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THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF MOSES

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

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