Few men have been as important to the story of God’s chosen people as Moses. He was God’s instrument in delivering the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery in the 15th century BC.
Though a great man and one of the few humans to converse with God, Moses wasn’t without sin. There is much speculation about his specific sin at Meribah, and it’s not clear what that sin was. He sinned nonetheless. Because of this, Moses wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land, thus causing him and the people of Israel to wander the desert for 40 years until Moses’ death.
Scripture tells us that Mt. Nebo is where the Lord showed Moses the Promised Land at the end of his life. Deuteronomy 34:1, 4 says: “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, … And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.”
Somewhere in a valley of Mt. Nebo, the body of Moses is buried. “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 a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (vss. 5–6).
This is the only time in scripture that the Lord Himself buries a human. The Lord may have done this to keep the location a secret from mankind. The Lord knew that the Israelites would build a shrine and over the years, they would likely turn Moses into an idol to be worshiped.
Moses’ story doesn’t end with his burial, however. In the New Testament book of Jude, we find a fascinating verse where Michael the archangel and Satan argue over the body of Moses. Jude 1:9 says, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” Here, Jude is likely quoting the apocryphal book, The Assumption of Moses. The book is lost to us, but Origen, a third-century Christian scholar, records that it expounded upon the story.
We see more instances of Satan attempting to claim people or their souls in scripture.
Zechariah 3:1–3 says: “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.”
This time, it’s not just Satan and an angel, likely Michael, arguing over a human, but God is there too. They appear to be arguing over who the person belongs to—God or Satan.
In Revelation, Satan is the great accuser. He stands before God, accusing the brethren day and night. In Revelation 12:9–10, John records: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
These three places in Scripture give us some insight into the spiritual realm and the struggle for the human soul.
Twice recorded in Scripture, Moses sinned. The first time was when he killed the Egyptian slave for whipping an Israelite. The second was when Moses struck the rock at Meribah in anger. Also notice that Michael the archangel says, “the Lord rebuke you.” He is wise enough to not rebuke Satan of his own power, but of God’s—a good lesson for all of us.
This story, however, begs some interesting questions:
- Why were Moses and Joshua’s bodies important to spiritual beings?
- Was it truly their physical bodies or their souls?
- Why is Satan standing at the right hand of God? This process seems like a judgment.
- Are all of God’s children judged this way or is it reserved for certain of us?
These are all questions that will be answered in the next life.