English: Moses views the Promised Land, by Lor...

English: Moses views the Promised Land, by Lord Frederic Leighton, relief print from Illustrations for “Dalziel’s Bible Gallery”, engraved by the Dalziel Brothers and published 1881 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are so many prophets in the Bible.  Good ones.  Lots of good ones.  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea…the names of the books of the Old Testament is a litany of prophets.  They were God’s messengers to His people.  It was what they asked for.  When God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, God was present there.  The Bible says there was thunder, a trumpet, lightening, and smoke rising from the mountain.  The people of Israel were terrified!  “They shook with fear and stood far away from the mountain” (Ex. 20:18).

Deuteronomy 5: 4-5; 23-28 (NCV) – “The Lord spoke to you face to face from the fire on the mountain.  (At that time I [Moses] stood between you and the Lord in order to tell you what the Lord said; you were afraid of the fire, so you would not go up on the mountain.) …. When you heard the voice from the darkness, as the mountain was blazing with fire, all your older leaders and leaders of your tribes came to me.  And you said, ‘The Lord our God has shown us his glory and majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire.  Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks to him.  But now, we will die!  This great fire will burn us up, and we will die if we hear the Lord our God speak anymore.  No human being has ever heard the living God speaking from a fire and still lived, but we have.  Moses, you go near and listen to everything the Lord our God says.  Then you tell us what the Lord our God tells you, and we will listen and obey.’  The Lord heard what you said to me, and he said to me, ‘I have heard what the people said to you.  Everything they said was good.'”

The people of Israel didn’t want to speak with God face to face, out of fear and reverence.  So God spoke to Moses instead.  Every message He had for them came through Moses.  It was an amazing time!  God was physically present with them day and night!  He was in the pillar of cloud traveling before them during the day.  He was in the pillar of flame traveling before them at night (Ex. 13:21).  When Moses met with God in the Meeting Tent, God was present in a cloud that lowered over the tent (Ex. 40:34-35).  Moses was not un-effected by this.  Remember how we are told that his face shown so brightly after talking with God that he covered it when he wasn’t speaking with God, or sharing God’s message with the people (Ex. 34: 33-35).

Moses had a relationship with God that fills me with awe and wonder!  While God spoke to other prophets through dreams and visions, He spoke face to face with Moses.  He didn’t show Moses visions that needed to be interpreted, He spoke clearly, straight forward, with no hidden meanings (see Numbers 12: 6-8).  God said exactly what He meant to say, and there was no mistaking the message.  God trusted Moses to lead Israel.  God even allowed Moses to see His glory (Exodus 33: 18-23).

But Moses disobeyed God.  Exodus 20: 6-12 tells us that Moses was told to speak to a rock and water would come out for the people.  But Moses was angry with the people for their complaining, and he struck the rock, not once, but twice.  Moses’ punishment for this sin was that he would not be allowed to cross over into the Promised Land.  God told him the punishment was because he didn’t believe God, and because he didn’t honor Him before the people.

Eventually the people of Israel arrived at the Jordan River.  All the laws had been given.  Those who had not believed in God in the first place had died.  Their children were going to inherit the Promised Land, and they were poised and ready to go.  God called Moses up to the top of Mount Pisgah in the land of Moab.  There he was allowed to see all of the Promised Land, the richness, the beauty.  But there he would die, held back from ever entering what he spent his life working toward.  It must be noted that Moses did not die of old age, even though he was old (120 years).  Deuteronomy 34: 7 tells us that his eyes weren’t weak, and he was still strong.  He didn’t die of a sickness.  He just died.  But he didn’t die alone, either.  God was with him.  Only God.  When it was time for Moses to leave this earth, even though his untimely death was a direct result of his disobedience to God, God was there with him.  God loved Moses so much that He took him in an intimate and personal way, known only to the two of them.  They had shared so many of these face to face times throughout Moses’ life, this must have been the most natural and fitting end.  I wonder how God took Moses’ life.  I can’t see Him striking Moses with a bolt of lighting, or burning him with flames.  Maybe it was just a touch, and He caught Moses’ body in His arms as he fell.  Or maybe God did what he wouldn’t do earlier.  Maybe He showed Moses His glory, and he died struck by the very sight of Holy God.  God Himself lovingly buried Moses there in the valley opposite Beth Peor (Deut. 34: 6).  Perhaps one of the most touching scenes in the Bible, when we see played out before us, the love of God for just one man.  I admit I cried when I read it.  But what are we supposed to take from this?  Is it just another story in the Bible?  Is there a lesson to be learned?  I don’t know.  I am left with this, though, an intense longing to have that kind of relationship with God.  To have His trust.  To speak to Him face to face.  To see His glory.  I want my face to shine from being in His presence!!  What about you?  What has God put in your heart today?

May the God of Moses show you His glory today!