Patterson, Juniata Co., Pa.
Brother Beebe: - We would like to have your views on Deuteronomy 34:4. “And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed; I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.”
Yours in love,
John P. Shitz.
Reply: - The Old Testament is replete with types and figures, parables and dark sayings, in which are portrayed “good things” which were to come. The imagery was drawn by the Holy Ghost, and in such mystic lines as baffled the wisdom of even the patriarchs and prophets who searched diligently what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and of the glory that should follow. This cabinet of magnificent types were sealed from human scrutiny, and covered with that cloud in which God has involved his throne, so that men who were used as types and prophets of our God who spake and wrote as they were inspired were as dependent on God to unseal the sacred book and disclose to them its hidden treasures, as are the feeblest of the saints at the present time. The handy work of God in the creation, as written by Moses more than two thousand years after the works of creation were finished, which we have in the book of Genesis, contains the outlines of the new creation, in a depth of emblematic beauty too deep and profound for uninspired wisdom to trace, and in ample abundance to fill the enlightened mind of all the saints with glowing admiration while time endures, which shall survive the dissolution of all created things, and be the theme of praise to God in boundless eternity. The sweet singer of Israel, with all his inspiration, could not contemplate the glittering hosts of the firmament above without humiliating thoughts of man. He is filled with amazement that so great and glorious a God should be mindful of man. But the infinity of God descends to and embraces the most minute, as well as the most magnificent of all his works. Sparrows are provided for and protected, so that not one of them can fall to the ground without your heavenly Father: the hairs of our head he has numbered, and suns and stars can as soon be hurled from their orbits as our hairs can fall independently of God. The animalculine tribes that people a single drop of water are as firmly secured in their being and destiny as are angels or men. But we are wandering from the subject on which our dear old brother desires our views. As in the surpassing glories of the creation, and the inscrutable labyrinths of divine providence, the glory of our God appears in radiant glory to those who are taught of God; so in the refulgent glory of the “New heavens and new earth” as revealed by the Spirit, the saints in rapture cry, “Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”
Of the life and death of Moses, the account given in the Scriptures is plain and simple, requiring no explanation from us, but of the typical position which he filled, in all the recorded incidents of his life, an interesting and instructing field is open for the contemplation of all who are quickened and taught by the Spirit. As a prophet and as a leader, he was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ; for he said, “A prophet like unto me shall the Lord your God raise up unto you; him shall ye hear in all things.”
But we are to regard him as presented in the text under consideration, as the impersonation of the law which God gave by him to the children of Israel. In this character he is spoken of by the inspired expounders of the word. (See II Corinthians 3:15 and Hebrews 3:5,6.) Representing the law which could make nothing perfect, he held dominion over them in their wilderness state; but he could neither make them perfect, nor give them rest. Yet as the law foreshadowed good things which were to come, so Moses spake to the people of Israel of a land of rest into which God would bring them.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom the oath of God confirmed with infallible certainty the promise that their seed should possess by inheritance the land of Canaan, represent the whole family of God, which under the three dispensations should be gathered according to the oath and promise of God, into the gospel kingdom. Like Noah, Daniel and Job, or like Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, in the burning furnace with the form of the Son of God in their midst, and many other figures, represent the family of God, as brought into manifestation under the several dispensations of the fullness of times. Like the Hebrew children, they are chosen in a furnace of afflictions, yet preserved by the presence of Christ from being utterly consumed. Not only was it true of the patriarchs and Old Testament saints, that they were held under the dominion of the law until the fullness of time came for their redemption and deliverance, but all the children of God throughout all time and all nations, when quickened by the Spirit, have to make a pilgrimage from Egypt, through the dreary wilderness, under Moses, who holds them under rigorous discipline until they have passed the flaming mountain where the voice of words and the terrific sound of a trumpet fills them with dismay, and makes them feel the need of one to stand between them and the awful majesty of God, and until they come to Mount Nebo, which is as far as Moses can go with them. The reason why Moses was not permitted to go over Jordan and into the promised land with Israel is given in Numbers 20:12, because he smote the rock in Horeb, and did not sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the children of Israel. In this transaction we have a rich cluster of the most important types and figures contained in the Old Testament. The chosen tribes of Israel under Moses, or the law, are in the wilderness, far from the land of promise, in a rebellious, murmuring state, and in a dying condition. Neither Moses nor Aaron could supply them with the waters on which their life depended. “For if a law had been given that could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” Neither the law represented by Moses, nor the priesthood represented by Aaron, could give them life. “And God said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel, and thy rod wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand and go. Behold I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it that the people may drink (Exodus 17:5,6).” And in Numbers 20:7-12, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together; thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock; so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice; and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
An inspired apostle assures us that that Rock was Christ; “And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ (I Corinthians 10:4).” That is, the Rock, in its spiritual signification, was Christ. As Moses in this figure is the law, Aaron, the Levitical priesthood, the congregation of Israel, the chosen or elect people of God. And God himself stood before Moses, on the rock in Horeb; so God was manifest in the person of his Son; and as Moses smote the rock with his rod, in anger, so fell the rod of the law, the sword of divine justice, in indignant wrath on Christ the Rock of our Salvation. Here all the wrath of Moses which burned against the rebels was exhausted, and he could curse them no longer; so this conflict secured the redemption and deliverance of all the people of God from the dominion of the law; and from the Levitical priesthood, and being so redeemed they all drank of that spiritual water which flows so abundantly from Christ the smitten Rock. And although justly charged by Moses (the law) with rebellion, they are saved from death, delivered from wrath, and cleansed from all pollution by the streaming waters of salvation flowing from the smitten Savior, which stream has followed them with ample supplies into the promised land.
As the wilderness represents the legal state of the people of God, Moses, or the law, never held dominion over them any where else, so the land of Canaan represents them in their gospel relation to Christ, who is the Rock of their salvation. We are aware that some have supposed the wilderness state represented the saints in the militant state of the church, and that Jordan signifies the stream of death, through which the saints are to pass when they enter heaven as the place of their ultimate rest and glory. There are many important reasons why we reject that application of the figure. There was much fighting to be done after entering that land, and a certainty that the conflicts of the Israelites should continue as long as Israel dwelt there with the remaining Canaanites; but we know that in the final consummation of the glory of the saints, they shall be free from all turmoil and strife.
In the true application of these figures, Canaan represents the gospel state of the church. Jordan divided that state from the wilderness - of the administration of Moses. The law and the prophets were until John. John came in the wilderness of Judah, preaching repentance, and baptizing in the river Jordan, such as brought forth fruits meet for repentance, and on their profession of faith in him who came after John, who would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Here God was manifest in the flesh, as standing there upon the rock in Horeb. Here the Rock, which was Christ in the figure, received the smitings of the rod of the law, met all its requisitions, suffered all its penalties, bore all its wrath and indignation, and obtained eternal redemption for his people. Then rising from the dead, as our spiritual Joshua, he calls all his own sheep, or people, by name, and leads them to living fountains of water; receives his kingdom, enters into his glory, ascends his Mediatorial throne, while the eternal Father proclaims, “Moses, my servant, is dead; arise go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel (Joshua 1:2).” Our risen Savior, our anti-typical Joshua, rising from the dead, assumes his reigning power, and God the Father from high heaven proclaims his inauguration, saying, “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:6).” “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a sceptre of thy hand (Hebrews 1:8).”
Now, to return to our text. Moses, for reasons which we have seen, had been previously informed, could hold his dominion no longer; now from the heights of Nebo, from the top of Pisgah, he surveys the landscape, and is assured that this is the inheritance secured by oath and promise to the people of Israel. “And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I swear unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed.” The gospel kingdom, the gospel state, and all gospel blessings, and gospel privileges, were secured to the heirs of promise, “by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie.” “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying [unto Abraham], Surely, blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee (Hebrews 6:13,14).” And all this assurance is given, “that we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec (Hebrews 6:18-20).” Moses, or the law, certainly foresaw and foreshadowed the glorious kingdom of our spiritual Joshua. All the landmarks of the heavenly Jerusalem were seen in the distance by the eye of the law; for “his eye was not dim, nor was his natural force abated.” But he could not extend his dominion into the gospel precincts. He has smitten the Rock with the rod, and now his mission is fulfilled. Israel is now dead unto the law, to Moses, by the body of Christ, and Israel is married to another, even unto him that is risen from the dead, that they should bring forth fruit unto God, that being dead in which they were held. They were no more under the law, but under grace; under law not to Moses, but unto Christ. “Thou shalt not go over thither.” Blessed prohibition. Neither we nor our fathers were able to bear his yoke. If the law could follow us into the kingdom of our Lord, who could stand before it? Moses is not only dead, but God has buried him, and after the diligent research of all the workmongrel world for nearly four thousand years, his sepulchre has not been found. Satan has long disputed with Michael our prince about the body of Moses, and all the children of the devil still dispute with the subjects of that glorious Prince on the same subject. They desire to be under the law because they do not hear the law; “but the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death; for what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” Moses’ law was a ministration of death; but the gospel is the ministration of life; how then could we be under both at the same time? The precepts of Moses were written and engraven on tables of stone, but the law of the spirit of life is written in our heart. The yoke of Moses is called the yoke of bondage. (See Galatians 5:1.) But the law of Christ, our spiritual Joshua, is called “the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25).”
Whether we have succeeded in satisfying the inquiries of our aged brother or not, we have so far complied with his request as to give him, at least, some of our views upon the subject. Volumes might be written without exhausting so rich a subject. We hope that none who are dead to the law and married to Christ will feel inclined to dishonor their living Husband by attempting to search for or dig up the body of Moses, from whom they are redeemed. The dead husband when living demanded every thing but furnished nothing; the living husband furnishes every thing and demands nothing. The former always cursed and never blessed; the latter always blesses but never curses. How unreasonable to give the preference to Moses over Christ.
“Israel rejoice, now Joshua leads,
He’ll bring your tribes to rest;
So far the Savior’s name exceeds
The ruler and the priest.”
February 1, 1869.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 343 – 349