By Faith, Moses . . .
I can't help but love a good sweet, poignant movie moment. The other evening I found myself pausing my channel surfing on one of my favorites - Up. The opening sequence of this 2009 Pixar movie OWNS me. I remember sitting through the 4 minute instrumental montage - that showed the entirety of a married couple's relationship from the first day they met to the day the wife died - and sobbing. My boys were less than impressed with my reaction, but they too appreciated the sweet moment that set up the premise of the story.The movie continued on with some silliness and unrealistic adventure - with the main character, Carl, flying his house using thousands of helium balloons to fulfill a promise made to his beloved, Ellie. In spite of many mishaps and misfortunes, Carl refuses to give up on his quest for Paradise Falls and quite literally drags his house, and a whining stowaway, across the wilderness in search of it. In the end, Carl realizes his life with Ellie was the best adventure there ever was and gives up on his pursuit. He returns home, never actually reaching his "promised land".
As I rewatched the last 20 minutes, I couldn't help but see some real parallels to a story and hero we all know and love.
In my opinion, few passages in the Bible are as poignant as the last few chapters of Deuteronomy. For weeks we have read about rescue and redemption and rebuke and review. Moses was saved in a basket, raised in the palace, trained in the desert and called by God to lead the greatest exodus of all time.
Throughout the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and finally here in Deuteronomy, Moses proved to be a man of wisdom and faith and fortitude. We had front row seats as we literally watched him grow and learn - faltering and succeeding multiple times along the way. As a man, he showed us what great faith looks like - in the midst of adversity; in the face of every imaginable obstacle; and in experiencing an up close and personal relationship with the Almighty.
So, with all the history and the weeks that we have spent embroiled in the lives of the Israelites, to say goodbye to our hero leaves me a bit sad.
As he passes the baton, Moses takes one last moment to remind his people of all that God has done for them - from delivering them out of slavery and persecution; and rescuing them from plague and death; to providing safe passage through treacherous lands. He spells out clearly the Lord's provision and the Lord's desire for their wholehearted devotion; he warns of God's wrath and cautions their straying from His commands - I mean, he has walked beside them for 40 plus years, he knows their weaknesses.
But, as he finishes, he leaves them with this final instruction - that I personally believe is meant for every believer who reads God's word -
"Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as commands to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions. These instructions are not empty words - they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life in the land you will occupy when you cross the Jordan River." Deuteronomy 32:45-47
What a reminder! God's word isn't here to just help us in our lives - His words ARE life - John 1:1-5! But, that's a blog for another day.
After Moses concludes his message with a blessing to each tribe and a final goodbye, God shows him the land that had been promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Finally! With his own eyes, Moses sees the covenant that has been passed down from generation to generation - a land that he has heard about and talked about and searched for and dreamed of - all the while knowing that it is not his to inhabit. It had to have been bittersweet. A moment shared only by a mighty God and a humble servant.
Farewell, our good and faithful servant. Thank you for reminding us that THIS world is not our promised home and for showing us to keep our eyes "on the one who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27). Your faith and example has been shared for thousands of years and your name is remembered well.