Introduction 1-4 Moses Sees the Land 5-8 Moses Dies and Is Buried 9 Joshua Takes the Place of Moses 10-12 Moses, the Prophet Without Equal

This chapter informs us about the last course, the last views, the death and the burial of Moses. We read about Israel's mourning over him and the time of it, about his successor Joshua and about the incomparable character of Moses.

Moses’ life consists of three periods of forty years:
1. Forty years at the court of Pharaoh.
2. Forty years in the wilderness with the sheep of Jethro in the school of God.
3. Forty years in the wilderness with the people of God.

Then comes the moment when he will return to dust, according to his own words in Psalm 90: “You turn man back into dust And say, “Return, O children of men” (Psa 90:33You turn man back into dust
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
). God Himself arranges His burial.

Moses Sees the Land

1Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see [it] with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”

After Moses has blessed the people, he climbs Mount Nebo by the command of God (Deu 32:4949“Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession.). The people will certainly have looked to him as long as possible. Without any help Moses goes up to the top of the mountain. He is not at the end of his strength; he is not tired of life. Yet he rests in the LORD’s decision that his task is over. There is no fear for death in him. He climbs the mountain not to die, but to be with God.

On the mountain the LORD shows him, as He had promised, the promised land in all its vastness. Moses has seen the people in possession of the land. The land is named after the names of the tribes, as each will own their own inheritance. He has an eye that sees beyond what natural eyes see. The LORD has shown it to him in a supernatural way in a moment.

Moses has not only seen the land, but also the ultimate blessing of the people. God’s reign is that he will not go there; God’s grace is that he has seen it as no other has seen it. He has seen it in all its parts under God’s guidance.

Moses is found seven times on a mountain:
1. as intercessors (Exo 17:8-168Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.9So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”10Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.11So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.12But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.13So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.14Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”15Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner;16and he said, “The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.”);
2. if he receives the law and a description of the tabernacle (Exo 24:12-1812Now the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.”13So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.14But to the elders he said, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them.”15Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.16The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.17And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.18Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.);
3. to plead for the people after their sin with the golden calf (Exo 32:30-3230On the next day Moses said to the people, “You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the LORD, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”31Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves.32But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!”);
4. to receive the second stone tablets (Exo 34:44So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand.);
5. on Mount Hor, to transfer the priesthood from Aaron to Eleazar (Num 20:23-2823Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor by the border of the land of Edom, saying,24“Aaron will be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the sons of Israel, because you rebelled against My command at the waters of Meribah.25Take Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them up to Mount Hor;26and strip Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar. So Aaron will be gathered [to his people], and will die there.”27So Moses did just as the LORD had commanded, and they went up to Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation.28After Moses had stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar, Aaron died there on the mountain top. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.);
6. on the Nebo, where he sees the land (Deu 34:11Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan,);
7. on the mountain of glorification, together with Elijah, with the Lord Jesus (Mt 17:1-81Six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and *led them up on a high mountain by themselves.2And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.3And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.4Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”6When the disciples heard [this], they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.7And Jesus came to [them] and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.”8And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.).

He has described the whole history of the failure of God’s people. Here on the mountain he sees the people according to God’s thoughts. The apostle John also has seen it in the same way. In Revelation 2-3, John describes the failure of the church, and finally the apostacy, in Revelation 17-18. But then he may see the church on the mountain according to God’s thoughts (Rev 21:9-109Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”10And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,). Moses sees the earthly side of the kingdom; John sees the heavenly side of it, the heavenly people of God.

Moses Dies and Is Buried

5So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day. 7Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated. 8So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping [and] mourning for Moses came to an end.

Moses did not die of old age and exhausted. The eye of Moses is not dimmed. He still sees as sharp as in his youth. That is in contrast to Isaac (Gen 27:11Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And he said to him, “Here I am.”) and Jacob (Gen 48:1010Now the eyes of Israel were [so] dim from age [that] he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them.). The LORD takes the life of Moses. The LORD Himself has taken care of his burial (not: cremation). No one knows the burial place of Moses. The devil knows it. He disputed and argued over the body of Moses with the archangel Michael (Jude 1:99But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”), possibly to make known to the people where he is buried and thereby to lead the people to idolatry.

The mourning period of thirty days because of Moses’ death is as long as that of his brother Aaron (Num 20:2929When all the congregation saw that Aaron had died, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days.).

Joshua Takes the Place of Moses

9Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.

After the report of the death, burial and weeping of Moses, the book is not yet finished. Joshua is the successor of Moses as the leader of the people, not as a prophet, but as leader in the struggle of the people to take possession of the promised land.

Moses, the Prophet Without Equal

10Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11for all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, 12and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

This last chapter was not written by Moses. Joshua will have been used for this. Under the guidance of God’s Spirit, Joshua depicts the life of Moses in just a few sentences in these last verses. Perhaps there is no one of the people who was aware as much as Joshua, what an extraordinary man Moses was. Joshua has experienced Moses from very close by and for a very long time.

In these last words about Moses his failure is not mentioned. The place of Moses has been completely unique among the people of God. His fellowship with God has also been unique (verse 1010Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,; Exo 33:11a11Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.; Num 12:8a8With him I speak mouth to mouth,
Even openly, and not in dark sayings,
And he beholds the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant, against Moses?”
). His service to us is great because of his presentation of the blessings of the land and the place the LORD has chosen to make his Name dwell there.

Moses has been faithful in all God’s house (Heb 3:1-61Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;2He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.3For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.4For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.5Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later;6but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.). He is a picture of the Lord Jesus, the perfect faithful One, not only in the house of God, but as Son over the house. Moses wrote about Him (Jn 5:4646For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.). Therefore the Lord Jesus far exceeds this excellent man of God.