Moses was dead. The people of Israel were gathered together just a three days march from the eastern side of the Jordan River. It had been forty years since the twelve spies had given their reports regarding the status of Canaan. Only Joshua and Caleb gave good reports because they trusted God. Since then, many Israelites had died in the wilderness because they provoked God. They murmured because they wanted the food of Egypt, they murmured because they wanted water, they murmured because they were tired of manna. God sent fiery serpents and swallowed people whole in the earth; many died from the labor of wandering in the harsh environment of the wilderness for so many years, or were slain in battle. Yet God did not abandon them. Always Moses was there, pleading on their behalf, that God would remember his promise and preserve the people for the sake of his glory. When people were dying by the thousands because of the bites of the venomous snakes, God had Moses set up a pole with a brass serpent; when they looked upon it they were delivered. When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were swallowed up in the pit, Israel was delivered from those who sought to supplant Moses, the man who mediated with God in their behalf. God is always faithful. He always heard the cry of his people and though he may have chastised them severely, he provided deliverance and cared for their needs. Always he directed them to trust him. Now, after forty years of struggle, they would soon enter into the promised land.
What a startling picture this provides of our lives! How we complain against God, how we murmur and despise his gifts. We are truly a stiff-necked and rebellious people. Nevertheless, though he may chastise us, God never abandons us. Always we have our perfect mediator, Jesus Christ, pleading in our behalf. One day, we too will stand on the eastern side of Jordan. He will bring us to the promised land. Let us learn from this history, and remember that the LORD is on our side.