Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Moses at Mount Nebo

The slaughter of the Midianites was long forgotten when the Children of Israel finally reached Mount Nebo. Joshua was burdened with other thoughts and responsibilities as Moses anointed him in front of all the elders. He was chosen not to be King, as some had wanted, but simply a humble servant. There could only ever be one true king over Israel; God Almighty.

This day was to be the last occasion for Moses to address the people. Joshua stood in quite reverence as the old prophet publicly read out the law and the commandments once again.

It was a sermon he had heard many times before. The words were etched in Joshua’s soul. Victory was assured to the Hebrews, if only they remained faithful to Almighty God. Their lives would be blessed with bountiful crops, healthy families and prosperous trade.

The curse of disobedience simply worked in reverse. Defeat at the hand of their enemies was certain. Their crops and fields would be cursed, their women would remain barren, and their life would be dogged by poverty and disease. Ultimately, they would be enslaved to their enemies and forfeit the land God had promised them.

“I set before you life and death,” said Moses, “blessing and cursing, therefore choose life.”

Life - fancy being told to choose it, thought Joshua. Yet we are that stupid. If Moses’ departure accomplishes only one thing, I hope it shocks us into remembering.

It was a mournful occasion, knowing that Moses would never inherit the promised land he had inspired so many to believe in. It was Moses who defied Pharaoh, the mightiest ruler of the world, and boldly proclaimed “Let my people go.” It was Moses who parted the Red Sea and carried the bones of Joseph across. It was Moses who sent twelve brave spies into the promised land only to have them all return as cowards.

All except Joshua and Caleb.

The two men embraced their elder prophet and escorted him up the arduous climb to Mount Nebo's summit. As the tears and wailing of a nation subsided in the valley below, Joshua couldn't help but notice the strength and vitality with which Moses tackled the climb. If this was the mountain where Moses would die, he certainly wasn’t acting like it. The closer he approached the summit the younger he appeared.

A quick glance from Caleb confirmed his suspicions. Although they were younger and fitter, both men struggled to keep up with Moses. Perhaps the angels were helping Moses to his final destination? Or maybe the cares of the world were lifting off his shoulders? What ever it was, Joshua sensed an unbridled joy in Moses’s spirit that he hadn’t seen in many years.

The higher they climbed Mount Nebo, the more they could see. Across the vast dry desert valley lay the greener lands of the river Jordan. They could see the crossing, one of several actually, but the main route through which Joshua would attack.

Further still, some twenty six miles away stood Jericho, known as the City of Palms (and for good reason). The straight road approaching the city was lined with tall palm trees. Rows of palms bordered the lush fertile fields - fields bursting with crops that could feed an army.

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