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Feb 19 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Moses’ Last Prayer 02/19/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning!  Welcome to the RefleXion Community.  The Lord is with you!

We’re all so used to relying on the Global Positioning System, or GPS, to get us where we want to go, especially when we’re in unfamiliar territory, right?

Many years ago, when this technology was new, I used a GPS for my car – a Garmin I believe, as an add-on accessory. I would program in my destination and head out; but sometimes I would get lost, take the wrong off-ramp, or ignore the directions given because I thought I knew better.  Once the GPS would see that, it would re-route me to get back on track–and then she would add, “Please drive the recommended route!”  I used to think that sounded a lot like God, “I’ll get you back to where you need to go, but just stay on course.”

The Garmin also depended on being updated with the latest maps and didn’t always know about the construction zones.  Now I use my phone’s Google Maps which are always the latest, including construction, traffic jams and alerts.  When I get off track, she always knows just where I am and gently leads me back to my planned destination, maybe on a different route, without the rude comment.  Now, this sounds more like God to me.

I’ve been thinking about the difference between Cooperation and Collaboration.  Cooperation is defined as “When a person works in support of another’s goals and is based on a division of labor to reach one person’s vision.” It’s me cooperating with my GPS–or with God.  It’s not necessarily a shared vision.  It’s being helpful in doing what is asked for.  It’s obedience. 

Collaboration refers to “a group of people working together to attain a goal that all of them share, but that they might not achieve it if they work individually. Collaboration is a coordinated, synchronous activity that is the result of a continued attempt to construct and maintain a shared conception of a problem.”

As the technology of my GPS has matured, I think maybe my relationship with God has changed too, as you might compare it to a child’s development.  Did you ever say to a toddler, “Just do what I tell you”?   At a certain age, that might be appropriate.  When the child matures, you might ask, “What do you want to do today?” or when they get older, “What are your goals?”  Then as share their vision, their goals can be yours, too in collaboration.

Of course, it depends on the situation, but I can always ask myself, “What stage do I think I am in with God here?”  There’s nothing wrong with cooperation.  Or is collaboration more my current experience?  Do I feel that God is asking me, “Will you do what I ask of you?” or “What do you want?  What seems important to you?”  Just something I’m considering.

Join me in prayer for this morning:

Heavenly Father, you know our ages and stages.  It’s a wonder that You can be with each of us, right where we are; and, You are able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.  Come close; to You be the glory. Amen.

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

And I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, “O Lord GOD, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and might acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.”
But the LORD was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the LORD said to me, “Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan [River] Deuteronomy 3:23-27

Intro: Growing up, our family vacation was Christian summer camp

We would drive through deserts of California and Arizona to Williams
– we traveled without air-conditioning and with games that grew old fast
• three of us older children were crammed in the back seat and fought a lot defending our invisible walls
• children can make that kind of eight hour journey miserable
– imagine the agitation of that drive and multiply it times 600,000
• then, extend the travel time from eight hours to forty years!
• no wonder at the end of their journey, Moses told people of Israel,
Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. . . . You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day I knew you (De. 9:7 and 24)
◦ (I know we provoked our parents to wrath a time or two)

In Deuteronomy, Moses has come to the end of his career
– there’s no retirement – no gold watch
• all he has is one little last request before he dies
Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan
• he is suggesting that God makes a compromise for him
◦ Moses knows he will never own property or live in the land
◦ all he asks is to just go in and take a look around
– God would not budge – his answer was “No”

I think the way I hear God’s answer may be distorted

Before Moses tells us God’s reply, he explains,
But the LORD was angry with me
– for that reason I assume God’s tone of voice was sharp and gruff
• especially with his first line, Enough from you
◦ doesn’t it sound like that shout get an exclamation mark?
• was that how God spoke to Moses? Abrupt? Curt? Angry?
◦ God had been upset with Moses when the event occurred (Num. 20:2-13)
◦ but that was now long past — had God stayed angry that whole time?
– reading this passage, I felt I needed to take a closer look
Enough from you translates two Hebrew words: rav lekha
◦ the plural rav lekhem occurs two times in Deuteronomy before this incident
◦ I looked up a literal word-for-word translation of these verses
In Deuteronomy 1:6, it was time to leave Mt Sinai and head for promise land, God said,
enough to you [rav lekhem] to stay at this mountain
In Deuteronomy 2:3, at the end of the journey when it was time to enter the land, God said,
enough to you [rav lekhem]to go around this hill
• this brief phrase does not imply anger
◦ all it means is, “You’ve stayed here long enough”–spoken to Israel
◦ and “You’ve heard enough to know my answer, so drop it”–spoken to Moses

Is there another way to hear God’s tone of voice in his answer to Moses?

I am certain that God heard Moses’ deep longing
– his faithful servant was grieving an unfulfilled dream

Even though God had revealed so much to Moses, given him so much, and done so much through him, the Lord knew Moses was carrying a deep sense of futility. Having come all this way on a promise, and after all the hardship, and then not even to do so much as set foot in the land!

• despite Moses’ one moment of disobedience,
◦ can we imagine, God would have no empathy for him now?
– I think it’s possible that God’s response was loving,
• and that his tone was kind and sympathetic
• I mean, just look at what is going on in this passage!
◦ Moses was having a private and personal conversation with God!
◦ in that alone we can sense an extraordinary intimacy

Another way to hear God’s response could sound like this:
“Moses, we won’t discuss this again.
You have my answer already. You will not go into the land.
However, here is what I will do for you;
I will let you hike to the top of Mt Pisgah,
and though you will not go into the land as you’ve asked,
you will be able to see it, as you’ve asked.

Now wouldn’t you consider this a big deal?

God’s word is not compromised, but he does make a concession
– in the long story of Moses, from Exodus through Deuteronomy,
• there are two times when God makes a concession for him
– the first instance is reported in Exodus 33
• God had said that he was pleased with Moses (he had found favor in his sight)
◦ Moses then asked God for evidence of that favor
• God answered, “Tell me what you want and I’ll do it”
◦ Moses replied immediately, Show me your glory
◦ God warned him, “You cannot see my face, but I will reveal myself to you”

That was God’s first concession to Moses’ request
– the actual experience that followed was a close encounter with God
• afterward, we’re told,
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai . . . [he] did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (Ex. 34:29)
• perhaps the most significant outcome of that encounter,
◦ he received a fundamental revelation of God
◦ and that became the heart and essence of Old Testament theology
Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands; forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation (Ex. 34:6-7)

Please indulge me, I want to go over this one more time

On two occasions Moses made a request and God said “No”
– but in both instances, God made a concession
• the first request: Show me your glory
• the second request: Let me enter the land and just look at it
– Steve Mays was a CC pastor in Torrance and a dear friend
• a few years ago he called me, because he saw something in scripture he wanted to share
Mays, “I used to be upset with God, because he worked Moses for forty years, but then didn’t allow him to enter the land. But I just realized something while reading in the gospels. Moses did enter the land. When Jesus went up the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and was transfigured, Moses and Elijah also appeared with him! So his request was granted fully.”
– now, just two days ago, I was talking with another long time friend
• Dave Sweet is the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Paradise (California)
as we were signing off, he said,
“Here’s something to think about, that just came to me when reading the Scriptures. Moses asked God to show him his glory, right? But God told him that he couldn’t see his glory, because it would kill him. But then, in the New Testament, Moses did see God’s glory when Jesus was transfigured and God’s glory was revealed in him.” (See Mark 9:1-4)
• Moses made two requests that were denied, but both times concessions were made
◦ and then, centuries later, both requests were granted

As children of God, we are free to ask for the impossible

Whether or not we are granted the impossible,
– we will walk away with something!
• we’re not in heaven yet, but neither are we empty handed
In [Christ Jesus] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it . . . . (Ep. 1:13-14)
• God’s Spirit is not a “consolation prize”
◦ he is literally the down-payment of our inheritance
◦ he is the first installment of heaven in our lives here and now

Conclusion: My take-away from this meditation last Thursday morning was:

God has established boundaries we cannot trespass
His Yes and No are absolute
If we come to a border we can’t cross,
it doesn’t mean God loves us any less
or that he moves on without us and abandon us
When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to disciples, he said,
I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you (Jn. 14:18)
God doesn’t take everyone else forward and leave us behind
He stays with us, consoles us
And, if he doesn’t allow us to have anything else we request,
he lets us know that we always have him

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