And the LORD said to Moses, Get you up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the children of Israel.…
Eminent as he was in grace and holiness, he was not allowed to enter with his people into the Land of Promise. This in itself must have been a sore trial. But it was tenfold more so on account of the cause; it was a judgment. He who was the meekest of men once spoke unadvisedly with his lips. The reason, then, why Moses could not enter into the Land of Promise is evident. Moses represents the law. Now we have seen that, as a believer, Moses could not enter the Land of Promise, because on one occasion he "spake unadvisedly with his lips." But look at him as the representative of the Law, and what lesson does his inability to enter the Land of Promise rivet on our hearts? This truth, that the law cannot bring us into the Land of Promise. There was a point to which Moses could bring Israel, and then he must lie down and die, and his work must be given into other hands, into the hands of Joshua, whose very name shows that he was an eminent type of Christ. There is a point, too, up to which the law may bring us. Where is it? It is to a knowledge of sin. "By the law," says St. Paul, "is the knowledge of sin." "I had not known sin," he says "but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Romans 7:7). One great purpose for which the law is given is just to teach us what we are- utterly sinful, utterly lost in ourselves. It requires perfect obedience; and, behold, in many things we offend. It makes no provision for transgression, proclaims no forgiveness. It can give no peace. The voice is terrible to the guilty. Whenever it fulfils its true purpose in the soul it empties it of self-righteousness, lays it prostrate in the dust, and makes it take the lowest place. Thus St. Paul says, "I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God" (Galatians 2:19). And, again, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (chap. Galatians 3:24). Are you? Under Moses or Christ? What is your hope of glory? Is it that you have not sinned so much as others? that your life is very exemplary? that you leave no duty willingly unperformed, or service unattended? Do you think that somehow or other Christ must be yours, if your life is so excellent? Are these your thoughts? Then we must faithfully tell you that you are still under Moses, still clinging to a broken law; and we must remind you that the law can never bring you to heaven. It is Christ only who can save you, and bring you into the Land of Promise — Christ only who can reconcile you to God, and we can never come to Christ without utterly renouncing our own righteousness, and our own works, as entitling us to God's favour.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel.