Deuteronomy 3:25–26 (HCSB)
25 Please let me cross over and see the beautiful land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon. 26 “But the Lord was angry with me on account of you and would not listen to me. The Lord said to me, ‘That’s enough! Do not speak to Me again about this matter.
When we ask God nicely for something, surely He relents. Especially when we toss in some nice things about Him, flatter Him a bit. That’s what happens in this pericope by Moses, but the result is not what he was wanting. I am not suggesting that Moses was simply trying to manipulate God, I think the Bible records a sincere heart and expression of Moses’ recognition of God’s power and authority, as well as his sincere hope that God, in His mercy, would allow him to set foot in Canaan. But I think there are lessons that we can learn:
- We cannot manipulate God:
Again, I don’t think that is what Moses was trying to do here, but one could see the model and apply in such a way. But ultimately we see that flattering God, or trying to feed His ego, is not an effective strategy. God does not need our approving or doting words, nor is the perfect Creator of everything lacking some sort of self-assurance that our hollow flattery would fill. In fact, this sort of attitude towards God tries to reduce Him to the errand-boy that Moses was being punished for reducing Him to originally in Numbers 20:2-13!
- God is merciful:
Moses had no right to set foot in Canaan. God had declared a punishment for his failure to obey and trust God, and it was that Moses would not enter the promised land. But God, in His mercy, allowed Moses to see the culmination of the trek of Israel. God directed Moses to the summit of Pisgah, where Moses would be able to look upon the land God had promised to deliver to His people.
- Forgiveness is not same as lack of consequences:
Moses surely had been forgiven by God, else He surely would not have maintained his role as the leader of Israel and intermediary between God and the Israelite people. But just because Moses had been forgiven, it did not mean he would be spared the consequences of his actions. Likewise, we should not be surprised when we must bear the brunt of the consequences from our own sin, despite our faith in Christ and our forgiveness. Following Christ does not gain freedom from consequences of sin, it gains the promise of salvation, a new life, and a joy that is perfect and fulfilling.
Lord, thank You for Your mercy, even in midst of our sin. I pray for forgiveness for my sin, and the strength to bear the consequences that come from it. Through everything, help me to remember that I am Yours, and this life, these trials, are but a blink of an eye compared to eternity with You, which is the greatest gift. Amen.