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There are different seasons in everyone’s journey…sunny skies, blizzard conditions with no vision or progress, longer than anticipated hikes, and summits.
Read: Psalm 90 – Moses at the Summit
Bible scholars agree that Moses was in a reflective mood when he wrote this prayer. Most agree Moses penned Psalm 90 near the end of his life – soon after the events of last weeks topic (Failure – Numbers 20).
Numbers 20 opens with death of Moses’ sister, Miriam, and closes with the death of Aaron, Moses’ brother. Miriam and Aaron, once critical role players in the community of God’s people, now belong to the dust of the desert.
Numbers 20 tells us about a very important event in the life of Moses. The people were complaining about the lack of water so God instructed Moses to “tell the rock to bring forth water” (v. 8). This was God’s way of displaying his glory. Yet, in verse 10, Moses gathered the people and said, “Shall WE (Shall WE- Moses & God) bring water out of this rock for you?” Moses struck the rock and water came forth.
Moses made a major mistake. He inserted “we” into a place meant only for “ME” – God. Moses stepped in to take some of God’s glory which resulted in him not getting into the Promised Land.
Perhaps Moses is sitting at the base of a mountain in a reflective mood. Thinking about having buried his sister and brother in the dust of the desert and feeling the wounds of his own sin, he writes Psalm 90.
The Apex of Moses’ mountain of a prayer is the transition word “so” in verse 12. “So” keeping in mind all I’ve previously said, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Let’s examine the trail Moses takes to reach this Summit: “A Heart of Wisdom”
1. Psalm 90: 1-2. The first step toward the summit of wisdom is worship. The first step toward a heart of wisdom is standing in AWE of God. It is a step that cannot be skipped!
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” In other words, wisdom begins with worship. Real wisdom is never measured by academic degrees, SAT scores, or your age. Real wisdom comes as a result of worshipping the one true God. Wisdom begins by centering your entire life on God and living in a healthy fear of him rather than man.
Notice the language Moses chooses in his prayer, “Lord you have been our dwelling place.” Think about this statement from Moses’ perspective. Moses lived his first 40 years as an Israelite alien in Egypt and his second 40 years as a nomadic shepherd in the wilderness. Now he is leading a group of homeless people in a desert. And all the time, he is looking for a place to call HOME.
In the opening line of his prayer, Moses reflects back and says, “God – YOU ARE OUR HOME!” Home, the place I can settle down, the place I can rest, isn’t found in a geographic location – it’s found in a relationship with God.
Moses spent his entire life looking for home. At the end, he tells us he found his home in God. In a sense, everyone is looking for home. What’s home for you?
To paraphrase verse two: Lord, I sit here starring at this mountain range, which look like ancient watchmen, watching over the passing of people and time. Before you gave birth to these ancient mountains, before you gave birth to the world, before you gave birth to time itself – YOU EXISTED. Your presence is from everlasting to everlasting.
The point is – your days and my days are numbered. The first step on the trail to a heart of wisdom begins by worshipping the God whose days cannot be numbered.
2. The second step on the trail leading to a “heart of wisdom” is crystal clear clarity about ourselves.
First, clarity concerning our brevity. In verse four Moses says, “For God, 1000 years is like one of our days.” Meaning for us:
- 2 days ago (Wednesday): For God that was the birth of Christ
- 3.5 days ago (Monday afternoon): For God – when Moses lived
- 7/10 days ago: For God that was Adam & Eve.
For God, the entire human timeline is only a week old. Verse 10 tells us our years (70 or 80) are soon gone. They fly by. Moses sees that his life is incredibly brief and goes by so quickly.
“It goes by so quickly.” Isn’t that the phrase you always hear from the person who is in the season of life just ahead of you? Here we are at graduation time, how many times will you hear “It goes by so quickly?” Shortly before he died in his late 20’s, my dad stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Twenty years later when I was in my late 20’s, I stood in the same place. Generations come and go. Moses looks at these mountains and knows his days are BOTH brief and numbered.
In verses 5 and 6, Moses supplies three visual analogies for mankind. Before we review these, if you asked the man on the street to come up with an analogy for mankind I think you anticipate something like:
- Mankind: A towering redwood
- Mankind: An impressive monument
- Mankind: (Invictus) “Master of our Fate, Captain of our Soul
Mankind’s view of Mankind is usually something larger than life!
“You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.”
Notice God’s view in verses 5 and 6:
- Mankind: “Swept away as with a flood”
- Mankind: “Like a dream,” so vivid and yet so quickly forgotten
- Mankind: “Like grass…in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.”
At the pinnacle of mankind’s achievement or accomplishment, at the height of mankind’s innovation or influence, at the peak of his physical or political power, mankind is no more than grass – quickly fading. Moses tells us as we examine ourselves, one lens in which we must have crystal clear clarity is our own brevity.
As your years fly by, whose glory do you seek to magnify? Whose legacy do you seek to cement? Whose name do you try to get people to remember? Yours or God’s?
A second lens we must have is clarity concerning our sin. Moses tells us, to get a heart of wisdom, we must also have crystal clear clarity about our standing before God. God not only establishes our term limit, he is also our judge.
Divine limitation and judgment are moving at great speed toward each one of us. Our exit ramp comes much more quickly than we imagined. Very soon we will stand face to face with the Judge who has set before him all our iniquities and all our secret sins. My prayer is this causes you to consider whether you are prepared to stand face to face with the Divine Judge who knows it all.
Moses was a wise man and was prepared for that day. Are you preparing?
Here’s how you can tell if you are prepared. Here’s how you know when a person has gained a heart of wisdom.
“Establish the work of our hands; yes, establish the work of our hands!”
It’s about what God does with us and through us, not what WE accomplish!
O Lord, it’s not about ME, it’s not about WE. It’s only about YOU!
1. Right now, what are the current conditions of your journey? Is it sunny or is there a blizzard? Are you stopped or are you making good progress?
2. Moses was looking for a home and rest. He eventually discovered it was not a place or location but a person – the Lord. Is there any place or condition you have put false hope in, hoping it would give you rest?
3. Mankind: “Swept away as with a flood,” “Like a dream,” “Like grass in the morning it flourishes and in the evening it fades.” Why is it healthy to number our days and remember the brevity of life?
4. What’s your goal for the “work of your hands?”
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