The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 43: The Death of Moses
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In all the dealings of God with His people there is, mingled
with His love and mercy, the most striking evidence of His
strict and impartial justice. This is exemplified in the history of
the Hebrew people. God had bestowed great blessings upon
Israel. His loving-kindness toward them is touchingly portrayed:
"As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young,
spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her
wings: so the Lord alone did lead him." And yet what swift
and severe retribution was visited upon them for their transgressions!
The infinite love of God has been manifested in the gift of
His only-begotten Son to redeem a lost race. Christ came to the
earth to reveal to men the character of His Father, and His life
was filled with deeds of divine tenderness and compassion. And
yet Christ Himself declares, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot
or one title shall in no wise pass from the law." Matthew 5:18.
The same voice that with patient, loving entreaty invites the
sinner to come to Him and find pardon and peace, will in the
judgment bid the rejecters of His mercy, "Depart from Me, ye
cursed." Matthew 25:41. In all the Bible, God is represented not
only as a tender father but as a righteous judge. Though He
delights in showing mercy, and "forgiving iniquity and
transgression and sin," yet He "will by no means clear the guilty."
The great Ruler of nations had declared that Moses was not
to lead the congregation of Israel into the goodly land, and the
earnest pleading of God's servant could not secure a reversing of
His sentence. He knew that he must die. Yet he had not for a
moment faltered in his care for Israel. He had faithfully sought
to prepare the congregation to enter upon the promised inheritance.
At the divine command Moses and Joshua repaired to the [p. 470] tabernacle, while the pillar of cloud came and stood over the
door. Here the people were solemnly committed to the charge of
Joshua. The work of Moses as leader of Israel was ended. Still
he forgot himself in his interest for his people. In the presence of
the assembled multitude Moses, in the name of God, addressed
to his successor these words of holy cheer: "Be strong and of a
good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the
land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee." He
then turned to the elders and officers of the people, giving them
a solemn charge to obey faithfully the instructions he had
communicated to them from God.
As the people gazed upon the aged man, so soon to be taken
from them, they recalled, with a new and deeper appreciation,
his parental tenderness, his wise counsels, and his untiring labors.
How often, when their sins had invited the just judgments of
God, the prayers of Moses had prevailed with Him to spare
them! Their grief was heightened by remorse. They bitterly
remembered that their own perversity had provoked Moses to the
sin for which he must die.
The removal of their beloved leader would be a far stronger
rebuke to Israel than any which they could have received had his
life and mission been continued. God would lead them to feel
that they were not to make the life of their future leader as trying
as they had made that of Moses. God speaks to His people in
blessings bestowed; and when these are not appreciated, He
speaks to them in blessings removed, that they may be led to
see their sins, and return to Him with all the heart.
That very day there came to Moses the command, "Get thee
up . . . unto Mount Nebo, . . . and behold the land of Canaan,
which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: and die
in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy
people." Moses had often left the camp, in obedience to the divine
summons, to commune with God; but he was now to depart
on a new and mysterious errand. He must go forth to resign
his life into the hands of his Creator. Moses knew that he was
to die alone; no earthly friend would be permitted to minister
to him in his last hours. There was a mystery and awfulness
about the scene before him, from which his heart shrank. The
severest trial was his separation from the people of his care and
love—the people with whom his interest and his life had so long [p. 471] been united. But he had learned to trust in God, and with
unquestioning faith he committed himself and his people to His
love and mercy.
For the last time Moses stood in the assembly of his people.
Again the Spirit of God rested upon him, and in the most sublime
and touching language he pronounced a blessing upon each
of the tribes, closing with a benediction upon them all:
"There is none like unto God, O Jeshurun,|
Who rideth upon the heaven for thy help,
And in His excellency on the skies.
The eternal God is thy dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms:
And He thrust out the enemy from before thee,
And said, Destroy.
And Israel dwelleth in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of corn and wine;
Yea, His heavens drop down dew.
Happy art thou, O Israel:
Who is like unto thee, a people saved by Jehovah,
The shield of thy help."
|Deuteronomy 33:26-29, R.V.|
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