Deuteronomy 34

The Word Made Fresh

1Then Moses left the plains of Moab and climbed Mt. Nebo to the Pisgah summit across from Jericho. The LORD showed him the land from Gilead to Dan, 2all of Naphtali, Ephraim and Manasseh, and the land of Judah to the Mediterranean Sea. 3He saw the Negeb desert and the flat land of the Jericho valley with its palm trees. He could see as far as Zoar.

4The LORD said, “This is the territory I told Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob I would give their descendants. I have allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not go over there.”

5Moses, the LORD’s servant, died in the land of Moab as the LORD had said. 6The LORD buried him in Moab across from Beth-Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is located. 7He was one hundred twenty years old when he died, but he could still see clearly, and his strength was not weakened. 8The children of Israel mourned for Moses for thirty days to honor him.

9Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom Moses had passed on to him, so the Israelites listened to him as they had listened to Moses. 10Since then there has never been anyone in Israel like Moses. The LORD spoke to him face to face 11and performed signs and wonders in Egypt through him against the Pharaoh and his servants and all the Egyptians. 12The LORD was behind the powerful signs and deeds Moses performed before the Egyptians and in full view of the Israelites.

Commentary

1-8: The death of Moses is almost anticlimactic, reported briefly after having been foretold several times throughout the book. His burial place remains a mystery – probably a good thing. The people mourned him for 30 days, the same as for Aaron (Numbers 20:29).

9: Joshua becomes the new leader. He is chosen because he is “full of the spirit of wisdom,” and because Moses had “laid his hands on him.” Christian belief in the Trinity is partially informed by passages like this one in the Old Testament that testify to the presence of God as Holy Spirit, influencing the lives of people in various ways. Paul, in the New Testament, would later speculate on various “gifts of the spirit” – one of which is wisdom.

10-12: The book signs off by emphasizing the mighty deeds of Moses.

Takeaway

In every calamity God raises up someone to lead people through it and set them on a path of recovery and, often, into a future not imagined before. Not every calamity is life-threatening and not every God-sent leader is like Moses, but God always provides the leadership needed. Our job is to keep the faith, and when that leader comes forward our job is to follow. Perhaps you can think of a time in your own life when you have witnessed leadership being raised up in your family, in your church, in your town, in your state, in your country, in the world. (Perhaps there was a time when YOU were the one God called to the fore!)

YOU HAVE FINISHED THE TORAH (THE LAW), ALSO CALLED THE PENTATEUCH (THE FIVE BOOKS). GIVE YOURSELF A TREAT!