I was reading along through Deuteronomy this past week, my third time reading through the Bible. I have literally read every bit of God's Word TWICE. It's not that big of a deal. I know people who have read The Bible a couple dozen times. But you'd think I would have remembered reading what I read at the end of Deuteronomy before. The words just seemed to jump off the page to me this time through. Here's the setup.
Moses had led the Israelites to the Jordan River and they were getting ready to cross when the Lord spoke to Moses.
"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.” - Deuteronomy 32:48-52
God told Moses that he (Moses) was going to die and that God wanted him to do so on Mount Nebo. If you were told by God that you were going to die on a mountain would you climb it? Would there be any hesitation? Would God allow me time to say goodbye to all my friends and family members? Mmm, I think not. I bet you Moses didn't hesitate at all. And neither should we when that day comes for us. Let's get back to the text. Deuteronomy 34.
"Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, 6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8 And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended." - Deuteronomy 34:1-8
There is was. My little revelation. Who buried Moses? Sounds to me like GOD buried Moses. Moses "went up from the plains." It doesn't say he took anyone with him, nor does it say that he didn't. I guess someone could have gone with Moses but at the end of verse six is says that "no one knows the place of his burial to this day." If someone would have gone up the mountain with Moses, SOMEONE would have known.
So let's just agree that God buried Moses. My next question is HOW? Burial usually involves some kind of hole that someone had to dig out or excavate. Did God come to earth and physically do that? It would be more god-like to just raise a hand and suddenly there was a hole. Or maybe God lifted up an entire mountain and placed it over Moses. For sure no one would find him then.
However, the point is not HOW God buried Moses. The point is that He DID. He cared enough about Moses to do that. Moses honored God ever since God called him. In return God honored Moses with a fitting burial. God honors obedience.
That made me wonder . . . . have I led a life of obedience, honoring God enough with my life, that God would reward me in some way? That God would honor me? That's an easy question to answer. The answer is no. The next question I must ask myself is, "Why not?"
Well, my selfish desires maybe? Or perhaps it's my responsibilities that keep me from totally committing to God. Or is it fear? Fear of what might happen if I do. Would I lose some of my friends? Would I lose my most treasured relationships? All valid fears and concerns. Or are they?
Are we to have ANY excuses when it comes to being obedient to God's will? I don't think so. There are numerous examples in The Bible of people coming up with excuses NOT to do what God wanted. Remember Jonah? The guy in the whale?
"Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." - Jonah 1:1-3
Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh. It was a big city, possibly the biggest in the world at that time. Nineveh was a city filled with idolatry and Jonah wasn't interested in doing what God commanded. Yeah . . . that didn't end well. Three days in the belly of a whale. THEN he went to Nineveh. Ha!
It is never a good idea to ignore God when He calls us. There must be no excuses. No detours. No procrastination. We have seen what awaits us should we chose to be disobedient. So why do we still disobey? I think it's because we no longer fear God. Moses was disobedient once in his entire life and it cost him his chance to enter into the promised land. Jonah disobeyed God's command and it cost him three days in the bowels of a stinky fish. What punishment awaits US for our disobedience?
God loves us and He expects us to listen to Him, but when we don't heed His words our loving Father is going to discipline us. That's what good fathers do. Should we expect anything less from a Holy God who demands perfection? God still loves us. God rewards us when we please Him. But unless we want to spend three days where the sun don't shine we'd better think twice about disobeying his commands and listen to what He has to say.
[This message was written to myself. To get myself off my butt and begin following Him rather than seeking my own way. If it found a home in your heart too, that's good, but I really wrote this out of frustration with my own disobedience.]
In The Belly of The Whale - Newsboys