The crossing of Moses. Deuteronomy 34:5 is one of the saddest verses to me in the OT, “And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said.” Forty years! Forty years of wandering through the desert with all the heat, dirt, sand, and rocks. Forty years of mana (where’s the beef!). Forty years of bearing the burden of leading and managing this large nomad city. Forty years of constant complaining day in and day out. Forty years of ministering to the people of God as a humble servant. Forty years of worshiping God. And one moment of frustration and arrogance. Let’s be honest, it just doesn’t seem fair! These are the moments I find my humanity clashing with His deity. Yet, one thing has been very clear in our journey so far, God is Holy! So Holy that he buries his servant Moses in the valley there in Moab and does not let him enter the promised land. This is why only one sacrifice, only One, would be sufficient to appease His holiness and our depravity (Is. 53)
The crossing of the people of Israel. Forty years of wandering in the wilderness is about to end. Israel stands on the bank of the Jordan river as God once again prevents the water so they can cross over. When all the people had finished crossing, Joshua instructs one person from each tribe to go into the river and pick up one stone. With these stones he builds a memorial that is “to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” You see the stones tell a story, a story of what the Lord had done for His people. It amazes me, here we are today retelling the story of the stones and our God. But something strikes me about this memorial, what’s missing from the story. The memorial has very little to do with the people of Israel, all their failings, their complaints, their sin, why they ended up in the wilderness in the first place. The memorial instead has everything to do with their God! I can’t help but think of Jesus, you see he has become the greater memorial. Our gatherings to celebrate the Lord’s table, communion, are to be a time for us to “re-tell” the Gospel, the story of Jesus Christ. And yet I find that these times tend to be consumed with the individual and their experience. Both the stones and the elements of the bread and cup are to be making much about Christ. So the next time you hold the elements in your hands remember . . . not your past, not your present, not your future . . . remember Jesus who has now become your past, present, and future.