Imagine! Still climbing mountains at age one hundred twenty! Moses had an appointment to keep with the Lord on Mount Nebo. After forty years of wandering, the children of Israel had reached the doorstep of the Promised Land. Leadership of the people had already passed to Joshua.
It must have been a bitter disappointment for Moses to have come so far and not see the goal. But it was an opportunity for him to look back on what God had done and what He would do in the future.
During the climb, Moses possibly reflected on God’s call to lead the exodus from Egypt, Pharaoh’s refusals to let them go, the Red Sea crossing, and the subsequent drowning of Egypt’s armies. He may have remembered how the people feared the thunder, lightning, trumpet sound, and smoke as God descended on Mount Sinai to speak to them. They would rather that God speak to them through Moses.
“And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him’” (Deuteronomy 18:17-19).
Moses thought of their early wilderness years when God planned for them to take the land of Canaan. Of the twelve men sent ahead to spy the land, only Joshua and Caleb returned with a good report, ecstatic over the wonderful provision the land afforded for both man and beast. The others’ report of giants and guaranteed defeat held sway. Their refusal to fight brought forty years of wandering. Everyone twenty years old and upwards would die in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb.
Moses remembered that at Kadesh his sister, Miriam, died. Also, he would never forget that fateful day when he and Aaron severely tried God’s patience at the waters of Meribah. God had said, “Speak to the rock.” In anger, Moses struck the rock twice and exclaimed, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10). In so doing, they usurped the glory that rightfully belonged to God.
“I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images” (Isaiah 42:8).
At Mount Hor, God directed Moses to take Aaron and his son, Eleazar, to its top, divest his brother of his priestly garments, and dress Eleazar in them, thus passing on the position of high priest. Aaron died there on the mountain. Now, as Moses reached the heights of Nebo, he realized it was his turn. First, however, God had a “come and see” (show and tell) planned for Moses.
From the top of Mount Nebo, Moses could look 2,600 feet down its steep slopes into the Jordan Valley below. Mount Nebo was thought to be the highest point of the Pisgah range of the Abarim Mountains that extended from the Moabite plateau toward the Dead Sea. The area had marked the southern limits of the territory of King Sihon, but had been assigned by lot to the tribe of Reuben when the land was taken from the Amorites.
From this vantage point on Pisgah’s heights, God allowed Moses to view all the promised inheritance beyond the Jordan, north to south and east to west: fertile soil covered by fields of grain; pastureland blanketed with flocks and herds; ready-made homes and cities — all theirs for the taking. Though in top form, with his eyes not dimmed nor his vigor diminished, it was time! Moses died there on Nebo, and the Lord buried him in an unknown, unmarked grave in a valley in the land of Moab.
Though Moses suffered the consequences for his outspoken actions, he remained a man of faith who led his people through many perils and brought them to the brink of their promised home. We find his name recorded among the heroes of Hebrews 11, his faith assuring him a place in the kingdom.
When Miriam and Aaron thought to challenge their brother’s leadership of the Israelites, the Lord said to them:
“Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:6-8).
Centuries later, the Prophet “like unto Moses” came to His own, but they did not receive Him. He still speaks to hearts and minds today.
What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Romans 9:22-24).
The riches of God’s glory, revealed in Christ, are extended through the indwelling Holy Spirit to all who embrace salvation in Jesus and worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.