Every Thought Captive

God, Moses, and the Promised Land

That very day the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.”

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 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.” So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Deuteronomy 32:48-52, 34:1-12

In mid-August school begins; teachers and students return to classes and scheduled activities. I remember hearing from a first-year teacher about his anticipation of the first parent-teacher evening. He planned his presentations and reviewed his class lists. But not one parent came. What a disappointment!

What has disappointed you? Has a professional effort failed, or has a friend betrayed a confidence? Often our disappointments are with ourselves! We know God’s will is best, but we often still feel disappointment when we pray, ask, and God does something different. 

When you read the account of Moses’ death in Deuteronomy 34 and find that God refused Moses’ entrance into Israel’s Promised Land, do you feel disappointment on Moses’ behalf? After all, this was Moses, who in God’s power spoke for God before Egypt’s Pharaoh. This was God’s man, who struggled with the Israelites’ complaints over and over on the wilderness journey, and then saw them refuse to enter when they finally arrived. This was Moses, whose life so often pointed ahead to Jesus the true Redeemer, typifying Him and His sacrifice as he pleaded with God to “blot him out of his book” rather than destroying the people for worshiping a calf idol. (Exodus 32:32) And now he must die outside Canaan’s borders.

Moses sinned when he disobeyed God at Meribah, striking the rock and implying he would bring water from it. God said, “Because you did not believe in Me, to uphold Me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12) God intended Moses to lead Israel to believe and worship Him in His holy reality. (Exodus 3:10-18) When Moses surrendered to anger and pride before the people, the LORD acted in discipline.

We have no record of how Moses felt. We do know that all God does is loving and right. When we read the final narrative of Deuteronomy, we don’t see Moses struggling alone toward another mountain’s summit. Moses stands strong with clear eyes, looking over the landscape of promise, with the LORD Himself as guide, seeing every soaring cliff and green valley of the place God promised His people from ancient times.

Moses’ death is mysterious, but he did not die alone. The LORD personally buried Moses’ body in a secret place. Scripture records that when Satan invaded and tried to seize Moses’ body, God deployed the archangel Michael to repel him. (Jude 9-10)

The writer of Hebrews includes Moses in his cavalcade of those who lived by faith. (Hebrews 11) He said Moses “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:26) Moses believed in and chose God and His promises, and those promises would be fulfilled perfectly in Christ. The reward Moses sought most was God Himself and His unfailing intentions for all His people, in which there will be no disappointments. Hebrews says, “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40).

So how do we regard the end of Moses’ life or our disappointments? God’s designs for His people are better than we understand, prepared for us with overflowing grace in Christ. We, with Moses, join together in God’s promises and good purposes, and He is always with us.

About the Author

Photograph of Neatice Warner

Neatice Warner

Neatice grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and graduated from the University of New Mexico. She is married to Terry and has 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and 3 grandsons. Neatice is privileged to teach the PCPC Women's Early Morning Bible Study; her passion, along with her family, is God's Word and the joy of seeing God's people transformed by His Spirit through that Word.