Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo …. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And 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.” So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab …. And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.(Deuteronomy 34:1-5a, 9 ESV)
Moses had one last blessing before he died—God allowed him to see the Promised Land that was the goal for the people of Israel all the years Moses led them through the wilderness. Moses himself couldn’t go in there, because he had disobeyed God at a key moment during those travels (see Numbers 20:12). It would be Joshua who brought the people into the land.
So far, so simple—and sad. But if we stop and think about it from a different point of view, we can see God’s Gospel at work.
You see, Moses is a symbol of God’s Law. He was the one who went up Mt. Sinai and received the Commandments for the people to live by. He was the one who enforced those Commandments for 40 years in the wilderness, while the people kept sinning and rebelling. God used Moses greatly, and we are right to honor him—just as we respect God’s Law.
What about the Promised Land—what does that mean, taken as a symbol? That’s easy—that looks forward to our future with God in God’s eternal kingdom—in the new heavens and new earth, when we are free from sin and death, full of joy and peace and happiness. That’s what we look forward to—our own promised land for all creation.
But great and glorious as God’s Law is, it’s never going to get us into God’s kingdom. It can’t. We are broken people, and we will never obey the Law perfectly. We need help. Who can bring us into God’s kingdom?
This story tells us—Joshua can do it. The name “Joshua” is the Hebrew form of the Name “Jesus,” and that’s exactly who the real Joshua stands for, symbolically. Jesus can do what the Law cannot do—He can bring us into the kingdom of God forever, to live there in peace and joy.
How did He do this? Not by urging us to work harder to keep God’s Law—to try again and again to be perfect—only to come under punishment when we mess up, as we always do in the end. No, Jesus kept the Law Himself, in His own life and body—and then He lay that life down on the altar of the cross. Jesus made atonement for us through His death and resurrection. Now everyone who trusts in Him is rescued and brought safely into the real promised land—God’s kingdom of life.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You Yourself bring us into Your kingdom, because You are gracious to us. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on February 22, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. Have you ever tried to live absolutely perfectly?
2. How did that go?
3. How does it feel to trust yourself entirely to Jesus Christ to rescue you?