And I sought the LORD at that time, saying,…
The east side of Jordan had been conquered, Moses and the people had experienced the nearness and help of Jehovah; and Moses had exhorted Joshua to press on Without fear. It was then that —
I. THE DESIRE TO ENTER CANAAN AWOKE ANEW IN THE HEART OF MOSES —
1. A prayer, coloured by deep emotion, came from his heart like a forest stream breaking its way through a narrowing ravine, and then dashing over the falls.
2. Was it possible that the man of God should cry out for what lay behind in a conquered desire? The power of earthly hopes over the heart must be remembered. Moses remained Moses — and his heart remained a man's heart, which only conquers after fresh struggles, which relinquishes hope only when the Highest unmistakably strikes through these hopes and uproots the desires of the heart.
3. It was the hour of conquest where joy filled the hearts of the Israelites. Was it not natural, then, that the old desire should awaken amid this outburst of joyful hope? and that his tongue should utter that of which his heart was full? The words of the prayer show that "the goodly mountain and Lebanon" were before his eyes; and it was in view of them that he again prayed and must again submit.
II. MOSES' RECEPTION OF THE ANSWER TO HIS PRAYER.
1. We all understand this fluctuating of the human heart. "By the grave we stand in silence and sow the seed of tears." But the Easter sun rises, and in its brightness flowers bloom on the graves. Easter bells ring. In this Easter gladness sorrow is stilled and the heart finds peace. It conquers through Him who has swallowed up death in victory.
2. Yet does sorrow never return? We must remember that grace leaves the heart a human heart still. "Grace blameth not thy sighing, but makes it still and pure." The heart still retains its deep emotions, desires, love, hope, longing, and sorrow; and it would be an evil day for men when tears did not bring relief, nor the words of the tongue express the emotion of the heart.
3. When a fervent desire or deep sorrow fills the believing heart it finds relief in prayer — which sometimes bursts forth like a pent-up stream. So it was here with Moses. He entered on this conflict in prayer, and his heart found rest only when the clear answer came.
4. The poet is right when he thinks such conquest impossible on the plane of the world. "The heart that here in sorrow sails by a storm-swept shore gains peace, but on that morrow when it shall beat no more." But it is otherwise in the kingdom of God. Moses, in his words to the people, showed that he had overcome and attained to rest. In his heart he was victorious when he was led by God in His answer to his prayer to the sepulchre of his earthly hopes. His heart did not break — the foaming waves and jagged rocks did not wreck his faith. We almost hear the words, Not my will, but Throe be done.
III. ARE SUCH DECISIVE AND UNMISTAKABLE ANSWERS, SUCH AS THIS GIVEN TO MOSES, GIVEN FROM ON HIGH NOW?
1. Answers in view of which all questionings and grievings cease, all petitions withdrawn, and prayer ends in submission, thanksgiving, and victory.
2. Not precisely as they came to Moses, who lived in such close communion with the Invisible, since only thus in that time could Divine Revelation progress; nor as in later times to the apostle (2 Corinthians 12:9). To the apostles as instruments of revelation the eternal world came nearer than to ordinary men.
3. Yet even to ordinary Christian men there come indications and messages from above which cannot be misunderstood. Not every day — not always when we desire, but in the events of life, in the ordering of circumstances, in the indications of the end of life drawing near, answers are often given as clear and definite as in the words, "Let it suffice thee," etc. And he who understands God's Word and has hid it in his heart, like Moses looks steadily towards Pisgah. The spirit overcomes and looks toward the earthly Canaan, but only to leave it. Let the heart turn, let the eye look upward to the Canaan above!
Parallel VersesKJV: And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,