The Unknown Grave

There’s a curious note at the end of the book of Deuteronomy describing the death and burial of Moses. As you remember, God allowed him to see an overview of the Promised Land from a perch on top of Mount Nebo, then he passed away. “And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.” (Deut.34:6)

God didn’t state why he hid the burial place of Israel’s great founding leader, but knowing Israel’s later attraction to idolatry I think we can assume a few things. If God hadn’t taken action, Israel probably would have carried the body into the new land, like their ancestors did for Jacob (Gen.50). At some point they would likely build an expensive shrine over him in a prominent place. You can imagine the long lines of people who would come to worship there. The New Testament records a later argument between the devil and Michael the archangel over the body of Moses (Jude 9). Who knows what Satan had in mind, but there is no doubt he would somehow use Moses’ remains to steer people away from God.

Moses was to be respected and remembered, but not worshiped. He had is faults, and this is why God did not let him enter the land with everyone else. Men are simply humans, not God. We all need to be redeemed from our sins; we aren’t the redeemer. This is what Peter tried to get across to Cornelius when the soldier fell down to worship him. “Stand up; I too am just a man.” (Acts 10:26) There are many people in the world who aren’t listening to what Peter said.

The unknown grave of Moses teaches us that our worship is directed to God, not men.

Tim Johnson