by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Readings: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Proverbs 13:9-10
READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Deuteronomy 34:10-12 “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 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, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”
In judgement of Moses’ transgression at the waters of Meribah-kadesh (Numbers 20:1-13); God did not allow him to go into the Promised Land. For all the hard work that Moses had done in obedience of God, he was denied entrance into the land of milk and honey because at Meribah, Moses “broke faith” with God and did not treat God as holy in the midst of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:51). This was a serious transgression; for Moses could potentially cause Israel to go into full rebellion against God when the people witnessed for themselves that even their great leader could be so irreverent towards the Almighty.
Yet, for this count of serious transgression, the punishment meted out to Moses did not cancel out the good work he had done in obedience of the Lord; neither did it cancel out the sincerity of Moses’ heart towards the Almighty. God is not Someone who would grow so angry and bitter towards people that He act in an unjust manner.
He is always fair and at the same time full of grace. Hence, we get to read in Deuteronomy 34:10-12, one of the most honouring words God had given to His servant: “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 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, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”
As I reflect on this passage, I know in my heart that I am no Moses. Given the same task, i will probably fail far before I reach the waters of Meribah. Yet, even as the form of Moses’ calling into ministry is so different from all of us; the essence of it is similar. Much as we are all called to fulfil God’s purposes whether in ministry, workplace or family; we are first called into “personal ministry”; the personal ministry of our worship of God. To me, our worship of God speaks of two major things: Awe and adoration. How much are we really in awe and adoration of the Almighty?
While Moses failed at Meribah and was justly punished for his sin; he was honoured for his other deeds. This was not because he had a much bigger task than us; but because the Lord greatly valued his sense of intimacy with Him. God knows that at the end of the day, Moses had awe and adoration for Him. For Moses was one whom the Lord “know face to face”. Such a phrase was unpacked for us in Exodus 33:11 which says “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend …” We see here that the sense of intimacy between God and Moses was unmistakable.
Hence, the question for us today will be: What do we want to be honoured by the Lord for at the end of our life on earth?
Will it be: “Well done, for you have done many great things in the church I have called you to!” Or will it be: “Well done, for you have stayed close to me and you have truly loved me and my people”! I would really choose the second one and praying that the Lord will help me to be so.
Oh Lord my God, help me to learn from Your servant Moses, who despite his weakness, had an intimate relationship with You. Such shall be the fountain for which all the works that You have entrusted to us; flow from. Amen.