2013년 2월 10일(주일)】VKC 주님의 산상변모 주일 예배
【제목】느보 산에 올라가 (Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo)
As I previously mentioned, I don’t really like hiking. That’s why I haven’t been to many mountains and when I go, I usually drive there. I’ve only been to the entrance of the Seol Ak Mountains, the entrance of Han Ra Mountains, and the entrance of Mo Ak Mountains. Even during the time I was being trained in the army, I stayed at the border by the Im Jin River so there was no need for me to go to any mountains.
Anyway, I am not very good with hiking. The actual mountains I’ve been to were small hills behind where I used to live, Mt. Douglas in Victoria, and Baek Doo Mountains. Usually there are two ways to climb Baek Doo Mountains. One is by taking a vehicle to get to the top and other way to get there is to walk all the way to the summit. I suggested we take the vehicle but because other people strongly urged me to walk to the summit, we decided to walk there.
One thing that was memorable from walking to the summit of Baek Doo Mountains was seeing the elderly people climb the mountain. As if they were climbing the Holy Land, they were struggling to climb up the stairs. So when I asked them why they were trying to get to the summit, they replied that it was their lifetime wish to climb the Baek Doo Mountains at least once in life.
There are only a few certain periods of the year when you can climb Mt. Baek Doo. And among those days, it is rare to be able to see everything from the summit, due to clouds and mist. Luckily the day I walked to the summit of Mt. Baek Doo, the weather was sunny and cloudless and so I was able to look down and see everything and I was even able to swim at the summit.
I had not really understood it at the time when the elders said it was their lifetime wish to climb the summit of Mt. Baek Doo. But as I was thinking about today’s sermon, I remembered that time I was at the mountain and thought about it again. I thought the scene of elders struggling to climb Mt. Baek Doo strikingly resembled the appearance of Moses at age of 120 years climbing Mount Nebo. Why were the elders climbing the mountain? What did they want to see there? Why did Moses climb the mountain? What did Moses see there?
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. (Deuteronomy 34:1)
The plain of Moab is right in front of Jordan River. Moses has almost reached the Promised Land. However, he doesn’t go to Canaan but he climbs Mt. Nebo to the top of Pisgah.
There the LORD showed him the whole land--from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar (Deuteronomy 34:1-3)
Dan is the northern area of Palestine. The western sea is the west end. Negev and Zoar are at the southern end. In other words the Lord showed Moses the entire Palestine.
However, no matter what eye sight Moses has, it would have been impossible for him to see the entire Palestine. This is because the distance from Mt. Nebo to Dan is already 160 km… How was Moses able to see the entire region of Palestine?
Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, I will give it to your descendants. I have let you see it with your eyes (Deuteronomy 34:4)
From this verse, we interpret that God has let Moses see the entire Palestine with his spiritual eyes. How happy would Moses have been?
But we can see the problem through verse 4, which reads "I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it." This seems a little cruel; Canaan is so close that we can see it but why doesn't God let him enter? Because he was too old? Due to health reasons? This is wrong as we can see in verse 7: "Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone." While an age of 120 is considered quite elderly at that time, the bible states that health was not an issue for him. So why was it that Moses was not allowed to enter into Canaan?
Deuteronomy 32:50-51 reads, "There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites."
Numbers 20:11-12 reads "Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them." Numbers 20:8 shows us how God commanded Moses to strike the rock once, but Moses struck in twice. This is what he had done wrong. Moses struck the rock twice as if he were the one bringing water.
Despite how this was wrong, it seems too excessive of a punishment to prevent the people from going into Canaan for simply that reason. I started to think how heartless this was. While everything was going right and because of this one simple mistake, it would seem so unfair to be banned from entering that land. And what kind of person was Moses? He was "a man of God, a servant of God." The reason why the Israelites were able to come this far was because of Moses, who underwent and endured all the hardship of leading them. So regardless of all the others, doesn't it make sense that at least Moses should be able to enter Canaan? And Moses is only a person; isn't it obvious that he can make mistakes?
Furthermore, entering Canaan is often likened to "salvation" and "heaven". Thus, the question always arises whether Moses received salvation in the end. What do you all think? Do you believe that Moses, having been banned to go into Canaan, was not saved? If yes, then that would be saying that Moses was completely used and at the end was abandoned. If we believe God had treated Moses that way, shouldn't we reconsider our trust in God?
Although God had abandoned Moses, he did not complain one bit. Instead, in verse 9 it says, “Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commended Moses.” Moses gave his authority to Joshua without any resistance. Something we don’t see often in today’s world-where some pastors are even refusing to give the church up to their sons. But in this passage Moses, instead of giving the authority over to his son, gives it to Joshua.
Furthermore verse 5 says, “And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said.” In this verse we see that Moses is being called ‘the servant of the LORD,’ and that he had died just ‘as the LORD had said.’ As we saw earlier in verse 7, “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” This in other words means that it wasn’t yet time for him to die, and yet he adhered to God’s command.
How was he able to do this? If I were Moses, I probably would have complained and asked, “How could you do this to me Lord?” I may have even resisted giving up my authority.
However, Moses simply followed. What’s more interesting is that when we look at Moses and his early life, we see that Moses has quite the temper. He gives into emotions easily and thus, committed murder when he was younger. After he became older, he avoided God’s calling and told God that due to his lack of abilities as an orator, he wasn’t ready to be God’s servant. However, here in Mount Nebo, Moses is showing the ultimate compliance. The issue of whether he can go into Canaan or not, is a serious matter, something that probably wasn’t easy to give up on.
While thinking about the scripture, I thought that the reason behind such compliance was due to what God had shown Moses in Mount Nebo. What did he see? Verses 1 through 3 tell us that God showed Moses the whole land of Canaan. However, as I had already mentioned, no matter how high the mountain is, it is impossible to see the whole land. Thus, it raises the question that perhaps what Moses saw wasn’t the physical land of Canaan but the Canaan in the Heavens - the real, the ultimate Canaan.
In this sense, we should not feel sorry for Moses for having met his death just before he entered Canaan. Instead, it was Moses who saw the true Canaan and thus, was able to begin anew for the true land of Canaan.
Naturally, Moses was not resistant to the idea of giving up his authorities to Joshua and obeyed the words of God and met his death in Moab. Verse 6 tells us, “He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.” Some people believe this to mean that Moses, like Enoch and Elijah, was taken by God. I thought that this interpretation supported the idea of Moses having observed the Canaan of the Heavens as by seeing the true Canaan, Moses became a citizen of the above and there was no need to leave a grave in this world.
While preparing for this sermon, I prayed that we too would be able to see the kingdom of God. Luke Chapter 9 Verse 27 says, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” I wanted us all to see the kingdom of God and to see this world with the light from his land so that we can assess whether the things we are holding onto dearly are indeed things that are also needed above, or whether they are futile and the results of our greed.
Why are we so preoccupied with everything in our lives? Why do we have such narrow views? Because we do not know the Canaan of the Heavens. Because we do not have the eyes to see the kingdom of God.
Today is the day Jesus went up to the Mount of Transfiguration and became transfigured. It is not known for sure where this mountain is, but Jesus climbed up the mountain and his face transformed. As I have mentioned before, the word "transform" or "transfiguration" means changing into a new form.
But how come Jesus experienced transfiguration on the mountain? What kind of mountain was it? Perhaps that mountain was Mount Nebo where Moses went up to before he died? Perhaps that's how Jesus met Moses and Elijah? And maybe that's when Jesus became transformed by seeing the promised land of Israel with them. And that's how Jesus was able to die happily on the cross just like Moses was able to overcome death on Mount Nebo.
If you look at chapter 10, it says "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like to Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face." This saying summarizes Moses's life... Moses is the person who faced Lord by seeing heaven up on the Nebo mountain.
I do not think that the elderly climbed up the Baekdu mountain just to view the heaven and the earth. They believed that there was something they had to see before the end of their life journey. This was the same case for Moses. His life was all about climbing mountains. Horeb mountain, Sinai mountain and Nebo mountain where he finally saw the Land of Promise.
It is New Year's Day. It is the beginning of a new year. Don't you wish to start a new, fresh life?? However, the change would never be permanent. Why is that? That is because a true change is a gift for those who have seen the realm of God.
I hope this place is like the Nebo mountain for you to see the eternal sky of Canaan. Just as Jesus transformed up on the Mount of Transfiguration by looking at the Land of Promise , I sincerely wish we could also be transformed from viewing the country. Just like the elderly who go up the steps one by one towards heaven, I hope we all climb up the stairs of new year 2013 as if we're on the Transfiguration mount, one step by step.
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