A Blessing and An Obituary
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We are studying together the book of Deuteronomy and since this is the last lesson, we would like to remind you of the analysis of the book which we offered to you at the very beginning of our study, reminding you that what you find in the book of Deuteronomy represents what Moses delivered to the children of Israel before they crossed into the land of Canaan. Material that is found in the book of Deuteronomy represents what was said in a protracted meeting. Some of you young people may not know what a protracted meeting is. It was a meeting that lasted two to three weeks in length. That was somewhat like what was occurring on this side of Jordan as Moses delivered what is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.

The analysis that we have given to you suggested the idea that there were three discourses which Moses delivered to the children of Israel as he prepared their hearts to go into the land of Israel. Then there was a song we referred to as the song of Moses, a song he wrote to be sung and which we will have the opportunity of singing when we get to Heaven, according to the book of the Revelation, when we sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.

For our last lesson, we want to look at the last two chapters of the book. We have labeled chapter 33 Blessings, and then chapter 34, we have entitled An Obituary. If you are familiar with the study of the book of Deuteronomy, you know that there is discussion as to whether or not Moses wrote the last three chapters in the book. There are some who feel that he did not because he could not, for they say that it would be impossible for Moses to talk about his own death and his own burial. But if we keep in mind that God's Word is inspired, then there is no particular reason why the Holy Spirit could not enable Moses to write about what is contained in these last chapters.

Open your Bibles to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 33. You will notice, according to the analysis of the book, we labeled chapter 33 Blessings because it represents the blessings of Moses upon the twelve tribes of Israel. We would like to suggest to you some things that will enable you to follow through our discussion by keeping in mind some certain things which might be used as mental pegs upon which to hang the thoughts that we want to leave with you. We hope that you will be able to pin these thoughts in such a fashion that you will be able to carry them away with you and think about them as we go along.

The Cause of the Blessings

We find in this chapter the cause of the blessings that are contained in it, the character of the blessings which are contained in the chapter, and something about the conclusions which we might draw from this chapter in relation to the character of God. I think if we draw these conclusions properly, then we will have what we need in relation to the truth that is going to be presented to us.

Let's look for a moment at the cause of the blessings that are found in Deuteronomy, chapter 33. When I refer to the cause of the blessings which are found in this chapter, I am referring to what is contained in verses 1-5 of the chapter. Notice as we read:

Deuteronomy 33:

1And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.
2And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
3Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.
4Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
5And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.

If you will glance at verse 2, you will recognize that the cause of the blessings, the reason for their being given, was the law. Usually when we make a statement like that, people become alarmed because in this Age of Grace, they feel there is no need for emphasis upon the law of God. But we would remind you that there is no real source of blessing outside of obedience save when God's grace, as we are going to see before we are through with this discussion, overrules the mistakes and the follies of men. We must never presume upon God's grace doing this. God may overrule, but He does not promise to overrule. God's love for us is associated with God's law for us. Once we recognize that, we should be willing to obey the revealed Word of God. I am not using the word law primarily as it is related to the Ten Commandments, but I am using the word law as it describes the rule of faith and practice which God has ordained for all believers which is contained in His Word. I suggest to you that this is resulting from God's love.

If you will look at verse 3, you will notice the words “Yea, he loved the people… This word yea may be translated by the word amen . The idea is, “Amen, He loved His people.” That is why He gave them His law.

We have the opportunity of talking to young people from time to time who are not living according to rules and regulations laid down by their parents. Quite often you will find that those young people are not living according to rules and regulations because they have serious questions about whether or not their parents love them. If you ask them why, they question the love of their parents and if you ask the question, “Don't they take good care of you? Haven't they provided you with everything you need?” and etc., the answer usually is, “Oh everything I need, everything that I want, they have provided, but they never did seem to care too much what I did and why I did it.” No real rules and regulations were laid down. I would suggest to you that the proof of God's love is that He has laid down certain rules and regulations in God's Word which if we obey, we will find blessing. If we disobey, we can expect to see the hand of God to fall upon us.

The provision of His love is found in verse 3. This is one of the most interesting verses in the Word of God, for God's provision for His people is found there. Notice the words again:

Deuteronomy 33:

3Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.

There is not a better place to be than in the hand of God, and God emphasizes His love by saying, “You, My people, are in My hand.” There is not a better place to be for learning than at the feet of the Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ described that as the best thing in life. You recall the story of Mary and Martha—Martha evidencing her interest in the Lord by being busy about much serving and Mary evidencing her interest in the Lord by sitting at the feet of Jesus. You will recall that when Martha, tempestuous spirit that she had, complained to the Lord about it, the Lord reminded her that Mary had chosen the better part. “Martha, Martha,” He said, “Thou art troubled about many things, but Mary has chosen the better part.”

In most churches and in most assemblies the emphasis is placed upon service—being busy about many things. There is a need to be busy, but I would remind you that there is a need to sit at the feet of the Savior. One of the things that most of us need to learn to do in these days of busy activity is to be quiet, and most of us don't know how to be quiet before the Lord.

Did you notice the result of sitting at His feet? The last statement of verse 3: “…every one shall receive of thy words.” The interesting thing about that statement is that nobody is excluded. Everyone shall receive something if he sits at the feet of the Savior.

One thing that has always amazed me as I minister God's Word and that is when I am finished preaching a message, oftentimes several people will come to me and say, “The message that you preached today was just for me,” as though they were the only person in the building. They are sincere when they make that statement. Then they will mention some particular thing that I have mentioned in the message. Then someone else will come and make the same statement and they will mention an entirely different thing. I say that the thing that amazes me is that the Holy Spirit of God can so minister the Word of God that everyone can receive something from the Word of God.

Character of the Blessings

We have told you that chapter 33 represents the blessings of God through the lips of Moses upon the nation of Israel and we want to examine the character of those blessings. The first thing that attracts my attention is what I describe by the word differences. I am using the word differences because if you are familiar with your Bible, you will recall that in Genesis, chapter 49, Jacob pronounced a series of blessings on his twelve sons. When Moses, in Deuteronomy, chapter 33, pronounced these series of blessings, he was pronouncing them not upon twelve sons, but upon twelve tribes because the twelve sons of Jacob had grown into a mighty nation. If we had the time to read Genesis, chapter 49, and Deuteronomy, chapter 33, we would discover that there is quite a difference between what Jacob said and what Moses said.

The so-called critics who don't know the Bible nearly as well as they think they do, pounce upon something like this and say, “See how the Bible contradicts itself!” Really, this is not a contradiction. The very differences emphasize the truth of God's Word because Jacob wrote everything he wrote from a human standpoint. He wrote not from a human standpoint in the sense of human foresight, but he described all the human frailties of his twelve sons. What you read in that chapter is not a very pleasant picture. You read about a boy by the name of Reuben committing adultery with one of his father's concubines. We could go on. It doesn't sound good at all, but when you come to Deuteronomy, chapter 33, you don't read of anything like that. Instead of reading of human frailties, you read of God's overruling grace.

So I would suggest that the first characteristic of these blessings may be seen in the differences that exist between what is recorded in Genesis, chapter 49, and what is written in Deuteronomy, chapter 33. A word about the details as we examine the character of these blessings. I am going to suggest that we just read the chapter together without a great deal of comment so that you can see what the details actually are. Notice verse 6:

Deuteronomy 33:

6Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

Very literally the verse is: “Let Reuben live and not die and let his descendants be in continuance.” So the prophecy of Moses over the tribe of Reuben had for its keynote mercy. Because of the sin of Reuben, his entire tribe could have died out, but Moses, speaking through the lips of prophecy, said, “Don't let this happen.” What did he say about the tribe of Judah? It is characterized by the word health, and you read in verse 7:

Deuteronomy 33:

7And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.

That is an interesting verse to me. You notice what he is saying concerning Judah and all of his descendants. “God, let Judah's hands be sufficient. Don't make him dependent. Make him independent. Let his hands be sufficient, but when the enemies outnumber him, help him, Lord. Don't let him fight the battle alone.”

If we could grasp this picture for our own spiritual lives, our approach to things might be different. You see, there are two schools of thought—those who sit down and let God fight the battle and those who try to fight the battle by themselves. The happy medium is to use the abilities and talents that God has given you, and then when you need that special help from God, expect Him to supply it.

What did he say about Levi? Look at the paragraph which begins with verse 8, as we suggest to you that he prophesied Levi would have the responsibility of spiritual leadership for the entire nation. We read:

Deuteronomy 33:

8And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim [These were two stones in all probability white and black with which the will of God was determined.]be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah [These are events described in the book of Numbers.];
9Who [Levi] said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.
10They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
11Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again.

Continued blessing upon the tribe of Levi that Levi might carry out the responsibilities of spiritual leadership for the nation of Israel. Look at verse 12, and notice what is prophesied concerning Benjamin:

Deuteronomy 33:

12And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.

There are two interpretations of this verse. One is that the shoulders here refer to two mountain ranges and God is described as dwelling in the city of Jerusalem between these two mountain ranges. It all depends on the manner in which you interpret the grammar of the verse, which grammar is questionable because of the manuscripts in the original form. The other suggestion is that Benjamin himself would dwell between the shoulders of God. I am inclined to think that is the correct interpretation in the light of the statement in verse 12, “…The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him…” What does this mean? Benjamin dwelling between God's shoulders. You know about people riding piggyback, don't you, and you know how sometimes when it is necessary to carry someone, you carry them on your shoulders to provide them the help and protection that they need. This should not be a ridiculous picture of God, for oftentimes God is described in human terms by which we are able to grasp His character. The suggestion simply is that God did protect Benjamin and that God did provide that strength that he needed when he needed it.

In verses 13-16, we have God's prophecy through the lips of Moses upon Joseph and we will not take the time to read it because it needs no practical explanation. It simply speaks of the natural blessings of nature causing unusual productivity of the land so that the tribe of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, would be as described in verse 17:

Deuteronomy 33:

17His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

This simply describes the fact that God will bless in a manner that will indicate prosperity. If you will look at what is said in verses 18-19 about the two tribes of Zebulun and Issachar, which were located together in the so-called land of Palestine, you will recognize what might be described by the word satisfaction .

Deuteronomy 33:

18And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.

Aren't you glad that God doesn't want everybody to do the same thing? Look at the verse again:

Deuteronomy 33:

18And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.

Sometimes you and I fall into the very sad habit of being very critical of everybody who doesn't see things the way we see them and who does not do things the way we do them. Some of us are like Zebulun. We are always on the go, figuratively or literally. If we are an outgoing personality, we can't understand the people who want to stay in the tent. The folk who want to stay in the tent can't understand the people who want to go out all the time, but I am glad God does; and I am glad that since He does, we do not have to give any explanation of any kind to anybody for the kind of personalities we are and for the reasons we do what we do. Our only account should be given to God.

As we continue the description of the character of these blessings as far as details are concerned, notice what He said about the tribe of Gad in verse 20:

Deuteronomy 33:

20And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
21And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.

If I was going to use one word to describe God's prophecy for the tribe of Gad, I would use the word strength —strength in the midst of the need for making decisions. Do you find it easy to make decisions or are you a person who finds it very difficult to make decisions? Are you an individual who gets along very well as long as you don't have to come face to face with a real decision? Are you a person who goes to pieces when a decision has to be made? God promised through Moses that Gad would have the strength to make the decisions that need to be made.

He made a prophecy concerning Dan in verse 22, if you will notice:

Deuteronomy 33:

22And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.

If we used one word to describe that, we would use the word power. Then the tribe of Naphtali is described in verse 23:

Deuteronomy 33:

23And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord: possess thou the west and the south.

The last part of the verse refers to the physical location of the tribe of Naphtali, but the best thing as far as I am concerned that He said about the tribe of Naphtali is that they would be full of the blessing of the Lord. Some of us, as far as God's blessing is concerned, are poverty stricken. We are not really enjoying the fullness of the blessing of the Lord. Though I do not wish an audible answer to the question, I do ask it to provoke your thinking: Are you enjoying the fullness of the blessing of the Lord? If you are not, why not? Certainly it isn't because the blessing isn't available to you.

I have shared this illustration with you at other times, and I use very few illustrations; but I never think of the fullness of the blessing of the Lord without thinking about a dear friend in the Miracle Camp ministry. He had an unusual experience with the Lord. He was an entertainer. He was on the stage and God saved him, genuinely, completely, fully saved him. He wanted to do something for God because he had spent so much of his time and talents in pursuits that were not particularly beneficial. He asked God to help him do something. He insists (the reason I put it this way is that it is so hard for me to believe) that the Lord taught him to play the piano and taught him to sing and he can play the piano and he can lead singing as few people can lead it. He really pulls the singing out of folk. But he told me this story. He said they had a black maid in their home and she was always happy. She never seemed to have a burden of any kind at all and he said to her one day, “Liza, tell me why it is that you are so full of the blessing of the Lord?” She said, “Brother Deadman, I suspect it is because I stay under the spout where the blessings come out.” There is not a better way of expressing it: “I stay under the spout where the glory comes out.” Stay under the spout.

That says much more than I can say, and that is exactly why Naphtali was full of the blessing of the Lord. Notice Asher, the last tribe that is mentioned and what is said in verse 24:

Deuteronomy 33:

24And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
25Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

This blessing upon Asher suggests to us some deductions which we might make in relation to the manner in which God deals with all of His people, not only the nation of Israel. I would like to share, as we consider the character of these blessings, these deductions with you. The first deduction we can legitimately make from the paragraph which is before us is that God is a God of mercy. My, how some of us forget that, don't we? We are so prone to judge other people. We are so prone to sit in judgment upon other people. I am grateful for God's mercy. I don't know where I would be without it. That is not a very nice thing for me to say, is it? Here I am teaching God's Word, here I am posing as a preacher, and I say that I am grateful for God's mercy. Why, I ought to be perfect. There ought not to be a thing wrong with me. But you know I am not perfect and there is a whole lot wrong with me. If it were not for God's mercy, I don't know where I would be. As I reviewed this chapter, I recognized God's mercy as it is indicated in verse 6 and I have already hinted at it:

Deuteronomy 33:

6Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

You read Genesis, chapter 49, and you will see that the sin that Reuben committed was so horrible that he lost his place as leader of all the twelve sons of Jacob, and yet what does God say in His mercy? True, Reuben did this thing; true, it was not what he should have done. “He will not be able to excel,” Jacob said, “but don't let him die out.” This is God's mercy. Look at verse 12, and notice another suggestion of the mercy of God:

Deuteronomy 33:

12And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.

We have illustrated for you what it means, but it is another indication of God's mercy. How do you feel about people who are not able to take care of themselves? How do you feel about people who are not strong enough to carry the burden of the battle and not strong enough to run the race well? Would you carry them or do you say concerning them, “Well, they couldn't be very interested in doing what is right or they would do it. They couldn't be very interested in being pleasing to the Lord or they would be pleasing to the Lord,” or have you been touched by God's mercy yourself to the extent that you would be willing (I say this without any irreverence) to carry somebody piggyback spiritually until they got strength enough on their own legs to walk themselves? Would you?

You know, we are strange creatures, all of us. I daresay if you saw somebody outside on Butternut Street injured where they couldn't walk, but not enough to go to the hospital, you would not hesitate to carry them piggyback if you needed to to get them where they were going. But how impatient you are with people who have spiritual problems, and how quick you are to judge them and tell them that they ought to walk on their own two legs that God gave them to walk upon. I thank God for some of God's dear children who are willing to carry other of God's children piggyback until they are able to walk themselves.

God's mercy is indicated again down in verse 25, where we read:

Deuteronomy 33:

25Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

We won't say any more about that last statement because we have everything in print that that last statement means to us. This was the verse that God gave us many years ago when we despaired of life and felt that our ministry was over and God gave us promise, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” That is His mercy and the amazing thing to me about it is that God has proved it true every mile of the way in my own life. I will speak just for myself. You will recall that I did say, when we were discussing this verse with you that it does not only refer to the fact that as long as you live, you will have the strength that you need, but it refers to the fact that you will have the strength that you need for each kind of day that you live, for days are different.

This has been a day for me and I am amazed that I am even able to stand up here and speak. Yesterday afternoon I flew to Dallas and from three o'clock until seven thirty, I held five counseling sessions on the mezzanine floor of the air terminal at Love Field in Dallas with people who were in need. Then I taught a Bible class from eight until nine-thirty and then I spent from nine-thirty until one o'clock counseling with other people who were in need. I got up at five-thirty this morning in order to catch a plane at eight-thirty in order to get back to Abilene at ten o'clock to conduct a funeral service. The plane was late and I suppose because of my vanity I didn't want to wear this funeral suit to Dallas so I wore something different and my wife met me at the airport with something that would be fitting for a funeral. I changed in the restroom and got to the funeral home just as the soloist was singing the last line of the song that preceded the message that I was supposed to bring. I have been going like that all day long and I am supposed to be a man who has a problem that indicates he should take care of himself. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” I say that to you not to draw attention to myself but to draw attention to my Lord and thank God that He is a God of mercy.

That is not the only picture, for if you will look down in verse 9, you will see that He is a God of memory, and I am so glad that He is. Notice verse 9:

Deuteronomy 33:

9Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.

You probably don't know what those words mean unless you are familiar with the history of Israel, but you will recall as I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance that there was a time when Israel went off into idolatry in the worship of the golden calf and so great was their idolatry that the whole nation would have perished had not Aaron stood and said, “Who is on the Lord's side?” The sons of Levi took their stand with Aaron and God never forgot. God remembers. We could remind you that even a cup of cold water given in the name of Christ is not forgotten. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.”

What has happened to the hospitality which God said was part of the leadership of the church—individuals given to hospitality? How many homes do you know in this town who always have their door open to strangers? Are you willing to put yourself out for some?

The last thing that I would like to suggest to you as far as deductions related to the character of the blessings are concerned is that God means what He says. The reason that I use that phrase is that there is in this thirty-third chapter some illustrations of fulfilled prophecy. Notice in verse 18, where we read:

Deuteronomy 33:

18And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.
19They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness:[notice] for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.

Have you ever wondered what that last statement means? “They shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and the treasures hidden in the sand.” Because our time is abbreviated, I want to read a note that is found in the Amplified version of the Scripture which emphasized the meaning of that verse. It reads: “Not until 1934 was this prophecy notably in the process of fulfillment. Then Haifa's Bay became one of the great harbors of the Mediterranean and commerce affecting the whole world. The land where Zebulun and Issachar settled was there. God's Word was fulfilled literally. He does mean what He says. Notice the verse again:

Deuteronomy 33:

19They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.

For added amplification: The great pipeline passed across Palestine was first opened in 1935. Until then, this prophecy fell far short of fulfillment, but 3400 years before, Moses sent out the inspired headlines: “Zebulun, Issachar shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.” Our omnipotent God was declaring the end and the results from the beginning, from the ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand.”

If you will look at what He had to say about Asher in verse 25, where we read:

Deuteronomy 33:

24And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and [notice now] let him dip his foot in oil.
25Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

The Amplified version has this footnote: “The maps of the territory of Asher suggest something of the sole of a foot. Sometimes the shape of a leg and a foot, but in either case the great international petroleum enterprise opened in 1935 crossed the area just at the toe of Asher's foot. Oil brought nearly 1000 miles across the sand of Mesopotamia began pouring through pipes in Haifa's harbor a million gallons of oil a day. Jacob has said, “In the latter days, Asher his bread shall be fat,” and Moses said, “Let Asher dip his foot in oil.”

The Conclusions About God

I remind you that God means what He says. One other thought I would leave with you from this particular chapter that thrills my heart as I think about it and that is the conclusions about God which are given in what some people term the appendix to chapter 33. Physically speaking, appendixes are better out than in, but oftentimes in the Scripture they mean a great deal. Look at verse 26. When Moses realized all the blessings that God was going to bestow upon Israel, he said:

Deuteronomy 33:

26There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun [another name for Israel], who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.
27The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

I am interested in three phrases in this appendix. In verse 26, Moses speaks of God who rideth upon the heavens to help His people. His excellency is in the sky. Then the next statement in verse 27:

Deuteronomy 33:

27The eternal God is thy refuge,[then the third statement] and underneath are the everlasting arms…

I like to illustrate it this way: Will you notice what is before you? Put your name in the middle of a circle, and remember that God is above you. His excellency rides in the sky for your help, for remember that the eternal God is your refuge, and so God is all around you. Then remember that the everlasting arms are underneath you. God is beneath. Now tell me. What more could you ask than that? God above you, God around you, God beneath you. You don't need any more than that. That is enough to carry you through.

The Death of Moses

I want to say just one last word concerning the last chapter of the book, which is related to the death of Moses. We have already been told twice that Moses could not go into the land of promise, that he was going to die upon Mount Nebo, so will you notice the record in chapter 34:

Deuteronomy 34:

1And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,
2And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
3And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
4And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.
5So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.
6And he[God] buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
7And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
8And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

A Dispensational Lesson

This is the story of the death of Moses and very briefly I would like to suggest to you three lessons that you might learn from it. You perceive it further on your own time, will you, because it is exciting to do it. The first lesson is a dispensational lesson. Dispensationally speaking, Moses did not go into the land of promise because Moses represented the law and the law never brings you into peace and rest. Joshua , which is the Old Testament name for Jesus was to have the privilege of bringing them home. The law will never get you home, for no man is justified by the deeds of the law, but what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh fulfilled the righteous demands of the law.

The Discipline of God

That is one lesson. Another lesson I have described by the word discipline for there is illustrated in this passage of Scripture the discipline of God. God forgives and how glad we are for that, but God does not always undo the results of our sin and the result of our disobedience. God gave Moses an opportunity to glorify Him one day, and he didn't do it. So serious was the matter to God that God said to Moses, “You will not lead the people into the promised land because you did not glorify Me. No, this does not mean that Moses went to Hell; it simply meant that he did not go into the land of Canaan. God forgave him, but he reaped what he sowed.

That might be a good thing for all of us to remember when we are tempted to do that which is displeasing to the Lord. Yes, God will forgive. How many times? Seventy times seven and beyond that, but during the process of those days when we are out of fellowship with God, it is very possible that we will sow some seed, the harvest of which we will have to reap even though we know the forgiveness of God, for God's grace does not negate God's discipline.

Lessons About Death

One last thing. In the story on Mount Nebo, you learn some lessons about death itself. This is the ideal way to die. Notice in verse 5:

Deuteronomy 34:

5So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.

I have always been intrigued with the rabbinical translation of this last statement. Do you know how the Rabbis translate it? “Moses, the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab when God planted upon his lips the kiss of death.” What are they trying to tell us? That when we live according to the will and direction of God, we live until God is ready to take us home. Look at verse 7, where we read:

Deuteronomy 34:

7And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

The Hebrew word that is translated “natural force,” is translated elsewhere in the Old Testament by the words green tree . What is the Spirit of God trying to tell us? That Moses did not die of a lingering illness. He did not die of sickness. He came to the end of the road and God planted the kiss of death upon his lips and he went to be with Him. Look at verse 6 and you will read:

Deuteronomy 34:

6And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

Do you know why? The normal answer is: Had people known where he was buried, they would probably made some kind of idolatrous shrine at the place, and I don't question that because we are prone to idolatry. The reason nobody can find his sepulchre is because his body isn't there. When you have time, read in the epistle of Jude, verse 9, and you will read that God sent His angels to get the body of Moses. The Devil appeared and tried to stop him. Why? I am sure the Devil would liked to have made an idol out of the body of Moses. You remember the angel of God contended with the Devil over the body of Moses and the battle was getting pretty rough and the Archangel of God did not dare to rebuke the Devil. I don't like to hear people speak lightly about the Devil. If one of God's Archangels was afraid to rebuke him, you are rather foolish to be making light of him. But the battle was won. Do you know the reason I know it was won? Because on the Mount of Transfiguration, there appeared in their bodies Moses and Elijah, talking with the Lord Jesus Christ about his defeat.

Conclusion

Elijah didn't die. He went home in a chariot of fire. Moses died and was buried and God raised his body from the grave and transported it to Heaven where it is today along with the spirit of Moses—an example, a living example, of what awaits every believer in this hour. There are only blessings about the death of Moses. Look not upon death as something to shy away from but another exciting experience in the history of life.


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