Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Greta Thunberg: The climate doesn't need awards: Photograph: Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock
And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers. / Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither. / Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.
— Deuteronomy 1:34-35/37/39
The fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy (literally 'second law') is centered on three sermons given by Moses, first to recount the journey from Egypt, second to reiterate the law first expounded in Exodus, and lastly to reassure the Israelites that should they stray from the law, repentance was possible. Deuteronomy continues with the 'song of Moses' and 'the blessing of Moses' and culminates in Moses' death on Mount Nebo, in view of the promised land he'll never reach.
In his first speech Moses reminds the Israelites of their folly in mistrusting God, and we get to understand the forty-year wait to enter the promised land. With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, who will lead in Moses' place, it is the next generation that will enter Jericho, while the original generation is dying off or being left behind. It took forty years for the turnaround to be complete. God has given up on this evil generation and puts His trust in their children. It is the younger generation who will be given the law (hence the 'second law') and will be trusted to remain true.
It's natural to draw parallels between this and the climate change movement of today. It is not the original generation, the ones who are causing the destruction of planet Earth who can be trusted to heal it. God has given up on the older generation—my generation—and rises up a new one, more socially and environmentally conscious, personified at the current time in the figure of Greta Thunberg. It is the younger generation who will see the promised land, not my generation. We'll be left behind, and like Moses only able to gaze from a distance.
In traditional Jewish society children were 'the least of these', voiceless non-people with no status and no rights. Perhaps they are the 'meek' that Jesus later claimed would inherit the earth1. Moses is ahead of him here by a few thousand years. And we, a few thousand years on are finding the truth in this ourselves. Before the awesome passion of the young environmentalists we, the older generation, are humbled.
1 Matthew 5:5