God Exceeds His Promises

Table of Contents

1. God Exceeds His Promises: Formerly: Moses on Pisgah
2. God Exceeds His Promises: Blessing Exceeds Penalty
3. God Exceeds His Promises: Satisfied Desire
4. God Exceeds His Promises: God Exceeds His Promise
5. God Exceeds His Promises: Satan Tries to Disguise the Desert
6. God Exceeds His Promises: Faith in God for Future Blessing

God Exceeds His Promises: Formerly: Moses on Pisgah

Moses forfeited his title to enter the promised land. And, at the time, the Lord said nothing to him about even seeing it (Numbers 20). But afterward He adds this promise (Numbers 27). And then, on a further occasion, Moses desiring to go over, the Lord repeats the promise, that he should see it, but still refuses his request (Deut. 3). Moses seems, at length, to be brought to compliance (Deut. 31). But, to the end, nothing alters the decree which had shut him out from the land (Deut. 32). The Lord is inexhorable.

God Exceeds His Promises: Blessing Exceeds Penalty

From this we see two things-that a penalty once incurred is never revoked or annulled, and that the Lord has a method of bringing in something in the place of the forfeited blessing.
The inquiry then arises-what is the quality of this substituted good thing?
The general knowledge which we have of God might answer, that it is something far better than what has been lost or forfeited; for He is infinitely love and infinitely power. And the history of redemption might be pleaded as affirming this-because the glory bye-and-bye will be better than Eden at the beginning.
But beside these two witnesses, we get a voice from Moses on Pisgah, which utters, if I listen to it right, the same great truth.
Moses made the ascent from the plains of Moab up to the highest eminency of which the Lord had spoken to him. But now, a good and a glorious thing appears, of which there had been no notice whatever in the Lord’s previous words to him. The Lord Himself, and no less, not even Gabriel, the messenger on so many happy occasions, comes to bear him company, and to be his guide through the mystic scene, which now lies beneath him. It is an hour of more than human delight. It is divine joy which Moses now tastes, joy in which the Lord Himself shares. With His own finger, as it were, the Lord points out to His servant, all the promised land on either side of the river. He traces it from eastern Gilead across the Jordan to Dan, and from Naphtali in the north, through Ephraim and Manasseh, down to Judah-then westward to the furthest sea, and to the south from Judah to Zoar. And his guide is his interpreter. The Lord tells him the divine history of the land that it is the land of covenant and of promise, the land of the chosen of God. This was exceeding the promise. The half of this has not been told him, for he not only sees the land, but has it all shown to him and described to him by the Lord Himself. It became “a holy hill” to him, a mount of transfiguration. Pisgah was more to Moses, than Tabor was to Peter, James, and John. They, on Tabor, were below the Lord’s place, surveying, as above them, those upper regions of glory into which he entered-he, on Pisgah, was on an equal elevation with the Lord, surveying, as beneath him, those lower regions of blessing, at which, with equal eye he and his companion-Lord were gazing.

God Exceeds His Promises: Satisfied Desire

All this was a good and a glorious thing beyond what had been promised. But was it also beyond what had been lost and forfeited? Yes, far indeed beyond it. The land which he had lost, through his own pride and naughtiness of heart, was now found to be his footstool, while he himself was in company with Him who is to sit on the throne of it forever.
Wonderful moment of divine joy! Moses has entered into nothing less than ‘the joy of his Lord.’-Does it satisfy him? In the brightness of it, can he forget all other delights? Was Peter satisfied? Had that hour on the hill, power to fix the desires of Peter’s heart? We know it had. “Master, it is good for us to be here,” tells us so. And yet as we have seen, this was a still more wondrous moment for a child of dust. The difference of the two occasions was far in the favor of Moses. And we may surely conclude that he was satisfied, that he also was able to say, with still more compass of heart, “It is good for me to be here.” Could he exchange the throne for the footstool? Could he pass from this to that? Could he descend to earth again? No. He was “with the Lord.” He had already, as a heavenly man, met Him “in the air.” In the spirit of his present place, he was already “caught up.” He could not descend even to Goshen, or Canaan, or the most honored spot on earth. Nor does he. The Lord gives him rest-and his rest is glorious. The Lord Himself puts him to sleep, and buries him as in sure and certain hope of the better resurrection.
And accordingly, when next we see him, it is as one of the heavenly family, glorified with the Lord Himself and Elijah (Matt. 17). On that New Testament Pisgah, he shines as a child of the resurrection. The vile body has been laid down, the body like unto Christ’s glorious body has been taken up. He bears “the image of the heavenly” there-as on the true hill of glory, it will be borne by all whose conversation is now in heaven.

God Exceeds His Promises: God Exceeds His Promise

Such was Moses on Pisgah or on Tabor. Had we but hearts to enjoy it, all this would be to us welcome and blessed. This mount tells us that God exceeds His promise, and gives us something in the stead of what we have forfeited, that is far better. It is His prerogative thus to deal with us. He is known as the One who can make us happier than we could ever have made ourselves. This is His prerogative. This is His right as God. And faith, in the understanding of this, bows and says, “Thou shalt choose our inheritance for us.”
But it is not easy to admit this. We are slow to learn that the Lord can make us happier than we can make ourselves. Moses, we may say, contended with this. He longed for the land. He desired to be happy in his own way. But that was not to be. He had to pass through discipline, and to get a refusal, again and again, from the Lord. Till at length he finds himself entered into such a scene, as that he could not, I may say, would not leave it. Nature must dissolve rather. He finds himself “with the Lord;” and the inheritance he had desired is worthy only to be his footstool.
I believe all this is indeed a lesson for our souls. The Lord may disappoint our expectations, and cross our plans. To the end He may refuse us our way. But he will prove that He is able to do better for us than we could ever have done for ourselves; and our plan of happiness will be left far behind-no more to be compared with His, than a footstool is to be compared with a throne. And our hearts shall be brought to own this, and to say of the place to which His hand leads us, as Peter did, “it is good for us to be here;” or, like Moses on Pisgah, find ourselves unable to come down to earth again.

God Exceeds His Promises: Satan Tries to Disguise the Desert

There is, however, another lesson which we may draw from this beautiful scripture. To this end, we must read it, for a little, in company with the temptation of the Lord (Matt. 4).
There the tempter takes Jesus to a high place, and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world in their glory, and promises all to Him, if He will but worship him. Here, the Lord meets Moses in another high place, a similar exceeding lofty mountain, and shows him the inheritance of the chosen people, giving him a share in His own delight in such a prospect.
The material of the two occasions was very similar. But, morally, how different! It was the “present evil world,” or the world in its condition of apostasy from God, that the devil would have attracted Jesus by: it was “the world to come,” or the world in its condition of restoration to God, that the Lord delighted Moses with. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, a place of neither beauty or fruitfulness; for such is the world in divine estimation. The tempter comes, and seeks to change the fashion of the place altogether. He would happily have proved the world to be no wilderness. He fills it with every delight and satisfaction, aiming to persuade the Son of God, that it was a beautiful and fruitful place. He would not allow the thought that it was a wilderness. Accordingly, he furnishes it to the eye and mind of Jesus, if he can, with pleasures, riches, and honors. He intimates that its stone might easily be made bread; that its mountains were points of view from whence all that the eye could covet might be commanded; and that its pinnacles, instead of being giddy and dangerous elevations, were avenues and ladders to fame and distinction. All this insinuating, that man need, by no means, in this world, find himself in a wilderness, but seated rather at a rich and varied banquet.
This was his attempt then. And what his way was then with Jesus, so has it been with us ever since. He would have us know, that it is all a mistake to eye this “present evil world” as a desert, for that there is in it plenty of food for the senses, riches and honor in abundance.
Is not this true? Is not “the god of this world” full of these promises, and “the course of this world” full of efforts to make these promises good? Are not experiments making, every day, to turn stones into bread, and a desert into Eden? The enemy must hide all he can the gloom and barreness of that world of which he is the god, and commend it to our admiration and desire.

God Exceeds His Promises: Faith in God for Future Blessing

Jesus, I need not say, defeated him to the highest point of victory; and we must seek for increase of faith to do likewise. It is faith that does this. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” And faith waits on God and for God.
God has prospects for us as well as the devil. Most surely. But they are, morally, the very opposite. The devil’s promised enjoyments and greatness may be entered on at once; the Lord’s inheritance must be entered on, in its fullness, only in resurrection; as Moses had to die on the Mount.
The duty of the soul is, to open the eye and the heart to the Lord’s objects, and to shut both to the devil’s-to take care neither to be indifferent to the one, nor moved or fascinated by the other. It is the spirit that finds its sympathy with the one, while the flesh consents only to the other. And, in a saint, the flesh works in that way. Lot lifted up his own eyes, and chose a present well-watered plain, though the cities of the uncircumcised were there; Abraham lifted up his eyes, under direction from God, and God gave him the distant but sure prospect of the land where the glory was to be in due season.
These things are different surely. Let us nourish our hearts only with the prospects which the Lord opens to us; and though that will call us off from many a present natural delight, it will cast us surely on a good which, as we see in this case of Moses, will exceed all our expectations; and so fill the heart as to leave nothing without its abundant satiating joy forever. Like the Queen of Sheba, when God’s good thing comes, we shall say of it, “the half was not told.”
“See where the Lamb in glory stands, Encircled with His radiant bands, And join th’ angelic powers- For all that height of glorious bliss, Our everlasting portion is, And all that heaven is ours.”
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