Tomorrow we travel through ancient Moab, originally descended from Lot (Genesis 19:37). The Moabites tried to prevent Israel entering the Promised Land. They hired Balaam to curse Israel. When that failed, they beguiled the Israelites to turn from God (Numbers 22 – 25). Nevertheless, Ruth from Moab became David’s great-grandmother (Ruth).
Moses led Israel for 40 years as they wandered like nomads in the wilderness south of Israel. He gained a glimpse of the Promised Land from Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 32:47-52). Moses died on the eastern side of the Jordan, with an unmarked grave in Moab (Deuteronomy 34:1-12). Despite these clear statements, some Jews later believed that Moses was taken up into heaven as Elijah was. This story is told in a pseudepigraphal book called The Assumption of Moses written just before the time of Jesus. Jude 9 alludes to this story.
The closing verses of the Torah (Deuteronomy 34:10-12) describe Moses as Israel’s most significant prophet. Prophets are not people who predict the future; they are God’s mouthpiece—someone who hears what God is saying and delivers that word to his people. Moses heard the Law of the Lord, and delivered it to Israel. He heard God calling him to confront Pharaoh; he declared what God said, and then stood aside as God himself stood behind his word and miraculously delivered Israel. The signs and wonders proved that Moses was speaking on God’s behalf—the mouthpiece of the heavenly sovereign who rules all peoples and all nations.
Take a moment to ponder how the Gospel writers depict Jesus with the same language. He is the one who brings heaven’s message to earth. He backed it up with signs and wonders that demonstrated that he was speaking and acting for the heavenly king (his Father). Just as Moses’ birth was a threat to Pharaoh, Jesus’ birth was a threat to Herod. Moses confronted Pharaoh; Jesus confronted “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and died in that confrontation. But when the rulers had done their worst, God raised our king out of death, giving him all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus has fulfilled all that Israel was called to do. He is rebuilding us as his kingdom.