The chapter’s theme – Moses’ death and burial.
Moses saw the promised land (34:1-4) – As the Lord had promised, from Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, Moses was allowed to see the land of Canaan before his passing. What mixed feelings this one hundred and twenty-year old man must have felt.
Information about Moses’ death and burial (34:5- 8):
– He is described as “the servant of the LORD” (34:5). Is that not what we all aspire to be?!
– He died in the land of Moab, which was east of the Jordan River (34:5).
– Israel traveled between Egypt and Canaan for forty years. Moses died just before the completion of that forty-year sojourning.
– Jehovah Himself buried Moses “in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor” (34:6).
– No one except the Lord knew where Moses was buried (34:6). How fascinating. God must have had His reason(s) for doing it that way.
– Though Moses was 120 years old, his body was still in good condition, so poor health is not what caused his demise (34:7). God took Moses’ life because he failed to believe Him (Numbers 20:12).
– The Israelites wept and mourned for Moses for thirty days (34:8).
Transition to a new leader in Israel – Joshua had been the leader “in waiting,” having played the role of Moses’ assistant/servant. The Lord handpicked him to replace Moses as Israel’s new leader. He was filled with the spirit of wisdom and had the backing of the people (34:9). How blessed God’s people are when they can have a smooth transition into a time of new leadership, and how blessed they are when godly men have been trained and are ready to step up and take on the demanding, sometimes-thankless job of leading.
Moses truly was a special man – He was a spokesman for the Lord, a man who was blessed to have a unique relationship with God. The Bible says that the Lord knew Moses “face to face,” indicating the closeness/intimacy of their relationship (34:10). Moses’ influence on the nation of Israel extended long past the generation in which he lived. His signs, wonders, mighty powers, great terror and leadership left a lasting mark on the Israelite people (34:11,12), And, of course, even Christians living in this century are influenced indirectly by his role in God’s scheme of redemption.
Deuteronomy begins with Israel leaving Mount Sinai and closes with Moses’ death. How blessed we have been to learn lessons from God’s instructions and Moses’ timely reminders to the Lord’s people.
— Roger D. Campbell