And the LORD spoke to Moses that selfsame day, saying,…
After the solemn address to the people, God gives a personal address to Moses. It is about his approaching death. He is to see the land, but not to enter it, because he sanctified not the Lord at the waters of Meribah. It raises, therefore, the whole question of death as the portion even of the most faithful servants of God.
I. IT IS SURELY REMARKABLE THAT, WHEN SAVED THROUGH THE MERCY OF GOD IN CHRIST, WE DO NOT BECOME IMMORTAL. Salvation seizes on the spirit, it becomes life through the righteousness of Jesus, but the body is still dead (or mortal) because of sin (Romans 8:10). Why does salvation take our personality in installments? Save spirit first, and leave the body to the repairs of a resurrection? Can the procedure be vindicated? We think it can. For -
II. IF WE BECAME PHYSICALLY IMMORTAL THROUGH THE RECEPTION OF SALVATION, A MERCENARY ELEMENT WOULD BE INTRODUCED INTO OUR MOTIVES, AND MEN WOULD SEEK SALVATION TO ESCAPE THE PAIN OF DYING. Under the present arrangement, saint as well as sinner has to pass the dark portal. Dying is made the general lot of man, and, if salvation is desired, it is for spiritual purposes. Just as God does not promise immediate success to our efforts or our prayers, lest we should be tempted to live by sight and not by faith.
III. IT IS NOT DESIRABLE THAT, WITH PARDON, WE SHOULD ESCAPE ALL SUFFERING FOR OUR SIN. It is a wise arrangement on God's part, even when forgiving sinners, to take vengeance on our inventions (Psalm 99:8). For suppose that, in praying for pardon, we escaped all physical consequences of our sin, the result would be that pardon would be used as a great physical agent and factor, and the physical escape would be more thought upon than the spiritual. It is better, therefore, that things should take their course so far as the body is concerned, and that, meanwhile, the spirit should be the chief recipient of the benefit. God does not take the seeds of mortality, therefore, out of our bodies: he leaves them there as sin's own work; and he gives us the earnest of complete redemption in the resurrection and emancipation of our spirits.
IV. IT IS A SPLENDID TEST OF OUR FAITH IN GOD TO BE ASKED TO DIE. For up to the hour of death, we have found persons and things to lean upon in a measure; we have not as yet been left to lean on God alone. But when death comes, we are forced to lean on God only, if we are to have any support at all. God says, "Can you trust me, even when I take away your physical life?" "Though he slay me," said Job, "yet will I trust in him." Death brings us all to this test, and happy are we if we reach the same assurance.
"The real is but the half of life; it needs
The ideal to make a perfect whole;
The sphere of sense is incomplete, and pleads
The closer union with the sphere of soul.
"Then let us, passing o'er life's fragile arch,
Regard it as a means, and not an end;
As but the path of faith on which we march
To where all glories of our being tend."
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,