Longings for the Land
Deuteronomy 3:23-26
And I sought the LORD at that time, saying,…


1. It was strong and deep; the strongest desire of his soul in regard to anything earthly, is our longing for the heavenly Canaan as vehement as his for the earthly?

2. It was a holy desire. There was nothing carnal in it; nothing of self. It was the desire of a holy man for a share in the fulfilment of the Divine promise.

3. It was a patriotic desire. Canaan was his true fatherland, though he had never dwelt in it.

4. It was a natural desire. Though brought up in ease, for now eighty years he had been a dweller in tents in the wilderness, a man without a home. How natural that he should be weary of the desert, and long for a resting place!

5. It was a desire connected with the welfare of his nation. Israel was to be blest "in that land of blessing, and he desired to see his nation settled in the Lord's land.

6. It was a desire connected with the glory of God. He knew that God was about to choose a place wherein to set His name, and to show His glory. He had once before pleaded, "Show me Thy glory"; and what could be more desirable in his eyes than that he should see the manifestation of this glory, and witness the mighty power of God in the land which he knew was to be the centre and stage of all these?

II. HIS ARGUMENTS (ver. 24). The first part of his argument is, "Thou hast showed me the beginning, wilt not Thou show me the end? It is natural, even in man's works, when we have seen the beginning, to desire to see the end, and to expect that he who has shown us the one will show us the other. Moses feels as if he would be tantalised, almost mocked, by not seeing the end. He argues that God's willingness to show him the beginning is a pledge of His willingness to show him all. We may all use this argument. Thou, who hast forgiven me past sin, wilt Thou not forgive all present and all future sin? (Philippians 1:6.) The second part of his argument is, that to stop here would leave so much undiscovered of His greatness and mighty hand, that, for the sake of the glory to be unfolded and the power to be revealed, he might expect to be allowed to enter. So great is the undiscovered glory of God, and so desirous is God to reveal it to us, that we may use this argument with Him respecting anything we desire. The third argument looks at the very little already seen — only a glimpse. Moses pleads this little, and because of it asks to enter Canaan. He had seen much of God's power, yet he speaks as if it were little; not as if undervaluing the past, but still feeling as if it were comparatively nothing. So all that we have tasted hitherto is small. It is in the ages to come that He is to show the exceeding riches of His grace; and hence we may call the past a little thing, and use it as an argument with God.

III. GOD'S ANSWER. It sounds stern; yet is the answer of wisdom and love.

1. The anger.

2. The refusal.

3. The prohibition.

IV. GOD'S CONDESCENDING GRACE. Entrance is denied, but a full vision of the land is granted (ver. 27). He strains His purpose (if one may speak so) as far as possible, without breaking it. The actual request is denied, but something as like it and as near to it as might be is accorded. What a favoured child does Moses seem, even in this very scene of apparent sternness! O love that passeth knowledge! O condescension of God, to what depths of indulgent tenderness wilt Thou not stoop!

1. What one sin can do. One sin cost Adam Paradise; one sin costs Moses Canaan. In the case of Moses it is the more startling, because it is a forgiven sin, and he is a forgiven sinner. His sin is forgiven, yet it leaves a stain behind it; it traces a testimony to its unutterable evil on the person of the sinner.

2. What God's inflexibility is. He cannot change. He cannot call that no sin which is sin; nor that a small sin which is a great sin; nor that a private sin which was a public sin. His purpose is not the easy, pliable, changeable thing which ours is. He is the God only wise, only righteous, only mighty, and is therefore above all such vacillations.

3. What the grace of God is. Many waters cannot quench it, nor the floods drown it. To what lengths it will go in order to pardon a sinner or to bless a saint!

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,

WEB: I begged Yahweh at that time, saying,

Holy Ardour After a Heavenly State
Top of Page
Top of Page