READ: Deuteronomy 33-34, Psalm 64, Luke 20, 2 Corinthians 4
If anyone had the right to be a little bombastic in a farewell address, it would be Moses. Moses was kind of intimidating. Not everyone talked to God face to face, stared down the strongest powers of earth, and was used by God in “mighty power and great terror” (Deut. 34:12). Moses had every right to do a Jacob (Genesis 48) and insert several curses on “his sons” in his final blessings. But he didn’t; Moses ended sweet.
Moses gets to the end with eyes clear and natural vigor undimmed. He has outlasted those younger; he has kept unbroken fellowship with God through trial while others floundered. Moses could easily have gone out bitter; after all, on account of the rascals, he is barred from the culminating stage of the journey – crossing Jordan. But Moses, about to die, pours out the most gracious of blessings and hopes. Let Reuben live! Let Judah’s hands be sufficient for him! Let Benjamin be sheltered all day long and carried on the shoulders of God! Let Joseph be given the precious things of heaven! Let Zebulun (going out) and Issachar (staying home) rejoice! Let Gad have a lawgivers portion reserved! Let Dan spring like a young lion! Let Naphtali be satisfied with favor, full of the blessings of the Lord! Let Asher be favored by his brothers with strength to match his days! Let the everlasting arms be under Jeshrun as God rides the heavens to help (Deut. 33 6-27)! There was no bitterness in Moses to seep out at the end. All that was left was blessing.
Moses died out what we are called to live out in 2 Corinthians 4: He always carried around in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might also be manifested in his body. Moses got stronger in spirit even as his physical life came to an end. Jesus wants to manifest His life in us by the way we die, by the way we carry burdens. Jesus wants us to get sweeter and sweeter as we get older. Jesus is glorified when we die sweet.
Paul had his thorn that grace might be made perfect in witness. We, too, are expected to age well – to live as we die, to have this stark contrast between our diminishing physical ability and our ever sweetened spirits. We are given crosses, sickness, trial, and burdens, and we always carry them as a living display of the rising life of Jesus (in our mortal bodies), even as we are poured out and wear down. Death works in us, but life in those around us. This is the gospel, this is the divine display in jars of clay: the juxtaposition of life cultivated out of the dying process. The outward man perishes while the inward man is daily renewed and soars.
There is no greater witness than the weight of glory unveiled in us, even as we suffer, decline, wear out, are poured out, spend, and are spent for the gospel. We all have our intractable thorns. I have prayed that mine be removed, others have pled – but God has chosen it remain and it continues to take my life. I am awakening to this joy of dying sweet. The life of Jesus can emerge from my diminishing. My light affliction contribute towards eternal ends. What a sweet way to steadily go. Let me die with the last notes of my life pealing out blessing.