And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho…
The great parable of Israel's wanderings has one of its profoundest applications in the death of its two great leaders: men above all others entitled to enter the land of promise; neither falling in battle nor dying a natural death; both doomed to die by the sentence of Jehovah whom they served, and under whom they were leading the people.
I. THE UNREALISED HOPE OF HUMAN LIFE. Every life is a pilgrimage seeking its goal in some Canaan of rest. We picture it, struggle for it, and sometimes seem on the verge of realising it. We "see it with our eyes"; but, in the mysterious providence of life, are "forbidden to go over." Our purposes are broken off, we are disappointed, and resent if faith prevent not. Learn —
1. Success is not the chief nobility of life.
2. The chief blessedness of life is capability of service.
3. It is a blessed thing to die when the work has been so far done that it justifies the worker, demonstrates his character, vindicates his nobleness; so that he is not ashamed to leave it for completion; so that his friends are proud of its unfinished fragments.
4. The formal denial of our hopes may be the means of perfecting our character.
5. If in our service we have sinned against right methods and tempers of service, sinned against Him whom we serve, it is well that His disapproval of our sin should be manifested.
6. The prohibition comes with manifest mitigations.
(1) What greater grace wrought in a man than acquiescence in such a mandate?
(2) Moses is permitted to prepare for departure.
(3) He is permitted to see his successor.
7. God honours His faithful servant by Himself preparing his sepulchre.
8. God fulfilled His promises and the hopes of His servant in a deeper and higher way than he anticipated.
II. THE VISIONS WHICH MAY INSPIRE HUMAN LIFE, its unrealised hopes notwithstanding. To men who live greatly, God gives visions through this very idealism of life, which are glorious inspirations and strength; visions of a great faith and a bright hope; of rest through the toil, of triumph while they fight, of heavenly perfection and blessedness. Many glorious visions had been given to Moses. Who knows, but to his lofty soul Canaan would have been a disenchantment. Many of our realised hopes are. In the better country, no shortcoming, no disappointment. Canaan may suffice for a suggestive prophecy; only God's heaven can be a satisfactory fulfilment. A great thing for faith to climb on heights to survey the heritage of God. And the nearer Jordan, the more glorious the prospect. The goodly land is revealed. All earthly lights pale before the great glory, all things here seem little and unimportant in that great blessedness.
(H. Allon, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,