Redeeming the Ruins - Deuteronomy 34

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings


Is death the end or a new beginning? That’s the question that all of us must answer, the question that charts what you’ll do while you’re living. For instance, followers of both Hinduism and Buddhism believe that we are reincarnated at death So, you’re born as a person, and then upon death, you’re born as somebody or something else. And, it’s your karma, your ability to live morally upright and according to the code of ethics that will determine your lot in the next life; so, your life is lived trying to make sure your good far outweighs your bad on the cosmic scales. Mormonism believes that this life enables you (if you’re a man, of course) the potential to be one of the man gods if you can prove yourself worthy of the celestial kingdom. You can literally become the Father of your own planet having billions of spirit children for your pleasure. So, you have to decide if you’re going to be an underachiever to end up in one the lesser levels of heaven, or if you will attain the full potential offered to you. It determines how you live.
The fastest growing perspective today is that there is no afterlife, only the ability to move humanity forward or backward. The thought isn’t, “Where will I end up?” The belief is that you’ll end up in the worm farm. The thought is, “Where will humanity end up?” The only real aspiration that you have to live for is the potential that you can help humankind evolve ever so slightly. And, of course, the difficulty is that everybody has a different opinion about what is moral and immoral, ethical and unethical, so everyone is left to figure how they want to help humanity to evolve, yet feel hopeless to do so when there are so many competing views. Goodness, is there any wonder why everyone is so angry? Is there any wonder why we are so divided? We’re seeking to give our lives meaning, and it feels like everybody else is robbing them of that very meaning!

God’s Word

And, that brings us to Deuteronomy 34. Here we have the death of the great leader of the Exodus, the mediator of the covenant with God — Moses. But, Deuteronomy 34 is crystal clear about its perspective: the death of Moses isn’t the end; it’s a beginning. You see, opposed to Hinduism and Buddhism, we don’t see here the reincarnation of the best men; we see the redemption of ruined men. Unlike Mormonism, it isn’t the worthy who are made into gods in their celestial kingdoms; it’s the unworthy who are brought into a face-to-face relationship in the Promised Land. Unlike today’s confused humanitarianism trying to evolve as they can, we see the shadows of a single story that will ultimately give way to the substance of real transformation. We come to the end of Moses’ life and to the end of the books of Moses, and we see what we’ve seen the whole time: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Three gospel promises (headline) we see here.

“Ruins” are being “redeemed”.

4And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”
32They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account,33for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips.
Imagine Moses making the climb to the top of Pisgah at 120.
He knows that he’s going to die.
In many ways this was a march of regret. Can you imagine how his regrets must’ve been front and center in his mind?
Moses was a murderer.
He had declined God’s call because he spoke with a stutter.
He must’ve wished he would have done more the refute the spies.
(chiefly in view) “but you shall not go over there”
Numbers 20 - Moses struck the rock rather than speak to the rock - bitter/angry/impatient (Meribah = quarreling)/disobedient - He would not enter the Promised Land (front and center in Deut since ch 1)
Regrets accumulate for sinners.
How many times must Moses have been convinced that he ruined his life? How many times must Moses have been convinced that he was useless for anything good, let alone anything for God?
Do you wonder if you’ve ruined your life? Are you wrestling with the accumulation of regret?
Divorce/adultery/pornography/addiction/depression/bitterness/anger/parenting mistakes/debt
5So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord,
“servant of the Lord” = rarely used of a person in OT = Joshua/Job/Elijah/David/Isaiah/Suffering Servant (Messiah)
2 Corinthians 4: God is pleased to use cracked pots as containers of his glory.
Moses was a cracked pot who:
Led Israel out of Egypt
Divided the Red Sea
Met with God face-to-face in the tent of meeting
Mediated a covenant between God and his people on top of Mt. Sinai
If you believe that your life is in ruins, join the rest of us.
The condemning voice of our enemy wants to convince you that you are useless to the Lord, but you’re the only type of person God uses.
All of creation is but ruins compared to the glory that God intended. All people are but shells of the glory that God intended for them to display.
What we see demonstrated in Moses is accomplished in Christ: God is building his kingdom by redeeming the ruins.
You haven’t ruined your life.
Repent of your sins. Pull the plug on your self-pity.
Take your ruins, and offer them to God.

What “should” be “will” be.

4And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”
Why does God instruct Moses to look out over the Promised Land?
God isn’t torturing Moses; He’s assuring Moses. He isn’t trying to fill Moses with guilt; He’s bringing Moses peace.
Certainly, if things were as they should be, Moses would be taking his people into the Promised Land. But, Moses’ sin and God’s discipline had prevented that. But, even in the midst disciplining Moses, God comforts him and encourages him.
In fact, God uses a present glimpse of a past promise to assure future hope.
Emphasis is on ‘showing’, ‘seeing’, ‘eye was undimmed’.
God told Abraham his ancestors would possess ‘the land that I will show you.’
Land transactions = land owner would take purchaser to show them the land; this viewing the final step to possession.
“See it with your eyes” is right beside “you shall not go over there” in the same way that grace is always right beside discipline for God’s children.
When God shows Moses the full parameters of the land, he is enabling Moses to represent the people to take legal possession of the land, even if he won’t be able to enter it himself.
God’s promises of the past had held up again!
But, I want you to see that this wasn’t just about present peace but also future hope. (present glimpse of past promise to assure future hope)
Notice how God brings Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s names to the forefront. The promised land had been initially promised to Abraham and then that promised had been renewed through Isaac and Jacob. But, they never lived to see it. They didn’t get to experience the fulfillment.
Moses was in a similar position. He was able to see it, but he was able to enter it and enjoy it.
But, here’s the promise: God had been faithful to fulfill his promise to the patriarchs even if it felt delayed. God had given it to them, even if they didn’t receive it yet. Here was God giving the land to Moses, even though Moses wasn’t going to have it.
The promise is this: What should be today (you entering the land) will certainly be one day.
It’s a future assurance. Just as God had fulfilled his promise to the patriarchs of the past, He would be faithful to Moses in the future.
Matthew 17:2–3 (ESV) 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
Moses is to us what Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was to him. He is for us a present glimpse at a past promise to assure us of future hope.
Last March, COVID-19, flipped all of our world’s upside down, shutting down our very way of life. In May, upon the death of George Floyd, rioters disrupted and destroyed entire cities. In January, rioters invaded our capitol building and shut down an entire wing of our government. Last month, some of our friends in Swaziland had $35 to feed their families with. Teachers are left scrambling with how they will cope with young elementary children whose parents believe are transgendered. This world is not as it should be. We are not as we should be.
But, God has given us the past fulfillment of these promises to Moses to remind us of the assurance that we have of his promises to us today. They seem delayed. They seem like they’re never coming true. But, this world is going to be renewed. This world is going to be restored. God’s way is going to be established. Jesus’ reign is going to be reality.
God’s word to Moses is God’s word to us: It’s all worth it!

“Shadows” are giving way to “substance”.

Moses was never the main character of this story. Joshua will take his place, and the story will keep going. And, Joshua won’t be the main character either.
The emphasis is on speaking what God said and performing miracles by God’s power. It was never about Moses.
10And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Deuteronomy 18:18 (ESV) 18I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
Moses was just the beginning. He was just a shadow of a greater Moses who was to come.
Hebrews 3:3 - Jesus is greater than Moses.
Moses = the house
Jesus = the builder
Moses led the exodus out of slavery in Egypt, but Jesus will lead the exodus out of slavery to sin.
Moses mediated a covenant through the Law so that God’s people could have a relationship with him in the middle of their camp. Jesus mediated a New Covenant by placing the Law within the hearts of his people so that our relationship with God might never be broken.
Moses met face-to-face with God in the tent of meeting so that he could speak God’s word to the people. Jesus came as the very face of God incarnating the Word of God that God’s presence might dwell within us as his new temple.
Moses interceded on behalf of Israel pleading with God to forgive their sins. Jesus took our sins upon himself that they might never be counted against us and even today, even right now is interceding for us as our champion before the Living God.
In Jesus, the shadow has given way to the Substance.
Don’t let the imperfections of the shadows lead to insecurity and doubting in your faith.
Moses imperfections only serve to highlight the glory of Christ.
Church —> Kingdom
Love of Christians —> love of God
fleeting happiness —> final joy
flaky peace —> unthreatened tranquility
These shadows are giving way to substance. That’s the hope we cling to until we cross over the starting line of death.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more