The Death of Moses

Scripture Passage: 
Deuteronomy 34:1-12

INTRODUCTION: The book of Deuteronomy contains the words that Moses spoke to Israel immediately before he died and the Israelites entered the Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 1:1; Deuteronomy 9:1). He is preparing them to enter the land.

The word Deuteronomy means second law . This does not mean that the original law is being replaced. Nor does it mean that a great amount of new material is being added to the law. In Deuteronomy, the Law of Moses is partially repeated and is totally reconfirmed. The old generation to whom the original law was given has died in the wilderness. The law now needs to be reconfirmed to the new generation. Late in the book (Deuteronomy 29:1-9), Moses establishes a covenant with them that renews the covenant they made at Mount Sinai.

The book of Deuteronomy dwells on the theme of obedience . Moses promises a blessing if they will obey the Lord’s commandments (Deuteronomy 11:27) and a curse if they will not obey them (Deuteronomy 11:28). Another theme of the renewed law is love . Love is mentioned a total of 4 times in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. Yet, it is mentioned a total of 22 times in Deuteronomy alone. The Israelites are to love the Lord their God (Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 11:13; Deuteronomy 19:9; Deuteronomy 30:16) and the Lord expresses His love to them (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Deuteronomy 23:5). Apparently even the law cannot be completely fulfilled without love.

This lesson deals with the death of Moses and the end of his work on the earth. Joshua will lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan. Moses will only get to see the land before he dies.

  1. MOSES VIEWS THE PROMISED LAND (Deuteronomy 34:1-4)
    1. Moses Climbs Mount Pisgah (Deuteronomy 34:1a).
      1. The names
        1. Abarim (Numbers 27:12-14; Deuteronomy 32:48-52)
        2. Nebo (Deuteronomy 32:49)
        3. Pisgah (Deuteronomy 3:27)
      2. The location
        1. About ten miles east of the northern border of the Dead Sea, it sits across from the Mount of Olives.
        2. It rises more than 2600 feet above sea level; but the Dead Sea is about 1300 feet below sea level.
    2. God Shows Him the Land (Deuteronomy 34:1b-3).
      1. Naturally, the land from Mount Hermon in the north to the hills of Judah in the west and more can be seen; but the Mediterranean Sea (“utmost sea”) cannot be seen from here.
      2. Supernaturally, God showed Moses all the promised land (Deuteronomy 34:1).
    3. God Renews His Promise of the Land (Deuteronomy 34:4).
      1. Promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 15:18-21; Genesis 35:10-12)
      2. Promised to their seed (Genesis 12:6-7)
      3. Seen by Moses
      4. Claimed by Joshua
  2. MOSES DIES ON THE MOUNT (Deuteronomy 34:5-9)
    1. The Death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5)
      1. The servant of the Lord (Joshua 1:1-2; Malachi 4:4; Hebrews 3:5)
      2. Died “according to the word of the LORD”
        1. Seven-word phrase occurs 28 times in the Bible
        2. The first four times it occurs (Numbers 3:16, 51; Numbers 4:45; Numbers 36:5), it refers to the obedience of Moses.
        3. The fifth time it occurs, it refers to the death of Moses.
        4. Moses lived and died “according to the word of the LORD.”
    2. The Burial of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:6)
      1. Buried by God
      2. Buried in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor
      3. Grave unknown to man
      4. Body fought over (Jude 1:9)
        1. After his death, Moses’ body became the focus of a battle between Michael the archangel and the devil.
        2. Though we are not told when this occurred, it is probably at the time of his burial.
        3. Something was going on for God to bury him (which is unusual in itself) and for God to keep the place of his burial secret.
        4. It probably had something to do with the fight over his body.
      5. His body resurrected
        1. At some point, Moses must have been resurrected and taken to heaven.
        2. We know this to be so because of his appearance with Elijah and Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration.
        3. Since we know Moses died and was buried, his appearance at the transfiguration points to a resurrection, though no scripture directly speaks of his resurrection.
    3. The Physical Condition of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:7)
      1. Age: 120 years old (Deuteronomy 31:2)
        1. 40 years in Egypt (Acts 7:23)
        2. 40 years in Midian (Acts 7:30)
        3. 40 years in the wilderness (Numbers 14:33-34)
      2. Condition
        1. Eyes not dim
        2. Natural force not abated
    4. The Mourning for Moses (Deuteronomy 34:8)
      1. A special time of mourning
        1. Thirty days
        2. The time that they wept for Moses and Aaron (Numbers 20:29)
      2. The normal time of mourning
        1. Seven days
        2. The general time of mourning for the Jews (Genesis 50:8-10; 1 Samuel 31:11-13)
      3. The time of mourning for others
        1. Seventy days
        2. Possibly the amount of time the Egyptians mourned (Genesis 50:2-5)
        3. This should remind New Testament believers of a charge in 1 Thessalonians where the Bible admonishes us to “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
    5. The Replacement for Moses (Deuteronomy 34:9; Numbers 27:15-23)
      1. Joshua the son of Nun
      2. A man full of the spirit of wisdom
  3. MOSES’ STANDING AS A PROPHET (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)
    1. His Rank as a Prophet (Deuteronomy 34:10a)
      1. There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses.
      2. This could mean several different things:
        1. It could mean that Moses was the greatest prophet up to this time.
          1. The New Testament says, “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28).
          2. If the passage is suggesting that Moses was the greatest prophet, it is safe to say that upon the passing of time he did not excel John the Baptist.
        2. It could mean that Moses was a unique prophet. Judging by the context, this would appear to be the meaning of the passage.
    2. His Face to Face Knowledge of God (Deuteronomy 34:10b; Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:6-8)
      1. A regular prophet (Numbers 12:6-8)
        1. The Lord will give a vision.
        2. The Lord will speak to in a dream.
      2. Moses
        1. With him the Lord spoke mouth to mouth
          1. Apparently
          2. Not in dark speeches
        2. The similitude of the Lord he beheld
    3. The Power Given to Him (Deuteronomy 34:11-12; Psalm 105:26-38)
      1. The signs and wonders in Egypt (Deuteronomy 34:11)
        1. To be done under the authority of Moses
        2. To be done to all of Pharaoh’s servants
        3. To be done to all of Pharaoh’s land
      2. The mighty hand (Deuteronomy 34:12)
      3. The great terror (Deuteronomy 34:12)
  4. THE PROPHET THAT SHALL COME (Deuteronomy 18:15-22)
    1. The Prophet God Will Raise Up (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)
      1. Raised up from the midst of Israel (Deuteronomy 18:15)
      2. Set to speak for God (Deuteronomy 18:16-18)
      3. Israel required to hear Him (Deuteronomy 18:19)
      4. This prophet identified as Jesus Christ (Acts 3:20-26; Acts 7:37)
    2. A Warning against False Prophets (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
      1. He who presumes to speak in God’s name (Deuteronomy 18:20-21)
      2. He who speaks that which does not come to pass (Deuteronomy 18:22)

CONCLUSION: This completes the five books of the Law of Moses. Israel has been delivered from Egypt and given God’s law. Now, they must enter the Promised Land and conquer it. God’s purpose is now turned over to a new generation. Are you part of a new generation that God has called to complete His will? What will you do with your commission?

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 21:8

The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.