Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan.
Throughout my life, my family has raised horses. At one point, we had a young horse that my Dad wanted me to care for. I promised and promised, but I never worked with her, and my Dad got tired of waiting. I really like horses, but I’ve never been one to want to raise one, so I’ve mostly watched while other people have worked with the animals. For my Dad, watching just wasn’t going to cut it. He didn’t need an extra horse eating feed and soiling its stall, but getting next to no attention. He made arrangements to sell the horse.
I remember the morning that the buyer showed up to pick up the horse. It finally dawned on me that we’d be losing her, and that I wouldn’t have the chance to see her again. I cried and I begged and I pleaded. But it was to no avail. The decision was made – the horse was going away. No matter how sincere I was at that moment, my actions had ensured that she would be sold to another owner.
In reading today’s passage, we see that Moses did amazing things for God, but he sinned in such a way that the Lord did not permit him to enter the Promised Land. (Read Numbers 20:2-13 to get that whole story.) Moses didn’t fully trust and honor the Lord in the presence of Israel, and he took credit for what God was doing. As Moses neared the end of his life, he begged the Lord to allow him to enter the land that he’d pursued for 40 years. But because of such a severe violation of the Lord’s commands, God had to keep His word. He told Moses that he would not cross the Jordan, but would only get to see the Promised Land from afar.
It might not seem fair, but sometimes, when we commit sins, no matter how sorry we are, we will still suffer severe consequences. The best we can do is ask for forgiveness and learn from our mistakes, and hopefully never repeat them. We can also accept our consequences with grace and maturity and show the Lord and others that our faith is deep enough for the tough times.
The next time you do something that will bring you an outcome much worse than you expected, it’s OK to pray that the Lord will spare you from a harsh consequence. But if you have to endure a brutal penalty, pray that He will uphold you with grace, and that He’ll help you learn from the experience so that you won’t have a repeat performance.
Reflection copyright © 2015 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.