June 19, 2010

Examining The Scripture XXXII: Taken Before His Time: Muwth [וימת]

After a long and meandering road though Mose's life I am about to bring his story to an end for my series Examining The Scripture. My ending will be a bit more subtle than God's ending for Moses. There is no way more fitting to depart from the amazing story of Moses and how God worked through him than by talking about his earthly departure.

Moses climbed Mount Nebo and he is shown the Promised Land from the top of Nebo and God states that He will give it to Moses descendants but Moses himself will not enter it. At this point...for all intensive purposes, he disappears from Scripture in Deuteronomy 34 in rather enigmatic terms and means. {*POOF*}. To add even more credence to that fact that Moses' departure was more akin to being a disappearance than a death I will elaborate further below.

The Scripture says, Moses then "died" at 120 years old and is buried in an unmarked grave by none other than God Himself. The word died here is וימת [Strong's H4191] the best I can transliterate this is "muwth" or "mooth" and it usually means "to kill; be killed" or "to die prematurely; before one's time". When I say prematurely I am not saying that he died at a young age as much as I am saying that something or "Someone" intervened to cut it short and end it. Obviously sin was the mitigating factor as is the case in all human death but the active Agency/Agent that "removed" him from earthly existence was God. The text pretty much tells us this indirectly in verse 6, "and He [God] buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor". The implication here is God took his soul and buried his body. This is unlike Elijah who also is taken before his time but is taken body and soul.

Interestingly, the Scripture also tells us that when Moses died, “his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone”. There is a good probability that God “called Moses home” and may have taken Moses “before his time”. The words “strength gone” is(Strong’s H3893: leach) “freshness, vigor or natural force” had not fled him or vanished away from Moses. Moses wasn’t dying nor does this sound like a dying man. To my recollection most dying men do not climb mountains either and the Bible specifically tells us that Moses was fairly healthy at his death climbing Nebo on his own.

All indicators point to God "taking" Moses in death before his time and it appears he departed in fellowship with God because the last thing we see Moses "doing" is listening to God speaking the promises of the Promised Land that He made to the Patriarchs. This monologue from God to Moses is ironic because Moses is essentially going to the place that the Promised Land is a typology of-Heaven.

Of course the Scripture doesn't specifically say that God "took" Moses before his time but a strong case could be made by the indirect and circumstantial evidences that God did just that, especially when we consider the Hebrew word used to designate Moses' death: "muwth".

Of course the Israelites grieved the loss of such a great man of God and the end of the Pentateuch now arrives. God’s Spirit has entered into Joshua because of the “laying on of hands” by Moses and "Joshua did what the Lord commanded Moses". So ends the first portion of Israelite/Hebrew history and Moses' contribution to it passes into history. We have seen God's story of creation, the Fall and God's plan to recover and redeem man. We then see Moses' story setting up and establishing the Law and Sinai covenant to be told generation after generation into the future. Reiterated, added to and fulfilled by the glorious Messiah Jesus Christ generations later.

Next on deck...the conquest of Canaan.

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