Our first article on Moses discussed the first eighty years of his life, which prepared him for his final forty years. Let us continue the narrative:
Forty Years in the Wilderness
Following Israel’s deliverance through the Red Sea Moses began leading his people to Mount Sinai, but the people began to murmur. They murmured against Moses because the waters of Marah were bitter. The Lord showed Moses a tree, which, when he cast it into the waters, they became sweet. When they murmured against Moses because of a lack of food, God sent them manna and quail to eat. When they again had no water, Moses struck a rock and water came out of the rock.
When they arrived at Mount Sinai, Moses went up into the mountain for forty days and forty nights, where he received the Law, including the Ten Commandments. But when Moses’ stay in the mountain seemed too long, the people persuaded Aaron to make them a golden calf to worship. When Moses returned and witnessed their idolatry, he angrily cast the two tablets down and broke them. After the rebellion was put down Moses again ascended the mountain and received the Ten Commandments a second time.
Leaving Mount Sinai, Moses led them to the border of Caanan. He sent twelve spies, one from each of the tribes, into Caanan to explore the land. When the spies returned they gave glowing reports of the land’s fruitfulness, but ten of the spies were fearful, and discouraged an invasion of the land. Only Joshua and Caleb encouraged them to invade and conquer the land. But the people murmured and clamored for a new leader who would take them back to Egypt. Because of their lack of faith God condemned that entire generation to perish in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb.
Moses’ Farewell and Death
At the end of forty years wandering in the wilderness Moses again led the Israelites to the border of Caanan. The book of Deuteronomy may be considered Moses’ dying message to Israel, and was perhaps uttered within a few days of his death. It consists of four addresses, the appointment of Joshua to be Moses’ successor, the Song of Moses and the blessing of the twelve tribes.
Moses went to the top of Pisgah, a peak on Mount Nebo, where the Lord gave him a glimpse of the promised land. There this grand old servant of God was put into the sleep of death by the Lord whom he served. The Jews have a saying that the Lord kissed him there. The Lord buried him in an unknown place, where he awaits his resurrection.
Lessons of Faith
Hebrews 11: 24-29 elaborates upon Moses’ faith. Although he testified to his faith in God in various ways, perhaps the most remarkable was his renouncing the privileges of the throne of Egypt, whom he was the heir by adoption. He chose to suffer affliction with the people of the Abrahamic promise, rather than to dwell in luxury. The key to his faith was that “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” This is still true today, that the endurance of trials and testings is possible only to those who can see those things invisible to others, especially the invisible King of glory and His, as yet, invisible Kingdom!
Through faith Moses also instituted the Passover with Israel and the sprinkling of the blood, even though he was perhaps not able to comprehend their full meaning. His faith was again demonstrated in the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea.
A Prophet like unto Moses
Moses states in Deuteronomy 18: 15: “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” Comparing this passage with Acts 3: 20-23, we recognize that Moses was a picture of the greater Prophet – the Christ (Jesus the Head, and the Church, His body). The entire Gospel Age was set aside for the raising up of the members of this class – for their preparation, education, discipline and exaltation. The word prophet means teacher, indicating that the Christ will be the Teacher, as well as the Priest, King, Mediator and Deliverer of the world in Christ’s Kingdom.