0 / 0
—NOVEMBER 16.—DEUTERONOMY 34:1-12.—
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is
the death of His saints."—Psalm 116:15 .
MOSES is one of the grand characters on the pages of history. His nobility looms up as a great patriot, general, judge and ruler of his people; and still more grand does he appear in his relationship toward God. He was the personification of obedience and loyalty as a servant of Jehovah. In this he typifies the "greater than Moses," Messiah. As we read, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up from amongst your brethren like unto me" (Deuteronomy 18:15)—I am a diminutive picture or representation of that great Teacher, Leader and King whom Jehovah will anoint to be the real Deliverer of Israel and the world from the bondage of Satan, sin and death.—Hebrews 2:14,15.
Any one may discern something of the greatness of Moses from the records. Any one may perceive that it required great patriotism to forsake the courts of Pharaoh to cast in his lot with his brethren, the Jewish nation, and to become their leader out of bondage to the Land of Promise. Any one can note the patriotism of the man when, as mediator for his people, he pleaded with God for the forgiveness of their trespasses, declining the proposal that the nation be cut off and that he and his family inherit the promises instead. Any one can see that great faith in God was necessary for the position occupied by Moses. But only comparatively few see the real depths of Moses' character; for only a few grasp the real situation and realize the Divine call to the nation of Israel and the work of Moses as their mediator.
We cannot help feeling sympathetic toward this grand servant of God—"the meekest man in all the earth"—in respect to the particular cause which, as a penalty, barred him from entering Canaan with his people and made him, in a typical way, a representative of those who die the Second Death. After so many years of patience and longsuffering and loyalty to God, in an unguarded moment Israel's great mediator failed in meekness and in loyalty. Directed by the Lord to speak to the rock, which on a previous occasion he had smitten, Moses petulantly smote the rock the second time, saying to the people, "Ye rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?"
The rock whence came the life-giving stream represented [R5333 : page 316] the Rock of Ages—Messiah, who was to be smitten once more. Compare Hebrews 6:6.
The fact that Moses was used as a type of the Second Death class in no sense implies that he experienced the Second Death, nor that he cut himself off from Divine favor. The punishment which he received merely helped to complete the typical picture—he might not enter Canaan—he might not enter the Promised Land.
Pisgah is one of the peaks of Mount Nebo. From it Moses got a considerable glimpse of the Promised Land, toward which his eye of faith had looked for eighty years and toward which he had laboriously guided the nation of Israel for forty years. This grand old servant of God, fully resigned to the Divine will and arrangement, was put to sleep by the Lord whom he served. The Jews have a saying that the Lord kissed him there. His place of sepulchre was hidden—doubtless to prevent anything of the spirit of idolatry. The New Testament declares that Satan strove for possession of the body of Moses, doubtless with a view to using it in some idolatrous way, but Jehovah forbade.
We are not to overlook the fact that Moses died, and that he will not live again until the Divinely-appointed time when, under Messiah's Kingdom, he will be resurrected. Meantime he has slept with his fathers, as the Bible generally records of all who died.
The account of the transfiguration of our Lord and the appearance of Moses and Elias with Him in that vision must not be made to contradict the statement that Moses died, and that the only hope for anybody is by a resurrection from the dead. (I Cor. 15:13,14.) We have Jesus' own word for it that neither Moses nor Elias went to Heaven. He declared, "No man hath ascended up to Heaven." (John 3:13.) Jesus explained that what the disciples saw on the mountain was not a reality, but a vision—just as the trumpets, beasts, etc., of Revelation are not realities, but visions. "Tell the vision to no man." (Matthew 17:9.) St. Peter, who witnessed the vision, declares that it was a representation of Messiah's Kingdom. (2 Peter 1:16-18.) Moses represented one class and Elijah another, as participators with Jesus in His Messianic glory—in the Kingdom which is to bless the world, the Kingdom which, established on earth, will quickly correct wrong and effect the accomplishment of God's will as completely as it is done in Heaven.
At the foundation of all of God's dealings with Natural Israel and with Spiritual Israel lies His great Promise made to Abraham and bound with an oath—"In thee and in thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
God purposed from the very beginning that the curse of death should not be an everlasting curse on the race. From the beginning He purposed in Himself the healing of sickness, sorrow and pain, and that the time would come when He would roll away the curse. From the beginning He premeditated sending the Lamb of God, who by redeeming the world should take away its sin, lift the curse and bring in a blessing to mankind in its stead. Yet the first clear statement of this Divine purpose was made to Abraham—that himself and his posterity should be associated with God in the great work of human uplift and blessing.
Although God knew that no member of the human family could perfectly keep the Divine Law, nevertheless it was expedient that this matter should be exemplified. Hence, before God was ready to bring in the Messianic blessing, He made a proposition to Abraham's posterity through Jacob—suggesting to them that if they would show their loyalty by keeping the Divine Law God would be ready to use them as the promised Seed of Abraham for the blessing of all nations. Israel's sixteen centuries of endeavor under the Law are summed up by St. Paul, saying, "By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight."—Romans 3:20.
This led up to Messiah's time. The Logos, by virtue of a special birth, became Jesus and sacrificially laid down His life, in harmony with Divine foreknowledge. To Him were gathered such of the natural Israelites as were saintly at heart, to be His disciples—to share in His sufferings [R5334 : page 316] and death and to be made partakers of His glory and exaltation to the Divine nature. These Elect, or select, ones are with Jesus to constitute the antitypical Moses. To this end they were called, or raised up from amongst their brethren, as Moses prophesied. Not enough of such "Israelites indeed" being found, Divine Wisdom has been calling and selecting others throughout this Age from amongst the Gentiles—from every kindred, nation, people and tongue.
Thus gradually God has been preparing the great Prophet, Priest, King and Judge, who during the thousand years of Messiah's Kingdom will be the Mediator between God and all who desire to draw near to Him and to receive His blessing. These will be related to the repentant world as the priests of Israel were related to their nation; but their work will be efficacious, and not a failure, because based upon the "better sacrifices" for sins (Heb. 9:23), and therefore backed by Divine Power in the forgiveness of sins and the deliverance of the willing and obedient out of bondage to sin and death into the glorious liberty of the children of God. This grand antitype is before us and will, we believe, soon have its glorious accomplishment.
The Messiah whom God is thus preparing, composed of Jesus the Head and all the Elect of Israel and of the whole world, the Body of Messiah, will, like the type, be very faithful, loyal, patriotic toward God and toward the people. Indeed, it is one of the tests of these that they shall be willing to lay down their lives for the brethren and be faithful to the principles of the Divine character even unto death.