The death of Moses was a pivotal time for the Israelites. Wandering through the desert for forty years on their way to the Promised Land, it’s no surprise they were deeply distressed upon the news of their leader’s death. After all, he was supposed to bring them there, right?
“Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.” (Deuteronomy 34:7-8)
There are several things we learn from these verses.
1) Moses died while he still had his strength.
Moses led the Israelites all those years but there was one among them worthy of finishing the job. Joshua was chosen to finally lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Joshua was courageous and trusted God (Exodus 17:10, Deut. 34:9, Joshua 3:1) while Moses was less than brave (Exodus 3:13, 4:1, 4:10). Joshua was immediately obedient (Joshua 3:1) and made sure he and the Israelites were putting God first, allowing Him to lead the way (Joshua 3:3, 24:15). He believed that God would work miracles (Joshua 3:5) and was “filled with the spirit of wisdom” (Deut. 34:9).
Moses was a great leader, but God had another in mind. In order to finish the job, he had to make way for Joshua.
Likewise, we suffer from loss in our lives very unexpectedly. When it seems like everything’s going great and there’s even better things to come, God eventually throws a curve ball in our lives. This isn’t too harm us or purposefully cause us or others to suffer. Sometime it is just to make way for better things.
2) The Israelites grieved for Moses for thirty days.
Why is this significant? Because during the time period of the Israelites’ wandering, traditional mourning lasted SEVEN days, NOT thirty. This implies that the loss of Moses was especially painful and especially dramatic.
We all suffer in our lives, some more than others. Sometimes we can’t help but mourn and weep for our losses. Change can be especially difficult to deal with. The Israelites depended on Moses for so many years. What were they to do now that he was gone?
3) The Israelites remained in place “until the time of weeping and mourning was over.”
It’s understandable that we are afraid of the future or have no wish to press forward while we are hurting or mourning. However, the Israelites knew that they had to make a conscious effort to focus on what’s ahead and not let their sufferings hold them back. Instead of wallowing in their pain for forty more years, they CHOSE to listen to Joshua (Deut. 34:9) and followed him into new territory, closer to their destination, the Promised Land.
You may be struggling right now. You may be tired and hurt. You may not have a wish to move forward. You may be questioning why God would bring such pain into your life. One thing that must be remembered is that IT’S NOT OVER. Like the Israelites, a lot of us need to make a conscious effort to put our trust in God once again. We need to pack up our bags and continue walking towards the Promised Land. It’s so easy to wallow in pain, but God has other plans for us.
Give your struggles up to God and put your faith in Him. Expect a miracle.