A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the last chapter of Deuteronomy as part of my Bible reading plan. If you’re not familiar, this chapter wraps up the story of Moses, which begins in Exodus, the 2nd book of the Old Testament. Four long books later, we find Moses at the top of a mountain gazing into the Promised Land. His journey, literally and metaphorically, is ending.
Many people know certain highlights from Moses’ life story,
- As a baby, Moses’ life is threatened when Pharaoh orders all Jewish infants to be killed. His mother desperately hides him among the reeds of the Nile where he is found by Pharaoh’s daughter. (Exodus 2:1-6)
- Moses is raised in the palace among the Egyptians, his life spared. (Ex. 2:10)
- Moses kills an Egyptian and runs away in shame. (Ex. 2:11-15) Later, God speaks to him through a burning bush in the wilderness, calling him to free his people from slavery. (Ex. 3)
- Eventually, Moses leads the Jewish people out of slavery. He famously parts the Red Sea, ensuring their escape. (Ex. 12:31- Ex.14)
The Jewish people spend the next forty years wandering in the desert because of their repeated disobedience to God (Numbers 32:13). Yet God continues to care for them, providing them food and water and giving Moses the vision and wisdom needed to lead. Aside from Jesus, Moses is perhaps the most well documented character in Scripture. Yet, many people I know, including myself, aren’t familiar with the end of his life. We focus so much on the beginning and the middle that we forget to finish the story.
As I read Deuteronomy 34, I was struck by this one verse documenting Moses’ death:
“Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” (Deut. 34:7)
This is a simple and compelling epitaph. When I think about Moses’ life, I can’t help but admire his tenacity and steadfastness. Moses endured and continued to cling to God, right up until the end of his life. There were many times Moses could have called it quits and walked away. Time and time again, the Jewish people mistrusted and disobeyed God, disrespecting Moses’ leadership. Yet, his commitment did not waver. Moses certainly had his failures and he reaped the consequences (Num. 20:1-13), but he never gave up on God or his people.
How was Moses able to do this? All throughout Moses’ leadership, we see him make intentional time to meet with God, to seek his guidance and simply be in his presence. Moses knew that he couldn’t lead on his own; he needed God. Moses’ vision and strength remained because he sought God for it and God provided.
This begs the question, how much more do we need intentional rhythms of connecting with God?
Ending Like Moses
This year I completed five years with InterVarsity as a full-time college minister. Like Moses, these five years (sometimes I dramatically think it’s been 40!) were filled with both successes and failures. I finished this past year feeling particularly depleted. As I read this passage, I was encouraged and once again filled with hope. I thought to myself, “This is what I want! I want my vision to be clear and focused on God. Like Moses, I want to remain strong and committed until the end.”
Is this your desire as well? Maybe you’re in a season where you’re ready to quit and walk away from God or the circumstances in your life. Or maybe you’re in a joyful season where following God seems easy and exciting.
Either way, let’s tenaciously pursue God, setting aside intentional time to connect with him.
Let’s radically trust that God will provide us the vision and strength we need.
Let’s end like Moses.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)