The book of Deuteronomy is unique in the bible in that it is the farewell speech of Moses to the Hebrews before they are to enter the Promised Land—the destination of a journey that has taken 40 years. These are not the same people who escaped Pharaoh’s slavery. This is the next generation, the children of those who witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and passed through it on dry land. Joshua, Caleb, Moses and some of the elderly are the only ones left from the original group and Moses will not enter the Promised Land because of his indiscretion at the waters of Meriba and Massah.
Because they did not witness first hand the plagues and the night of the first Passover—they only heard of them from their parents—Moses recounts for them all that the Lord did for His chosen people in order to bolster their faith. He understands human nature and how easy it is for history to lose its truth, intensity and magnificence over time and how we can succumb to the devious ways of Satan, falling back into worldly ways, forgetting God’s out-of-this-world Love. He wants to remind them all that there is no other God. He is one and only. It’s a good reminder for us, too.
In his book, The Life of Christ, Fulton J. Sheen begins with an interesting contrast. He points out that in the historical list of world leaders, one of the distinctions that sets Jesus apart from all the rest is that He, and He alone, came to die. Moses’ address to the Hebrews has a similar tone. In describing the events of their escape from Egypt, he points out to them the uniqueness of their God. “Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God… or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself? These are rhetorical questions that can equally apply to us. We, like those about to enter the Promised Land, can answer the same questions with a resounding, “NO,” and Moses’ admonition can equally apply to us: “This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.”
St. Paul takes it a step further. We are not just children of God, but heirs and what He offers is greater than anything we can make for ourselves. (Recall the Prodigal Son.)
Before departing, Jesus testifies for Himself, reminding the apostles, and us, that, “all power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He is Lord of all by the Will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.