Transition is difficult. Moses’ leadership is ending, and that of his successors is beginning. The covenant text has been reviewed and accepted by the assembly. Now the time has come for God's people to leave for conquest and to embrace the covenant as its guiding principle. Israel was not to be a nation of anarchists or even of strong human leaders. It was a theocracy with the Lord as King and his covenant revelation as law. Moses, the aging statesman, is putting things in order and giving some final instructions to his people. The focus here is on those who will lead after he has departed. The chapter contains seven speeches, four by Moses and three by the Lord.
Moses reminds the people that he would not be leading them across Jordan but to be of good cheer because the Lord would still lead them, and Joshua would be their leader. Moses charges Joshua before the entire nation and urges him to be strong and courageous. The Lord would go before Joshua and accomplish that which he promised. In obedience, Moses climbed to the peak called Pisgah. There he viewed the Promised Land, which God had sworn to his forefathers. God reminded him once again that he could not enter that land. Standing on the highest crest of Pisgah, the prospect of going into the Promised Land would seem almost unbounded. Such was the prospect which, from that mountain-top, spread before Moses. Having satiated his eyes on it, Moses died. Into the mysterious silence of that death and burial at the hands of God, we dare not speculate. Jewish tradition, rendering the expression literally, has it that “Moses the servant of Jehovah died there … at the mouth of Jehovah,” or, as they put it, by the kiss of the Lord. The details of his burial are not given. The exact location of the burial site is not known, but it was in Moab.
At the time of his death, Moses was in remarkable shape. The Israelites honored him with thirty days of mourning, and they immediately recognized Joshua as their leader. Joshua was equipped for leadership, and he had received the spirit of wisdom. This section closes with an emphasis on the uniqueness of Moses. The Lord knew Moses face to face and Moses was able to perform extraordinary miracles in Egypt in the sight of all Israel. These things point to our true deliverer that would be a prophet, priest, and king and that speaks with God face to face and has done so from eternity.
Thing To Consider:
- Do you think it was more difficult for Moses to tell the people that he could not go with them or to actually not go into the land? Why?
- Why do you think Moses repeats what the people have already been told? Where should we use repetition in our lives?
- What level of accountability was demonstrated between Moses and Joshua?
- How do we speak to God face to face?
- How did this come through Jesus?