“Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.”
This language at a distance seemed to me to have a harsh tone, to be very abrupt, but as I drew near in my meditations and considered the suppliant, who he was, that he was one so favored that “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” – Heb. xi. 27, and that he lived in such intimacy with God that the Lord spake unto him as a man speaketh unto his friend, (Exodus xxxiii. 11,) then I knew that the tone of the Lord’s voice, though powerful and subduing, was the voice of love. These are the words of our heavenly Father to one of his dear children.
Because of his rebellion and unbelief, and his failure to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the children of Israel, Moses was forbidden to enter into the promised land. (Num. xx. 10-12.) He had set his heart upon leading the tribes of Jacob into the land flowing with milk and honey, and to thus have his expectations cut off was a sore-disappointment, he tells us, “I besought the Lord at that time, saying, O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might! I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me.” This wrath of the Lord was permeated with love, the chastening of Moses was the chastening of a parent. “What son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?” – Heb. xii. 7. “As many as I love, [saith the Lord] I rebuke and chasten.” – Rev. iii. 11). And our heavenly Father in revealing his displeasure, and in denying us our requests, is able to so speak that we are humbled and at rest. “Let it suffice thee; [my child] speak no more unto me of this matter.” These words are breathed into the soul with such affection that we are quieted, and are brought into unquestioning acquiescence to the sovereign will of Abba, Father. If it be chiding language, it is love’s chidings, in tones of infinite affection for his dear child. “Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him: I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” – Jer. xxxi. 20. The sentence of the Lord forbidding Moses to enter into the land of Canaan was not to be annulled, his disappointment was the Lord’s appointment. “Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the lop of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgali, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” – Deut xxxiv. 1-6. (It is not my purpose to touch upon the typical signification of this.)
As leader of the chosen tribes the high honor and pleasure of entering into the goodly laud of promise was not to be his, but sonic-thing better was his destiny. After looking with his eyes from the top of Pisgah upon the land till he was suffice.
“Softly his fainting; head he lay
Upon his Maker’s breast;
His Maker kissed his until away,
And laid his flesh to rest.”
Thus he died, and his spirit released from its tabernacle of clay was translated to the “better country, that is an heavenly.” Moses could not have his wish to pass over Jordan into the delightful land of Canaan, but how insignificant is all this compared with the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory that is now his in the better heavenly country.
The heirs of promise in their pilgrimage through this world to the better land are very imperfect creatures, often disclosing how unwise they are. We are graciously admonished as strangers and pilgrims to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. (I Peter ii. 11.) But we often most foolishly set our hearts upon this and that, and pour forth our cravings for we know not what. We have witnessed little children asking, yes, with floods of tears, their earthly parent for what they wish, and at length the wise and gracious parent has said to the child, “Let it sullied thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.” For a small moment the child may think, My mother deals hard with me, and is unkind, but before long it becomes reconciled to the denial of its wishes, and some day will know that the denials were merciful. Sometimes indeed the parent as a merciful discipline grants to the peevish and importunate child its request, knowing it will be to the temporary discomfort of the loved one. So it is written, “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls.” – Psalms cvi. 15. The desires of out flesh, are manifold, and it is hard to be persuaded that our wishes are evil. O, it is hard to relinquish what our foolish hearts are set upon, and it needs much gracious instruction from our God to convince us of the unwisdom of our wishes, or that our desires are contrary to his revealed will. The apostle James tells us, “Ye ask, and receive riot, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” What a mercy then it is that we receive not. But if we ask anything according to God’s will he heareth us, and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (I John v. 14, 15.) Have we not, my dear brethren, much need to ask the Lord to teach us how to pray, (Luke xi. 1,) and what to pray for? (Romans viii. 26.) Israel angered Moses at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with him for their sakes. (Psalms cvi. 32.) But all the ills that befall the children of God are transient, and measured with the blessedness laid up for them in heaven they are but for a moment. Many of the family of God are subjected to temporal discomforts; some are poor, and often lack the common comforts of life; some in passing through this life have almost constantly to experience the frailties of their bodies, and spend their days in pain and sicknesses. Then there are trials that some are appointed to that are fur more grievous to bear than those which are merely physical. But whatsoever evil befalls us in chastenings and instruction, “What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” – Job ii. 10. O, may the Lord grant us grace to receive all evils that in love and infinite wisdom he lays upon us. Our purposes are frustrated, our plans are often overthrown, and we fail to attain to the accomplishment of many of our desires. Then how much takes place that was unexpected, which, had we the power as we witnessed its development, we would have put forth our hand and have said, This shall not be. “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph.” Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn; but Joseph their father exclaimed, “Not so, my father.” – Gen. xlviii. 13-22. The counsel of the Lord it shall stand, but to us Unite creatures how often have we in sacred awe to confess, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.” “The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”
“Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs and works his sovereign will.”
But this sovereignty of God must not be confounded with that mimic sovereignly that some mortals are supposed to have over the persons and estates of their fellows. Of Nebuchadnezzar it is written, “Whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive, and whom he would he set up, and whom he would he put down.” – Daniel v. 19. Creatures in the exercise of their sovereignty over others often do so capriciously, viciously, in heartless disregard of equity, or the pain or pleasure of those over whom they have dominion; but though the Lord dwells in such infinite exaltation that the inhabitants of the earth are reputed unto him as nothing, and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? yet all his ways are judgment, a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deut. xxxii. 1.)
FRED. W. KEENE.
North Berwick, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 72, No. 11.
June 1, 1904