Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BROKEN (12/06/18)
- TITLE: Moses and Me - To a Degree...
By Noel Mitaxa
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We were passing through low clusters of shrubs and stunted trees that offered an erratic, pale-green punctuation to the arid expanse of subdued browns, greys, soft pinks and scarlets that marked the eroded rocks and sands that stretched endlessly in every direction.
I’d barely noticed the gradual slope as our path wound towards yet another church - complete with mosaics and a shrine that sat beside the metal railing of a fence. But at the fence we suddenly discovered ourselves at the edge of a cliff. And what a view stretched out before us…
Our tour party had reached Mount Nebo, or Pisgah. It was here where Moses was permitted to see a Promised Land that never felt the imprint of his sandals; and this point marks the site of his tomb – whose exact whereabouts are not fully known.
Mount Nebo forms part of the almost-vertical eastern ridge of the Jordan Valley, which has been shaped partly by river-caused erosion, but more by escarpment – the tilting of plates - along a fault-line that stretches from north of Galilee for another five thousand miles; along the African Rift Valley all the way to Kenya.
Despite heat-haze diffusing much of the detail, we were treated to a breathtaking panorama that stretched out far below us. The Dead Sea - the lowest point on the planet – was shining almost four thousand feet below us to the immediate south; with Jericho nestling at the foot of the mountainous, muted shades of the harsh Judean wilderness to the west and to the south; and Jerusalem perched on the heights less than twenty miles away.
Looking to the north along the Jordan, we could barely make out the southern edge of the intensely-productive agricultural activity that affirms the wilderness blossoming as a rose – as Isaiah 35:1 predicted.
To experience this sight was to personally sense a mix of excitement and pain.
Excitement that God had delivered on his promise of freedom to the Hebrew slaves; to read of how the new nation prospered against all odds; and to know that his promise included the temporary home of his only Son.
Yet I sensed the brokenness and heaviness of heart for Moses…
A temper-tantrum from years earlier had pushed him to strike a rock for water at Meribah - instead of following God’s order to simply speak to it – was denying him the privilege of leading his fractious followers across the Jordan. Was God being petty or impatient with this man; who had risked his life and reputation so publicly in Pharaoh’s court as an agent of ten plagues that had shown the weakness of ten of Egypt’s most powerful gods; who had repeatedly drawn the ex-slaves back to their invisible God?
And to be denied any experience of living in the Promised Land – after giving up forty years as shepherd, chief ranger and surveyor of the wilderness that would soak up yet another forty years – when they could have fulfilled the promise within two weeks if they had accepted the testimony of Joshua and Caleb. Another forty years in which everyone but Joshua and Caleb died out because they had been deterred from God’s promise by ten cowardly spies.
How fair is all that?
But then, reflecting on my own far less-dramatic five decades of serving people in Jesus’ name; I briefly relived some amazing, undeserved experiences and the disappointments of promises unfulfilled. Some through my own compromise or lack of faith; and others when people had unconsciously or openly betrayed my trust.
But any surge of self-pity quickly subsided when I considered within God’s plan - how Moses’ pastoral role would not have equipped him to handle the conflicts that Joshua would face in subduing Canaanite opponents. From there, I was reminded that God entrusts us with his holiness – and we dare not trivialise it or take it for granted.
And regardless of our prominence, anonymity or brokenness in serving him, Luke 10:20 is a reminder that our rejoicing should focus less on our performance and more on “having our names recorded in the book of life.”
Even more reassurance came when I realised that though Moses had not reached the Promised Land, he was unlikely to complain about his living quarters over the last three and a half thousand years…
Something to look forward to – entirely fair.
Despite any brokenness.
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