By Russ Ramsey
Here is a verse that breaks my heart: “Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which faces Jericho, and the Lord showed him all the land” (Deut. 34:1).
This is the last recorded event in Moses’ life—standing with the Lord up on a mountain looking down upon the Promised Land. Moses had led the people of Israel out of Egypt, through forty years of wilderness wandering, and now he saw with his own eyes the end of their Exodus. Soon the people of Israel would enter into the land the Lord had sworn to Abraham’s descendants.
But Moses would not.
Why? Because of God’s discipline.
Years earlier, when the people in the desert complained to Moses that they wanted water, and feared that God had led them out into the wilderness to die, Moses chastised them for their rebellious hearts. Then he walked over to the rock the Lord had shown him, raised his staff and struck it in anger before their eyes.
Water poured out, but Moses had sinned. He struck when only words were needed, and this act betrayed his anger not only toward the people, but also toward God (Numbers 20:1-13). The man that struck the rock wanted to strike God. God knew it. Moses knew it.
God’s discipline in Moses’ life was that he wouldn’t be the one to lead the people into the land. Moses—the one God called to lead the people out of Egypt, the one who led them across the dry ground that only moments earlier had been the Red Sea, the man who carried down from Mt. Sinai the Ten Commandments—would not see this journey to its end.
But when we read the end of Moses’ story, there’s more wonder and beauty in God’s discipline than there is sorrow. God took his servant up to survey the land so that Moses could see it with his own eyes. And then, with his wits about him and his vision clear, Moses died and God buried him, and no one ever found his grave (Deut 34:5-7).
I love the mystery surrounding Moses’ death. I love how God laid his servant to rest in a secret place.
But I also love the affection and grace surrounding it. God wouldn’t let Moses enter the Promised Land. But this did not mean Moses would be left to languish east of the Jordan. In the act of forbidding Moses entry, God did His servant one better—He brought him home to glory in a private ceremony shared only between the two.
The discipline of God is never separated from His affection for us. Never.
“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
Written By Russ Ramsey