Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: Is a Glimpse Enough?

My first thought when I heard yesterday’s reading (Deuteronomy 34:1-12) was this: Moses got ripped off.
We all know what a tremendous leader Moses was, right? He bravely confronted Pharaoh, leading his people out of plague-ridden Egypt, across the Red Sea and through 40 long years in the wilderness, never once losing faith, always serving as an inspiration and source of strength for his whiney, discouraged people, consistently buoying their spirits and setting them on a straight path.
Yet when he finally gets to the edge of the long-sought promised land, what happens? God leads him to the top of Pisgah Peak and allows Moses just a glimpse of the land. Moses, after all his travails, is not allowed to enter. In fact, he comes all that way to die on the very cusp of the promised land: 
Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.” I have allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.”  So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. (Deuteronomy 34:4-5).
Like I said: a major rip-off.
The text doesn’t indicate that Moses was disappointed, but I certainly know how I’d feel if I faithfully led my people all that way, only to miss out on the final reward. It seems like an awful lot of hardship for nothing.
Since the reading on Sunday, though, I’ve been thinking about this. I wonder, are Moses circumstances at the end of his life much different than ours? And is that glimpse of what’s to come after we're gone necessarily a disappointment, a failure, or can we understand it, instead, as a gift?
At the end of our lives God offers each one of us such a gift: a glimpse of all that we have accomplished on our journey, reflected in the lives of those who will go on ahead without us. I’m thinking of my father-in-law as I write this – the joy and satisfaction he had in the last months and weeks of his life as he considered his two devoted, successful sons; his four beautiful, thriving grandchildren and the hundreds of relatives, friends and colleagues that walked alongside him in his lifetime. What an incredible gift to know that these loved ones will continue forward, fortified by his blessings and buoyed by his love and the example of his leadership.
We don't get to continue onward with our loved ones forever, but like Moses, we get a glimpse of the good things to come. I’d say that glimpse of the promised land is a gift. And that glimpse is more than enough indeed.
What about you? How have you interpreted the story of Moses’ death and the fact that he didn’t travel into the promised land in his lifetime?

And since we're talking about gifts...with Ann Voskamp today:

900 Sun-dazzled icicles
901 Reading quietly with Noah and Meme in the evening
902 Rowan's tooth on the pillow
903 Valentine from Wendi
904 Finding my lost wedding ring!
905 WOF finalist
906 Best Valentine's dinner ever
907 Writing a tribute to Jon
908 Cotton candy sunset
909 Cardinal singing to me from the elm tree on the morning Jon died
910 Meme helping out
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Hazel Moon –   – (February 20, 2012 at 2:14 AM)  

Moses only was able to have aglimps of the promised land - - and we see through a glass darkly at our promised land.  Yes it was sad he only received a preview, but he stepped into glory and that was so much better.

Patsy Paterno  – (February 20, 2012 at 3:47 AM)  

Hi Michelle, I am so sorry for your loss. I have been praying for him like I promised. May the God of all consolation be with you all at this time. We're very blessed that we have faith that we will see our loved ones again where there is eternal light and joy! 

JosephPote –   – (February 20, 2012 at 6:36 AM)  

Wow!  I think you nailed this one, Michelle!

I, like you, have always viewed this passage as seeming a bit overly harsh toward Moses, and have often wondered why.

You're right, though.  Moses was 120 years old.  He had led the Israelites for 40 years.  It was time for him to enter into God's rest, and what a way to leave this Earth, with a glimpse of all the God-given promises and visions being fulfilled!

Thank you for the fresh perspective on a familiar passage!

Nancy Franson  – (February 20, 2012 at 7:31 AM)  

I was thinking about this passage not long ago and was mulling my own post--will try not to turn this comment into a lengthy post of its own. I, too, always assumed he'd been ripped off--that God had been overly harsh in his punishment toward Moses. Until I realized Moses actually got the better deal. The Israelites received the promise, but not in full. They still had battles to fight and giants to conquer when entering into Canaan. Only Moses get to step fully into God's promise and enter His rest. Grace and peace to you and your dear family, Michelle. May the God of  all comfort give you His peace. Love you.

Lisa notes  – (February 20, 2012 at 7:34 AM)  

I've often wondered about that, too, with Moses. It seems so sad that he didn't get to go in.

Then again, I think how tiring it would have been on an old man. ;-) More battles, more blood, more loss. He was better off leaving it all behind and getting on in to the real promised land.

I want my glimpses now to be enough to sustain me for later too. Thanks for this, Michelle.

Gaby  – (February 20, 2012 at 7:57 AM)  

It's kind of a complex passage, isn't it? Moses did not get to go because he disobeyed and we don't really understand why God was so harsh over the striking of the rock but He was. That being said, though, Moses got to do some AMAZING things for God and his relationship with God was intimate. I guess reading your post got me thinking about how often I complain about the things I will never "get" to do (like birthing a child) and take for granted all the ones I have (like being a parent). I struggled with that a while back and wrote a post about it and yours reminded me of those feelings. 

kendal  – (February 20, 2012 at 8:01 AM)  

loving this insight. because i have always thought moses got a raw deal. but then, heaven is better than the promised land. and we can't go on forever with ours....

Megan Willome  – (February 20, 2012 at 8:39 AM)  

It took my mom so long to be ready to let go. Basically, all of February 2010. But she'd fought for 29 years. It all began to change on Groundhog Day, when she decided to call hospice (except, she didn't do it). She'd say, "I'm ready," then pull back--what about this? what about that? When she finally accepted it, the last weekend of the month before she died on the following Wednesday, she said goodbye and planned her funeral. It occurred exactly one week after she planned it.

Dawn Gonzalez –   – (February 20, 2012 at 8:49 AM)  

Michelle, you are beautiful, even in grief. XO

Jean Wise  – (February 20, 2012 at 8:52 AM)  

Fun reading everyone's comments and insight into this verse.  I guess my take is God has lots of blessings for us and we don't have hands and hearts large enough to hold all of them.  Celebrate what He gives, be open to ask for more if called, and know His abundance waits for us beyond this life.  

kd sullivan  – (February 20, 2012 at 9:09 AM)  

I have often thought of this story and been annoyed for Moses.  But coincidentally, (or perhaps no coincidence at all) I have been thinking about this same thing.  I've been thinking about how many of the things I've longed to do or achieved don't seem to be taking place in my life, but they do seem to be happening for my children....and I thought of those wandering Jews (pardon the pun) and how their job became preparing that next generation....not a horrible task, I must say.

Laurie Collett –   – (February 20, 2012 at 9:28 AM)  

Thank you for the wonderful post with new insights on this chapter. It is encouraging that the Bible documents moments of unbelief or disobedience from even great men of God such as Moses. I believe he did not enter the Promised Land because of his act of disobedience in striking the rock. When we face Jesus, I believe each of us will suffer loss over opportunities missed because of our lapses in faith and obedience. But, Praise God, then He will wipe every tear from our eyes, reward us for our faithful service, and allow us to spend eternity in His glorious presence.
God bless,




donnapyle –   – (February 20, 2012 at 9:48 AM)  

I struggled with that part of Moses' story when I first learned it. Those much wiser than I had to explain it to me. It came down to one thing: Moses tried to share God's glory. Instead of speaking to the rock to bring forth water like God  instructed, Moses struck it in anger. It likely allowed some to dismiss God's working by believing the force of the strike brought forth the water. God shares His glory with no one - even Moses. Even us. But He allowed Moses to see that He keeps His promises by letting Moses glimpse the land of milk & honey. A hard lesson, but an important one. Thanks for this thought-provoking post!

Joan Davis  – (February 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM)  

Hi Michelle!  This is my first time linking up!  I've seen your 'button' all over and I don't know what's taken me so long to visit!  Great blog!  Like Moses, we all have disappointments in our lives from time to time.  But, God always does what is best in the big picture.  We can trust Him to give us what we always need...not necessarily what we want.  No, Moses didn't go into the Promised Land.  But, He was blessed with the knowledge that his people would!  And...just think of the other blessings that were showered upon him.  (I'm thinking of Jesus on the mountain right now...)  Blessings!

Shanda Oakley –   – (February 20, 2012 at 11:07 AM)  

Oh Michelle.  This touched my heart.  I turn 50 in a few weeks and have been fighting feelings that I have not accomplished enough in my life, feelings of living a meaningless life. Yet, it is all about looking ahead.  It is not about the results and the prize here on earth but on looking ahead to a 'Promised Land'.  Thank you.

BigD –   – (February 20, 2012 at 5:20 PM)  

I guess I always took the fact that Moses got to see the Promised Land as a reward in itself. How much worse would it have been not to lay eyes on it? At least he had concrete assurance that his faithfulness and perseverance paid off. He knew when the reward would come. I think that would be so rewarding if I KNEW that my kids would turn out okay. How much peace would that give us to live? To know for sure--even if we didn't live to see it. But, instead, life is like that 40 years of wandering in the desert--trusting that God will make everything turn out okay for my family if I persevere.  The faith is the hard part!

Jen Ferguson –   – (February 20, 2012 at 7:57 PM)  

Oh, yes, I think my first reaction is always that he got ripped off.  But then again, for most of my life, I've looked at things always with scales in mind.  Now that I'm starting to live without them, I'm seeing lots of things in a whole new light.

Sylvia R  – (February 20, 2012 at 8:11 PM)  

Hi Michelle,
Sorry to be getting around here so late. But I wrote a post about this very thing last year before Easter, and wanted to check out how it was written. (And well, yuk, it needed some polish, but it's some better now -- I hope.) 

Anyway, I came to see just why it was *important* that Moses not go into the Promised Land at this time, and though that was so sad, my husband pointed out a nifty little thing about how Moses did get to go in later! It's here, if you'd like to read it: http://sylvrpen.com/2011/03/moses-sorrow/

And speaking of sorrow, being new around here, I didn't know you recently lost your Dad. I'm sorry to hear that. He sounds like a wonderful man, and you must miss him much. May God give you sweet comfort.

Urailak @Living for God  – (February 21, 2012 at 6:15 AM)  

Disobedience towards God has consequences.  Moses did not get to enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience. In my opinion, God was very gracious to let Moses see the Promised Land. He didn't have to do that. I think sometimes we feel and act as if God owes us something. The truth is: He owes us nothing! We all deserve death; yet by His grace, He gives us eternal life through Christ. Even if God does nothing else for our lives, we should be eternally grateful for our salvation.

Laura Boggess  – (February 21, 2012 at 8:00 PM)  

Been thinking of you, whispering prayers. I've always felt a little sad for Moses in the end. But then, he did enter the true Promised land after all.

Kate @ Teaching What Is Good  – (February 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM)  

I love this idea! This is my first time joining  you and I'm very excited to participate in a blog theme that focuses on how we live out the Word of God in our lives every day!

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