Moses continues his recounting of the events leading up to the crossing of the Jordan. Today he tells of his firm answer from God about his own journey’s end.
This is the only place where we see that Moses didn’t accept his punishment quietly. In all the other accounts we read it appears that Moses heard God’s answer and resigned himself to it. But the man of God begged Him to reconsider.
Moses’ plea for himself is not the only time he asked God to reconsider His stance. But this is the first time it was for him personally. Moses asked God to reconsider killing the whole camp and starting again at least twice, that I remember. The first time was when they had Aaron make them a “god” since Moses had been gone so long. The second time was when they refused to follow the Lord’s command and enter the Promised Land after hearing from the spies.
Both these times God was ready to wipe the people out and start over again. Moses reminded God of His promise and how it would look to the rest of the nations if He killed off those whom He had worked so hard to liberate. God relented in both cases but the people didn’t get off scott free. They received a scaled down punishment. The first event resulted in 3,000 deaths. The second event resulted in less immediate deaths but their entire numbers from the adults who left Egypt would die before their punishment was completed.
The pleading Moses did on his own behalf didn’t end in his favor. It ended with an “Enough!” from God. Moses was told not to bring the subject up again. There is another place in the bible where we hear God respond like this. When Paul asked God to take his “thorn in the flesh” from him God said, “My grace is sufficient”; in other words “No.”
Both these men were MIGHTY prayer warriors. God listened to their prayers on an hourly basis. He moved in response to their pleas. But even these two men heard God say “No.” I want to point something out besides the answer though. I want to point out that God LISTENED to their prayers, even when the answer was a firm “No”, and He told them to stop asking.
I’m wondering if part of God’s answer to Moses had to do with the fact that he wasn’t accepting responsibility for his own actions. He tells his listeners that “The Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me” (verse 26). The Lord was angry with Moses on account of his OWN actions. No amount of blame could change that fact.
The answer God gave both these men benefited them, even if it didn’t look like it at the time. Paul was able to use his answer in his testimony and as encouragement for those who were struggling. Moses’ answer gave him and Israel a clean ending.
Moses had been with the people for more than 40 years. At this point in time he was 120 years old. He had MORE than a long life. It was time for him to rest. This was the perfect spot to pass the torch. If he had gone into the Promised Land how long would he still see a need for his services? Until Jericho was taken? Until all the tribes had taken possession of their own lands? How long would the people expect to lean on Moses? Moses was already the go between for the people and God. The first generation didn’t have the strong personal connection to God and it resulted in their ultimate death. If Moses remained alive and in between would it have a negative impact on the relationship God wanted to develop with this generation? I believe the people needed Moses to step back so they would step forward.
Moses also had something MUCH better waiting for him than the Promised Land of Canaan. He had Heaven. He had Abraham’s Bosom first but even that was far greater than what this earth had to offer.
God KNOWS when the best answer is “No.” It is not an answer of spite or anger. It is the answer that is BEST for us. When we hear that firm “No” we need to take it to the next step; STOP asking. God works as many miracles with a “No” as He does with a “Yes.” It may not be comfortable to accept the “No” but it is what we are required to do.
Father God, You KNOW how hard I struggle with “No.” As a child I struggle more with “you can’t” than any other answer. When someone told me I couldn’t do something, especially when it was due to a physical limitation, it was like waving a red cape in front of a bull. I had to prove them wrong!
I carried that same attitude over into the realm of my goals in life. I pushed through whatever I set my mind to, even when I hit walls that I should have seen were placed there by You. In times like those I used to say that I had “Plan A in action with plan B tucked up my sleeve and plan C and D in reserve just in case.” Those “plans” were all designed to get me to the same goal I set out to achieve and were another way of saying that I would NOT be denied MY desire. THANK YOU that You STILL loved me through it all!
Another thing I used to say was “When God closes a door He always opens a window.” I realize that is another way of trying to get around a “No” answer from You. You don’t make “fire escape” moves for me. When You close a door it is for a reason. I have to learn to walk through the doors YOU open and stop looking for escape windows or trying to “pick the lock.”
My biggest fear though Lord is that I will think You have said “No” when instead You have said “Not yet” or vice versa. I don’t want to confuse the two. I want to hear You clearly and know when it is time to wait and when it is time to take another path instead. Help me learn this lesson well Father. Speak clearly to my heart. Continue to fine tune my hearing. I have a feeling this will be something that we work on for the rest of my life. Hopefully I will have it down pat when I reach eternity with You. Thank You that You never give up on me!