Sunday, December 1, 2013

Moses: The incomplete deliverer

He was breathing rather heavily by the time he reached the summit, but not as heavily as he had expected. "Not bad for an old man," he thought to himself.

He stood for a moment to take in the view. Off to the west he could see the Jordan river, the natural border to the land of promise. It was a land that he had heard of, dreamed of, and worked toward for so many years. But it was a land he would never enter himself. He would not have the joy of leading his people into their long-awaited inheritance. That task would fall to his successor.

His eye sight was still excellent, but in these his final moments he wished he could see the land more clearly. And then he felt he was... flying? He wasn't sure. But the distant land seemed to be speeding toward him.

He flew north over Gilead, and then zoomed along the banks of the Jordan. He saw the northern sea and its forests, then he began to move south. He passed over the hill country and into the mountains. Soon the western sea was hurtling toward him. He traveled further south to the Negev, the spot where the spies had entered Canaan almost 40 years earlier. It took him a moment to recognize, for he had never seen it from this perspective. Finally he felt himself returning to his body, past the city of Jericho and then... back. On Mount Nebo.

He was breathing more rapidly now. But not from exertion. It was incredible. What a beautiful land! He had heard the reports of the spies but... What a blessing awaited his people!

Then the Lord spoke to him for what Moses knew would be the final time of his earthly life. "This is the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I promised to give it their descendants. And I shall. I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over."

There is no one afforded more respect among the Jewish people that Moses. And rightfully so. Moses was the prophet of God, the law giver, the deliverer of the people.

But while he was able to deliver them out of the land of oppression, Moses never succeeded in delivering those people into the land of promise. Moses, despite his many great abilities, was human. He was disobedient. And his disobedience kept him from finishing the work that God had entrusted to him. His deliverance was incomplete.

Jesus too has provided deliverance from bondage and oppression. His salvation, however, is complete. The author of Hebrews refers to him as the author and finisher of our faith. The former term refers to a leader or a pioneer who provides an example, while the latter refers to one who fulfills or completes. Paul uses similar language when writing to the church in Philippi: "He who began a good work in you will complete it."

Jesus has already entered the blessing into which He will lead his people. The deliverance that Jesus Christ provides is full. It is complete. It is finished.

(Deuteronomy 34:1-8)