Scripture: And the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.'” Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. Deuteronomy 34:4, 7 ESV
Observation: This Daily Focus concludes our study of the Pentateuch. However, God willing, I will continue through the book of Joshua as it tells the story of Israel taking possession of the Promised Land. From its conclusion, we will jump twelve centuries to the new Promised Land of the Kingdom of God through the Gospels and Acts. And at this pace, our journey should take a couple of years—lol!
In yesterday’s Daily Focus, we reviewed Moses’ last words: a blessing to his brethren. In this closing chapter, Moses passes the baton to Joshua, with the Lord taking Israel’s greatest prophet to his eternal resting place (vv.10-12). In the opening verses, the author first provides geographical details (given the land is an essential element of Israel’s identity). So from Mount Nebo at the top of Pisgah (opposite from Jericho), the Lord showed Moses all the land as far as the eye could see, which would have been extensive since, at age 120, his eyes remained undimmed (above verses). The Lord then buried Moses in the valley of Moab opposite Beth-peor (where Moses previously read the law to Israel), but no one knows precisely where.
The epilogue also tells us that Israel mourned for thirty days on the plains of Moab (v.8). And before his death, Moses transferred his spirit of wisdom onto Joshua by laying his hands on the nation’s new leader, which inspired the people to obey Joshua (v.9).
Takeaway: Even though Moses missed out on leading Israel into the Promised Land (due to his contemptuous behavior at the waters of Meribah-kadesh), the Lord extended grace to Moses. How so? First, he led Moses to another mount (Nebo) that marked a second epoch at the cusp of the Promised Land (the first being at Mount Sinai). Here, Yahweh personally shows him the land flowing with milk and honey. (We can only imagine Moses’ mixed emotions of joy and sadness.) Then the Lord tenderly leads Moses to his resting place and buries him. Indeed, these signs of grace tell us of the intimate relationship Moses enjoyed with his Lord to his last breath.
What about us? While we cannot choose when we die (assuming we do not hastily take matters into our own hands), we can choose how we will die. Having touched on this subject in previous Daily Focuses, suffice to say that we can appropriate our Lord’s peace that passes understanding, even when our imaginations run wild and we succumb to feelings of terror. How so? Through prayer, reflecting on Scripture, and the support of godly believers. But we must express our honest thoughts and feelings to God, friends, and loved ones. We would also do well to focus on what awaits us beyond our last breath rather than before. And when we submit to the Word under the lead of the Holy Spirit, we will sense the presence of Christ and his other-worldly peace. Thus, like Moses, we can choose how we will die: enjoying an intimate presence with our Lord and Savior to our last breath.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the story of Moses, fully orbed with highs and lows but always present with you. And we thank you for the most incredible story ever told: that of your Son’s intimate, incarnate life with you. Would you please help us to learn here and now how to walk intimately with you, your Son, and your Holy Spirit so that fear of death would not grip us but instead your unfailing love, grace, and peace? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling