But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring the assembly into the land that I have given them. - Numbers 20:12
Not being a lover of math, “Numbers” has never been my favorite book of the Bible. Still, the story of Moses at Meribah peaks my curiosity, because it doesn’t quite add up. The people of Israel have begun their 40th year of wandering in the wilderness. They are nearly to the Promised Land. The older generation has almost entirely died off through sinful rebellion or just natural attrition. Only their 3 great leaders, Miriam, Aaron and Moses remain. Now Miriam has died and Aaron is soon to follow. But surely Moses, that courageous and long-suffering man of God, will see the mission thru! Nope. Moses too dies just on the cusp of his people entering the Promised Land. He is not permitted by God to complete his mission because of his sin at Meribah. Was it because he struck the rock? Was it because he used Aaron’s staff as if it were his own? Was it because he was too impatient with the people, too prideful, too angry? I’m not sure.
But, as your pastor—a pastor who is moving this summer, I can sympathize with Moses. Like him, sometimes Christians are called to end our mission, ready or not! Like Moses, I wonder whether some of those things I will leave undone at Lovely Lane might have been accomplished if I had been more focused, less selfish, more prayerful, less … sinful.
I take comfort in the story of Moses’ last day (Deut. 34). God leads him up Mt. Pisgah and shows him the Promised Land — not just the Jordan River valley, but the whole thing, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea! Moses didn’t get to go there, but he caught a glimpse — a vision really — that was 300 years ahead of its time. Not a bad way to finish!
Prayer: Gracious God, open my eyes to your God-sized dream for your people. It is so much bigger, broader, richer, deeper than I had ever imagined. I offer my small part and thank you, Glorious Lord, for calling me to belong to something so much bigger than myself or my plans. In Jesus’ name, Amen.