He climbed up the mountain of Nebo, beside the plains of Moab. His tired feet and aging body, straining at each step. I imagine the proximity of the Promise and the trust in the Covenant were the fuel that propelled him to move forward to the top of the mountain… after 40 years of wandering and waiting.
“Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” Deuteronomy 34:4
He would never taste the milk and honey. Ever. But His eyes would see if from a distance.
God would give him that.
And just as he saw the Promise Land, his heart stopped… and he rested in Him.
“And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said.” (v.5)
I’ll be honest with you. I had a problem with this part of Scripture for a long time.
I know, I know. Moses messed up. He struck the rock instead of speaking to it.
But, man! Talk about harsh punishment (my flesh says)!
After all, he led the Israelites out of Egypt and turned a crowd of slaves into a Nation.
Not just any nation…God’s chosen people.
He delivered God’s commandments and later was used to write God’s laws.
He put up with this unbelieving, rebellious nation time and again, and yet, prayed for them, interceded on their behalf when God vowed to punish them.
And yet, a seemingly small mistake stopped him just a few miles from the borders of the Promise he held close to his heart.
I finished a study on the book of Deuteronomy thinking about the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34). On that same day, a godly father our family knew lost his battle to cancer.
People from all over the world prayed fervently for his healing. We believed God for a miracle.
But the miracle didn’t come.
As I read about Moses’ passing, I could not help but think of the promise this friend held close to his heart to the very end.The Promise of a future where he would see his children get married and have children.
And as my heart ached for the family, and for a life seemingly cut short…
As I read about Moses’ death, and my flesh wanted to scream again: “Oh, Lord, why not let him step foot in the Promise?”
God’s word through Isaiah rang loudly in my spirit:
“Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14)
And later in his book:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
As I meditated on these well-known verses, the Holy Spirit whispered:
“Moses didn’t set foot on the Promise Land, because his mission was finished. He had run his race, finished the course. My plans for him were better. Sweeter than honey. I brought him to the REAL Promise Land.”
There, Moses’ heart would not be broken by rebellious Israel again.
There, his aching bones would find complete healing. His tired soul would finally find joy… and rest.
There, there would be no more pain, no more sorrow.
And while the children of Israel went into battle, and later rebelled once again against God, Moses was spared.
And instead of going through more strife and pain, HE EMBRACED HIS REWARD.
Oh, friend, what a blessed assurance to wrap around our hearts when a loved one, a child of the Living God leaves this earth!
What a wonderful Truth to cling to when the troubles of life, and even death does not make sense on this side of eternity:
That we cannot comprehend God’s mercies and grace… And yet, we KNOW they are true and eternal!
That life is but a vapor, and soon we will be reunited with those who go before us, so long as our lives belong to the Lord Jesus Christ!
Better yet, we can tell our hearts this amazing truth:
That our God is still good, even when the worst happens… And our prayers were heard, even though the healing didn’t come.
Moses saw the TRUE Promise Land, way before Joshua and Caleb did.
His eyes saw Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s Promise Land from a distance…
But His feet stepped onto the streets of gold.
As people we love seem to “lose” life’s battles way too soon, and although the sorrow and depression will be certain for a season… Even though we will miss them until the day God calls us home… may we hold on to this truth, and tell it to our saddened hearts:
They didn’t lose. They won. God’s love and mercy took them home.
And because we believe in the same Savior… and because His stripes healed us all, we know it: