How to Finish Like Moses
October 17-18, 2020
Deuteronomy 34 is about Moses finishing his life and finishing well, and I really love the example of finishing well because I think that there's something in a believers heart that wants to finish well. I know it's not a thought we like to look forward to, the end of our lives, but wouldn't you like to finish well. I think of the words of Paul. When I think of finishing well, I think of the words of Paul, where he said it like this, "The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight."
See, I love the expression here of just finishing well. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith, and in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award me on that day, and not only me, but also all who had loved His appearing. It's just a great strong word of finishing well, but what does it take to finish well? That's really the question. I think all of us would like to finish well, but what does it take? The account of Moses' death here in Deuteronomy 34 gives us this account that gives us insight into what it takes to finish like Moses.
Now tells us, we're going to read it. That God Himself buried Moses, and He buried him it says in the valley of the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor, therefore, no one knows exactly where Moses was buried, and there was no tombstone. Maybe you could say that Deuteronomy 34 is like his tombstone. For many years tombstones were much larger than they are today and it was pretty common to put quite a bit on the old tombstones, and it's very interesting, and some of them relate some interesting lives.
For example, there's this one, "Jedediah Goodwin, auctioneer. Born, 1828, going, going, gone, 1876." That's actually on his tombstone. How about this one. "John Goembel, attorney…The defense rests."
Although this one is sad, "Here lies an atheist, all dressed up and no place to go."
Actually, it's not quite true but okay. Here's my favorite, my favorite one is. "See, I told you I was sick."
Famous last words right there. My mom whenever she would visit relatives in Arkansas, which is where she was from. She liked to go to the cemeteries and pay respects. Visit the tombstones of some of the family, and she would then wander through the cemetery and just reading what was on people's tombstones. At one point she says, "There's a lot of these tombstones that say gone but not forgotten." Finally one day she says, "You can put on my tombstone anything but gone but not forgotten."
We started teasing her that's exactly what we're going to put on there, "Anything but gone but not forgotten." Actually what we settled on was, "Our mother. Our friend." I had a lot of respect for my mom, and she endured a lot, but what an example of steadfast faith. I respect. I respect. A life well-lived. A life well-lived. Someone once said, "The most important part of a tombstone is what lies between the dash, or what lies behind the dash that's between your birth and your death."
When you look at the life of Moses, especially the last 80 years, he lived 120. The last 80 years, and you look at the death of Moses you see a man from whom much can be learned about living well and finishing well. Let's read it, we're in Deuteronomy 34, and we'll begin in verse one. Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah which is opposite Jericho. This would have been an elevation rise of about 4000 feet from where he was to the top of Pisgah, Mountain Nebo.
The Lord then showed him all the land. In other words, from that peak, he could look out and he could see the Land of Israel that God was giving to the sons of Israel, and it says, Gilead will be like on the Sea of Galilee area we would call it Golan Heights today. As far as Dan, they could even see Mount Hermon or Mount Hermon from there, and all of Naphtali and the land of Ephraim. That would be the land around the Sea of Galilee, coming south.
Also, Ephraim, Manasseh, the land of Judah as far as the western sea from there and the clear day, you can see the Mediterranean Sea up to the Jesreel Valley. He could see all of this. Negev to the south and the plane in the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to Moses, "This is the land. This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying I would give it to your descendants, and I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there."
Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth peor but no man knows his burial place to this day. Although Moses was 120 years old when he died, his eye was not dim. Nor was his vigor abated. Isn't that just an amazing statement right there, his eye was not dim, he had better eyes than I do. His vigor was not abated. The sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab 30 days, then the days that weeping in mourning for Moses came to an end.
Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom for Moses had laid his hands on him. The sons of Israel listen to him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses. Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses. Of course, this was written before because what we would say is, "Oh, but the Lord Jesus Christ, is that Prophet, that is greater than Moses. It says no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew but take notice of this, whom the Lord knew, face to face.
Now that speaks right there about the kind of relationship that Moses had to God, and there is much to learn from what we're reading. It says, verse 11, and then for all the signs and all of the wonders which the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land, and for all of the mighty power, and the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all of Israel. He's recounting all of the highlights of his life.
I. Know the Lord More Intimately
These are the verses I want us to look at because there is so much for us to learn in finishing well really begins with living well and I think one of the insights you gain right from these verses is this know the Lord more intimately because I love the description of Moses his relationship to God. He spoke to him face to face. As a man speaks to his friend. Now, that is a that is a nearness walk more intimately picturing that beautifully for us. Now you might say well, but I'm not like Moses, but here's the thing.
God has a special relationship to you today. God has such a relationship to you that he says I have adopted you as my son, I have adopted you as my daughter, and there's such a relationship that you can call you can you can speak to God as your Papa as your Abba, Father. You want to talk about nearness and intimacy that's an expression of what God is inviting you, you want to live well. The know the Lord more intimately. You know we have one life God has given us one life to live, you got one shot.
I just think wouldn't it be awesome to live this life with eternity into you. You're going to have a relationship to God in eternity, why not start now. Right, why not have that intimacy and nearness with your God. It's the key to living well, it's the key to finishing well. I just love that expression since the Lord knew him face to face. One of the defining moments of Mose's life. He knew God face to face. Here's what we see in the scriptures.
A. God wants you to live life to the full
The key to living well you see it in that relationship because God wants you to live life to the full.
God wants you to live your life to the full now. Life is short and you got one life and God was live that life to the full. This is exactly what Jesus said in John 10:10. He says, now the thief that's the enemy. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I came that they may have life and have it to the full. Now that word to the full, I looked it up because I wanted to know what exactly does that mean? Does that mean like it fills up and that's it actually, it means no exceedingly abundantly. It's like when David said my cup overflows, there's that kind of to the full he's speaking of it's like Ephesians 3:19-21, Paul has a prayer. This is a prayer of Paul. He's praying for you. He says I pray that you would know the love of Christ. This is my prayer for you. That you would know the love of Christ you want to live well, that's the key to finishing well, know, the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge and I pray that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God and then it's like this doxology. This is so wondrous. He likes takes a moment just to honor God. Now unto him, who is able to do far more abundantly beyond. I'd love that expression. Now unto him, who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us.
In other words, that's an expression of living life to the full. Ask for the abundance of God's presence, even the overflowing of God's presence in your life, so then he adds a caution. This is Paul who adds a caution. He says, therefore, be careful how you live. You want to finish well, be careful how you live because we're living in an age. This is a crazy time we're living in right now and we're living, being in a time and an age where the world is falling away from God.
I'm sure you've sensed that anyone in his spiritual discernment can see that the world is going farther and farther from God. We're seeing indications that we're living in the latter days. Therefore there should be a sense of urgency in how you live, be very careful. There should be a sense of urgency and in fact, he says this in Ephesians 5:15-18, he says, be careful how you walk, be careful how you walk, how you live your life, not as unwise, but as wise.
He says, making the most, your time living well, making the most of your time because the days are evil. Silvan do not be foolish but understand what the will of God is. This is living well, understand what the will of God is. This is living well and then he adds do not get drunk with wine. That's this a patient that's not living well. That's not making the life of God in. He says, don't get drunk with wine, but be filled with the spirit you want life.
That's where life comes from the spirit of the living God, as you're living the life that God gave you live it to the full by having God's life.
God's spirit, God's heart. Now, I think that there isn't many people, the idea that somehow the fullness of life will come next. There's always something next. It starts from a very early age. We always look forward to the next phase and the next phase, then life's going to be good, then I'm going to really see the fullness of whatever that God has for me incident the next phase of my life. I remember when I was really young, I couldn't wait to get to high school. If I could just get the high school, then everything will be good. Right and then once you're in high school, it's like, I can't wait to graduate from high school.
I can't wait to get out of this place, and then move on with my life because when I move on with my life, then this going to be good. Then you get the, I got to college and it's like, I can't wait to get out of college. I can't wait to get on with my life because then when I get out of my life, then it's going to be good and then I couldn't wait to get married. If I could just get married, it would solve all of my problems. Everyone, most people are looking at me like dumbfounded, like explain that, and then we get married.
Like, oh man, our life would be so good if we could just have kids, right. Again, just wait till we have kids, and then it's like little later on. I just can't wait for the kids to graduate from high school [laughs]. There, then we're going to live there. I tell you, but see, there's always out there. It's always out there. When he says, I've come that you have life. He's talking about living your life to the full now and here's this example of Moses and I think the insight that we can gain would be spoken this way.
B. Walk with God every step of the way
Walk with God every step of the way, life is a journey that's hard but when you walk with God, every step of the way, there is a relationship that you will see that will grow deeper and deeper in your walk with God, God told Moses to walk to the top of Mount Pisco. No one walked with Moses. When he ascended that mountain, he was alone and I wonder what that walk would have been like as Moses walked that mountain. I don't think for one moment that Moses would have been lonely or sad. I don't think Moses would have been downhearted.
This is it we've come to the end. I don't think so. I'm convinced that Moses' heart would have been full as he was walking because he was walking with God up that mountain, just like he had been walking with God ever since he met him on Mount Sinai so many years before and, I just, I like to just imagine how things happen and I imagine Moses walking that almost 4,000 feet in ascent it's a long walk, and I just imagine Moses recounting with God, all of the things that happened in his life because there's an aspect of us that gets, that's a moment to be retrospective, to look back and to think what a journey, this was.
God, you did amazing things in my life. You've been amazing to me. You've been amazing to me what a journey, this was. God, I remember when I saw that bush burning on fire and you spoke to me out of that bush and you began to reveal yourself. You gave me your name. I remember that's when I knew your name and then, oh, and I stood before Pharaoh. Oh, what a day? Oh, what a day. Oh, how you revealed yourself to Israel? How you revealed yourself to man? How you revealed yourself to Egypt?
Oh God, what wondrous things you've done and then giving me the privilege of leading these people. Oh, they were difficult people. Oh, that was a difficult 40 years but God, you sustain me. You sustain me now the whole way you sustain me. God has been good. It's been, there've been hard times, but it's been a good walk. It's been a good journey and thank you for walking with me. See, I just, it tells us this in verse 11 and 12, he's like recounting the signs and the wonders which the Lord did.
When you come to the end of your life. Don't you want to recount with God, all the things that God did in your life? See to me that's a beautiful thought. I want to live a life and I think that God is inspiring as by the story to want to live a life in such a way that you've got something to recount. Oh, God, what you did in my life. What a journey we had. What amazing things you did, how you bless me. Oh, how you bless my life. How many people, whether you're here in the sanctuary or in the fellowship hall or watching from home, how many people would say, I can recount the ways that God has blessed my life, and he has blessed my life tremendously.
See, it's just a beautiful thoughts of me. Oh, what you have done? Doesn't it make you want to live your life so you got something to recount? When you walk with God every step of the way. God has amazing things in store for your life and God wants to do wondrous things through you. He's walking with you. Jesus says, behold, I will be with you to the end of the age. I'll never leave you. I'll never forsake you. The Holy spirit of the living God is in your life, is in your heart. Imagine what?
In fact, I love this in James 5. In James 5, he's encouraging us to believe God for more. When he says in James 5:16-18, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Now that's a great verse. The effective prayer of a righteous man-- He's trying to say you are in Christ, your prayers have significance. Don't discount the significance of your prayers. This is important because he's talking about how to walk with God every step of the way, how to live life to the full, how to live with the power of God moving every step in your life.
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Then he says, now Elijah. Elijah was a man with a nature just like ours. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months and then he prayed again and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. He's trying to give us this encouragement, walk with God, man, and God wants to do amazing things. Do not discount the significance of your prayer.
Mount Nebo. I mentioned stands about 4,000 feet over where the tribes of Israel were camped. When Moses reached the peak of mount Nebo, I imagine this scene unfolding here is God showing him all of these things and I don't know, to me, I just sense that there would be a delight in God. Let me show you Moses. Let me show you, look and see. This is the land that I've been promising to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and to all the sons of Israel, look and see.
Look at there, you see the Judean Hills, I will put my city, my possession, it will be there. The temple of the living. God, it will be there. You see up there, the land of Naphtali, there, I will send my son and he will walk and do miracles. By the way, side note, did Moses ever step foot in the land of Israel? Yes he did, and I will prove it to you. Matthew 17:1-3 tells us the story of when Jesus took with him, Peter and James and John, his brother, and led them up to a high mountain by themselves and he was transfigured.
II. Finish Strong in the Faith
Here is this time when Jesus was transfigured in glory, it says before them and his face shone like the sun and his garments became as white, as light behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with Jesus. I love that part of this story. Moses does get to step foot in the land. Now back to a Deuteronomy 34, here is the key. Here is a key to living well and finishing well like Moses. Finish strong in the faith. At the end of his life is 120 years old. It says his eyes are not them nor his vigor abated.
In other words, he was fit and strong to the end, probably because he ate manna of the last 40 years of his life. Manna was good. It would make you healthy and strong. Moses's vigor is amazing. When you think of the burden and the weight of the responsibility of leading the stress, leading a rebellious station for 40 years through a desert, but he finished strong physically, but I suggest that he finished strong spiritually. Now you and I, we might not finish strong like Moses physically, because we don't have manna, but you can be most certain that you can finish strong spiritually. Does not matter how old. Sometimes we think, oh, people, they get older and they start getting more feeble.
Well, that may be true. These all bodies of ours are just-- these are just temporary tends to dwell in. We're leaving these old things behind and the older you get, the more you appreciate that fact. I tell you the older that I get and I'm getting old, I know, but the older that I get, the deeper, the walk, the more I appreciate because God has walked with me through so many tragedies and through so many triumphs, he has walked with me and I have much to recount with God. You have been so, so good to me. You have been good to me, God. It's caused me to be very, very thankful.
2nd Corinthians 4:16. "Therefore we do not lose heart though our outer man is decaying, he said, our inner man is being renewed day by day."
A. Don’t let anyone cut in on you
You keep walking and the older you get, something's going to happen. There's a depth to that walk. You keep walking. There's a depth to that walk. Then though, I think there's a lesson that we can learn out of the story of Moses and that's this don't let anyone cut in on you. Now that comes from the picture of running a race, of course, but Paul used that.
He used that as an analogy of living your life. Don't let anyone cut in on you. Notice Galatians 5:7, you were running a good race. You were running well, who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? If you walk with God, step-by-step, don't let anyone cut in on you. I love the movie Chariots of Fire. I don't remember what year that came out, but that was a classic when I was young. There's one of the most inspiring scenes in this movie is where, Eric Little, who is the theme of the movie and he's in this race and someone cuts in on him and he falls and he falls badly.
Instead of quitting and just walking off in anger, he gets up now, everyone is like way out there. Then he gets up and he starts running. It is just one of the most inspiring scenes of this movie. You can just see him catching everyone and then he's passing the one at a time, which he does in slow motion.
That was just natural. He did it fast, but he passes every one of them and he finishes in first place. It's like this inspiring story. Don't let anyone cut in on you as a good word, because Moses did. Moses did let the sons of Israel cut in on him. I recounted this last week. How of Deuteronomy 32:51, where he says to Moses, why he's not crossing the Jordan? Why he's not going to go over there? He says, because you broke faith with me. You broke faith with me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.
You did not treat me as Holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. Moses let the sons of Israel cut in on him because Moses lost his temper and he blamed them. You are a difficult people, you are a contemptuous people, and now look what you've done, but it didn't work to blame them. God said, "You didn't count me as holy. You didn't put weight to my word. Don't let anyone cut in on you. Don't blame someone else. You made me angry. Now, look what you've done. You made me angry."
If you do get angry if you do let someone cut in on you. Get up, get right with God, and make it right with the other person and get back to walking with God. Proverbs 24:16, though a righteous man falls seven times he rises again. Get up. This is a difficult journey and you will falter but get up. Keep walking with God every step of the way. James 1:12-13, blessed is the man who perseveres under trial. For once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
In other words, don't let anyone cut in on you and shipwreck your faith. 1st Timothy 1:19, fight the good fight, keep the faith in a good conscience which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
B. This is your valley of decision
Then I think we should see this aspect. This is your valley of decision. You remember I mentioned before last week that Moses wanted Israel once they cross that Jordan. He wanted them to immediately go to the valley of Shekel. Once they were there, he wanted leaders to go up on one side of the valley where there's Mount Nebo.
On the other side, Mount Gerizim and from Mount Nebo to call out all of the difficulties and troubles and adversity that would come if they turned away. If they did not walk with God. For Mount Gerizim all the blessings that God would pour on their lives if they would love God with all of their heart. The decision choose you this day whom you will serve. In many ways, this life is your valley of decision and it has eternal consequences. When someone brings their last we say they died.
There's got to be a better word than death. For what happens when we breathe our last in this earthly life? We say someone's died. I think a better definition of death is separation from God. Going all the way back to the garden. God told Adam that the day he ate of the fruit of the tree in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. "The day you eat of it, you will die." Genesis 2:17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat from the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.
What does He mean? Did he breathed his last? No. There's a death in the relationship to God. Now you are walking separated from God. In fact, every time someone sins, he goes a little farther from God. Every time someone sins, you're walking farther and farther and farther and farther away from God. Thus death is being separated from God. If that's what death is, I suggest that many are dead even though they're breathing. There's a lot of people in this earth that are dead even though they're breathing.
When they breathe their last, they will simply continue in the state of their choosing. It's a valley of decision because if you ask Christ into your heart, you already have eternal life. You are already walking in the gift of eternal life. When you breathe your last, you're just going to keep on walking in the state of your choosing. You have received Christ into your heart. You have been given the gift of eternal life. When you breathe your last, you don't die. That's the day you start living. Amen. Let's give the Lord praise and glory and honor.
C. Be a good and faithful servant
The example of Moses, be a good and faithful servant. Moses finished well and entered into the joy of the presence of the Lord. Jewish rabbis when they come in on this chapter. Some say, "Oh, God kissed Moses into death." Others say, "Oh, no. He kissed him goodbye." I like another rabbi who said, "No. God kissed him to welcome him home." When you breathe your last, may you hear those words that Jesus promised to those who were faithful in this life.
This is out of Matthew 25:23, his master said to him, "Well done my good and faithful servant." Wouldn't you just long to hear those words? When you think about how you lived your life, wouldn't you love to hear those words? Well done my good and faithful servant. I'm not suggesting that any one of us is going to live so perfectly and so wonderfully that we never falter or fail. When you walk with God, you know how to get up. That's the point.
When you walk with God, you know how to get up. You know how to keep walking, you know how to keep walking in the steadfastness of God. At the end of it all, what a wonderful journey it was and you can hear those words, "Well done. My good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things into the joy of your master." How about Psalm 116:15, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his godly ones.
You know one of the privileges of being a pastor is being with people when they close their eyes, breathe their last, and step into heaven. I've had that privilege many times. It is a true honor. FB Meyer wrote about the death of another pastor who wrote about the death of a man of God, who was on his deathbed. As he was near the end, he said, "The celestial city is full in my view, its glories have been upon me. It's breezes. I can feel its odors are wafted to me. It sounds are striking upon my ears. Its spirit is bringing it into my heart." Then he was gone. In his book Passion for Souls Dorset describes the death of the famous preacher DL Moody.
The events of the last moments of his life were recorded and have encouraged many. I'll just quote it to you. Moody's beloved son-in-law sat up with him all night on December 21st. At 3:00 AM, his son Will came in to take the next watch. Around 6:00 AM, the ailing preacher rose from sleep, and in slow measured words said, "Earth recedes, heaven opens for me." His son, Will, assumed his father was dreaming and attempted to wake him. "No, this is not a dream. Will, it's beautiful. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no Valley here. God is calling me. I must go." After a pause. He said, "This is my triumph. This is my coronation day."
Then his face lit up and he cried out. Remember now his two children died before him. "Dwight, Irene, I see the children's faces." After a few moments, he turned to his beloved wife. "Emma, you have been a good wife to me." Then he slipped on unconsciousness and into the arms of his lord and savior. Imagining Moses taking that long walk up Mount Nebo to the top of Mount Pisca recounting all the wonderful things they did together. Doesn't it make you want to have things in your life to recount with God?
It's been a good journey, Lord. It's been a good journey. There's been ups and downs. There's been triumphs. There's been troubles, but your walk with me through them all. It's been wonderful. I love you. I love you, Lord. Thank you for walking this life with me. It's been good. Doesn't it make you want to live your life so that you got something to recount? It's been good, Lord. It's been a good journey. Keep walking. Keep walking. Keep walking in the fullness of God, the fullness of the spirit, and the fullness of life and you'll have things to recount because God's not finished with you yet. Amen.
Father, thank you so much. Thank you for pouring out your spirit on your word and drawing us to a place of nearness to our God. Church, isn't there something you that wants to say to God. I want to live my life in such a way that there are many good things to recount with you. You have been so good to me. You have been so good to me. You're a good father and I love you, and I want to walk this life with you so that at the end of it all, we can take that walk together and say, "It was good. It was good, Lord. It was good. Thank you for walking with me through it all."
Would you say that to the Lord? Would you just raise your hand wherever you are, just say it by raising your hand. God, I just want to say this. When I raise my hand, God, I'm just saying to you, I want to live my life in such a way that when I get to the end, I can recount it all and say, "Thank you, it's been good." There's been highs, there's been lows, there's been troubles, but you never left me. You walked with me through it all. Father, thank you. Thank you for your life, your spirit that just moves on us. We so want that life. We want to walk with you on this journey.
We want to hear those words. Well done. Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your master. Father, thank you for everyone who's moved with the spirit. We love you, we thank you, and we honor you. You have blessed us. You are a good father and we honor you for it now. In Jesus name and everyone said-- Can we give the Lord praise.