MOSES, THE POET, PART FIFTEEN: XV
Man is perpetually indebted to Moses for his legal and for his moral contribution to humanity! Moses also was a gifted poet and a songwriter. He put Israel’s history in Egypt, in the wilderness, and with God into a song to be sung by the Israelites throughout their existence as a nation. Moses also passed on a final “Blessing” on the tribes as it was the custom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
A SONG OF REMEMBRANCE
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distil as the dew, as the gentle rain upon the tender grass, and as the showers upon the herb.
For I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Ascribe greatness to our God!
The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he.
They have dealt corruptly with him, they are no longer his children because of their blemish; they are a perverse and crooked generation.
Do you thus requite the LORD, you foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?
Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you.
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
For the LORD’S portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.
He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no foreign god with him.
He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field; and he made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.
Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock, with fat of lambs and rams, herds of Bashan and goats, with the finest of the wheat—and of the blood of the grape you drank wine.
But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked; you waxed fat, you grew thick you became sleek; then he forsook God who made him, and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominable practices they provoked him to anger.
They sacrificed to demons which were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had dome in of late, whom your fathers had never dreaded.
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.
The LORD saw it, and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.
They have stirred me to jealousy with what is no god; they have provoked me with their idols.
So I will stir them with a foolish nation.
For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundation of the mountains.
And I will heap evils upon them; I will spend my arrows upon them; they shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured with burning heat and poisonous pestilence; and I will send the teeth of beasts against the, with venom of crawling things of the dust.
In the open the sword shall bereave, and in the chambers shall be terror, destroying both young man and virgin, the sucking child with the man of gray hairs.
I would have said, “I will scatter them afar, I will make the remembrance of them cease from among men,” had I not feared provocation by the enemy, lest their adversaries should judge amiss, lest they should say, “Our hand is triumphant, the LORD has not wrought all this.”’
For they are a nation void of counsel, and there is no understanding in them.
If they were wise, they would understand this, they would discern their latter end!
How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up? For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom, and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison, their clusters are bitter; their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of asps.
Is not this laid up in store with me, sealed up in my treasuries?
Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their feet shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.
For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone, and there is none remaining, bond or free.
Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge, who ate the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you, let them be your protection!
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and swear, As I live for ever, if I whet my glittering sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries, and will requite those who hate me.
I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh—with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy.’
Praise his people, O you nations; for he avenges the blood of his servants, and takes vengeance on his adversaries, and makes expiation for the land of his people (Deuteronomy 32:1-43).
MOSES BLESSED THE TRIBES
This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. He said, “The LORD came from Sinai, and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran, he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand.
Yea, he loved his people; all those consecrated to him were in his hand; so they followed in thy steps, receiving direction from thee, when Moses commanded us a law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.
“Let Reuben live, and not die, nor let his men be few.”
And this he said to Judah: “Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah. With thy hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries.”
And of Levi he said, “Give to Levi they Thummim, and thy Urim to thy godly one, whom thou didst test at Massah, with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; who said to his father and mother, ‘I regard them not’; he disowned his brothers, and ignored his children. For they observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. They shall teach Jacob thy ordinances, and Israel thy law; they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt offering upon thy altar.
Bless, O LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; crush the loins of his adversaries, of those that hate him, that they rise not again.”
Of Benjamin he said, “The beloved of the LORD, he dwells in safety by him; he encompasses him all the day long, and makes his dwelling between his shoulders.”
And of Joseph he said, “Blessed by the LORD be his land, with the choicest gifts of heaven above, and of the deep that couches beneath, with the choicest fruits of the sun, and the rich yield of the months, with the finest produce of the ancient mountains, and the abundance of the everlasting hills, with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of him that dwell in the bush. Let these come upon the land of Joseph, and upon the crown of the head of him that is prince among his brothers.
His firstling bull has majesty, and his horns of a wild ox; with them he shall push the peoples, all of them, to the ends of the earth; such are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and such are the thousands of Manasseh.”
And of Zebulun he said “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out; and Issachar, in your tents. They shall call peoples to their mountain; there they offer right sacrifices; for they suck the affluence of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand.”
And of God he said, “Blessed be he who enlarges Gad! Gad couches like a lion, he tears the arm, and the crown of the head. He chose the best of the land for himself, for there a commander’s portion was reserved; and he came to the heads of the people, with Israel he executed the commands and just decrees of the LORD.”
And of Dan he said, “Dan is a lion’s whelp, that leaps forth from Bashan.”
And of Naphtali he said, “O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the LORD, possess the lake and the south.”
And of Asher he said, “Blessed above sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil. Your bars shall be iron and bronze; and as your days, so shall your strength be.
There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, and in his majesty through the skies.
The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you, and said, Destroy.
So Israel dwelt in safety, the fountain of Jacob alone, is a land of grain and wine; yes, his heavens drop down dew.
Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you; and you shall tread upon their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:1-29).
MOSES IS CALLED UP MOUNT NEBO; LATER MOSES APPEARED WITH JESUS AND WITH ELIJAH
After Moses and Joshua had uttered the song of remembrance and pronounced the blessings, Moses went up the mountain to be with God. There was no marked grave, as if God had removed his body from the earth. His re-appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and Elijah hints that God had transformed his body to a heavenly existence. According to the Gospel of Luke 9:31, Jesus discussed with Moses and Elijah his departure (the Greek text has exodus) from the world. Jesus’ act of redemption is similar to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with them. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only (Matthew 17:1-8).
And the Lord said to Moses that very day, “Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho; and view the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel for a possession; and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meri-bath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you did not revere me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there, into the land which I give to the people of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:48-52).
And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite of Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended (Deuteronomy 34:1-8).
MOSES IMPACT ON JESUS AND HIS FOLLOWERS
Moses and the Law are the foundation of man’s survival and redemption! Grace does not replace the Law! But grace grants man a second chance to live within the Law. Grace also is the reward for having obeyed the Law. Without Moses, no one can please God or earn eternal life. Jesus said some things regarding Moses and the Law that should awaken us:
Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words (John 5:45-47)?
Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18).
The rich man begged Abraham, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him (Lazarus) to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead’ (Luke 16:27-31).
To earn eternal life, practice the Commandments!
And as Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all those I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Mark 10:17-22).
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he (Jesus) answered them well, asked him (Jesus), “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and wit all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher;
You have truly said that he one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question (Mark 12:28-34).