God had forewarned Moses, His faithful servant, on a few occasions that he would soon be facing death: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die” (Deut. 31: 14a); “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers” (Deut. 31: 16a); “And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. 13 And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered” (Num. 27: 12-13 cf. Deut. 32: 49-50).
What went through Moses’ mind as he faced this inevitable appointment ordained by the Lord? One writer aptly observed:
“What thoughts must have filled Moses’ mind as he looked back on his long and eventful past! No doubt he recalled the different facets of his life: the son of a slave who became the son of a princess; a rich heir to the Egyptian throne who chose poverty and suffering with God’s oppressed people; a shepherd who heard the voice of God at a burning bush; a murderer who became the deliverer of over two million people and led them on a forty-year trek through the wilderness.
“Moses had seen God feed His nomad nation with quails and manna, provide water from a rock, and prevent their clothes and shoes from wearing out. Yet, how many times Moses had pleaded with God to spare this ungrateful race!” (Stan Evers, Oct 2001, Evangelical Times).
Not too long ago, Moses had buried his loved ones – his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron – in the Egyptian wilderness. Now, barred from entering the Promised Land, Moses was told by the Lord that he would soon die.
How did Moses respond to God’s announcement of his impending death? The following are some thoughts gleaned from Stan Evers’ article for our meditation:
o He submitted to God’s will
The prospect of leaving his family and friends soon must have troubled Moses deeply. But the patriarch’s thoughts were of God’s people. His prayer in Numbers 27 reveals his concern for the Jews whom he had led for the past forty years.
Furthermore, his own sin of disobedience before the murmuring Israelites – the cause of his ban from entering God’s Promised Land of Canaan (Num. 20) – added to his grief. Sadly recalling the painful past and God’s refusal to let him enter the Promised Land, Moses put on record his prayer at this time: “O Lord GOD, ... let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan ... But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me:
and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto Me of this matter” (Deut. 3: 24-26).
Despite these distressing thoughts, Moses humbly accepted God’s will. After he had made an end of blessing the people, Moses bade a sad farewell to his family and friends and calmly climbed to the top of Mount Pisgah to view the land as well as to die: “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan … 5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD” (Deut. 34: 1, 5).
o He trusted in God’s promises
“Though he lived many years before Christ, Moses understood God’s promise in Numbers 27: 13: ‘Thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people’ to mean more than burial in a grave” (ibid).
The Book of Hebrews records Moses’ faith – that he “had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (11: 26b). By faith, Moses made his choices in the light of eternity. He turned his back on the riches of Pharaoh’s court. He chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”. He regarded “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (11: 25-26a). We are told that it was Moses’ faith in God that enabled him to endure, “seeing him who is invisible” (11: 27b).
We should note that although Moses’ sin of disobedience barred him from entering the Promised Land, it could not rob him of his eternal reward. God’s dying servant might have regretted that one single act of rebellion against God, but he was comforted by the prospect of a glorious eternity with the Lord whom he had faithfully served.
Moses received the news of his imminent death with a quiet and submissive heart. He set things in order and calmly walked to the place that God had appointed for him. He “died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD” (Deut. 1: 5).
While he lived, Moses had trusted in God’s promises. Keeping in view the eternal “recompense of the reward” (Heb. 11: 26b), Moses had made wise choices, denied himself and yielded to the will of God. His faith was evident both in word and deed.
Brethren, what is our response to this sobering issue? Sooner or later, it will be our time to keep our appointment with Death. God knows the best time to call us Home to Him. Like Moses, let us be ready to meet our Lord.
While we live, let us make wise choices that reflect our faith in God’s promises. When called to face afflictions, let us, like the faithful patriarch, endure, “seeing him who is invisible” (Heb. 11: 27b). Seek to manifest our faith through our daily lives. May the Lord grant us grace to do His will and to live in the light of eternity.