“Then Moses went up Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab and climbed Pisgah peak, which is across from Jericho. And the LORD showed him the whole land, from Gilead as far as Dan.” (Deut. 34:1).
A few years ago, I taught a series on the life of Moses at Journey Church. We spent twenty-eight weeks looking at Moses and there remains one thought that stayed with me and transformed the way I see my life with God. The thought is simple: God takes us when He’s finished with us, not when we’re wore out.
As we can see from Deut. 34:1, Moses climbed from the plains of Moab up to the top of the Pisgah range to Mount Nebo. My first, quick reading had me wondering where this area was, but a quick reading usually does me a disservice. Too often, I’ve read the Scriptures the way a hound eats a hot dog: fast, in one gulp and without ever savoring the flavor. Then, without experiencing the subtleties of what I’ve read (or ate), I’ll claim to be full of the Word of God. Sound familiar? What I learned when I slowed down with this passage is although the where is important, the what and the how are keys, because what we learn is just how strong Moses was.
What I learned is Mt. Nebo is 4,500 feet high. Of course, the first thought for most of us is, “Hey, nice view.” But we must never forget that Moses was 120 years old. How many of you could climb almost one mile high now, much less than when you are 120 years old? Furthermore, there was no trail, paved road or air-conditioned buses as there are today. Moses blazed his own trail when he climbed to the top. I have trouble going up and down the stairs at work more than a few times in a row without wheezing, and here’s Moses doing a little last minute mountain climbing and sight-seeing before he finally takes his eternal rest. Moses was a stud.
But Moses wasn’t just physically strong, he was spiritually strong. We don’t find any self-pity or final regrets mentioned in this last chapter of his life. He knew he was going to see the land God promised to Abraham, and he knew he was never going to walk there. Furthermore, the Lord had already chosen Joshua to take the Children of Israel into the Promised Land. The only thing left for Moses to do was to hike a mountain, enjoy the view, and quietly pass away.
And I am sure that Moses enjoyed the view. Verse 7 says “Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever.” Moses was more than twice my age but still he had better eyesight than I do! The word “strong” here occurs six times in the OT with the sense of being fresh, moist, or green like a tree. It speaks of sexual vigor and physical health. Nobody knows how many more years Moses would have lived, lead and had children if the Lord had not taken him when He did. Every part of Moses was physically healthy and spiritually strong. The same was true with Jesus. He had to be tremendously strong to endure the hardships of scourging and crucifixion, and God took Him when He was about thirty-three.
What I want us to meditate on is this: God doesn’t take us when we’re worn out; He takes us when our time is up. This means if you’re still breathing, it God isn’t finished with you yet!