“This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. He said, "The Lord came from Sinai and . . . he loved his people (33:1-3). And Moses begins to name names, that is, the names of the heads of the families. And he recounts the Lord’s gracious acts toward them and blesses them, concluding with: “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs” (33:29). Soon afterward, the Lord took Moses to the top of Mt. Pisgah and let him look out over the Promised Land. Then, “Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor” (34:5-6).
Moses is dead. But Israel’s God is not dead! And with Moses’ death, God’s plans and purposes for his people are not lost. Such an obvious lesson, here: Though God works through means and through people, no person is indispensable to God’s working out his purposes. Not Moses. Not Joshua. Not a pastor. Not a faithful believer. Not a particular congregation. Not a denomination. The one, and the only one, who is indispensable is God himself. And of our God, we know that he is from everlasting to everlasting, he is the Alpha and the Omega, he is the One who accomplishes all his purposes. “The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned” (Psalm 34:22). In him we trust.
As, when the weary traveler gains
The height of some commanding hill,
His heart revives, if o’er the plains,
He sees his home, tho distant still.
Thus, when the Christian pilgrim views
By faith his mansion in the skies,
The sight his fainting strength renews,
And wings his speed to reach the prize.
The thought of heav’n his spirit cheers,
No more he grieves for troubles past;
Nor any future trial fears
So he may safe arrive at last.
Jesus, on Thee our hopes we stay,
To lead us on to Thine abode;
Assured Thy love will far o'erpay,
The hardest labours of the road. –John Newton (1789)
*Wow, the old redeemed slave trader, John Newton, could write a hymn, couldn’t he!