Forty years earlier, God had spoken to Moses from the Burning Bush. “I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings, and I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:7–8, CSB).
Now, on the eastern side of Jordan, just a stone’s throw away from Canaan, God spoke again. This time, God instructed one-hundred-twenty-year-old Moses, “Go up Mount Nebo in the Abarim range in the land of Moab, across from Jericho, and view the land of Canaan I am giving the Israelites as a possession. Then you will die on the mountain” (Deuteronomy 32:49–50, CSB). He glimpsed the promised land, but he never entered.
There’s a Washington Monument and a Lincoln Memorial, but there is not a memorial marker for Moses. According to God’s plan, He died alone on Mount Nebo. They never found his bones.
Moses didn’t pitch a hissy. He didn’t cry or beg the Almighty to change His mind.
He prayed. “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all, appoint a man over the community who will go out before them and come back in before them, and who will bring them out and bring them in, so that the Lord’s community won’t be like sheep without a shepherd” (Numbers 27:16–17, CSB).
Like Jesus, when Moses “saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, CSB).
Without a moment’s hesitation, God replied, “ ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him’ ... Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua, had him stand before the priest Eleazar and the entire community, laid his hands on him, and commissioned him, as the Lord had spoken through Moses” (Numbers 27:18-22, CSB).
Something very similar happened later.
Jesus had already climbed the mountain as God required, and there, died alone. They’ll never find His bones!
He also commissioned a successor, one to bring people to the Promised Land. Who? You. And me.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, CSB).
Like Joshua, we have been commissioned to serve!