Friday, June 28, 2019

The Death of Moses

"And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said" (Deuteronomy 34:5).

After renewing the covenant between God and Israel, Moses prepared to die. God had told him that he would not be permitted to enter the Promised Land. Therefore Moses called Joshua, and in sight of all the nation commissioned him as his successor (Deuteronomy 31:1–8). God then told Moses to write down all of the Law and put it into the Holy of Holies next to the ark of the covenant (31:14–29).

On this occasion, Moses recited the words of a song he had written (Deuteronomy 32). The purpose of the song was to provide an artistic form of the covenant for Israel to sing, because singing enabled them—and enables us—to memorize things. Moses blessed each of the tribes of Israel, describing how each was to relate to the others in the nation (Deuteronomy 33; compare Genesis 49).

Then Moses said farewell to his friends, climbed to the top of Mount Nebo, and surveyed the land God had given to Israel. The Lord stood with him and said, “This is the land I swore to give to your fathers. I have let you see it, but you will not cross over into it” (Deuteronomy 34:4). Then Moses died and went to an even better land.

The writer of Deuteronomy 34 offered an epitaph for Moses in verse 5: “Moses the servant of the LORD died … as the LORD had said.” Of all the people in the Old Testament, none exemplified more fully what it meant to be the servant of the Lord. For forty years Moses led a wayward, complaining, vicious people through the desert, putting up with one rebellion after another, enduring lies, rumors, and heartaches, and watching his old friends die without reaching the land they longed to see. Moses served God as few other men have, and he did it all according to the word of the Lord.

No one in the Old Testament was more closely associated with God’s word. He feared and loved the Lord his God, and kept His word. He did the hard things God required, and because he loved God’s people, he bade them to do those difficult things as well. For Moses, there was no conflict between grace and law, because for him, to know God was to delight in serving Him.

Moses yearned to see God’s kingdom manifested on earth, and as we read in Deuteronomy, he repeatedly expressed regret at not being able to enter the Promised Land. How about you? Do you burn to dwell in the Promised Land? Today and this weekend, consider what you are doing to prepare for your entrance and the entrance of those in your church, neighborhood, and country.