Mistakes and All, “Where I Can’t See’s” Are Independent of God’s Plan
While tending the flock of his father-in-law in Midian, God calls Moses from a burning bush at Mt. Horeb to share concern over His peoples’ suffering. “So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites” (Exodus 3:8).
God continues: “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). God knows Moses will be tested. Similarly, God knows the temptations and hardships we will face, including our frailties and choices long before we know them.
In the Desert of Zin, instead of speaking to the rock to draw out the water for the Israelites to drink as God had directed (Numbers 20:8), Moses strikes the rock twice, and had “(broken) faith with God in the presence of the Israelites” (Deut. 32:51). In a moment of anger, Moses reacts, disobeying God’s instructions while mistakenly sharing credit with God for the provision of water (Numbers 20:10). I wrestle with God’s discipline every time I read the consequence but recall when I’ve succumbed to anger as well. I also remember that God’s personhood and power had been publicly devalued and that portrayal could not stand. But in His mercy, God still blesses Moses.
Before his death, God directs Moses to ascend Mount Nebo where he was to look across the Jordan River and out at the Promised Land. "Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, ‘This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it" (Deut. 34:4).
God points Moses to the full landscape of where the Israelites whom he had faithfully led, would settle for future generations. “There the LORD showed him the whole land – from Gilead to Dan all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar” (Deut. 34:1-3). God grants Moses the opportunity to see the Promised Land from above, perhaps observing more than what he would have at ground level.
There was even a greater blessing. Moses knew God intimately. God buried Moses Himself, privately, apart from the community. “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10). Arguably, Moses’ personal relationship with God trumps any earthly outcome that we deem as “the big finish,” with the critical message that God alone is man’s true provider.