Blogging the Bible 50 – Deuteronomy 31-34 – The most important thing about Moses

Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. (Dt. 34:10)

So with these chapters we come to the end not only of Deuteronomy but of the Pentateuch, the Five Books of the Law, the Torah – whatever we call it, the end of the foundation of the Old Testament, the Bible and the Jewish Faith. I may blog something tomorrow on the experience of reading the whole Law in one sequence, but for today I want to think a bit about Moses.

None like Moses, but he didn’t do it alone

One of the fascinating things about Moses is that while he stands so far above the other prophets and leaders of Israel, he’s not presented as a lone hero. Others are involved, and in particular it’s clear that his family shaped his life and ministry, and made his leadership possible.

  • His sister Miriam watched over him as a child, and managed things so that he could not only live but be educated and brought up in a safe and privileged environment. She (mostly) stood by him through his ministry.
  • His brother Aaron (mostly) accepted a key but secondary role, speaking for Moses and bearing the burden of the daily sacred offerings and worship while Moses was clearly in overall charge.
  • His father in law Jethro, the priest of Midian, not only gave him refuge when he was on the run, but also gave him wise advice on leadership, told him when he was being daft and supported him.

Without any of these three – and doubtless many others – Moses’ life would have been very different (and in Miriam’s case, much shorter) and the history of the world might have been different beyond recognition.

How far do we make sure that our families receive thanks from us and credit from others for their part in our own achievements?

Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face

That’s not to play down Moses’ role, though. He didn’t always get it right, but from the moment he stepped aside to look at the burning bush and listened to the voice of God, and from the moment that he (eventually) agreed to play his part in God’s plan, he was changed and the world was forever changed.

The verse I quoted at the start of this blog continues.

Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. He was unequalled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (Dt. 34:10-12)

Moses is noted for what he did – mighty deeds and wonders. But the first and most important thing which sets him apart as unique among the prophets isn’t that he did incredible signs and wonders, nor that he parted the waters of the sea, nor that he set out the Law for a nation that set the course of half the world’s laws, not even that he guided a nation and held them together for forty years in the wilderness. The most important thing that sets Moses apart is that the LORD knew him face to face.

However much or little I may achieve in life, the biggest marker of my character will remain the depth of my relationship with God. Even were I to achieve things beyond my wildest dreams in leading a church, in family life, in whatever I may attempt, these achievements would pale into insignificance next to being at ease in God’s presence; knowing him and being content to be known by him.

I think I can live with that, and work at it.

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