We have come to the end of our Deuteronomy study and it has been rich. Yes, there have been times that I have had to refrain from frustration with the amount of times that Moses repeats the commands to love and obey God. But clearly these reminders are in Scripture because we NEED them.
In the last chapter of Deuteronomy we are told of the death of Moses. This chapter gives us a few insights into this man’s life and the radical change that God made in him while he led the Children of Israel. I still choke up when I read the 12 verses of Deuteronomy 34, because there is so much written about his relationship with God. We get insight into how much of a difference a relationship with God should make in our lives.
There are too many nuggets to extract from this passage, so I will just hit on a few.
The first one is found in Deuteronomy 34:1-4, when Moses went to the top of Pisgah “and the Lord showed him” all the Promised Land. No, Moses could not enter in, due to his misrepresentation of God’s authority at Meribah, but God graciously showed him the land.
For those who know their Bibles well, you know that Moses did indeed enter the Promised Land, but he entered through Christ. Matthew 17 tells us that when Jesus was transfigured on the Mountain, that Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. The Law and the Prophets were represented there on the mountain. Jesus was glorified and the Father’s voice commanded us to hear Him.
There is much more theological unpacking that can be done for this passage, and I encourage you to chew on the pictures and revelation we see here. But, I simply want to remind you that Moses was given a tour guide picture there in Deuteronomy 34, on top of Mt Pisgah, but he had to enter in through Christ.
The second point, and this is what tears me up, is that Moses died in Moab. After all that this man had endured to bring the Children of Israel from Egypt, through 40 years of wandering and now he dies in Moab?!? I have to quiet the voice inside me that says “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”. But then the Holy Spirit reminds me of verses that speak of the faith of Moses and I realize that Moses was most concerned with the person of God, not the place.
We see this in Exodus 33:15, in the Sinai Desert where Moses tells God, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from this place.” This is said in the desert. Consider that.
Hebrews 11 gives us insights into the faith of Moses (and many other Old Testament heroes).Hebrews 11:13 & 16 says:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth….but now they desire a better, that is a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Moses was much more concerned with being with God, even if that meant a foreign land. He had been so transformed and sanctified through his life that no place was greater than relationship and closeness to the Lord.
And the last point I will draw our attention to is found in Deuteronomy 34:10. This verse speaks of the intimacy of the relationship God had with Moses, “whom the Lord knew face to face.”
I have to sit and chew on that. That’s not a typical phrase for anyone’s relationship with the Almighty. But here’s where I get crushed by this verse- how did Moses come to this deep relationship with God? He developed this relationship through all he experienced beginning with his call in Exodus 3 until his death in Deuteronomy.
Ladies, that’s not easy reading.
Can you stop and try to think of the joyous times that are recorded for us in the life of Moses during those years? Can you think of all the celebrations and great victories? Sure, they are scattered throughout the Pentateuch, but to a far greater extent we see the trials and pain that Moses personally endured to be faithful to the call of God on his life.
Consider that from the time Moses was called, his life did not get easier, in fact it got harder. Within a few months he had made an enemy of Pharaoh and the children of Israel. He was hated for being faithful to what God told him to do! Ouch. But then, as Moses obediently walked before the Lord, we see God carry out His plan. We see Moses strengthened in his determination to obey the Lord, and we see God show up and do amazing things.
Moses was called to lead a people who are described as stiff-necked, rebellious and hard hearted. He was frustrated more than once with them, and even allowed his frustration to affect his representation of God’s provision for them.
Moses led the people through military battles, through times where worshipping idols was more exciting than worshipping the Lord, and through a land where they were not welcomed. And what do we see that all these problems did to Moses? We see that they drew him closer to the Lord.
I don’t like that. I don’t really want to think that it’s through the pain that I am forced into a deepening relationship with the Lord. But that’s what we see in the life of Moses and countless others in Scripture. Relationship with the Lord is forged in trials, and strengthened in ways that are unattainable outside of difficulty.
Deuteronomy 34 is full of insights into the relationship of a man with his God. It’s easy to miss the relationship aspect of Moses and the Lord as we read the Pentateuch, but at the very end we are reminded that the Bible shows us God reaching into the lives of people, saving them and using them for His glory. Moses is one example.
Will your life be an example as well?