Moses on the Mountain

Come up, come up, and gaze across the land
I’ve conquered for you with my mighty hand.
Press to the height of this towering hill
And look upon the promise I’ll fulfill
Not for you but for them, for I am true
And all men liars. Of myriad men, two
From the old generation will arrive
Safely within its borders. I’ll deprive
The rest, and you, an entrance to the land
To which I’ve carried you just as I planned
Since I first called your father, Abraham,
From Ur. Since that night you slaughtered a lamb,
Poured out its blood, painted your doorposts red,
Plundered the Egyptians, and up and fled
Into the wilderness, I have kept you.
I never left you, never once withdrew
My favor. Let this land serve as a sign
That I am yours, my people; you are mine.
And yet you weep, my servant, for your loss.
You’ll see your destination but won’t cross
Into the land, though you for it sought long.
Don’t think, my chosen one, I’ve done you wrong.
There’s no respect of persons with your God.
All men from slave to ruler heed my rod.
In fact, my discipline should bring you joy.
I discipline the ones I love, destroy
The rest in fire; they’re not mine to keep.
The shepherd’s rod falls only o’re his sheep.
Precisely due to my unbounded love,
I’ll only let you see from up above
The land that the rest will soon occupy.
Don’t weep, dear one. Trust me. I hear each sigh
You heave. I know the pain of tumbling pride.
But this way you will never have relied
Upon your righteousness to earn my grace.
You talked with God as men talk, face to face.
You heard his voice. You saw his finger write.
Yet not withstanding your unequaled height,
I’ve cast you to the ground, seized the thing
For which you’ve wandered long, for which they’ll sing
Until the end of time. You’re not above
Them, Moses. This is also how I love.
My love withholds each lesser sought desire
And sweeps each one away into the fire.
They smoke and pop and turn to ash and waste.
They leave their devotees displeased, disgraced.
I’ve not left you that way, my chosen son.
My taking of all lesser joys is done
That you might never stand without the joy
That time or kings or hell cannot destroy.
Do not bend low and weep beneath my rod.
For though you’ve lost the land, you’ve not lost God.

7 thoughts on “Moses on the Mountain

    1. Thanks for your encouraging words. To be honest, this particular story about Moses not getting to enter the land has always been a difficult one for me to understand, and not a little troubling. But taking the perspective of God as a loving Father who disciplines his children for their good (see Hebrews 12:5-13) has been very helpful for me personally.

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      1. It has for me, too. It wasn’t until someone pointed out that in Numbers 20:6-12, Moses basically had a temper tantrum and failed to glorify God, so it was, as you noted, an act of discipline. I guess I’ve finally gotten around to understanding that God is good because it’s His nature, not because of what He does. I can’t really understand all things because… well, I’m not God! I love this poem and the way you walk through it. 🙂

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      2. Yes, I agree that what God does is good because it always accords with his nature, and his nature is good. It’s kind of like saying, He doesn’t do something because it’s good. Rather, something is good by definition because he does it. Whew, but even as I type the words, my head starts to spin a little bit! So yeah, it’s not always easy to think through. Thanks for your kind words!

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