Summary: In our Scripture today, Moses shares the news with the Hebrew people that He will not be leading the Hebrews into the promised land. With his words, he seeks to prepare the people for the next leg of the journey
Have you ever thought about what you want on your tombstone? On a windswept hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone with an epitaph not easily seen unless you stoop over and look very closely. The faint etchings read: “Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, Who on the 24th of May, began to hold her tongue.” In Deuteronomy 34:10-12 we have what Biblical scholars have called Moses’ epithat, “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”
Moses was born a Hebrew but raised as the adopted child of Pharaoh’s daughter. Though he grew as an Egyptian prince, Moses never forgot who he was. One day after seeing an Egyptian kill a Hebrew slave, he could not control his temper and killed the Egyptian. As a result, Moses fled to Midian where he married and rose up to be an overseer of shepherds. One day, while Moses was leading his flock to Mount Horeb, he came across a burning bush. Coming closer to it, God spoke to Moses and told him to return to Egypt and free the Hebrews from slavery. Though Pharaoh was considered to be a god, Moses demanded the Hebrews be released from slavery. Pharaoh refused and there ensued a prolonged battle between Moses and Pharaoh, including 10 plagues Moses called upon Egypt to persuade Pharoah. The 10th plague was the worst of all, causing the death of all first-born Egyptian males. After this, Pharaoh relented and told the Hebrews to leave Egypt. But then Pharaoh had a change of heart and ordered his army to get the Hebrews back. They chased them to the Red Sea where the Hebrews were allowed to cross but as Pharaoh’s army crossed, the parted waters collapsed drowning the Egyptians.
For the next 40 years, Moses led the Hebrews through the wilderness. He faced problems with both water and food and weathered complaints from the Hebrews about the conditions, dealt with demands they return to Egypt as well as their rebellion. God did many miracles on the wildernenss journey including "manna" or bread that fell from heaven. They were guided by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, both of which led them to Mount Sinai. It was there that Moses went up, met with God and received the 10 Commandments. While he was away, the Hebrews stayed back and started to make a golden calf to worship, which Moses destroyed. He oversaw the construction of the Tabernacle, where they would worship. He experienced Hebrews who disobeyed his commands. Through it all, their faith was tested as they experienced intense heat, hunger, thirst, and war but Moses led them safely through the wilderness to the Promised Land.