Moses preached a series of three messages, packed with helpful content. He didn’t want his hearers to forget, so he wrote a song and taught it to the people. It starts by declaring the greatness and power of God. Deuteronomy 32:3 says, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.” The Lord of all the earth is like a mother eagle to its young, hovering over the helpless Israelites, spreading his wings to catch them and carry them to the heights (Deuteronomy 32:11). But the song takes a surprising turn. The Israelites would grow fat, heavy, sleek, and rebel against their provider. The rest of the song reiterates the coming judgment the previous sermon described.
Again, this outcome was not programmed into their internal software. The choice was theirs. Moses hoped the message would fasten itself forever in their thinking, protecting them from apathy and idolatry in the land of prosperity and promise.
Finally, in Deuteronomy 33, Moses spoke a blessing over each tribe. He had the chance to take a parting jab, to dwell on their past failures, and all the trouble they had caused him. Now was his best opportunity to blame them for wasting the last forty years, and for causing him to miss out on the Promised Land. But, his last words are words of favor, hope, and encouragement, as if to say, “You’ve got this! By God’s grace you can!”
We now come to the short account of his death in Deuteronomy 34. We can learn much about a person in the final moments of their life. Let’s take a closer look at see what it has to teach us.
First, Moses finished strong. Notice Deuteronomy 34:1, “Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah…” This reminds us of the time God called Moses to climb Mount Sinai. Exodus 19:3 says, “Then Moses went up to God…” There he spent 40 days in the presence of the Lord. At the very end, Moses was still ready to climb a mountain to spend time with the Lord.
Mount Nebo is located just east of the Jordan River, and is the highest in a cluster of Pisgah summits. From the top, Moses could see past the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. The Bible says God showed him the whole land he was going to give his people.
Moses still had a skip in his step. Deuteronomy 34:7, “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” God blessed Moses with good genes, and he lived an active life on the move. But he was also strong spiritually. The salt inside had not lost its bite. The fire of his first love still burned bright.
The Bible says his eyes were not weak. He didn’t have blurry vision. He wasn’t like Isaac, the son of Abraham (Genesis 27). The aged patriarch’s eyes were so weak and his perception so dim, he couldn’t tell the difference between his sons, Jacob and Esau. Sneaky Jacob wore Esau’s clothes and tricked his father into giving him the blessing.
Moses isn’t stumbling and groping, but running into the tap at the finish line. Where did this kind of resilience come from?