Moses Part 24

Moses, the man of God

A study

Part 24

The last days of Moses

In this part of our study let us look into the following events.

  1. Rehearsal of the Law and encouragement to the next generation
  2. Joshua ordained to succeed Moses
  3. Final words of Moses
  4. Death of Moses

REHEARSAL OF THE LAW AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE NEXT GENERATION

Even-though God had explicitly declared that Moses would not enter the Promised Land, Moses was diligent and meticulous in preparing the next generation for entering and possessing the Land of Canaan. In the Book of Deuteronomy we see how Moses takes great pains to teach the Laws of God to the next generation, shortly before his death. He begins with a survey of the history of Israel, reminding them about the failures of their previous generation. Then he enlarges upon some of the basic Laws given to them in the preceding books, with additional warnings and exhortations. He clearly teaches them about the blessings and curses waiting for them consequent respectfully to their obedience and disobedience.

When we begin to read the Book of Deuteronomy, we can find mentioned therein THE PLACE and THE TIME in which Moses spoke these words. “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel on this side of Jordan in the wilderness… And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them. (Deut.1: 1,3)

The typical words often used here by Moses are, HEAR, TAKE HEED, LEARN, KEEP, DO, REMEMBER, etc. In this book Moses made clear and put in remembrance to the second generation all the important aspects of the law by repeating, stressing, warning, etc. He even sang A SONG (Deut.32) to set the words of the law in the heart of the people. Moses had also put some other important truths in the form of songs, Exo.15, Psa.90. The Lord Jesus Christ referred to these words of Moses. See for example, Matt.4: 4,7,10. Moses stressed the greatness of the laws of God. They were not to add or diminish anything from it but fully OBEY it. The deep yearning of God’s heart can be felt as we read, the Lord exclaiming, O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! (Deut.5: 29).

From this ministry of Moses, we are given to understand clearly, how God desires our total obedience. Not only that we should obey, but we should also teach and train our children, through word and through our example, to obey the Word of God. Psa.78: 4-7, Deut.11: 19. One of the reasons for Abraham being acceptable to God as His friend is that God knew him that he will command his children and his house… to do righteousness and justice. Gen.18: 19 We have this great responsibility of bringing up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph.6: 4, Prov.22: 6)

JOSHUA ORDAINED TO SUCCEED MOSES

As soon as God told Moses to prepare for his death, the immediate concern of Moses was that “the congregation of the Lord should not become like sheep without shepherd.” Envious souls do not love their successors, but Moses was not one of these. He prayed to the Lord to nominate and appoint another man, to be his successor, over all Israel, to lead them. (Num.27: 12-23) God clearly points to Joshua, and asks Moses to take Joshua and set him before all the people and lay his hand upon him, and give him charge in their sight. Moses cheerfully did as the Lord commanded him, and invested Joshua with authority needed to assume succession and encouraged him. (Deut.31: 1-8)

Much of the confusion and great losses to the work of the Lord could be averted if all those who are used mightily by God take sufficient care to prepare and install leaders, well in time, to succeed them. Many of us are more concerned about our leadership position rather than the welfare of the people whom we lead and the continuation of the work, which the Lord established through us. Because of this attitude, the progress of the Lord’s work is greatly hindered. May our Lord instill the public spirit of Moses in us.

FINAL WORDS OF MOSES

After thundering out the terrors of the Lord against Israel for their sins, Moses parts with final words of blessing. Moses blesses the tribes one after the other, thus showing that he was aware of their future as well as God’s resources for them. Earlier Jacob, upon his death-bed blessed his sons (Gen.49), in conformity to whose example Moses here blesses the tribes that were descended from them (Deut.33). Jacob stressed man’s responsibility while Moses emphasizes God’s plans and purposes.

Before leaving those whom he served and led so faithfully, he pronounces these last words: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut.33: 27). In his Psalm 90 he could say, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” This communion and intimacy with God marked his career on earth from the burning bush to the plains of Moab.

DEATH OF MOSES

When all the children of Israel lay encamped upon the plains of Moab, Moses, alone, climbed up to Pisgah, the place appointed by God. That was the highest point or ridge of the mountain of Nebo. When he knew the place of his death, he was so far from avoiding it that he cheerfully mounted the steep hill to come at it. It shows that he was willing to die. Though Moses had to go through all the fatigues of the long wilderness journey, he was prevented from enjoying the pleasures of Canaan. But the man Moses was very meek; it was God’s will for him, and he cheerfully submits. Neither our piety nor our usefulness would exempt us from the stroke of death. Even the servants of God must die, rest from their labours and make room for others, freely willing to go home whenever their Master sends for them. At such moments one should remember that we are heading towards that heavenly Canaan and our Heavenly Father waiting to receive us there. (Acts 21: 13, Phil.1: 23)

Previously when Aaron died on Mount Hor, his brother and son were by his side to comfort Aaron. But when Moses went up to the top of Pisgah, even his faithful Joshua did not accompany him. Moses went up alone. But a greater One, however, comes near to him and lets him experience His presence and intimacy. (John 16: 32) He had learnt to enjoy the sweetness of this fellowship all through his life. At the burning bush, Moses was alone with God on holy ground, where the “I AM THAT I AM” revealed Himself and His plans to His servant. At Mount Sinai, Moses was alone with God on two occasions to receive the Laws of God (Exo.24: 18, 34: 28). Then again in the cleft of the rock Moses was alone with God to know His thoughts of grace (Exo.34: 6, 7). Later Moses entered many times alone into the most holy place, to listen in the silence of the Tabernacle, to the voice of God speaking to him from off the mercy seat. (Numb.7: 89) Now on the top of Pisgah, at this supreme lonely moment of Moses’ life, his faithful and well-known Friend is there near His servant. This will be the blessed experience of all those who have developed a personal intimacy with their Lord by hearing and obeying their good shepherd all through their life (John 10: 27-29). Even when they pass through the valley of the shadow of death they fear no evil (Psa.23).

Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural strength abated. And the Lord buried him in a place not known to any man till today. God took care of the body of His servant, lest the enemy might make of it an object of veneration and idolatry as he did with the brass serpent.

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