1966. The Death Of Moses

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No. 1966-33:313. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, June 5, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. {De 34:5}

1. What an honourable title! Moses is distinguished as “the servant of Jehovah.” He was this by choice, for he willed to be the servant of God rather than to be great in the land of the Pharaohs. Such he was most perseveringly throughout his entire life. Such he was most intensely, for he waited upon God for his directions, as a servant waits upon his master; and he endeavoured to do all things according to the pattern which was shown to him on the holy mount. Though he was king in Jeshurun, he never acted on his own authority, but was the lowly instrument of the divine will. Moses was faithful to God in all his house, as a servant. You neither see him overstepping his office nor neglecting it. His reverence for the Lord’s name was deep; his devotion to the Lord’s cause was complete, and his confidence in the Lord’s word was constant. He was a true servant of God from the time when he was appointed at the burning bush until the hour when he surrendered his keys of office to his successor, and climbed the appointed mount to die. Oh that you and I may so live as servants approved of by God! To as many as have received him our Lord Jesus has given power to become the sons of God, and this is our great joy; but as sons we aspire to serve our Father, even as his great First-born Son has done, who took upon himself the form of a servant so that he might accomplish his Father’s good pleasure for his church. Let us with good will do service for our Father who is in heaven, since it is only our reasonable service that we should lay ourselves out for him who has made us his sons and daughters. Redeemed from the slavery of sin, let us, as the Lord’s freemen, cry to him henceforth, “Oh Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, and the son of your handmaid: you have released my bonds.”

2. But servant of God as Moses was, he must die. It is the common lot of men. Only two have passed out of this world into the abodes of glory without fording the stream of death. Moses is not one of the two. Even had he crossed the Jordan into Canaan, he would in due time have died in the land. We might have expected that he would live on until the people were settled in Canaan; but it seemed right to the Lord God that on account of his one slip he should die outside of the Promised Land, like the rest of the people. Caleb and Joshua alone of all that generation who came out of Egypt were permitted to possess the land towards which they had journeyed for forty years. If that one offence lost him the privilege of entering the earthly Canaan, there may have been still more powerful reasons why he should not enter the heavenly Canaan without experiencing the change of death. He must not make a third with Enoch and Elijah, but he must die and be buried. Such will probably be our lot in due season. Brethren, it may be that we shall not die, our Lord Jesus may come before we fall asleep; but if he does not come speedily, we shall find that it is appointed to all men once to die. We shall pass from this world to the Father by that common road which is beaten hard by the innumerable feet of mortal men. Since we must die, it is good to meditate upon the solemn future. Moses shall be our teacher in the art of dying. We will consider his decease, in the hope that our fears may be removed, and our desires may be aroused. There is a Pisgah where we must yield up the ghost, and be gathered to our forefathers: may we climb to it as willingly as did Moses, the servant of God!

3. The manner of Moses’ death is extremely remarkable. I suppose that no subject presents a finer field for oratory than the sublime decease of the prophet; but we have nothing to do with oratory: our object is spiritual and practical profit. Poets {a} might well expend their noblest powers in depicting this strange scene of the man of God alone on the mountain’s brow, with the view of Canaan at his feet, and himself in holy rapture passing away into the eternal state. We are not poets, but simple believers, desiring to learn some holy lesson from the death of one who, though the greatest of men, knew no higher honour than to be the servant of the Lord. Oh that the Spirit of grace and truth, who has come to us by Christ Jesus, may help us to find instruction in the death of him who brought the law from the mouth of God to men!

4. I. We are told in the text that “Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.” This I shall read, first, as meaning that Moses died on Pisgah, ACCORDING TO THE WARNING OF THE LORD.

5. His death was long foreseen. Moses knew some time before that he must die without setting foot in Canaan. Read in the first chapter of Deuteronomy his own account of the sin of the people at Meribah, and the Lord’s sentence pronounced then and there: “Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land, which I sware to give to your fathers, except Caleb, the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and I will give to him the land that he has trodden upon, and to his children, because he has completely followed the Lord.” “Also,” adds Moses, “the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, ‘You also shall not go in there.’ ”

6. His death outside of the Promised Land did not come upon him as a surprise at all. He had to see his sister Miriam, first of the great trio, fall asleep; and, next, he was called to go up to Mount Hor and disrobe his brother Aaron of his priestly garments which he placed upon Eleazar, his son. Moses also had to see the entire generation that came out of Egypt with him buried in the wilderness. The ninetieth psalm is his, and it is a kind of Death March; a fitting hymn for a nation whose track was marked by countless graves. Because of unbelief “their carcasses fell in the wilderness.” Only Caleb and Joshua remained, the sole survivors of the great host who crossed the Red Sea. So the Great Lawgiver had abundant pledges of his own departure, and he must have had in his brother’s death a rehearsal of his own. Have we not also had many warnings? Are we ready?

7. Concerning his death in the land of Moab, it is natural to remark that it was extremely disappointing. He had been for forty years engaged in leading the people to the land of promise: must he die when that country was within a day’s march? It was his life’s work, for which he had been prepared by forty years in Egypt, where he became learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and by another forty years in the solitary wilderness, where he kept sheep and held high fellowship with God. His third forty years had been spent in freeing Israel from Egypt, training them to become a nation, and conducting them to the land of promise: must he now expire before the nation entered in? What years his had been! What a life was that of Moses! How glorious was the man who had confronted Pharaoh, and broken the pride of Egypt! How tried and troubled a man had he been while called to carry all that nation in his bosom, and care for them as a shepherd cares for his sheep! His was a task that almost broke him down; and had not the man Moses been made very meek by the indwelling Spirit of the Lord, and had he not also been graciously sustained by fellowship with God, his task would have proved too heavy even for him. Yet, after all that toil in fashioning a nation, he must die before the long expected conquest. It was a bitter disappointment when the sentence first pierced his heart. He had known one great disappointment before; for Stephen tells us, that when he struck the Egyptian, “he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God would deliver them by his hand: but they did not understand.” Then, when his brethren had refused him, he fled into the land of Midian, a rejected leader, a patriot whose heroism had only elicited from his countrymen the contemptuous question, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” But this denial of entrance into Canaan was an even greater disappointment. To have toiled so long, and to reap no harvest; to see the land, but not to enter it; to bring the tribes to the Jordan’s brink, and then to die in Moab after all: it was a grievous disappointment. Brethren, are we ready to say “Your will be done!” concerning our most cherished hope? Are we holding our life’s dearest purpose with a loose hand? It will be our wisdom to do so.

8. Apparently it was a severe chastisement. His offence was only one, and yet it excluded him from Canaan. We do not have time to describe in detail the sin of Moses. It would appear to have been a sin of unbelief occasioned by his feeling so intensely for and with the people. Moses was thoroughly knit to Israel. When they sinned he interceded as for himself. When Jehovah made him the offer that he would make from him a great nation, he declined it solely from his love for Israel. He lived for the nation, and for the nation he died. Remember how once he went so far as to say, “If not, blot me, I pray you, out of your book which you have written.” In every way he was of the people, bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh: Israel was hidden in his heart; and out of that master passion of sympathy with the people came the weakness which at last made him speak unadvisedly with his lips. They strove with God and though Moses never yielded a point to them in that wicked contest, yet their unbelief so far influenced him that he spoke in anger, and said, “Hear now, you rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” Then “the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe me to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given to them.’ ” {Nu 20:10-12} Three times in the book of Deuteronomy Moses tells the people, “The Lord was angry with me for your sakes.” It was not so much what Moses did personally which involved him in judgment, but he suffered because of his being so closely associated with Israel. Just as the Lord had spared the people previously for Moses’ sake, so it became necessary that, when he in any measure shared in their great sin of unbelief, he should be chastened for their sake as well as his own. His faith had saved them, and now his unbelief, being backed by theirs, secures for him the sentence of exclusion from the land.

9. My brethren, when I think of this severity of discipline towards so faithful a servant as Moses, I do extremely fear and quake. Truly, “the Lord our God is a jealous God.” We are sure that he is never unjust, we are sure that he is never unduly severe: we do not for a moment impugn the righteousness or even the love of our God in this or any other act; but he is terrible out of his holy places. How true it is that he will be sanctified in those who come near to him! Behold and wonder! That highly favoured servant, Moses, though always accepted in the economy of grace, even he must come under the rule of the house, and feel the chastising hand if he transgresses. Hence the sentence of exclusion is passed. Just as he had once joined that unbelieving generation by revealing a measure of hasty unbelief, so he must now share their doom, and die on Moab’s side of Jordan. “Righteous are you, oh Lord, and upright are your judgments.” Oh for grace to behave ourselves properly in your house! Lord, teach us your statutes, and keep us in your way.

10. Beloved, it seemed a great calamity that Moses must die when he did. He was an aged man concerning years, but not concerning condition. It is true he was a hundred and twenty years old, but his father and his grandfather and his great grandfather had all lived beyond that age, two of them reaching a hundred and thirty-seven, so that he might naturally have expected a longer lease on life. This truly grand old man had not failed in any respect; his eye was not dim, neither had his natural force abated, and therefore he might have expected to live on. Besides, it seems a painful thing for a man to die while he was capable of so much work; when, indeed he was more mature, more gracious, more wise than ever. The mental and spiritual powers of Moses were greater in the latter days of his life than ever before. Notice his wonderful song! Observe his marvellous address to the people! He was in the prime of his mental manhood. He had been tutored by a long experience, chastened by a marvellous discipline, and elevated by a sublime communion with God; and yet he must die. How strange that, when a man seems most fit to live, it is then that the mandate comes, “Go up into the mountain and die!”

11. Naturally speaking, it seemed a sad loss for the people of Israel. Who but Moses could rule them? Even he could scarcely control them. They were a heavy burden even for his meekness: who else could so successfully act as king in Jeshurun? Without Moses to awe them, what will these rebels not do? It was a grave experiment to place a younger and an inferior man in the seat of power, when the nation was entering upon its great campaign. It would need all the faith and discretion of Moses to conduct the conquest of the country, and to divide their portions to the tribes. Yet so it must be: precious as his life was, the word went out, “Go up into the top of Pisgah: for you shall not go over this Jordan.” Even so to the best and most useful must the summons come. Who would wish to forbid the Lord to call home his own when he wills?

12. The sentence was not to be averted by prayer. Moses tells us that he besought the Lord at that time, “Oh Lord God, you have begun to show your servant your greatness, and your mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to your works, and according to your might? I pray you, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.” This was altogether a very proper prayer: he did not plead his own services, but he urged the former mercies of the Lord. Surely this was good pleading, and he might have hoped to prevail for himself, since he had formerly been heard for a whole nation. But no. This blessing must be denied him. The Lord said, “Let it suffice you; speak no more to me of this matter.” Moses never again opened his lips on the subject. He did not beseech the Lord three times, as Paul did, in his hour of trouble; but since the sentence was final he bowed his head in holy consent.

13. Brethren, he had often asked a greater thing than this from the Lord his God. Once he had even dared to say, “I beseech you, show me your glory,” and he was heard even in that high request. The Lord placed him in the cleft of the rock, and made all his goodness pass before him. Yet now he begs for a comparatively small thing, and it is refused. What a mercy that it is in the small things of this life that our requests may be denied, but in the things which touch the kingdom of the Lord our prayer never returns empty! All heaven is open to our bended knee, though for wise ends and purposes a Canaan on earth may be closed against us. All-sufficient grace was given though the thorn was not removed: Moses the servant of the Lord died, but triumphed over death.

14. When I thought of the trial of Moses in being shut out of the land, I found myself unable to read the chapter which lay open before me, for I was blinded by my tears. How shall any of us stand before a God so holy? Where Moses errs how shall we be faultless? Never was a servant more favoured by his Lord, and yet even he must undergo a disappointment so great as a rebuke for a single fault. The flower of his life is broken off from the stalk for one act of unbelief. To be exalted so near to God is to be involved in a great responsibility. A fierce light blazes around the throne of God. He who is the King’s chosen, admitted to continual communion with him, must stand in awe of him. Well is it written, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” An offence which might be passed over as a mere trifle in an ordinary subject, would be very serious in a prince of the blood, who had been favoured with royal secrets, and had been permitted to lean his head upon the bosom of the king. If we live near to God we cannot sin without incurring sharp rebukes. Even the common run of the elect must remember that word, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” How much more must the elect out of the elect hear such a warning. God did, in effect, say to Moses, “You only have I chosen of all mankind to speak with me face-to-face, and, therefore, since you have failed in your faith after such communion with me, it behoves me, in very faithfulness and love towards you, to note your failure with an evident sign of displeasure.” The discipline of saints is in this life. I do not doubt that many a man’s life has come to an end when he wished it to be continued, and he has missed what he has striven for, because of an offence against the Lord committed in his earlier years. We need to walk carefully before our jealous God, who will not spare sin anywhere, and least of all in his own beloved. His love for them never fails, but his hatred of their sin burns like coals of juniper. Foolish parents spare the rod, but our wise Father does not act like that. Walk circumspectly, oh you heirs of eternal life, for “even our God is a consuming fire.” May the Lord give us to feel the sanctifying power of this passage in the story of the great Lawgiver!

15. II. But now I have to conduct you to a second point of view. Moses, the man of God, died in the land of Moab “according to the word of the Lord,” that is, ACCORDING TO THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT.

16. All the details of the death of Moses had been ordered by the Lord. Time, place, and circumstances were arranged by God. So, brethren, it is appointed to us where we shall die, and when we shall die. We speak of certain people as having “died by accident,” and we sometimes bewail the deaths of Christian men as premature; but in the deepest sense it is not so. God has marked out for us the place where and the time when we must resign our breath. Let this suffice us. What is of divine appointment should be to our contentment. We do not believe in the Kismet {destiny, fate} of blind fate, but we believe in the predestination of infinite wisdom, and therefore we say, “It is the Lord, let him do what seems good to him.”

17. Moses died according to the divine appointment, that is also according to an appointment which is very general among God’s people. He died without seeing the full result of his life-work. If you look down the list of the servants of God you will find that most of them die before the object which they had in view is fully accomplished. It is true that we are immortal until our work is done; but then we usually think that our work is something other than it is. It never was the work of Moses to lead Israel into the promised land. It was his wish, but not his work. His work he saw; but his wish he did not see. Moses did really finish his own proper work; but the desire of his heart was to have seen the people settled in their land; and this was not granted to him. Even so David gathered together gold and silver to build the Temple, but he was not to build it; Solomon, his son, undertook the work. Even so great reformers rise and speak the truth, and cause colossal systems of error to tremble; but they do not themselves utterly destroy those evils. Their successors continue the work. Most men have to sow that others may reap. The prayer of Moses is fulfilled for others as well as for himself: “Let your work appear to your servants, and your glory to their children.” We must not hope to engross all things: let us be content to do our own part in laying the foundation upon which other men may build in due course. It is according to the divine appointment which links us with each other that one plants and another waters, one brings out of Egypt and another leads into Canaan.

18. And I may here notice that Moses so “died according to the word of the Lord,” for a reason of stewardship. It was not for Moses to give the people rest, for the law gives no man rest, and brings no man to heaven. The law may bring us to the borders of the promise, but only Joshua or Jesus can bring us into grace and truth. If Moses had given them Canaan, the allegory would have seemed to teach us that rest might be obtained by the law; but just as Moses must be laid asleep, and buried by divine hands, so must the law cease to rule so that the covenant of grace may lead us into the fulness of peace.

   Moses may lead to Jordan’s flood,
      But there surrenders his command;
   Our Joshua must the waves divide,
      And bring us to the promised land.
   Trained by the law, we learn our place,
   But gain th’ inheritance by grace.

So there was a mysterious reason why Moses should die in Moab, according to the eternal purpose of God. Not without such divine decree shall any other of the servants of the Lord depart out of the camp of Israel. We also shall in life and death serve some gracious purpose of the Lord. Are we not glad to have it so? Yes, Lord, your will be done.

19. III. I have conducted you a little out of the dark now, and the sky is clearing around us. In the third place, Moses died ACCORDING TO THE LOVING WISDOM OF THE LORD. It was a fitting thing, a wise thing, and a kind thing that Moses should not go over Jordan.

20. First, by so doing he preserved his identity with the people for whom he had cared. For their sakes he had forsaken a princedom in Egypt, and now for their sakes he loses a home in Palestine. He had suffered with them, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt”; and he had been with them in all that great and terrible wilderness, afflicted in all their affliction, bearing and carrying them in God’s name all his days; was it not fitting that he should at last die with them? He had been all along the mirror of self-denial: neither for himself, nor his brother, nor his son had he sought honour: he lived only for others, and never for himself, and his death was agreeable with his whole life; for he leads others to the border of Canaan, but does not enter it himself. He sleeps with the older nation; he ends his career on the near side of Jordan, like all the generation which he had numbered when they came out from under the iron hand of the Egyptian tyrant. It seemed fitting that one so identified with the people should say, “Where you die I will die.” Are we not satisfied to take our lot with the holy men and women who already sleep in Jesus?

21. Moreover, Moses might be well content to die then and there, since he was by this released from all further trial. Surely he had known enough of sorrow in connection with that rebellious nation! Forty years was enough for a pastorate over a people so fickle and perverse. Surely he must have blessed the hand that removed his shoulder from the burden! His was no life of luxury and ease, but of stern self-denial, and perpetual provocation. What trial he endured! What self-restraint he exercised! What a lonely life he led! Are you surprised to hear me say that? With whom could he associate? Even Aaron, his brother, was a poor comrade for such a man. Remember how he failed Moses, when that man of God was absent for forty days upon the Mount with God. It was Aaron who made the golden calf, and this clearly proved his spiritual inferiority to Moses. The man of God had to watch even his brother who stood next to him. With whom could he take counsel? Who would talk with him as a friend? He lived apart, and shone as a lone star. It is significant that he died alone, for so he had lived. Aaron had tender attendants to disrobe him; he who put the vestments on most appropriately aided to take them off; but the crown which Moses wore, God himself had set upon his brow, and no human hand must remove it. Surely this burdened watcher of Israel must have been glad when his watch was over! Surely this lonely man, after one hundred and twenty years of service, must have felt it a happy release to be admitted to the glorious company of heaven! Just as Noah was a preacher of righteousness for one hundred and twenty years, and then entered into the ark, so Moses, after one hundred and twenty years of service, enters into his rest. Is it not good? Do you grieve that the battle is fought, and the victory is won for ever? We also in our deaths shall find the end of toil and labour, and the rest will be glorious.

22. Remember, that by his so dying, in the next place he was relieved from another strain upon him, which would have been involved in the conquest of Canaan. He would have crossed the Jordan, not to enjoy the country, but to fight for it: was it not good for him to be exempt from so severe a struggle? You think of the clusters of Eshcol, but I am thinking of the sieges and the battles. Was it so very desirable to be there? Would Moses really have desired that dreadful fray? Was it not a gracious act on the part of the Commander-in-chief to relieve from his command a veteran who had already served through a forty years’ war? The Lord would not put upon Moses a burden so little agreeable to his age and to his turn of mind as that of executing the condemned Canaanites. Joshua was naturally a man of war; let him use the sword, for Moses was abler at the pen. Remember that the people of Israel were no better when they reached Canaan than when they were in the wilderness: they suffered defeat through unbelief, and they missed much of their inheritance through self-indulgence. Moses had seen enough of them on one side Jordan, without being troubled with them on the other. The Lord therefore graciously took his servant off the active list, and promoted him to a higher sphere. Let us not be distressed by the fact that he will one day perform the same kindness towards us in our turn.

23. But, you will say, surely it might have been as good if Moses had lived to have seen Joshua win the country. Would this have been desirable? Do active men find much delight in sitting still and seeing others take the lead? Moreover, had Moses lived, he would before long have felt those infirmities from which he had for one hundred and twenty years been screened: is it so very desirable to outlive one’s powers, and to be a tottering old man amid constant battles? Peace suits age; age does not agree with war’s alarms. Had Moses remained the leader of the people, he might have marred the glory of his former days. Have we not seen aged men outlive their wisdom? Have not their friends wished that they had closed their career long before? Have we not seen pastors, once able and efficient, holding onto their pulpits to the injury of the churches they once edified? Oh that men would have wisdom enough not to undo in their age what they have accomplished in their youth! Moses is removed before this evil can happen to him, and it is good.

24. “But,” you say, “perhaps he might have been there to watch with joy the victories of Joshua.” Is that always an easy thing to one who has been in the front rank himself? At least, it is not an unmixed privilege: there is a mixture of trial in the blessing. Moses did not “lag superfluous on the stage.” He did not outlive his work. Who wishes to do so? He passed away on the crest of the wave before any ebb had set in, or any weakness had been discoverable. He died so as to be missed. Israel wept for him, and no man said that he had lived too long. That prayer of his, after all, was a mistake. What would have been the particular joy of merely treading the soil of Canaan? The land looked far more beautiful from Pisgah than it would have done had he stood by Jericho: assuredly at the present day you and I, who have never seen Palestine, have a much more delightful idea of it than those who have endured its noonday heats and midnight frosts. Moses had more joy in gazing upon it from above than in actually warring among its hills.

25. IV. I must hurry on to say that while the death of Moses so exhibits the loving wisdom of God, the way in which he died abundantly displays THE GRACE OF GOD.

26. After Moses had been well assured that he must die, you never hear a complaint of it, nor even a prayer against it. Remember, that he himself wrote the story, and it is charming to see how he recorded his own fault, his prayer to be allowed entrance into Canaan, and its denial: had he murmured he would have recorded this also. He seems to me always to write about Moses as if he were someone he had known: he is strictly impartial in his praise or blame of himself. He calls himself “king in Jeshurun,” he says that the man Moses was very meek, and yet he records his outbursts of anger. No man was ever less self-conscious, or lived so little for himself, as Moses did: therefore, when once the Lord told him he must die, he acquiesced without a word.

27. Most fitly the old man immediately rallied all his energies to finish his work. You will find in the thirty-first chapter of the book of Numbers that he took in hand a war: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Avenge the children of Israel on the Midianites: afterwards you shall be gathered to your people.’ ” {Nu 31:1,2} He would die warring with Israel’s adversaries, and obeying Israel’s Lord. He delivered certain ordinances to be observed in war to Eleazar, and he supervised the division of the spoils. Fearing lest the tribes which had settled east of Jordan might excuse themselves from future labours, he stirred up Reuben and Gad, and gained from them a promise to go over armed with their brethren until the whole land was conquered. Furthermore, he prepared his manuscripts, not for the press, but to be put away in the ark and to be preserved. He would have his testimony completed for future generations before his hand was paralysed by death. He knew that he was to die, but he did not sit down and weep, nor sulk, nor give himself up to bitter forebodings of the hour of departure. He served his God with increased vigour, and was more than ever alive as life neared its close. Then he preached his best sermon. What a wonderful sermon it was! How he poured out his heart in pleading with the people! The sermon over, he began to sing. The swan is fabled to sing only once, and that just before it dies; so Moses at the last gave us that famous ninetieth Psalm and the song beginning, “Give ear, oh you heavens, and I will speak; and hear, oh earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. Because I will proclaim the name of the Lord: ascribe greatness to our God.” {De 32:1-3} Moses had no time for poetry while his whole strength was needed in his government; but now he is about to die his frame of mind is ecstatic; prose will not satisfy him, he must weave his thoughts into verse. At the end, all the faculties of his manhood were drawn out to their utmost in a final effort to glorify the Lord his God. Brethren, is this not a fine fruit of grace? Oh that we may produce it!

28. Then he gathered the tribes together and blessed them in prophetic words, pouring out his soul in benedictions. Having already cried to God about his successor, he laid his hands upon Joshua, and charged him, and encouraged him, and told the people to help him in all his service.

29. He did all that remained to be done, and then went willingly to his end.

   Sweet was the journey to the sky,
      The wondrous prophet tried.
  “Climb up the mount,” says God, “and die”;
      The prophet climbed, and died.
   Softly his fainting head he lay
      Upon his Maker’s breast;
   His Maker kissed his soul away,
      And laid his flesh to rest.

We, my brethren, also expect to die. Let us not fear it, but let us arouse ourselves to labour more abundantly; let us preach more boldly, let us sing more sweetly, let us pray more ardently. Just as flowers before they shed their petals pour out all their perfumes, so let us pour out our souls to the Lord. Let us live while we live, and dying, let us die to the Lord. May our life-work close as the sun sets, looking greater when it sinks into the west than when it shines at full meridian height!

30. V. Now let us conclude by noticing, in the last place, that Moses died “according to the word of the Lord,” that is, ACCORDING TO THE DIVINE FAVOUR.

31. His death leaves nothing to regret; neither is any desirable thing lacking. Failing to pass over Jordan seems a mere pin’s prick, in the presence of the honours which surrounded his departing hours. His death was the climax of his life. He now saw that he had fulfilled his destiny, and was not like a pillar broken short. He was ordered to lead the people through the wilderness, and he had done so. There they stood on the borders of their inheritance, a people moulded by his hand. By his instrumentality they were, so to speak, a regenerated race, far more prepared than their fathers to become a nation. The degrading results of long bondage had been shaken off in the free air of the desert. They were all young men, vigorous, hardy, and ready for the fray. It is grand to pass away while there is nothing of infirmity yet seen, nothing left undone, and nothing allowed to fail through too long a persistence in office. We may say of Moses, that he did —

   His body with his charge lay down,
   And cease at once to work and live.

32. Moreover, his successor was appointed, and was just below in the plain. It was not his son, but it was his servant who had become his son at length. He did not leave his flock to be scattered, his building to be thrown down. Happy Moses, to see his Joshua! Happy Elijah, to see his Elisha! No trembling for the ark of the Lord to mar such a departure. The succession of workers lies with the Master, not with the workers. We are to train men “who can teach others also”; but our own special work we must leave with the Lord. Yet just as Paul was glad of Timothy, so must Moses have rejoiced over Joshua, and felt in his appointment a release from care.

33. He died, moreover, in the best company possible. Some men expire most fitly in the presence of their children; their strength has laid in their domestic duties and affections, and their children fitly close their eyes: but for the man Moses there was no true kindred. You hear that he married an Ethiopian woman; but you know nothing about her. You know that he had sons, but you do not hear a word about them except their names: their father was too engrossed in honouring his God to crave an office for them. As we have seen, he lived with respect to men, alone, and with respect to men he died alone. But God was with him, and in the particularly near and dear company of God he closed his life on the lone peak. If he suffered any weakness no mortal eye beheld it. As far as his people were concerned, “he was not, for God took him”; Pisgah was to him the vestibule of heaven. God met him at the gates of Paradise.

34. As he died, the sweetness of his last thought was indescribable. Before his strengthened eye there lay the goodly land and Lebanon. The Lord showed him all the land of Gilead to Dan. Over there is Carmel, and beyond it he sees the gleam of the utmost sea. Through breaks of the mountains he sees Bethlehem and Jebus, which is Jerusalem. Then, like Abraham, he saw the day of Christ, and by faith beheld the track of the incarnate God. Your land, oh Emmanuel, appeared before him, and he saw it in all its spiritual bearings. What a vision! Yet even this melted into a nobler view. Just as we have seen in our childhood by the light of the kaleidoscope one view dissolve into another, so did the lower scene gradually melt away into another; and the servant of the Lord found himself removed from the shadows which his eye had seen into the realities which eyes cannot behold. He had gone from Canaan below to Canaan above, and from the vision of Jerusalem on earth to the joy of the City of Peace in glory. The Rabbis say that our text means that Moses died at the mouth of God, and that his soul was taken away by a kiss from the Lord’s mouth. I do not know, but I have no doubt that there was more sweetness in the truth than even their legend could describe. Just as a mother takes her child and kisses him, and then lays him down to sleep in his own bed; so the Lord kissed the soul of Moses away to be with him for ever, and then he hid his body and we do not know where. Whoever had such a burial as that of Moses? Angels contended over it, but Satan has failed to use it for his purposes. That body was not lost, for in due time it appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration, talking with Jesus concerning the greatest event that ever transpired. Oh that we may also pass away amid the most joyful prospects; heaven coming down to us as we go up to heaven! May we also attain to the resurrection from among the dead, and be with our Lord in his glory!

35. Soon our turn shall come. Do we dread it? As we are favoured to serve our Lord we shall be favoured to be called home in due season. Let us be always ready; yes, joyfully ready. When we are dying we shall see, not the land of Naphtali and Ephraim, but the covenant; and the infinite provisions of its promises will be spread out before our soul, as Canaan at the feet of Moses. Wrapped in happy enjoyment of precious promises, we shall with surprise find ourselves ushered into the place where the promises are all fulfilled.

   There shall we see his face,
      And never, never sin,
   But from the rivers of his grace,
      Drink endless pleasures in.

To the believer it is not death to die. Since Jesus has died and risen again, the sting of death is gone; therefore let us prepare ourselves to climb where Moses stood, and survey the landscape. Amen.

[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Nu 20:1-13 De 3:21-28 32:48-52 34:1-12]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — The Eternal Sabbath Anticipated” 912}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — The Goodly Land” 876}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — Sweet Fields” 875}


{a} The Burial Of Moses: by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) See Explorer "http://www.bartleby.com/270/11/107.html" Mount Nebo: by Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810-1876) See Explorer "http://www.bartleby.com/270/11/104.html" Weep, Children of Israel: by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) See Explorer "http://www.bartleby.com/270/11/105.html" Mount Nebo: by George Gordon McCrae (1833-1927) See Explorer "http://www.bartleby.com/270/11/106.html"

Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
912 — The Eternal Sabbath Anticipated
1 Lord of the Sabbath, hear our vows,
   On this thy day, in this thy house;
   And own, as grateful sacrifice,
   The songs which from the desert rise.
2 Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, we love,
   But there’s a nobler rest above;
   To that our labouring souls aspire,
   With ardent pangs of strong desire.
3 No more fatigue, no more distress,
   Nor sin nor hell shall reach the pace;
   No groans to mingle with the songs
   Which warble from immortal tongues.
4 No rude alarms of raging foes;
   No cares to break the long repose;
   No midnight shade, no clouded sun;
   But sacred, high, eternal noon.
5 Oh long-expected day, begin;
   Dawn on these realms of woe and sin:
   Fain would we leave this weary road,
   And sleep in death, to rest with God.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.


The Christian, Heaven
876 — The Goodly Land
1 Our journey is a thorny maze,
      But we march upward still;
   Forget the troubles of the way,
      And reach at Zion’s hill.
2 See the kind angels at the gates,
      Inviting us to come!
   There Jesus the Forerunner waits,
      To welcome travellers home!
3 There, on a green and flowery mount,
      Our weary souls shall sit,
   And with transporting joys recount
      The labours of our feet.
4 No vain discourse shall fill our tongue,
      Nor trifles vex our ear:
   Infinite grace shall fill our song,
      And God rejoice to hear.
5 Eternal glories to the King
      That brought us safely through,
   Our tongues shall never cease to sing,
      And endless praise renew.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.


The Christian, Heaven
875 — Sweet Fields
1 There is a land of pure delight,
      Where saints immortal reign;
   Infinite day excludes the night,
      And pleasures banish pain.
2 There everlasting spring abides,
      And never-withering flowers:
   Death, like a narrow sea, divides
      This heavenly land from ours.
3 Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
      Stand dress’d in living green;
   So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
      While Jordan roll’d between.
4 But timorous mortals start and shrink
      To cross this narrow sea,
   And linger, shivering on the brink,
      And fear to launch away.
5 Oh! could we make our doubts remove,
      Those gloomy doubts that rise,
   And see the Canaan that we love
      With unbeclouded eyes!
6 Could we but climb where Moses stood,
      And view the landscape o’er,
   Not Jordan’s stream, nor death’s cold flood,
      Should fright us from the shore!
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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