Deuteronomy 34:1-3 God called Moses to climb Mount Nebo after saying his farewell, warnings and prophecies to Israel. He was climbing the mountain to be alone with God. His ministry was ending as it began, in the presence of God. God was going to take His faithful servant to the promised land of heaven. From the top of Mt. Nebo, Moses had a panoramic view of the promised land, the inheritance that God had promised to give to His people. At the top he was able to view the whole land on the west side of the Jordan. He would not enter the promised land until the day he appeared with Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration. The land described begins by describing the north from Gilead to Dan and then west toward the land of Naphtali Ephraim and Manasseh and the Mediterranean, then south toward Judah, ending with the Negev also known as the Arabah. This chapter was likely written some years after the death of Moses, probably by Joshua at the time he wrote the book that bears his name.
34:4 The land he viewed was the fulfillment of God’s promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This promise testified of God’s faithfulness to his word given to them. God graciously allowed Moses to see the land but not to cross over into it because of his sin at the waters of Meribah (Num. 20:7-13). Although Israel had sinned far worse than him, he was their leader and God’s standards for him were higher as James/Jacob writes in James 3:1 “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
34:5-6. Although Moses died there on Mount Nebo, he was not buried there. In the New Covenant we are told that the archangel Michael (Dan 10:21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev 12:7) cared for his body. The text here tells us he was buried in the valley opposite Beth Peor. The location was withheld so that shrines to Moses would not be erected taking Israel’s focus away from the Lord Himself.
34:7-8 Although Moses was 120 years old when he died, his health was still good. His eyes were not weak, and he was strong enough to climb up the mountain unaided. His work was done, and the Lord brought him home. Israel grieved for Moses thirty days, just as they did for Aaron (Num. 20:29). Even though he was gathered to his fathers and brought home by the Lord, Israel mourned the loss of their revered teacher and leader. He was forty when he fled Egypt after killing the Egyptian slave, eighty when called to return to Egypt to lead Israel. Then for forty years he led Israel to the brink of the Promised Land.
34:9 Moses oversaw the transition of leadership to Joshua. Joshua was appointed and filled with the spirit of wisdom by God. Moses publicly commissioned Joshua before the people. There was no question that the mantle of leadership had been passed to him. Joshua had faithfully served the Lord and Moses forty years. Joshua along with Caleb were the only two people over the age of twenty who came out of Egypt to enter the Promised land.
34:10-12 No prophet had ever risen in Israel like Moses. Three reasons are given for his greatness 1. Moses had a close and intimate fellowship with God, described as having a face-to-face relationship. This relationship was based on knowing God’s Word. In response he regular prayed, confessed his sins and studied the Word of God that was available to him. Moses knew that the primary reason God created man was for fellowship with Him. He modeled that relationship to all of God’s people 2. The legacy of Moses was being the servant God used to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt through the power of God. 3. The faithfulness of Moses leading God’s people through the wilderness to the promised land.
Moses was the liberator, prophet, lawgiver, and earthly father of the nation of Israel. Under his leadership, the greatest events in Israel occurred. This is our history as well since we have been made one with Israel through our Messiah. God used Moses to lay the foundation of His Word that pointed to the coming of the promised Messiah who would make it possible for the redemption of all the nations of the world. Moses was a faithful servant to the One who called him and remains a model to all of God’s people second only to the Yeshua whom He served.