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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 34; Psalm 91
Today’s devotion will focus on the final chapter of Deuteronomy and conclude our study of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).
Moses’ View of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4)
The psalmist writes in Psalm 116, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (116:15), and indeed, the death of Moses would be numbered among the most splendid of believers. Having finished his parting blessing to the congregation of Israel, Moses “went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo” (34:1a). From Pisgah, one of the peaks of Mount Nebo, “the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan” (34:1). Gilead encompassed the land on the east side of Jordan, which Moses had promised the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, would be their inheritance (the “Dan” that is mentioned is not the Dan that was located on the west side of the Jordan River).
Standing on the peak of Pisgah, Moses beheld all the land the LORD had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as their inheritance (34:2-4). There was the land of Naphtali in the north, and “the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh” in the central region of Canaan (34:2a). To the west, he could see “all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea [the Mediterranean Sea],” and to the south, the Jordan Valley, that reached “the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar” (34:3). This region laid near to Sodom and Gomorrah.
How might Moses have scanned so grand a vista from Mount Nebo? The LORD revealed that miracle in these words: “I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes” (34:4). Additionally, the LORD had preserved Moses’ eyesight, for though he was one hundred and twenty years old, “his eye was not dim” (34:7).
Moses’ Death and Burial (Deuteronomy 34:5-7)
“Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the Land of Moab.” (34:5)
The preceding devotional described Moses as “the man of God” (33:1). In this final devotional, this giant of the faith is lovingly remembered as “the servant of the LORD” (34:5). Moses died, but not because he was old, frail, or suffering failing health. Instead, he died “in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord” (34:5). He was “an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” (34:7). Moses was dead because it was “according to the word [and the will] of the LORD” (34:5).
The LORD had permitted Moses to see the land. Still, he was not allowed to “go over thither” (34:4). With humility and meekness, “the servant of the LORD” accepted the consequences of his failure to obey the LORD at Meribah-Kadesh (32:51-52; Numbers 20). He died, and the LORD “buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (34:6).
Moses’ Successor (Deuteronomy 34:8-9)
Israel mourned the death of Moses “in the plains of Moab thirty days” (34:8). When the days of mourning were past, Joshua, “full of the spirit of wisdom” (34:9), became the man whom “the children of Israel hearkened” (34:9).
Moses’ Character (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)
Now, there was no man like Moses, “whom the LORD knew face to face” (34:10-12). But Joshua did not need to be like his predecessor. He was the man for the hour and the one God had chosen to lead Israel and claim the Promised Land.
Ancient scholars attribute Psalm 91 to Moses, and I believe there is much about the psalm that would arguably be the work of Moses; for his fellowship with the LORD was intimate, and he was one “whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). Simple, beautiful, and inspiring; rather than give commentary, I encourage you to read Psalm 91 and meditate on its promises and truths.
Questions to consider:
1) From what mountain did Moses see the land God had promised Israel for an inheritance? (Deuteronomy 34:1)
2) With whom had the LORD established His covenant with Israel? (Deuteronomy 34:4)
3) Who buried Moses, and where was he buried? (Deuteronomy 34:6)
4) How long did Israel mourn Moses’ death? (Deuteronomy 34:8)
5) How intimate was the LORD’s relationship with Moses? (Deuteronomy 34:10)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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