Moses Moves On
Forty years earlier, when the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai, God had instructed Moses to take a census of the people. Every man twenty and older was to be counted and his name recorded. The number of men was 603,550 (see Numbers 1:1-3, 46). Now, as they were about to enter the Promised Land, God told Moses to number the people again. This time there were 601,730 men over the age of twenty. Other than Caleb and Joshua, not one of them was among the men originally counted by Moses at Mount Sinai. The older generation had all died in the desert. This is what God had said would happen after the Israelites chose to rely on the reports of ten frightened spies instead of trusting His promises when they were about to enter the new land (see #54 - February 23). During those years of wandering, the younger generation learned to trust God and follow the leader He provided. But that leadership was about to change. Moses had been disqualified from leading the Israelites into the Promised Land when he had become frustrated and disobeyed God. Instead of speaking to a rock, as God had instructed him, he struck it twice with his staff (see #56 - February 25). As much as God loved Moses, He could not allow his defiance as a leader to go without consequence. So, after the second census was completed, Joshua was introduced as the man God had chosen to lead the new generation into the Promised Land. He had already proven himself to be a great military leader (see #47 - February 16). God instructed Moses to gather all the Israelites in front of Eleazar, the new High Priest, where they could witness Moses passing his authority on to their new leader. Moses laid his hands on Joshua and commissioned him. He said, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord gave to their ancestors, and you must divide it for them as their inheritance. The Lord himself will go before you and be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not get discouraged.” Then Moses spoke to the people telling them that if they loved God and followed His commandments, they would be blessed. But if they didn’t honor and obey Him, He would take away everything they loved. He said, “Today I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, so that you and your children may live and love the Lord your God. Listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life.” After saying this, Moses climbed Mount Nebo. From its summit he could see the land that God had promised to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants. He could see it all—from the north to the south and from the east to the west. Moses died while on Mount Nebo, and God buried him there. The people mourned his death for 30 days. There never was another prophet like Moses in all of Israel’s history.
Do you realize that God’s blessings are conditional? Just as there are consequences for disobedience, there are wonderful benefits that come with obedience. If we love God, we will want to obey Him. But, to obey Him, we must first know what He wants us to do.