“At that time I pleaded with the LORD and said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do? – Deuteronomy 3:23-24 NLT
In the third chapter of Deuteronomy, we find Moses addressing the Israelites toward the end of their wandering years and the end of Moses’ life. Moses is starting to ask the Lord to go into the Promised Land (and is denied the request). How he opens the request is this, “’O Sovereign LORD, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant.”
My mouth dropped open when I read this! Moses thinks what he saw was only the beginning of God’s greatness? Let’s review some of what Moses and the Israelites saw as a group.
- Plagues, ten of them. These weren’t minor annoyances, they were murderous plagues that decimated cities, and crops, but never touched the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived. (Exodus 7-12)
- A mighty pharaoh defeated and their freedom granted. The word of a pharaoh was law and the power of God had set the children of Israel free to leave the land they had been enslaved in for hundreds of years. (Exodus 12:30-32)
- A sea parted. The waters of the Red Sea were parted at the staff of Moses. Not just so they could sop through mud and ick, but so they could walk through on DRY LAND. God’s miracles are thorough! (Exodus 13:21-22)
- An army defeated. Egypt was a powerful nation at this time, partly due to the technology of horses and chariots. The Israelites didn’t have any of those things, but the Lord fought their battle and killed the entire army. (Exodus 13:27-18)
- Food provided from heaven. Manna came down from heaven to feed the entire nation for the time they wandered through the wilderness. They didn’t have to do anything for it other than go out when it came (in the early morning) and gather it up. This also included quail and water showing up when they were needed as well. (Exodus 16:15, Exodus 16:13, Exodus 17:6)
- Clothes that never wore out. Forty years of hard dessert living, but nothing wore out. (Deuteronomy 8:4)
- The presence of the Lord in a pillar of fire or cloud. The Lord led the Israelites in a pillar of fire at night or cloud during the day. He led them and showed His guidance through their time in the dessert. It also protected the Israelites from the Egyptian army before they crossed the Red Sea. (Exodus 13:21, Exodus 40:38, Exodus 13:19-20)
Now, Moses had a few other events that he saw by himself or with just a few others.
- Seeing a bush that burned but didn’t burn up (Exodus 3:2)
- Speaking with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:20)
- Speaking with God in the tabernacle (Exodus 33:9)
- The back of God (Exodus 33:21-23)
- God’s writing on stone (Exodus 31:18)
There were even more things than this, if you read the stories of Moses in the first five books. And yet, here he is saying, “you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me.”
Moses knew God and he knew how big and powerful and amazing God was. He didn’t think that what he’d seen during his life was the max that God could do. No, Moses knew God to be greater than all the things that he’d seen.
What do you believe about God and His greatness and power? What have you seen Him do in your life and the lives of others? Do you believe Him for more? Do you know God so well that you can not only see Him working your life, but that you can believe in Him for so much more?