In Charles Dickens’s story, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge lives a pathetic and miserly life. He acquires great riches for himself, none of which he shares. On the night of Christmas Eve, soon after the death of his business partner, three spirits visit him. They show him Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. When Scrooge sees that after his death none mourn him and some even mock him, he repents and becomes a changed man.
We won’t have the opportunity to hear what is said of us after we die. Perhaps if we could hear the words spoken at our funerals, we would have the will to change our legacy.
Our reading today brings us to the final scene of Moses’ life. He, like us, made his mistakes and had his regrets. God mercifully grants him a look at the land that the Israelites were preparing to invade and occupy. But he cannot enter because of his sin at Kadesh (see Feb. 25). In his final moments, we might imagine that Moses’ mind replayed the scene at Kadesh and wished he could have written it.
Even this mistake, however, does not overshadow the heroic and faithful legacy that Moses left behind. The words recorded here in Deuteronomy 34 ensure that no one would forget the important role that Moses played as the Lord rescued His people from Egypt. He would serve as a standard for the Israelite people from this time forward. His prophetic power and authority were never to be rivaled in the Old Testament. Only in the coming of Jesus Christ was Moses finally replaced by someone of superior position.
As Moses prepared to die, he heard God’s voice a final time. Just as He had all throughout Moses’ life, God revealed Himself to Moses. He reassured Moses that all he had worked for, all he had believed, was being fulfilled. “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham” (v. 4). Moses could die knowing that his labor had not been in vain.