This chapter ends the story of one of the greatest men of God who ever lived. For over forty years, he had led Israel and consistently looked out for their best interests despite themselves. They showed very little gratitude for the way the Lord had blessed them through his ministry. He'd been the great intercessor between them and God, and they were only alive because he'd pleaded their case. He was the instrument through which God had given them the Torah, an infallible revelation of what God had done for them and what he had expected of them. Now because of one bad decision to give into his emotions, he had to stand at the border of the Promised Land and see it from a distance before he died. Thankfully, he was humble and wise enough to appoint and train a successor, namely Joshua.
I believe that the relationship between Moses and Joshua is very instructive for us today. As believers in God’s word, we should respect the Torah and look to it for instruction. Paul, the apostle of grace, said that the Law is “holy, righteous and good." The problem is not with God’s law; the problem is with us. We're all sinners both by birth and by choice. The problem is not that God has not given us enough light; the problem is that whatever light God has given us, we run away from it into the darkness. Moses, through his writings, can only bring us to the edge of the Promised Land and show it to us, but he can’t lead us over the border into it.
Ah, but then along came our Joshua! That is what Joshua means: “Yahweh saves,” or as I prefer to translate it, “God to the rescue.” Our Savior’s name is Jesus (or at least that’s what we call him), but that’s his English equivalent. In the first century, he would have been known as “Yeshua,” the same name as Joshua. As Paul put it, "[What] the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering."
Again, we should study and learn from the Torah, but we should be eternally grateful to our Lord Jesus, because as John said, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” What Moses couldn’t do for us, Yeshua did.
Lord Jesus, thank you so much for your grace and truth. I could never live up to your law’s demands, but you have done it for me.