A View from the Top

By Curtis Rittenour
Posted November 15, 2016

Mount Nebo in Jordan is the place where Moses stood at the end of his life and was given by God a view of the land of Israel. The Lord told him, “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho; view the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession; and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people” (Deuteronomy 32:49, 50).

This last month a memorial on Mount Nebo, which has been undergoing renovations for the last ten years, has been reopened to the public. Excavations of an early Byzantine church from the fourth century reveal this as a place of Christian pilgrimage for centuries. It was abandoned in 1564, but then purchased in 1993, excavated, and restored. Visitors can catch a partial glimpse of the land of Israel just as Moses did thousands of years ago.

But Moses saw more than what we might see with the naked eye. The Bible says,

“Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar” (Deuteronomy 34:1–3, emphasis added).

God opened the eyes of the prophet to view a greater scene of the Promised Land that extended beyond what human vision would permit from the top of Mount Nebo. While physical mountains blocked a complete picture of the earthly Canaan, the Lord opened up a complete view of it for Moses. But we have reason to believe the prophet’s vision was lifted even higher.

In describing many of God’s faithful servants, the Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, emphasis added). When Moses died on top of Mount Nebo, like many others he “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them” (verse 13).

Moses was not buried on Mount Nebo, lest people idolize his gravesite (see Deuteronomy 34:6). There is no divine credit gained from standing on the same mountain from which Moses viewed the Promised Land. We are not guaranteed a supernatural view of our heavenly home. Each of us, by faith, may not only “receive the promise” of possessing our eternal residence, but right now have a glimpse of “something better” (Hebrews 11:40).

God resurrected Moses from the dead (see Matthew 17:1–3 and Jude 1:9) as a type of all who die with an unshakeable faith in entering our home in heaven. We don’t need to stand on Mount Nebo to catch a view of that heavenly land. By faith we may gain a view from the top.

Discover more about the life of Moses in Pastor Doug's presentation, Lessons from Moses: Into the Promised Land.
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