Don’t give up
Deuteronomy 34 (NIV)
1 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “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 let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
5 And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moabthirty days, until the time of weeping and mourningwas over.
9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.
10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
And they lived happily ever after right? Actually . . . no . . . not really. It gets really messy after that.
For example in Exodus 33, while Moses was up on a mountain for 40 days, the Israelites didn’t know what to do anymore.
They didn’t know how to be free. They didn’t know how to worship the Lord. They didn't know the Lord's presence.
They kept making things worse. They made a golden calf idol and worshipped it. When Moses came down from the mountain and saw this, he smashed the Ten Commandments into tiny pieces. Moses had to beg the Lord not to leave the people.
There were other calamities in the wilderness as Moses attempted to lead the people to the promised land. Like the time that 12 scouts went ahead to the promised land, and 10 out of 12 were so scared that they convinced the people that it would be really bad if they went there (see Numbers 13).
They didn't know how to be free. They didn’t know how to worship the Lord. They didn’t know the Lord’s presence.
They weren’t ready for the Promised Land.
So Moses led them through the desert for 40 years.
I’m guessing it wasn’t easy or fun. Moses wasn’t able to keep it neat. He was supposed to lead the people, but he couldn’t prevent them from going astray. He cared enough about what The Lord asked him to do to stick with it.
In today’s passage we see Moses’s death described. In fact, he has achieved his goal of leading the people to the promised land. God gives him a glimpse of the whole land, and it is glorious. He dies not having entered himself, yet he is described as having no equal.
Our task as leaders and everyday people, especially in a time of pandemic and recession won’t always be fun. You won’t be able to keep it neat, and the journey could end up taking way longer than you planned. But like Moses, stick with it. It may be worth it.
LORD, in a global pandemic and recession our lives are messy. We can’t find our way out of this desert alone. We need YOU. The only way out is YOU. Show ME your ways. Show me YOU. I want to see YOU. Provide the endurance to stick with it. Give us a glimpse of the promised land, that we may have hope. AMEN.