Moses in the Promised Land

I have been re-reading Philip Yancey’s book, “The Bible Jesus Read”; and today something jumped off the page at me. Don’t you just love it when you discover some gem that had escaped your attention during earlier reading? Well, I discovered something about Moses that I had never realized before.

We know quite a lot about Moses, based upon the records of Scripture, and in particular the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) which are attributed to him. We learned that as a child he was miraculously saved from death at the hands of Pharoah’s executioners. As a young man Moses lived a privileged life, growing up and being educated among Egyptian royalty. In his middle years Moses ran away and lived the life of a back country shepherd, acquiring a wife and sons along the way but avoiding any kind of leadership function. In his senior years Moses grew into the leader and teacher that God’s chosen people required to guide them from slavery into the land of promise.

The 34th chapter of Deuteronomy editorially tells us of the death and burial of Moses. He led the people of Israel for forty years. He taught them about their God, he taught them the Law, he interceded for them when God grew weary of their mumbling, and he brought them to the brink of the Promised Land. BUT, he himself was not allowed to enter with them. He died and was buried by God (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). In the primary goal of his years of leadership of the Israelites, getting to the Promised Land, he failed. He never got to enter in… or did he?

Let’s leave the Old Testament for a moment, and explore the Gospels. One of the endearing stories related in both Matthew (Matthew 17:1-8) and Luke (Luke 9:28-36) is about the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus had taken three of His disciples with him up a high mountain to pray. While there, Jesus became transfigured before them. His face shone and his clothing became whiter and brighter than any laundry bleach could attain. And there beside Him stood two historic figures, Elijah and Moses.

According to Yancey, this scene contains a fact often overlooked by Christians (but immediately obvious for most Jews). At that moment Moses finally realized his life’s dream. There he stood on a mountaintop right in the middle of the Promised Land! He was permitted to enter after all! And to add icing to the cake, he was able to join in casual conversation with the Bible’s most respected prophet AND with the long-awaited Messiah! God is GOOD!



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