Surely Moses knows in his heart that this will be his last trip up a mountain. Alongside the God he has followed faithfully for over forty years, Moses goes to his death willingly, his
service now ended. Certainly, if anyone deserved to enter the Promised Land, it was Moses. But, like the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he labored trusting that God’s promise would be realized by a future generation. Moses accepts God’s divine judgment.
We may recall a harsh penalty issued by God to both Moses and Aaron: “Because you did not trust in me, . . . you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them” (Num. 20:12). By the time of the scriptural account for today, the penalty remains, but God’s mercy has come to the fore. Moses will glimpse the long-awaited Promised Land. Moses cannot see the length and breadth of the Promised Land, but God blesses him with a divine vision that allows him to take it all in and be satisfied that his work in preparation for entrance into the new land ensures that the wandering Hebrews have a permanent home.
The people mourn Moses’ passing for thirty days and then community life resumes as usual, which reminds us all to remain humble. We are all sinners, falling short of the goals of the kingdom and dependent upon God’s grace. Moses is buried in an unmarked grave, in an undisclosed location. This may have further demonstrated his humility, but it also prevented any idol worship or veneration of Moses’ body.
Moses was chosen by God to lead the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. He was blessed with the physical prowess to perform those grueling duties over forty years, starting when he was already eighty years old. His powerful presence, late in life, inspired all people.
Almighty God, “servant of the Lord” is the best epitaph a person could hope to have. May we so live that we will be remembered in just such a way. Amen.
Deuteronomy 34 narrates Moses’ death and Joshua’s succession, both the end of Moses’ life and the continuation of his influence. Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses, and the tone suits the setting portrayed in Deuteronomy 34. In First Thessalonians Paul continues his recollection of the relationship between himself and the Thessalonians. Paul and his coworkers acted out their love of neighbor, a love that is possible only because of their prior love of God. The Gospel places Jesus in a setting of controversy with the religious leaders of the day. The exchange about the greatest commandment demonstrates that the religious authorities in fact observe none of the commandments because of their inability to understand properly what Jesus calls the “ rst” and “second” commandments.
• Read Deuteronomy 34:1-12. How is God speaking to you about your life? What endings seem imminent? What new beginning is God forming you for?
• Read Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17. Notice all the references to time. How do you experience time when you perceive God’s work in your life? How do you measure time when God seems absent?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8. What relationship is God using to form you spiritually? Who are you tenderly sharing the gospel and yourself with so that God is using you in someone else’s life?
• Read Matthew 22:34-46. The writer states, “It is impossible to love God without also loving those created in God’s image.” What are the implications of this statement on your life? the life of your church?
Respond by posting a prayer.