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I Can See Clearly Now
Deuteronomy 32:48-52
In our Sunday morning messages, we are taking a look at some familiar Old Testament stories through the lens of the resurrection.  The umbrella thought we are working under is that the resurrection helps us to see clearly what Scripture is saying to us. 
So far, we've examined perspective and focus.  Today I want us to think about clarity.  Now the dictionary defines clarity as the state or quality of being clear or transparent to the eye.
There are lots of things that can affect the clarity of vision.  Have you ever been in a house of mirrors?  Remember how distorted everything looks?  Depending on the design of the mirror, if you're fat you can be skinny or if you're skinny, you can look fat. Those mirrors can stretch you out or squat you down or contort the features of your face.
The modern form of those mirrors are the gadgets on your cell phone that do the same thing.  On Apple products, it's called photo booth and depending on your selection, it will twist the image around and then capture it with a photo. 
Sometimes, it's not the image that is twisted, it's simply our perception of information that affects our comprehension. 
For instance, if you've ever eaten at Boom-a-rang Diner, you might have seen a sign with these words or letters. 
"Heresto Pands Pen Dasoci Alhou Rinhar M Les Smirt Hand Funl Etfri Ends Hipre ign Bejus Tand Kindan Devils Peak of No Ne!"
Take a moment to pronounce what it says. You can do it out loud if that helps. 
What it really says is:
Here stop and spend a social hour, in harmless mirth and fun. Let friendship reign be just and kind and evil speak of none!
The confusion is caused, not by a distortion or twisting, but by simple arrangement. We can see the letters plainly, but the misused capitals and spaces cause the lack of comprehension. 
Or the lack of clarity might be because we need answers.  For instance, thinka bout this riddle:  :
What is it that is greater than God, more evil than Satan, rich people DON'T have it, poor people DO have it, and if you eat it, you will die?
The answer is NOTHING.  Nothing is greater than God or more evil than Satan.  It's the thing rich people don't have and poor people do have and if you eat it, you will die. 
Now, I use those examples this morning to remind you there are lots of things in the world that you can be unclear about, and it really doesn't matter.  They aren't life changing or even important.
But there is one thing you must be clear about because your eternity depends upon it and that is the matter of salvation. And I want to quickly add, some of the same things that affect the clarity of our earthly comprehension can affect our spiritual vision as well.
For instance, is it not true that when it comes to what people believe and teach about salvation, there is a lot of distortion and twisting of the image? 
And just like the sign we looked at, there are some who have the spaces and capitals in the wrong place when it comes to the plan of salvation.  I mean by that, they are clouding the message by emphasizing the wrong things. 
And others just need the right information to figure it all out. They have man's opinions and what grandma taught and believed and what human logic tells them, but the answer to their questions about salvation are still searching for the right and truthful answer. 
So this morning, I want to bring some clarity to the issue of salvation. Now before we get to our text, I want to remind you there are only two approaches to salvation. They may take on a lot of different forms, but they all boil down to one of these two teachings.  And to complicate things, only one of them is right and the other is deadly.   
Either we are saved by works or we are saved by grace and only one is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We believe and affirm that Scripture teaches the only way to be saved is by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. He Himself said He was the Only way to God. 
Paul reminded the Romans that salvation is made possible by confessing with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believing in our heart that God raised Him from the grave.  And yet, Christianity, as well as multiplied faith systems around the world, are polluted with the belief that salvation is attained or perpetuated by good works. 
Several years ago, in my first pastorate, was a woman in her 90s with whom I had more than one spirited discussion regarding the issue of salvation.  On the one hand, she would agree that salvation is God's free gift. 
But when it came to maintaining that salvation, she would always say, "I believe you have to get forgiveness."  She meant by that, if you have a bad day or happened to commit a sin, your salvation was in jeopardy if you didn't get it confessed. 
I could never get her to tell me what was enough for God to take away His gift or let it go.  She just believed, you had to get forgiveness.  Dear friend, as I told her, that is a works-based salvation. 
Always remember, if the grace that gets you saved can't keep you saved, it is not God's grace because God's grace completes the job and the resurrection guarantees it. 
To illustrate that, travel with me to Deuteronomy 32.
1. The Mountain
When we come to Deuteronomy 32, Moses is now at the end of his life. Joshua has been selected as his successor and is waiting in the wings. Moses spends these last days preaching to the Israelites. He reminds them of God's faithfulness and their need for obedience and warns them of the dangers of leaving God.
And as his final farewell to Israel, he sings them a song and that song constitutes the majority of chapter 32. After he concludes, he offers a final word of warning and encouragement about entering the Promised Land that God has given them. 
He is then led by God Himself to Mount Nebo. We pick up the story at
verse 48-52
So Moses is told by God, "Take a look before you die, because you're not going to get into the Promised Land. This is all you get to see and it's because you trespassed against Me and did not honor Me at the waters of Meribah Kadesh."
Now just so we're clear about what's being referenced her, let's go back and read the story he's talking about. 
Numbers 20:1-12
Did you get it? Moses and Aaron get a direct word from God concerning what they should do about the water problem. Moses is to take his rod and gather up the crowd and speak to the rock and God will provide water. So what did Moses do wrong? 
Well, he's already angry with this bunch and you can hear it as he calls them rebels! He then takes credit for bringing water out of the rock when he knew it was the work of God. Then he directly disobeys God when he hauls off and smacks the rock with the rod instead of speaking to it as God commanded. 
And now, at the end of His life, God says, "Hey Moe, remember that little rock incident at Meribah?  You're not going into the Promised Land because of that." And sure enough, Moses was refused entry into the Promised Land and died in the wilderness.
And that's it. That's the whole story. So what do we draw from this story?  I've seen and heard whole sermons dedicated to explaining why Moses didn't deserve to get into the Promised Land.
Preachers will draw attention to the fact that he got mad or he claimed credit and he disobeyed God.  But there is something distorted about that picture.  Something there is missing.  We need more information to add clarity. Something doesn't make sense. 
After all, Moses has been leading the people of Israel in the desert for 40 years, and for most of that 40 years it's been no picnic. These people have been extremely difficult.  They've complained, and bickered and they've been rebellious.  They've insulted Moses.  They've rejected God's will. 
And just to put it bluntly, they've basically been a real pain in the neck to work with.  But in spite of that, for most of that 40 years Moses has been the ideal leader. He seems to actually care for these folks. He's prayed for them. He's reasoned with them. And he's interceded with God for them.
In fact, at one point God got so angry with the Israelites that He said, "Moses, you better get out of the way because I'm about to destroy these wicked people. Then we'll start over again with just you." But Moses refuses and intercedes for God to spare them.  In fact, he tells God, "If you're going to kill them, then kill me also!"
And to complicate this decision of God to not let Moses enter the Promised Land, Moses is one of the few men in Scripture that God personally praises when He says in Numbers 12:3, "Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth."
That's Scriptures way of saying that Moses stood out from the rest of the world.  He was a bright and shining example of humility. That's high praise from God.
And yet, here we have Moses, at the very end of his life, just months away from crossing the Jordan River and he slips up and he's denied access to the Promised Land. I guess he didn't pray and get forgiveness!
And I would guess most of us are in agreement that there is something about this story that just doesn't seem right or fair! 
This shouldn't happen to someone like Moses! And if this were the "last chapter" of the story, they'd be right. It's not fair.  But this isn't the last chapter.
There's more to the story than appears at first glance.  And once again, we need to look at this story through a New Testament lens. 
Think about this: 
The people of Israel have been in the wilderness for 40 long years and now they are about to be led into the Promise Land but it won't be Moses who leads them there. 
2.  The Promised Land
Who does?  Joshua
Deuteronomy 31:1-3
So it will be Joshua, not Moses that lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land.  Keep that in mind and we'll revisit that in a moment.  But before we do, I want to say a word about the Promised Land.   
There are two schools of thought regarding the symbolism of the Promised Land. Most of the time, it is seen as a picture of Heaven. That is common typology in song lyrics such as "I am Bound for the Promised Land" and others. 
The comparisons are fairly easy to make with death seen as crossing the Jordan and the child of God entering into the Land God has promised.  
Others see the Promised Land as our life after salvation as we dwell in the Land of Promise as God's children.  Adding to the debate is the fact that the Scriptures never directly tie the term "Promised Land" to either heaven or to our present Christian life.
However, in Hebrews 4:1-11 God talks about "entering His rest". Verse 8 says: "For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day."
The implication is that the Promised Land was A "rest" but the true "rest" was yet to come. If that's true then verse 11 implies that the true "rest" or "Promised Land" is our future in heaven rather than our present existence in Christ. 
Listen to the verse:  Hebrews 4:11
So if the "rest" or "Promised Land" was already attained, it would be illogical to urge Christians to "make every effort to enter that rest.
I think the best way to view it is as both with our present Christian life a prototype of heaven. After all, we are as good as there! We're already doing everything we're going to do there as we worship and serve God. 
That's what Jesus had in mind when He taught us to pray that God's will would be done on earth just as it is in heaven. The only thing going to heaven will change is my capacity to worship and serve.  Now, I am bound to a limited, earthly body.  But then I will be loosed to serve in an unlimited way! 

Therefore, the Promised Land of Heaven is the ultimate fulfillment of a state of life and existence that is already mine.  Now, here's my point: 
If the Promise Land is a picture of Heaven, and there is certainly nothing wrong with viewing it that way, then how do we get into heaven?  Do we get in by good works?  Do we get in by obeying the commandments of the Old Testament law?
No, and if you don't believe me, then ask Moses!  After all, Moses is an expert on that Law.  It came to us through him.  In fact, it is very commonly referred to as "the Law of Moses".  And the very testimony of Moses own life is that if you break the Law of God, you don't get to enter the Promised Land. 
3. The Savior
So how do we get in? Well, how did the children of Israel get in?  They followed Joshua.  What did we read a moment ago in Deuteronomy 31:3?
"Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as the Lord has said." 
Do you know what the name "Joshua" means?  You do if you were here Wednesday night because we just studied it in the book of Acts.  Joshua is the Hebrew form of the name "Jesus" and it means "Jehovah saves" or "The Lord is salvation".  It literally means "Jehovah Savior".
So Joshua was nothing less than an Old Testament image of Jesus as Savior.  Now come all the way awake and think about this: 
God would not let Moses, the very personification of the LAW, lead His people into the Promised Land.  Instead that responsibility fell to Joshua, the Old Testament picture of Jesus, our Savior. 
So, on the one hand, you have the Law, and on the other hand, you have Jesus. The LAW (Moses) could not lead His people into His Promised Land. Only Joshua, (the Savior) could do that.
God's point is this: the Law could never bring us into
the Promised Land.  In fact, Paul wrote in Romans 3:20 "no one will be declared righteous in (God's) sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."
The purpose of the law was to be like a mirror. Its purpose was to help us realize that something was wrong in our lives.
Let's say you've been out working in the yard or garden and you've gotten your face dirty.  So you go into the bathroom and look into the mirror and you see the dirt.  Can the mirror cleanse their face of the dirt?  Of course not! The mirror just shows us that we're dirty. 
In the same way you cannot use the Law to cleanse your heart and make yourself acceptable to God.
The Law can't do that.
That's why Jesus came! In fact, He is the very fulfillment of that Law. He is the perfect fulfillment of everything God required.  In that regard, the Law not only shows us our dirt, but it shows us His Holiness.  He is the only One who ever kept the Law and if you need proof, just go to the empty tomb. The resurrection is proof positive that God was satisfied with His life.  That means the way to get to Heaven, is not the Law, but Christ. 
Listen to what we read in
Galatians 2:16
It couldn't be any clearer. No matter how good you've been, when you stand before God at the judgment, you can't point to YOUR righteousness and expect God to be impressed.  Your righteousness won't get you into heaven. Only the Righteousness of Jesus will!
As a matter of fact, I think Scripture even provides us an illustration of that.
Deuteronomy 34:1-6
So Moses died and God buried him and no one knows where he was buried.
Now fast-forward to the book of Galatians where Paul is arguing against legalism and the tendency of these believers to drift back into the keeping of the law.
Colossians 2:13-14 
See the connection?  Just as God buried the law in an unmarked grave on Mt. Nebo, so Christ nailed the law to his cross and took it out of the way forever. 
And one other thing we need to note.  Listen to what we read in
Jude 9
Isn't that weird?  The devil himself tried to gain access to the body of Moses and Michael the Archangel had to protect it by calling to bear the very power of God!
I wonder, why did he want it?  We aren't told, but I can promise you, he was up to no good!  John MacArthur suggests he wanted it to use as an idol or an object of worship for Israel. And don't think they wouldn't have done that!  In spite of the tension of the relationship from time to time, the nation of Israel loved Moses!
Listen to the end of the book of Deuteronomy. 
Deuteronomy 34:8, 10-12  
Don't you know the devil would have loved to prop old Moses up somewhere and let the people of Israel gather around and talk about the man who talked with God?  The one who traveled up on Mt. Sinai and brought home the Law of God? 
And I would suggest the devil is still trying to resurrect the body of Moses, and sing the praises of the Law in an attempt to deceive people into believing they've got to keep the law in order to be saved! 
Every time someone stands to preach salvation by works, their digging Moses up and working in tandem with the devil himself to pervert the precious doctrine of salvation by grace.    
But God buried Moses in anonymity so that His plan of salvation could be seen with absolute clarity.   
There is only one way to be saved and that is through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross! The law is dead and buried. Praise the Lord, it is nailed to the cross and taken out of the way. All of its requirements are fulfilled in Christ.
Now let's review a little bit, because I want us to have absolute clarity. This issue is too important to not make it clear: 
Why couldn't Moses get into the Promised Land? (HE SINNED)
And how many sins did Moses commit?  Only one!
Did you realize that it only takes one sin to keep you out of heaven? That's what God was teaching us here with Moses... it only takes one sin. In fact, James 2:10 says "whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."
So, here we have Moses, one of the greatest men who ever lived, a man greatly respected by God, a man who knew the Law and had all his ducks in a row, who commits one sin and he doesn't get into the Promised Land.
So, how many sins have you committed in your life?
You lost count didn't you? 
Now think about this: If Moses couldn't get into the Promised Land because he committed one sin, what makes you think you can get into heaven when you can't even remember all the sins you've committed? 
Let me pose one last question I want you to consider: Did Moses ever get into the Promised Land?  Scripture tells us that he did.
Matthew 17:1-3
So did Moses get into the Promised Land? Sure enough! There he is! So how did He get in? 
Only through Jesus. Moses didn't make it because he was a great man or because he was a man made righteous by the Law. The only way he got in was because Jesus brought him.
But that's not all! Keep reading here in Matthew.
Matthew 17:4-8
Moses was there, and Elijah was there.  These were the two greatest men of the Old Testament with Moses as the representative of the Law and Elijah the greatest of the prophets.  And Peter was amazed and sought to honor all of them.
But then a cloud came and a voice said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!"  The disciples fell to their knees and when they looked up, what did they see?  Only Jesus.
Moses and Elijah had disappeared in the mist because God was making a point and that point was to look at and listen only to Jesus.
Moses and his Law won't get you into heaven.  Elijah and the power of miracles won't get you into heaven.  If you want to enter the Promised Land, you only need to look at and listen to Jesus.  He is the only way and the only hope of salvation.
Peter apparently learned his lesson well because not long after this, and Acts 4:12 records it for us, he said, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
So was it unfair for God to not let Moses lead the
Israelites into the Promised Land?  No, it was just. 
But God is not only just, He is gracious. In fact, God let Moses enter the Promised Land, but like everyone else, he had to come through Jesus, and God actually honored Moses by delaying his arrival.
God could have been gracious and let Him enter the Promised Land way back yonder. And He would have died as the giver of the Old Testament Law and a testimony of God's grace. 
Instead God allowed him to appear on the pages on the New Testament as a reminder that salvation is available only through Jesus. And the gift God gave Moses is the same gift you and I are offered.  Moses didn't deserve to get into the Promised Land because he was a sinner.  He broke the law of God, and only Jesus could bring him there. His hope lay solely in Jesus.
And that was his testimony.  He had no bragging rights.  He couldn't say he was a law keeper and got in based on that. He got in only through Christ. 
And that's our testimony also. We, too, are lawbreakers, and as such, we don't deserve to get into the Promised Land. We can't be good enough or earn our way because no flesh is justified through keeping the law. 
But God, in His grace, provided a Savior and our hope rests solely in Him. This is the story of Moses and it's our story as well. We have been given the precious gift of salvation so that we might point others to Christ with our own lives and words.
Salvation is all about grace and none about works except for the finished work of Christ on the cross. 
You probably heard about the little boy who had some puppies he was trying to sell.  The preacher down at the local Baptist church came along and asked what kind of puppies he had. He told the preacher they were Church of Christ puppies.  Well, the preacher wasn't too interested and went on his way. 
A few weeks went by and the same little boy with the same little puppies met up with the same preacher.
Mister, want a puppy?  Son, what kind of puppies you got there? 
These are Baptist puppies!  Son, aren't those the same puppies you told me were Church of Christ puppies a few weeks ago? 
Yes, but that was before they opened their eyes!
My prayer is that today, God will open your eyes so that you might see clearly His beautiful plan of salvation made available to you through Jesus Christ alone!  
Let's pray.


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