Deuteronomy 34:1-4 (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.”
What kind of cruel trick is this? For the last 40 years, Moses has led the Israelites faithfully. He’s endured wars, famine, rebellion, and every kind of struggle. His calling kept him strong; the promised land. Get the people there, God told him. But, this is the end for Moses. He will not enter. Instead, he will die.
It makes me mad. The pain he endured, and the faithfulness he gave, weren’t enough. Instead of a victory lap, God says, stand here next to me and watch. Let me show you what you are missing out on. What?!
My thoughts and questions reveal the trouble of my own heart. Think about it. If God pulled you aside today and said someone else is about to accomplish everything you dreamed, but sorry, your time has come. Now, stand here next to me and watch. How would you feel?
Anger is first for me. You just experienced that. Thankfully, it is short-lived. I push through the anger and ask God to help me see. He presents me with humility. This comes with the reminder that Moses messed up pretty badly. So have I. But God loves anyway. This love gives way to worship.
Moses had it right. He knew that the promised land wasn’t the real prize. God was the prize. Because of this, Moses saw his death as an opportunity. It’s no different than Paul. Remember when Paul said, “to live is Christ, but to die is gain?” (Phil 1:21) Moses knew this too. God has finally freed him from all of life’s troubles. He gets to be with God for all of eternity.
Clearly, I have work to do. My failure to see God as the prize for Moses tells me that there is something in this life that I have idolized. There is something in this life that I am making all about me. This is where Moses got it right. He looks God straight on and sees everything he ever wanted, so he follows him up the mountain with great anticipation.