When Jochebed gave birth to her son, she knew he was no ordinary child.(Exodus 2:2; Hebrews 11:23) She placed him inside a basket and put him among the reeds along the bank of the Nile to protect his life from Pharaoh’s edict to kill all of the Hebrew male infants. Moses was drawn out of the mighty Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as Egyptian royalty. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, in his address to the Sanhedrin council, says of Moses;
“When he [Moses] was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.” Acts 7:21,22
As a grown man, Moses has an encounter in the wilderness that sends his life into an entirely different direction. We studied this story of Moses and the burning bush in the Week 3 Lesson. Following that event, Moses leads the Hebrew nation out of their Egyptian captivity and into the desert towards their homeland. What began as a short term journey to the Promised Land quickly turned into a wandering of forty years due to their disobedience and unbelief. Three months after their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites reach Mount Sinai and God calls Moses to meet with Him at the top of the mountain. While on the mountain, Moses received instructions for the nation and the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments from God and henceforth, becomes known as the Law giver.
Moses “was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us.” Acts 7:38
“What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.” Galatians 3:19; see also Acts 7:53
Moses served as the mediator between God and the people. Of Moses, the great Law giver, these words are also recorded.
“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.” Deuteronomy 34:10-12
Moses lived into that prophetic statement given by his mother at his birth. He lived an extraordinary life. He died in Moab and God buried him there. No one has ever located his gravesite.
Included in the New Testament is a letter Jude wrote warning Christians about immoral men who were trying to convince believers that salvation by grace gave them license to sin. These men were twisting the truth and causing confusion in the early church. Jude highlights in his letter that these godless men had no fear of slandering celestial beings and he continues by contrasting their behavior to that of the archangel Michael.
“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Jude 9
Early church theologian Origen believed the reference was to an apocryphal work entitled The Ascension of Moses or sometimes referred to as The Assumption of Moses. This work was not included in canonized scripture but the original recipients of Jude’s letter would have been familiar with this work.
Some scholars suggest that Michael and the devil disputed over which place of rest for Moses. They believe that since Satan reigns over death, Michael wanted to take Moses somewhere else like heaven. Some have even suggested that this verse indicates that Moses was buried by Michael and that this dispute occurred at the time of the burial of his body.
Other scholars take a different viewpoint. They feel that Moses was so venerated that the knowledge of his gravesite would have turned the location into a place of worship, the third stop on the Moses pilgrimage. Even Peter slipped into this mindset on the Mount of Transfiguration when he makes the suggestion of putting up tents for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.
On this side of heaven, we will never know Satan’s goal for Moses. Perhaps, he did want to retain power over Moses’s body in death or he wanted to use it to thwart the people’s faith in God by leading them into idolatry.
This week, I’m continuing our look into the work of Satan. I will focus on his interruptions into the life of Jesus. To follow along, the Week 8 Lesson Plan can be found by clicking here.