In chapter thirty-four, what Moses appears to regret most comes to pass.
His regret is not that he faces death, but that he will not be able to enter the promised land, to see to the end his mission in life.
But then again, he gets to the end of God’s mission for him in life.
It’s a matter we must all remember, for likely we will all die leaving many things undone we’d like to do – not crossing off everything from our “bucket list.” One day, we will leave it all behind, including the unfinished things, left to be completed by others, or simply never finished at all. The important thing will be whether we have been engaged in God’s work. When our lives are engaged in that, we never leave things undone, for we will have done all that God intended for us to do.
Part of Moses’ legacy however is that he left someone else qualified to take his place, someone who likewise possessed the Spirit of God, to continue to do the work of God. I think there too is a lesson: Life should not be lived simply accomplishing stuff – no matter how valuable that stuff might be. It should also involve leading, influencing, mentoring others who will follow in our steps and follow the leading of God.
Deuteronomy ends with hope. Earlier God promised that he would raise up a prophet like Moses (18:15-18). Joshua takes his place, but he is not that prophet. That prophet does not arise in the lifetime of the writer of Deuteronomy (perhaps best to call him a “compiler” because he compiles the writings, sayings and doings of Moses into this book). In the days of Jesus, Israel is still looking for that prophet (John 1:21, 45; 6:14; 7:40 and Acts 3:20-22), but by then, their eyes are so blinded by their preconceived notions that they do not recognize him when he comes.