Inspired by Deuteronomy 34:1-7
“Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated.” Deuteronomy 34:7 (NRSV)
Moses died at the Lord’s command, having seen the promised land with his own eyes but unable to cross into it. One might argue that it was unfair of God to command his death after all that Moses had done for the people, while Moses still had life and vigor left in him despite his many years. In one sense, it was unfair.
However God had called Moses for a purpose, and Moses fulfilled that purpose admirably. The people of Israel had followed Moses out of slavery in Egypt, and Moses had shepherded them through the wilderness for a generation. The people of Israel were about to enter a new phase in their lives and their history, and it was time to leave the wilderness behind them. And for their new challenges, God chose for them a new leader. God was not discarding Moses for a better model; he was demonstrating for the people that their salvation was from God, not from Moses, and that God’s leadership transcended any mortal man.
Moses’ life on earth ended after one hundred and twenty years—a span of life nearly unheard of these days. He was able to see that he had accomplished what God had called him to do, and he was able to commission Joshua as his successor. And he was called home to God in his old age but without the challenges and frustrations that old age visits upon most of us. May we all be so blessed to die under such circumstances!
Let us pray. God of the living, in you there is no death. Help us to live as faithfully as Moses, that when our earthly lives end we may know that we fulfilled the purpose for which you’d created us. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.