Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, March 21, 2014

28 Stories - Study 28: Tomorrow's Promise

Fundamental: Death and Resurrection

Bible Story  

“Well,” Moses said, “This is it. God has told me to look at the Promised Land from atop this mountain peak. I have seen it.”
Joshua’s eyebrows furrowed. “What you are hinting at?”
“Hinting?” Moses said. “It’s not a hint. I will obey God. He said to come to this place and look across to the Promised Land. He said this is as close to it as I will get.”
“But, you can barely see anything from here,” Joshua argued. “All I can make out is the outline of walls of a city in the distance.”
“Jericho,” Moses said. “And beyond the Jordan Valley with Jericho, I can see as far as Zoar. I can see from Gilead as far as Dan, and all the land of Naphtali.”
Joshua interrupted, “You can see all that?”
Moses nodded in silence.
“How?”
Moses laughed. “Wait, I’m not done. My old eyes can see the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev, and more!”
“How?” Joshua asked again. “I mean, I know you’ve got great eyes for someone 120 years old, but what you are describing is impossible for human eyes!”
“I am a seer, Joshua. God shows me what he wants me to see,” Moses said. “Up until now, God has shown me things I will experience with His people. But this time...” Moses’ voice faded away.
Joshua had been suspicious of this journey to the mountain top. Over the past few days Moses had been blessing people left, right and center. He had blessed the people of Israel finishing with:  “How blessed you are, O Israel! Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your protecting shield and your triumphant sword! Your enemies will cringe before you, and you will stomp on their backs!”
The people had cheered at the finish. How could you do anything else? God was truly going to bless His people.
Then, in front of all Israel, Moses laid his hands on Joshua and ordained him as the new leader of God’s People. He blessed Joshua and handed leadership into his hands. Again the people cheered. It seems they had been expecting it as much as Joshua had been fearing it.
“This time,” Moses continued, “I have seen a vision of the future of God’s people without me. They are your people now, Joshua.”
“What are you saying?” Joshua asked, confused.
“You are going back down the mountain to the people, as their leader,” Moses explained. “I will head down the other side of the mountain into the valley of Beth-peor where I will die.”
Joshua stared at his mentor and friend. The words would not come. Finally he managed a squeak, “Die?”
“Yes,” Moses said, matter-of-factly, “God has made it very clear to me that I will not enter the Promised Land. That’s why He sent me up here to look into and throughout the land.”
Joshua folded his arms across his broad chest, “But, forty years ago you sent 12 spies into this very land,” Joshua waved one arm at the land beyond the Jordan. “Are you saying that God would have stopped you at that time?”
“Much has happened since that fateful day,” Moses said. “I have failed many times and I have learned many things.”
“As have we all,” Joshua retorted. He was getting angry. “What’s wrong with God? Why is He so mad at you that He is withholding the land which He promised?”
“It is right that it happens this way, Joshua.”
“How?” Joshua was pacing the mountaintop. “How could it possibly be right that you lead us through that despicable dessert and then, at the doorway of the Promised Land, you are denied entry? How is that right?”
Moses reached out and caught Joshua as he stomped past. He turned the younger man to face him and gripped both shoulders. “Because God has said it, Joshua!” Tears came to the old man’s eyes. “If there is anything you can learn from me, it is this: God alone is God and He is always right. Accept that and all will go well with you.”
Joshua studied the face of the man who had been his spiritual father for four decades. In that face he read so much. There was pain. There was trust. And, most evident of all, there was the presence of God.
“I wish to be as humble as you,” Joshua whispered. “How is it that you can be so at peace with God’s will when it is directed against you?”
“I choose to believe God has something better in mind for me,” Moses said.
“Better than the Promised Land?” Joshua explored Moses’ face.
“Yes,” Moses said. “Better than anything this dying world can offer an old man like me.”
“Have you been shown this?” Joshua leaned in, excited.
Moses shook his head from side to side, “No, not this time. The last thing I saw with a seer’s eyes was the land which you will now enter. But, I believe that God has a land awaiting us all where sin, sorrow and death are no longer at work.”
“A place like Eden?” Joshua asked, recalling the stories of their ancestors. “A place where the lamb nestles into the chest of the lion for a mid-day nap?”
Moses’ eyes filled with tears of joy, “Yes, my boy! A place where one’s lifetime makes my 120 years like a mere blink of an eye.”
“And this place comes after death?” Joshua asked.
Moses nodded and then gestured to the river. “Lead God’s people into the Promised land.” Then after a pause, he added, “I’ll see you on the other side.”
Joshua smiled at the thought.
The two men embraced and then walked down different sides of the same mountain.

My Reflection

Imagine being Moses and seeing the Promised Land but knowing that you would not be allowed to enter it. How would you feel? Could you be as humble as Moses?

Imagine being Joshua. What would it be like to lead people into the unknown after following a leader as great as Moses?

My Story

Have you ever spent time with someone as they neared the end of their life? What emotions did you go through during that time? What impact did their view of the afterlife have on them and on you? (If you have not had someone close to you die, try to imagine what it would be like).

Have you ever known someone who has a humble passionate faith in the goodness and righteousness of God? What was that person like? What impact did that person have on others?

How does the hope of life beyond the grave help you in your daily life?

My Assurance

Death is one of the unnerving certainties of life. What hope and comfort to these verses give you?

Romans 6:23 ~ For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 ~ The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ~ But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.

My Commitment

Ultimate trust should only be invested in someone who can always come through. Because Jesus has power over death, we can trust Him! What do these verses challenge you to consider?

Psalm 146:3-4 ~ Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ~ And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

John 5:28-29 ~ Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.

My Outlook

It is hard to imagine a life beyond or without death. How do these verses help you to see God, life and your own future differently?

1 Timothy 6:15-16 ~ For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

Colossians 3:4 ~ And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

1 Corinthians 15:54 ~ Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

My Response

The following statement is the 26th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

Death and Resurrection

The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.

Bible Story

The Stories of Moses’ death and Joshua’s empowerment are found in Deuteronomy 32-34 and Joshua 1.
 

Further Reading

John 11:11-14, Revelation 20:1-10