Deuteronomy 34: 1-8
34 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
5 And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourningwas over.
Last Sunday, September 10th, was Grandparent’s Day in the US. The day was probably overlooked by many Americans due to hurricane Irma and the start of the NFL season. I decided to wait one week before remembering Grandparent’s Day in hopes that those who missed it could still honor their ancestors. If you did something for your Grandparents on September 10th, please feel free to do something with them or for them again this week.
Scripturally, the scenario of Moses seeing a Promised Land that he would never live in often reminds me of intergenerational issues and my own grandparents. This scripture reminds me that not too long ago it was common for at least three generations to live under one roof. Children grew up knowing that they belonged to a community and not just a family. With this sense of community, people learn to live lives that were focused on more than their own self-interests. In addition, people became builders and not just takers. We still have reminders of this selfless sense of purpose and community. Indeed all over the world there are hundreds of landmark cathedrals, palaces, and government buildings that took dozens of years to build and were completed long after the deaths of their original designers.
Moses isn’t the only famous Biblical character who lived their life building for another generation’s greater destiny. Although promised to be a father of many, Abraham died never seeing any of his grandchildren. Sarah witnessed God’s promise to Abraham and she didn’t even live to see Isaac get married. Although given a clear vision for a temple to house the ark of the covenant, David wasn’t allowed to lay a single stone to build it. Despite seeing fire fall from heaven, Elijah still died (caught up in a chariot of fire) before Ahab and Jezebel were removed from power. Regardless of how their lives ended, all of these people stayed faithful in their building and preparing for the generations behind them to live a fulfilled destiny.
Despite the twisted rhetoric of “illegal immigrants,” the United States of America is a nation filled with millions of people whose ancestors risked life and limb in hopes of providing a better life for their descendants. All of us are in some way reaping the benefits of someone who worked and lived before us. Whether it be familial or communal, we are all part of something bigger than our individual selves. Before you move past Grandparent’s Day 2017, take time to remember someone who lived before you and in someway contribute to a work that they started.