Written by Roger D. Campbell
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 01:25


     The thirty-fourth chapter of Deuteronomy is a closing chapter. It is the closing chapter of that book, plus it is the closing chapter in the life of Moses. There we read about his final actions on earth, his death, and his burial. Consider some reminders from this chapter and this occasion.

     With his own eyes, Moses was blessed to see the earthly land of Canaan (34:1-4). Yet, it was far more important for him to see/experience God’s prepared spiritual land of rest. Moses understood that. Do we?

     Moses died as “the servant of the LORD” (34:5). We want to do the same thing! Some become God’s servants, but along the way fall away. Let us make a commitment to hold fast “to the end” (Hebrews 3:16,14) and “die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13).

     Moses had a burial like no other: Jehovah Himself buried him (34:6). While we may have cultural or personal choices about how we would like to have our body or ashes put to rest and what kind of “service” we would like for others to carry out after our departure, it is obvious from Moses’ “funeral” that one’s relationship with the Lord is not dependent on how many attend his burial or what things others might say over his remains.

     No human knew the spot where Moses was buried (34:6). Again, this would indicate that, in God’s sight, the place of one’s burial is of no major consequence. We may have a personal preference, but it will not affect our eternal inheritance.

     By our standards, Moses lived a long, full life, dying at the age of one hundred twenty (34:7). We are reminded that the quality of one’s life is of far greater significance than one’s longevity. The ultimate goal of life should not be to reach a certain age mark, but always to be in the right relationship with the Lord: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

     What caused Moses to die was not a deterioration of his health or what we commonly call “old age.” At the time of his death, “His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished” (34:7). What kept him from entering Canaan (and thus caused him to die prior to Israel’s crossing the Jordan) was his failure on one occasion to submit to God’s will (Numbers 20:1-12). Yes, sin has huge consequences.

     Following Moses’ death, the Israelites wept and mourned for their courageous leader for thirty days (34:8). There is no indication in the Bible, though, that Moses in some mystical way was “still with them in spirit” or that he from “over there” somehow looked down and saw all that the Israelites were doing as they mourned his passing.

     Death comes to all (Hebrews 9:27). Wise people are much more concerned about their life after death than they are about their funeral and burial, right?

-- Roger D. Campbell




     Joshua, the son of Nun, was God’s handpicked choice. His choice for what? To step in and be the leader of the Israelites following Moses’ death.

     The Lord had this crucial transition in mind long before it came to pass. He had even communicated His plan to the Israelites. God told Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of meeting, that I may inaugurate him” (Deuteronomy 31:14). In this case, the Lord inaugurated Joshua via Moses, as Moses “laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses” (Numbers 27:23). This all reminds us that nothing catches God by surprise! He knows the future as well as you and I see the past or present.

     We also see the great need to train and prepare men to serve as leaders among God’s people. Before Joshua stepped up to be Israel’s leader, he first served as Moses’ assistant (Exodus 24:13). That was part of Joshua’s critical training. For the good of the entire nation of Israel, God told Moses, “But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see” (Deuteronomy 3:28). So, before Joshua took on the mantle of leading God’s people, God wanted him to be instructed, encouraged, and strengthened. That was another portion of Joshua’s preparation and training. The church needs to be doing that very thing today: training and preparing faithful brothers to be leaders. Let us not wait for another five years to begin, but do it right now!

     There are times when God’s people have to face a transition in leadership. Moses admirably led Israel for forty years, but he could not live forever. Following his passing, Israel would need to accept the reality of the transition to Joshua. In preparing them for that moment, God had told Moses to lay hands on Joshua and give him authority so that the Israelites would obey him (Numbers 27:20). After Moses’ death, it would do no good for anyone to whine about not having Moses around like “back in the good old days.” We must not live in the past, but in the present, looking to a great future with our great God leading the way. Israel enjoyed a smooth, peaceful transition to Joshua, in part because (1) he had been prepared for the task and (2) the people had been prepared mentally for it as well.

     From the new leader (Joshua), God’s people would need what they had gotten from the previous one (Moses). What was that? “Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of good courage . . .” (Deuteronomy 31:7). That is exactly the kind of men that we need leading God’s people today: strong and courageous!

-- Roger D. Campbell