Lent Devotion for March 18, Fifth Sunday in Lent
Reader: “They have pierced my hands and feet.”
Response: “Put your hand in the wound in my side.”
48 On that same day the Lord told Moses, 49 “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. 50 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.51 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. 52 Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”
34 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 Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was 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.”
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
And so we come to the end of the book of Deuteronomy and to the end of one of the greatest men ever to live on earth. No one has ever had the experiences Moses had with God. Whereas other prophets heard from God in dreams and visions, Moses talked with God in plain language face to face with no intermediary. Their communication was conversational in nature. No one on earth has ever experienced such a relationship with God…except for Jesus. There is sweet irony in these chapters. When Moses was on the east side of the Dead Sea and the Jordon River, the Lord took him to the top of Mt. Nebo (2,200 ft.). From there he could look westward about 60 miles and see all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. From that perspective and height, he was able to see the whole land of Israel, the Promised Land. For Moses, it was “look but don’t touch!” His failure to be completely obedient cost him the privilege of leading the people into the Promised Land. During the wilderness wanderings, one of the main lessons the Israelites were to learn was in regard to the holiness of God and what that meant for worship and for daily living. The disobedience of Moses and Aaron in front of the whole nation minimized God’s holiness and caused them both to forfeit their leadership into Canaan. I wonder how seriously people today take the holiness of God? Is God’s holiness a characteristic of our worship and life? I don’t know that “casual” would be a word I would associate with Old Testament worship, or New Testament either for that matter. Being “comfortable” in worship does not seem to jibe with Scripture. The presence of the holy God is most often convicting. Something to think about. Minimizing obedience cost Moses dearly. One other uniqueness of this account was that Moses is the only person who ever lived whom God buried! My guess is if we knew where that burial site was, there would be a church built over it. It would become a shrine and a sacred tourist place and a destiny for pilgrimages. So it is fitting that no one knows the gravesite of the “most humble man who ever lived on earth.”
"Moses” by Will Liverman, by Ken Medema (Watch on YouTube)
Gracious Lord Jesus, we live in a world that has been captured by things we can see. We must see physical evidence to know that things work. We look at screens. We interact with people, with words, with ideas that are fleshed out. But, believing in a world that is real, that we have never seen but have only read and heard about, is for many people too difficult. Yet, Lord, you have given every evidence that there is a world beyond the one we live in, a very real world, an eternal world, a beautiful world beyond descriptive words in any language. Dearest Jesus, when you were talking with Thomas a week after your resurrection, you told him that the people who believed in him, even though they had not seen him, would be blessed. We are those people and we thank you and look forward to thanking you again in person. Amen.
- Daniel Sharp