Seeing through God’s Eyes
As Moses enters his last day of life at age 120, he is obedient to God and climbs a mountain. From there we are told, “God showed him the whole land”.
First, I thought it was interesting how much this fit to the original promise of God to Abram that started all of this back in Genesis 12:1. “The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.””
Second, I was curious if the view from Mount Nebo matched the biblical account. There is a lot of guesswork in trying to identify any specific spot in the middle east. This writing took place long before accurate maps and there were no GPS coordinates provided. But, from my research, there appears to be fair agreement on the location of Mount Nebo. It is a mountain rising from Jordan’s plateau with a current height of 2230 ft above sea level, keeping in mind that the dead sea to its west is 1401 ft below sea level. A mountain range rises to the west of the Jordan river, blocking the due west view to the Mediterranian Sea, but there are sight lines not obscured by other mountains. We also don’t know the effects of erosion or other shifts in the landscape over the past thousands of years.
Here are maps I found online. The first is from Near East Tourism, http://www.netours.com/content/view/257/30/ and the second is from biblestudy.org http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/division-of-promised-land-to-twelve-tribes-israel-large-map.html
As you can see, keeping in mind the very rough nature of these maps, the recount of the view starts with “from Gilead to Dan“. Gilead is a city to the north and Dan is both a city and a territory belonging to the tribe of Dan, which are no where near each other. You can’t see the city of Dan from Mt. Nebo but you would get very close to the assumed northern border of the territory of Dan. It goes on to say he saw “all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea”. Today we can’t see “all of” Naphtali, but we can see part of it. We can see Ephraim and Manasseh and the land of Judah. We can see the Mediterranean Sea. Following down the river through the Dead Sea, we can see, “whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar.“
But look again at the wording of this. He saw Dan, Naphtali, territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, the land of Judah. Keep in mind, that when Moses is called by God to look over all of this land, the Israelites have not yet crossed. They’ve taken a census, but they haven’t divided the land. The amount of land they possessed west of the Jordan, at this point, was zero.
What God allowed Moses to see wasn’t just a bunch of dirt and rocks. It wasn’t the cities of enemies or the struggles and battles that lay before the Hebrew people. Instead God allowed Moses to see the land as it was promised and would be. A land belonging to the tribes of Israel, rich with food and water and livestock and massive in its dimensions. He allowed him to see their earthly home.
And then, as Moses was still being allowed to look through God’s eyes, he would have been allowed to see his own eternal home.
Many have used the term “seeing is believing.” Show me with my own two eyes and I will be. I need to see it to believe it. But what we see at the conclusion of Moses life is the heavenly version of that saying. Believing is seeing. I need to believe it to see it. It reminded me of the story of the Apostle Thomas in John 20:24-29 which concludes with Jesus saying, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The promised land for the Jews was a foreshadow of something bigger, better and everlasting. Open your heart and open your faith so that you can see. How do you need to ask the Lord to remove the blindness of your heart where your view is blocked by fear, doubt or disbelief.
Covenant promise, unconditional, Forever, Everlasting possession, to Abraham and his offspring. The key is that while this covenant refers to a physical place, land that can be walked and measured by width and breadth, it also refers to something bigger and more significant and more eternal. If the land was all there was to the promise, it would not be forever or everlasting. The promise was not just of the physical space but in the spiritual realm, a promise of everlasting life and eternal communion with kinsman and the Lord.
It was a foreshadowing of the promise of God to an everlasting home. Our eyes are not focused on where we stand, but where we are going. Where we stand, we are strangers and foreigners, but where we are going is a spiritual (and ultimately physical) forever.
filled with the spirit of wisdom. The Israelites listed to him and obeyed the Lord
True greatness comes by serving the Lord, not by human strength.