The clouds over mount Nebo were dark and a chilly wind blew. The day had promised a fair weather with the clouds being clear and a warm breeze blowing in from the Jordan river but it had suddenly became cloudy. It was almost as if the universe was aware of what was happening on the mountain top.
Joshua stood at the foot of the mountain. He knew something was off but he couldn’t place it. His skin pricked and he felt his body tense, something he only felt whenever he was about to go into battle. He was troubled deep within. He had noticed a difference about Moses since the early hours of the morning when Moses had returned from his walk. Moses had appeared tired, like he had aged overnight and his shoulders sagged, the position of an unhappy man that has accepted his fate. Moses never looked tired or worn out. At one hundred and twenty, he had the strength and eyesight of a man at eighty, and that had baffled Joshua all morning.
Suddenly, Joshua felt his heart beat racing and sweat breaking out on his forehead. All the cells in his body were screaming ‘Danger’ and he knew something terrible was wrong.
The thought made him panic and he raced up the mountain, praying with each step that all was well.
Moses sighed with longing as he viewed the land of Canaan. The plains and the hills stretching as far as the eye can see. He saw the land around the river Jordan and the fenced and fortified cities of Jericho and Ai, the date palms and springs and the rich arable land and his heart longed to set foot on it.
This is all the land that I have given to the children of Israel just like I have promised my servant Abraham to give unto his descendants
“Oh Lord, plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness, pardon my iniquity and blot out my transgression from before you and grant your servant that I might just step foot on the promise land”
Have I not forbidden you not to speak to me concerning this matter?
Moses shuddered. He could feel the anger of the Lord.
You dishonored me in front of the whole tribe of Israel and you will bear the full brunt of the punishment. I have decided to show you what you had labored for this past forty years but you will not so much as cross the river Jordan. Tomorrow, Israel will have a new leader who will take them to the Promised Land.
Moses knelt down on the mountain top and wept. Ever since the day he had encountered Yahweh in the burning bush and had been sent to deliver Israel from the Egyptian bondage and lead them to the promise land, he had lived for the day when he would eventually step foot on the land of Canaan and breathe in the air and drink from the waters. Here he was, standing so close, the promise land just three day’s journey, and he wasn’t going to enter.
He felt rejected. He had seen the mercies of God first hand countless times, when God had changed his mind about destroying the Israelites after they have sinned against Him. But God had not extended His mercies towards him. He also felt like a failure, he had failed to finish the assignment God gave him.
As he knelt down and cried, he began to feel faint and feel his breathing come in sharp rasps. He clutched his chest and lay on the mountain gasping and after a while, he stopped breathing.
Several pair of eyes watched the dying man on the mountain top. As he breathed his last, there was a general shout of joy and an air of excitement. They had finally got him. He had failed. He had been rejected and he was theirs.
Alphus barked orders to his men and they hurried to the body of Moses and carried it. The master was going to be pleased with him, he thought with glee and he could just envision the commendation and the promotion that would follow. He would finally be promoted to the Prince of the whole realm of Egypt. He could already taste the glory and the power.
The smile on his face dimmed as he noticed a flash of lightning and Michael, the prince of the Israelite appear with a hundred of his men.
“Drop the body now!” Michael barked
Alphus snarled, his face contorted in a rage and his fangs bared. “He is mine” he hissed, taking a step backwards. Unconsciously, he ran a hand over his face and traced the scar that ran from his fore head just above the right orbit running to the lower jaw on the left side of his face. He had gotten the scar in a previous altercation with Michael and his men. He knew of the might of the Archangel, he himself had once served under his command before he joined with Lucifer and got cast out.
“No, he belongs to us” Michael replied, removing his sword from his sheath and taking a step forwards and standing to his full height. Alphus eyed the sword and considered surrendering the body but he remembered what was at stake and he steeled himself to defend the body of Moses.
“Attack!” Alphus barked at his minions and unsheathing his sword, he lunged at Michael. Michael saw it coming and twisted to the left away from the tip of the sword and with his right hand on the sword he parried the blow. Alphus was no match for the strength of the Archangel and in a few minutes, he was lying on the ground staring wide eyed as the tip of Michael’s sword rested on base of his neck.
“Release the body” Michael ordered. Alphus commanded his men and they released the body of Moses to one of the angels. Michael sheathed his sword and Alphus scampered away.
“Hello Michael, good to see you”. Michael turned and stood face to face with Lucifer, who had a smile plastered to his face but his eyes were steely. “I see you have come to bully my men and take what is mine”
Alphus cowered and covered his face. He had failed and all his dream of glory and fame were never going to come to pass now. Shame and anger roiled inside him.
“No Lucifer” Michael answered without any mock friendliness “you are the one claiming what doesn’t belong to you, like you always do”
“You may be right Michael but not on this one. This man here died having fallen in disfavor with God and that makes him mine” his smile widened as he added “and I am looking forward to welcoming him in my palace. I am sure a lot of my people are eager too, Ramses, Og, Bashan to mention but a few” there was a glint to his eyes as he spoke.
“He belongs to our God” Michael replied coolly “and we are taking him to paradise, to be with his God whom he faithfully served all his life. Jehovah is waiting for him…”
“Jehovah left him to die!” Lucifer shot back. He was not going to lose this one. “He failed Jehovah, lied and ascribed the glory of God to himself and he was rejected by God and another was chosen in his stead”
“Not so Lucifer” it was Michael’s turn to smile “he was shown mercy by our God. Our God is gracious and good, slow to wrath and quick to show mercy, his loving kindness and tender mercies never fail and Moses here has received mercy from the Most High”
“Liar!” Lucifer seethed “No he didn’t”
“No, Lucifer, that would be you, father of all lies” Michael’s face was hard and his stance was war like. He knew that it was not going to be easy.
“Then prepare for war” Lucifer growled and unsheathed his sword.
It was a fierce battle and Lucifer’s men were having the upper hand. Michael wrestled with Lucifer but he was losing. Lucifer had always been better and if not for his pride, Lucifer would still have been the commanding officer of the army of the Lord of hosts. It was also that pride that made him lose to Michael when heaven’s army had cast Lucifer and his demons down to earth.
Michael struck a blow at Lucifer which he blocked and the two of them locked swords each trying to outdo the other. Michael let his hands move down for a fraction and Lucifer capitalizing on his error moved in for the kill. He kicked Michael in the gut and he fell down. Lucifer looked down at him and laughed.
“You really think you are a match for me huh?” he was advancing towards the Michael, with his sword raised above his head poised to deliver the final blow.
“No” Michael puffed, trying to stand up “I am no match for you, but the Lord of host is”. Michael was now on his feet and with his two hands he grasped his sword in front of him “The Lord rebuke you Satan”
Michael’s sword started to gleam starting from the tip and unto the hilt. Lucifer’s smile was replaced by shock as his mouth dropped. “The Lord rebuke you Satan” he said again and charged at Lucifer. Lucifer was no match for Michael this time who was fighting with the strength of ten men. Soon Lucifer and his men retreated leaving behind the body of Moses.
Michael picked up the body of Moses and disappeared alongside the other angels and the mountain top was quiet again. The clouds began to clear allowing the sun rays to penetrate. The air became warm and balmy.
Joshua reached the top of the mountain panting and stopped in his tracks. Moses was nowhere to be found. Something in the distance caught his eyes and when he moved closer, he saw the rod of Moses and his sandals.
The Lord had taken Moses away.
The burden of leading the Israelites had fallen to him and he was scared.