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Here is related to us, the account of Moses' death. To whose pen we are indebted for the relation of it, under the HOLY GHOST, is not said. The LORD gives his servant a view of the promised land: to which is added, the account of his death and burial, the mourning of Israel for Moses, and the appointment of Joshua as his successor.
Moses' ascension to the top of Pisgah, for the purpose of seeing the holy land, opens to our contemplation a very interesting subject. Do not all believers in JESUS, truly behold with an eye of faith, that upper brighter world, of which this Canaan was a type? what is it to see the land that is very far off, when once the eye of the soul hath seen the king in his beauty, but to see GOD'S covenant love in JESUS, his grace, his salvation, his sure promises, as yea and Amen, and firmly made over to the soul, in the blood and righteousness of a Redeemer? Reader, if the LORD gives to you, and to me, that firm and well-founded assurance in JESUS, of an interest in him, so that we die as we have lived, upon those sure principles; is not this to ascend, like Moses the top of Pisgah, and by faith, behold the glory that shall be revealed.
Observe, it is said, that the LORD showed it to him. Yes! every view and every renewed view, as well as the first manifestations of divine favor flow from GOD'S grace, not our deserts. Hence Paul prays for the Ephesian church, that GOD would give them the spirit of wisdom, and revelation in the knowledge of JESUS. Ephesians 1:17-18 .
Here we arrive to the close of all in Moses. He felt that sentence which passeth upon all men, because all have sinned. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Genesis 3:19 . But Reader! observe his character. He is said to have been the servant of JEHOVAH, the saint of GOD. And we know from the authority of the HOLY GHOST, that precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15 . The expression of Moses' death in the original, is, as if Moses had died upon the very mouth of the LORD. The Jews say, that he breathed out his soul from the body, as with a kiss of love from the LORD. Certain it is, that it was according to the word of the LORD. According to the interest and union he had with the uncreated word: precious death!
Concerning his burial, we have but a short account. But, short as it is, nothing can be more honourable. The LORD himself buried him, and no eye was privy to it. Probably to prevent any superstitious notions concerning him. We are informed by the HOLY GHOST, in his servant Jude's Epistle, that the devil disputed with Michael concerning his body. Jude 1:9 . Sweet thought to the believer! the same power that buried Moses, raised JESUS; and the same power which raised JESUS from the dead, is engaged to quicken our mortal bodies by his spirit that dwelleth in us, Romans 8:11 . Reader! if JESUS be now your living head, fear not to go down to the grave, in your dying moment: for he speaks to you, as he once did to the Patriarch, concerning the Egypt of the soul: Fear not to go down into Egypt, I will go with thee. Genesis 46:3 . In that hour, and down that valley, JESUS thy Almighty head will go with thee. He loves thee living, dying, and forever. Oh! for strong, ardent, lively faith, to believe the record GOD hath given of his SON. 1 John 5:11 .
The promise, Thou shalt go down to the grave in a good old age, was remarkably fulfilled, in the instance of Moses. If the Reader will consult the genealogy of Moses he will discover, that his Maker, grandfather, and great grandfather, were all older when they died than himself. Amram his father was 137 years at his death. Kohath his grandfather 133, and Levi his great grandfather 137. See Exodus 6:16-20 .
The mourning of Israel for Moses, was decent and proper. We are not commanded to refrain from mourning, only we are not to sorrow as without hope. Oh! what a difference hath the death and resurrection of JESUS put in the circumstances of death! To true believers in CHRIST, our charnel-house is but our chamber-house, whither we retire after the example of the LORD JESUS, to rest the wearied limbs of mortality. And what a sweet perfume hath his sacred body given to the dust of death! Reader! never forget that the first clear and distinct views of the future mansions of the blessed, were seen from the tomb of JESUS. John 20:17 .
We are here first introduced into an acquaintance with Joshua, as the successor of Moses. Joshua is well known before as a faithful follower of the LORD, but not as the leader of the LORD'S people. Moses must first be buried before that CHRIST can be fully known and received. Moses must die in Moab, to our view, before that CHRIST can be sought after to bring us over Jordan. The law can go no further than Jordan. It is JESUS alone in his blessed gospel, which brings life and immortality to light.
Very honourable testimony is given to Moses, as a servant of JEHOVAH; and the HOLY GHOST confirms it in another part of the sacred writings; when pointing out the superiority of the LORD JESUS in his divine office and character. Hebrews 3:5-6 . And here, Reader, we drop Moses. He hath served his generation, and by the will of GOD, is fallen asleep, and hath seen corruption; but he to whom Moses ministered saw no corruption: but when he had finished redemption work on earth, returned to glory there to complete the whole, by appearing in the presence of GOD for us. Hail, holy, blessed, dearest JESUS! may our eyes unceasingly gaze on thee, now thou art returned to thy kingdom above, angels, principalities, and powers, being made subject unto thee.
FAREWELL, Moses! thou faithful servant of the most high GOD! thou highly favoured, highly honored herald of my ever adored Redeemer! Thy memory shall be ever dear to me: for under the sweet and precious influences of the HOLY GHOST, thou hast informed me of things which I knew not, and brought to my knowledge such truths as are past finding out. But chiefly do I desire to honour thy memory, in acting as a schoolmaster to bring me to JESUS. Here I value thee as more precious than gold; for whatever tends to reveal to my soul the person and righteousness of GOD my Saviour, would I esteem more than my necessary food.
The very thought of JESUS fires my soul. And when I trace in the eventful history of Moses, and in his writings, that he pointed only to JESUS, I long to have my soul brought yet more and more under the HOLY GHOST, in his teaching to discover JESUS.
And do I not see in Moses himself, and in all his ministry, somewhat, which by faint figures, or more pointed similitudes, testifies of JESUS! If Moses acted as the messenger of JEHOVAH; became, as occasions required, the prophet, the priest, the king of Jeshurun: if Moses stood between JEHOVAH, and the people as the Mediator: if this man led out the LORD'S people, delivered them from Pharaoh, wrought miracles, subdued kingdoms, appointed statutes, established ordinances, gave a law to Israel, and taught precepts to Jacob; what were all these and as many more, but so many representations of the LORD JESUS?
Didst not thou, blessed JESUS, act as the messenger of JEHOVAH, when thou camest to our spiritual Egypt, to deliver thy people out of captivity? In all thy ministry, righteousness, and salvation, wast not thou the sent, the sealed, the anointed of thy FATHER? And wast not thou the great prophet, priest, and king of thy people? If Moses stood between JEHOVAH and Israel, as a Mediator, how much more thou? for Moses never could have stood, but as thy representative, none but thyself could turn away divine wrath, or make atonement but in thy blood. If Moses, acting as the minister of JEHOVAH, opened a way through the Red Sea, what was this, but as typical of that new and living way, which thou hast opened in thy blood and righteousness, for thy ransomed ones to pass over, when mountains of sin on every side, and the enemy, like Pharaoh, is behind, hastening on to destroy thy chosen? And if Moses' meekness forsook him not, amidst all the contumacy, ingratitude, and rebellion of Israel, what was Moses meekness compared to thine, Oh, thou patient LAMB of GOD, who, when thou wast reviled, reviledst not again; but in all the backslidings, coldness, and departures of thy people, never leavest nor forsakest them, but having loved thine own, which are in the world, thou lovest them unto the end! Hail! thou first, and best, and chiefest among ten thousand! thou holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens! If I forget thee, dearest JESUS, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth: yea, if I prefer thee not above my chief joy! And Reader! may you, and every ransomed soul, publish his name, declare his doings among the people, ascribe ye greatness unto our CHRIST; let everyone, the fathers unto the children, declare his truth!
And now, Reader, having taken leave of Moses, and his sacred writings, I would desire grace to set up my Ebenezer, that hitherto the LORD hath helped me. May a gracious GOD accept everything that hath been here humbly offered, by way of Commentary upon those Five Books of Moses, and which the LORD hath made, or shall hereafter make profitable to his people; for that is the LORD'S, and of his own, do I with all humility of soul offer him. And may he as graciously pardon and blot out everything that is amiss; for that is wholly mine; and I desire to take shame and confusion of face, in the recollection. And finally, I beg once more to recommend all that is here offered, to the Reader, with myself, and poor services to his prayers, that a covenant GOD in CHRIST, through the influences of the eternal SPIRIT, may abundantly bless and own this feeble attempt to promote the LORD'S glory in the heart of the Reader, both while the unworthy writer is spared, a monument of sovereign mercy upon earth, and a long time after the hand that now writes, shall have returned to its original dust. To the sacred Three in One be endless, undivided praises. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 34". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20