What a life Moses had lived. Remember how his mother hid him in a basket and set him in the water so he wouldn’t be killed. Remember how he was found by an Egyptian princess and grew up in an Egyptian household. Remember when he first saw God in a burning bush. Remember how he persevered through the wilderness with a bunch of complainers. Now he stands with God looking over the promised land. Strong until the end. And now he’s gone.
Interesting that we hear in the text that God buried him, and that no one knows where Moses is buried. I suppose in that way the people could truly move on and not spend days setting up some memorial shrine to Moses or even take his body into the promised land after all. The leadership role has now shifted to Joshua, and their happily ever after will soon begin in the land of Canaan.
Moses is referred to here as a “man of God.” How do you hope to be remembered some day–as a man or woman of God? I certainly do. God has used Moses in some amazing ways as we look back on his life and teaching. What a prophet! A prophet who had Facetime with God! That certainly doesn’t happen every day. But we can be still and listen for God’s voice.
I was talking with another business coach the other day, and we were comparing notes about how God is moving in our lives. She lamented about how she had really struggled lately not knowing which direction she should go with her business. She wondered where God was. So she asked him. His answer back was, “you haven’t been listening.” Is that us? Are we too busy to listen for God’s voice?
Moses plays a very big role in the Old Testament and in the history of the Israelite people. I remember thinking when I was a kid going through Confirmation classes that it was such a shame Moses died before entering the promised land. I hadn’t really understood the whole story. Even this time through the story, I dug a little deeper to understand what Moses did, if anything, to end his life before reaching the other side of the Jordan.
In today’s reading, God is predicting Moses’ death. He is allowing Moses to see the promised land from a distance. Bittersweet. But God had told Moses and Aaron that their mistake was going to cost them. The LORD said, “For both of you betrayed me with the Israelites at the waters of Meribah at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. You failed to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel there.” God is speaking of Moses and Aaron. The story in question is recalled in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20.
When I think of a song, my mind goes first to the tune. Then I focus on the lyrics. When both the tune and the lyrics are powerful, the song is so much more memorable. Moses’ song appears to be lyrics only. The tune can always be added later. Isn’t it amazing how you can remember lyrics from songs you learned as a kid? I am always amazed when my husband, David breaks into song, only to find out it’s a song from the 60’s or one he played in a garage band back in the day.
God was brilliant when he had Moses write down a song to help the people remember. It’s a great learning tool. I’ve learned many Bible verses that way. Put them to a melody. As a worship leader, I’ve also learned many songs along the way only to find out later as I’m reading through the Bible that it was Scripture I was singing. I love those a-ha moments!
Moses has been sharing God’s laws for many chapters, and now God says it’s time for Moses to die. It’s time for Joshua to be installed as the new leader. Joshua will be the one to usher the Israelites to their new homes. I wonder how Moses felt. Honored to be sure! God had chosen him to be a mighty prophet. Not many people have ever had a face to face relationship with God! The fact Moses wouldn’t see the promised land himself was a disappointment to be sure. But it is much more helpful to focus on the blessings rather than get caught up in the “what-ifs.”
God knew how it was all going to play out. He knew what was going to happen after the people got what they were promised. God said to Moses, “After you are gone, these people will begin to worship foreign gods, the gods of the land where they are going. They will abandon me and break my covenant that I have made with them.” After all that Moses had been telling them, warning them, it was unbelievable they would still stumble. Could Moses have almost felt relief that he no longer would be the one to scurry around picking up the pieces, trying to keep the people in line?