Lord goes on to describe the bad things they will do and the worse things that will happen to them, but I think you get the idea.

So when I read this a few years ago, I wrote in the margin, "Why tell Moses now?" I mean, how frustrating would that be? Moses leads these people forty years in the desert, tries to teach them the right way to go, and then the Lord tells him that all his efforts at education and religious instruction basically didn't take.

Why tell him? Why dump that on him? Is he still mad at Moses because of that thing with the rock?

Here's what I think. I think it is a great honor Moses is receiving here; he's sharing in the frustration that Almighty God himself experiences. God is opening his heart to Moses, giving him a taste of what it's like to pour your heart out to your chosen people and yet know that they'll turn away.

Moses is given a great gift, one which I'm not sure I'd want. Well, of course I tell myself I'd want God to reveal his heart to me, but when I think again... would I? The "man of sorrows" experienced a lot of pain; he was well acquainted with grief. How much of that do I want him to share with me? How much, in other words, do I want to share in his sufferings?

Well, I'm conflicted about that. May the Lord make me hunger and thirst for the knowledge of him more than for anything else.

Amen (and I use that word advisedly).

No comments: