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Scripture Story: Deuteronomy 31–34.

Commentary: Patriarchs and Prophets (or Beginning of the End), chapter 43.

last longing look

Photo by Audrey Goforth


“When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.’”

(Deuteronomy 32:45-47, NIV)


“The great adversary declared that the divine sentence—‘Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’ (Genesis 3:19)—gave him possession of the dead. The power of the grave had never been broken, and all who were in the tomb he claimed as his captives, never to be released from his dark prison house. For the first time Christ was about to give life to the dead” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 478).

what do you think?

Agree or disagree: (1) Moses should have been allowed into the Promised Land; (2) Moses was a success.

How long do you think it would take you to get frustrated with the person in charge of a trip you were on if they kept you wandering around in the desert for 40 years?
1 month?
3 months?
12 months?
5 years?

(Think how quickly you get frustrated when your dad won’t stop to ask for directions.)

did you know?

Moses has been given credit for being the author of “the Torah” or the first five books of our Bible. While some might dispute this, it is generally understood to be true. At that time, it was probably passed down by oral tradition (the telling of stories) from generation to generation. The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls has taught us that oral tradition was very accurate in keeping the key points of the stories. Can you imagine keeping every detail together in a long story like that of the Israelites and their exodus from Egypt? We have a hard enough time remembering one thing that our parents ask us to do!


“Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, ‘This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, “I will give it to your descendants.” I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.’

“And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.

“Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.

“Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those 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, NIV)


Have you ever pondered this part of Moses’ story before? Was God fair in not allowing Moses to enter into the Promised Land because of one mistake?

To whom was God trying to teach a lesson by not letting Moses into the Promised Land?

What’s the big deal about hitting a rock rather than talking to it? The results ended up the same, didn’t they? (See Deut. 32:48-52.)

Did Moses do anything else in his life that could have earned the same kind of punishment the rock incident did? What reason did God give for choosing the punishment He did? (Read Numbers 20:12.)

Not only was Moses the first person to be raised from the dead, he had another special honor in His relationship with God. What was it? (Read Exodus 33:11 and Numbers 12:8.)

What legacy did Moses leave to the Israelites at his death?

Read Deuteronomy 31:1-8. Moses left a new

Read Deuteronomy 31:9-13. Moses left a written

Read Deuteronomy 31:30–32:47. Moses left a to memorize.

Why was this legacy so important?

punch lines

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV).

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4, NIV).

They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 32:47, NIV).

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those 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, NIV).

other eyes

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” —Booker T. Washington, 19th-20th-century U.S. educator.

“What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”—Margaret Thatcher, 20th-century British politician; prime minister (1975-1990).



In the What Do You Think? section of this week’s lesson there was a question about whether or not you thought that Moses was a success. The question “What defines success?” is loaded. Actually, it can be answered in different ways for different people. Read Deuteronomy 34:10 and spend some time thinking about what makes someone successful in your mind. How do you want to define success in your life?


Read all of Deuteronomy 31 to 34. Pay specific attention to the texts listed in the Into the Story section of this study. What specific things did you learn about Moses? Had you ever before read his blessing on the children of Israel? How did God know the people of Israel would relate to Him? How do you think Moses felt when God told him that Israel would forsake Him? Do you consider Moses a success when he died? Why or why not? (Remember, he did successfully take the people to the Promised Land.)


In the Key Text this week, why does Moses tell the people to remember the words the Lord has for them? That is also true about what the words of the Bible have for us. Moses’ life is a great example of what it means to follow the laws and the words of God. Even at the end of his life, when he had been with these people for a lifetime, Moses was admonishing them to be true to the Word of God, for truly that was their salvation. And the Word of God continues to show us the saving grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Why might memorizing Scripture texts help us in our daily lives?


Did you realize that this was the first time that Christ was going to raise someone from the dead? Think about what must have been going on in the mind of Satan as God came down to raise Moses from his sleep! He must have thought that he had dominion (rule) over Moses because he had died. However, the Flashlight quote tells us that Christ came down and took Moses to heaven with Him. What a blow to what Satan perceived as a victory. It is one of the first times we see, in the Bible, how Christ is more powerful than death!


Look up “quotes about success” on any Internet search engine. What do you find interesting about the results you get?

They rely on different measures of success. To some, it is money, to others fame, to even others it is something more intangible, such as intelligence or peace or satisfaction. Success is one of those things that we all look at a little differently.

Christians have an even different outlook. For us success is measured in relation to the will of God in our lives. We rest our success squarely on Christ’s shoulders and try to become examples to the world of what He is to us. That is the measure of our success.


How do you know if you are a success? Who is it that you compare yourself to in order to measure up? Is your success based on grades or on athletic achievement?

There are so many ways we find ourselves not measuring up. Sometimes it is scary. Moses had a great number of people who were looking to see if he was a success or not. It must have sometimes been scary for him, leading God’s people to the land He had promised them.

But Moses was a success because he always came back to full reliance on God.


The story of Moses is full of adventure, right up until the end of his life. He faced many trials and tribulations with wonderful results because of his faith and relationship with God. Think about being at the end of your life and looking back on what you have done, and how you have fostered your relationship with God; what would you say about it?

Write a paragraph as if you were about to die and you were looking back on your spiritual walk with God. What was it like? How do you want others to remember it?

Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

this week’s reading*

Patriarchs and Prophets (or Beginning of the End), chapter 43.

*Beginning of the End is a special adaptation of Patriarchs and Prophets, created for you by the Ellen G. White Estate and Pacific Press. Get more information about it at article/191/about-us/conflict-of-the-ages-compan ion-books#.URlhF1rBO9s. By following the weekly reading plan, you will read at least one book of the Conflict of the Ages Series each year.