On that same day the Lord told Moses, “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.” Deuteronomy 32:48-52
Here we come to the end of Moses’ life. What an amazing journey it was too. From being born in egypt, floated in a basket on the nile, adopted into Pharaoh’s family, then 40 years wandering in the desert. Through it all Moses attempted to listen to God, sometimes he was successful and sometimes there were other voices that won out. Moses and Aaron failed the Meribah Test by leading the people away from God at times and the consequences are that Moses must die within site of the Promised Land.
This seems a harsh punishment given all the times when Moses “went to bat” for God. I have been reflecting on this and trying to make sense of this seemingly harsh consequence for Moses. As I have been praying and reflecting I have begun to wonder if Moses’ early experiences as a “man without a people” made it difficult for him to fully trust God. Perhaps his early identity crisis of not really being an Egyptian or a Jew made it more difficult to choose between being accepted and liked by the Israelites and following God.
None of this is to excuse Moses from the choices he made any more than we are free of the consequences of our choices, even when we choose to be free of God. In a sense God was honoring what Moses wanted, to be within site of the Promised Land (close to God) but not so close that he would have to commit himself 100% by crossing over into the Promised Land (following God unconditionally).
I must admit that I make similar choices at times. I fail to commit 100% to God by following Him unconditionally for fear of rejection or just plain pride. I think we all feel the consequences of this half-hearted following when we feel like we are spinning our wheels or that our efforts to follow God are not working. Are we holding back some of ourselves? I think Moses realized that he was holding some of himself back from God and settled for looking upon the Promised Land before he died. In the end God I think got his wish, which was to be close to Moses. It was was Moses who missed out by waiting until the end to be close to God.
Prayer: God help us to fully commit to follow you unconditionally so we can experience the Promised Land you have for us before we die.