This week in The Story we’re moving on from Moses and focusing on Joshua as he leads the people across the Jordan River and into the land that God had promised them. But before we do, may I share just one more quick reflection from the end of Moses’ life? You know that God told Moses he would not enter the land himself due to his disobedience that we read about in Numbers 20 (p. 79 in your books). It’s a difficult reminder that sin has consequences, and it leaves us in a place where we feel for him – all the work he’s put in, all the complaining he’s had to deal with, and this is how it’s going to end for him? But the beautiful thing about God is that there’s always grace, even in the midst of judgment. God is holy, but God is also merciful. That’s why I absolutely love how Ch. 6 of The Story ends, with this passage from Deuteronomy 34 (NLT):
“Then Moses went up to Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab and climbed Pisgah Peak, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him the whole land, from Gilead as far as Dan; all the land of Naphtali; the land of Ephraim and Manasseh; all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea; the Negev; the Jordan Valley with Jericho—the city of palms—as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to Moses, “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 now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.” So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said…Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever…There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”
Wow! What an amazing picture of a loving God. Rest assured, this is not God taking Moses up to the top of Mt. Nebo to scold him or remind him one more time of everything he’ll be missing out on because of his previous sin; this is God taking Moses up to reveal that because of him, God’s covenant will be carried out and his promises fulfilled. This is God saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Look out in every direction, as far as the eye can see; all that you see is the land promised to my people and you have faithfully led them here. Now the mantle of leadership is passed to your protégé Joshua who will take the next steps of the journey.” I hope you noticed that line in the text – “His eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever.” God gave him the gift of good eyesight, even at 120 years old, and the strength to climb the mountain. God wants him to clearly see the fruit of all the seeds he had planted the last 40 years. He may not taste that fruit himself, but his faithfulness and his willingness to say “Yes” to God over and over has made the fruit possible for future generations.
May that be so for you and for me. May we work faithfully for the Lord, planting seeds that we may never harvest and pouring into lives that we may or may not see changed in our lifetime. And may we give thanks for the grace and mercy of God, seen even in the midst of the holiness of God.