Moses was not permitted to cross the Jordan and take possession of the promised land; we will, on this occasion, hear from his own lips the reason of his exclusion. It does not appear to have been announced to him at the time when the sentence was passed upon all those who came out of Egypt, but thirty-eight years after, at the second smiting of the rock.
Not merely the words themselves, but the inner speech of their hearts, which the words did not fully express; the Lord heard the voice of their words,
Deuteronomy 1:35, 36
God’s oath was steadfast, and not one of that generation crossed the Jordan save Caleb and Joshua. The Lord notes and rewards the fidelity of individuals, and screens his faithful ones from many of the judgments which fall upon his erring church. Blessed are they who in all things endeavour to follow their Lord’s tracks.
Because his example had not, in the case of the smitten rock, tended to sanctify the Lord’s name among the people. If we are placed in eminent office, God will not only judge the fault itself, but he will consider the ill effect it may have upon his people.
Who but a meek man could obey the command? To encourage the man who is to supersede us is hard for flesh and blood, and the more so if that man has for years been our servant.
Moses prayed humbly for a reversal of the sentence which excluded him from Canaan, and he may have felt encouraged to do so because there was no oath against him as against the people. But he who prevailed for others pleaded in vain for himself. His prayer was powerful in argument, and humbly presented, and yet it was denied. It is not everything that a good man asks that God will give, for there are some points in which he shews himself supreme, and bids us cry, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
To Jesus only it belongs to be always heard without limit. A Moses may plead in vain—can we wonder if sometimes we are denied?
If we do not have such an issue to our prayers as we expected, we shall nevertheless have an answer of peace. Moses saw Canaan on earth, and as the vision melted away he saw the better land above. He was a great gainer by not having his petition granted him.
It is very comforting to know that when one good man dies another is ready to take his place. God is never at a loss for a man. His people shall not fail for lack of a leader.
Moses beheld the promised land,
Yet never reach’d the place;
But Christ shall bring his followers home,
To see his Father’s face.
Of Canaan’s land, from Pisgah’s top,
Grant me, my Lord, a view;
Though Jordan should o’erflow its banks,
With thee I’ll venture through.