Perhaps because I’m grieving the news about Razi Zacharias and his impending graduation into heaven, but reading about the death of Moses definitely feels like a time of grief on several levels.
There’s the grief that his life’s desire to enter the Promised Land would not be fulfilled. Moses could have gone on with them.
“Moses was 120 years old when he died; his eyes were not weak, and his vitality had not left him.” (34:7).
But it wasn’t to be because of his disobedience. He begged God to relent, but the Lord said no. If the Lord had relented, perhaps it would have sent the wrong message to the Israelite community and all future leaders. We don’t know. But while God did not allow him to enter the land, he did allow him to see it from the hilltops.
And then he died. Which was a loss beyond our understanding. It is said of him,
“No prophet has arisen again in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He was unparalleled for all the signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do against the land of Egypt–to Pharaoh, to all his officials, and to all the land, for all the mighty acts of power and terrifying deeds that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel” (34:10-12).
The death of Moses was so sacred, so holy, so precious in the sight of the Lord, that the archangel Michael got into a dispute with the devil about Moses’ body (Jude v. 9). Who knows what that was about. Except that God sent his highest angel to handle the affairs of Moses’ burial, and something about it ticked off the devil.
But before Moses had passed away. He laid hands on Joshua, son of Nun, and commissioned him.
“Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him” (v. 9).
So the nation was in good hands, even though Moses, perhaps the most humble man the world had ever known (Num 12:3). But still there is a grief.
Just has there is a grief that Reinhardt Bonnke passed away.
Just as there is a grief that Ravi Zacharias will soon pass away.
Sometimes the best leaders leave this world when the world feels like it’s needing them the most. But God has raised up another generation to meet the needs of the times.
And that is us.