Land’s end (Deuteronomy 34)

Moses paused at the foot of the mountain of Nebo and looked up. He sighed. It started on a mountain. Run through seas and deserts. Reached its peak on a mountain. It was fitting that his assignment from God ended at a mountain. How else can he deal with this devastating end? ‘Go up the mountain. Look at the promised land. But you cannot enter into it’. How could one pay such high prices, and miss the final prize?

Like ever so often, he was forced to contemplate the trajectories of his life’s work. Is this for real? What is the next event? Can I deal with it? Well, he has dealt with each one. There was more than enough ability and resources. He had cried and been afraid. Those ripples of fear had turned into shouts of elation as extraordinary victories from the most incredible situations happened before his eyes. He had experienced betrayal from the most sensitive places, but also seen devotion from Joshua and the many leaders this journey had trained and raised. He had seen treasures beyond compare. He had heard God’s voice, wielded God’s power, and even seen God! Incredibly, he had done each part of the assignment given him – and now they stood just outside the promised land, instead of in it. Could this be less than success?

God invested outrageously in him by preserving his life, and hiding him in the Pharaohs palace – talk about being hidden in plain sight of the arch-enemy! He learnt the secrets of Egypt from its own palace, and used the secrets to destroy Egypt. His assignment was to tell Pharaoh – ‘let my people go, that they may worship meThen bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey.’ He had done just that – the people had left Egypt, except that their worship was still sporadic, and he had brought them to the edge of the promised land, and not into it. In the midst of magical powers, unbelievable miracles, crossing of seas and surviving dangerous deserts, he had organized government for a nation of one man’s descendants, rendered judgments, and given laws. Now it was time to walk away permanently. Into the arms of his waiting God. The God who had honored him with this great part in His story.

He turned to Joshua with a smile. ‘Take the rod, and make sure you take them across into the land. Don’t be afraid. His power is beyond your fear.’

Joshua was trembling like a leaf. He took the rod, as if it would turn into a snake. It didn’t. ‘Always wait for His word. He will speak. If you will learn to listen to Him and wait for His instruction, He will never fail to show up and guide you along. You can lead yourself and others well, only if you allow yourself to be led by values, emotions, and principles greater than yourself.

Moses gathered the younger man in his arms and wrapped him in love and compassion. He understood the turmoil of emotions Joshua was in. Walking with God is not an exercise to be taken lightly, and Moses was glad that Joshua kept that reality.  ‘He is with you. You can only succeed. Good bye.’ And he stepped up the mountain with those sandals that had not worn out after walking in them for years and years …

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