Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, 6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8 And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
He had a granddaughter whom he loved dearly. She was living in a distant city, but they were still close. She was engaged and he was so happy for her and looking forward to seeing her walk down an aisle to stand before a pastor and a congregation to speak to those vows. He had met the young man, approved of him. It was going to be a great day.
Until it wasn’t. Several months before the ceremony he was diagnosed with cancer, a particularly aggressive beast of a cancer. She was devastated and so was he. We all prayed that he would make it. But as the day of her wedding drew nearer, it became increasingly apparent that he would not make it. God can do that to us sometimes. He doesn’t answer prayers on our schedules, nor does he always give us what we want. Some weeks prior to the ceremony, he passed away. He made her promise to get married anyway, to have lots of fun, to celebrate with the sure and certain knowledge that it was what he wanted.
She did. She was young and life stretched out before her. Her friends came and they celebrated. It was not tinged with deep sadness. He would not have wanted it to be so. In one of his last conversations with his granddaughter he reminded her that God had promised that he would see a much better wedding day and she would too. They would laugh and rejoice together that day. Death would cast no shadows that day.
Did Moses chafe at the thought of not setting foot in the promised land? Was he content with the miraculous video he got to see on Mt. Nebo? Did he long for the opportunity to walk the promised land with the children of Israel whom he had shepherded for those long 40 years. His eyesight was not dimmed, his vigor was unabated. He would have still enjoyed it despite his great age. I do not think so. God did not deny him the promised land, not the real promised land. He was in Canaan on the Mt. of Transfiguration when he spoke to Jesus. But more importantly, he is there in heaven’s glory now. God does that, doesn’t he. What we want is often so small compared to what he gives. My friend who missed his granddaughter’s wedding is not sad. We are because we missed him that day. But our sorrow will also turn to joy, as his sorrow has been replaced by holy and eternal joy.