No one knows where Moses is buried

Protestant reformer John Calvin, the founder of Presbyterianism, fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 55 on May 27th of 1564. In spite of his failing health, he was healthy and brilliant in mind enough to memorize and recite many Bible verses even in the later years of his life. When John Calvin was buried in the Plainpalais Cemetery in Geneva, there was no ritual, eulogy, hymns, or the attendance by the citizens of Geneva. Moreover, he strictly requested that there be no tombstone. There is an apocryphal story about a Dutchman who supposedly located Calvin’s grave and set a gravestone with an inscription “J.C.” This site is generally believed to be Calvin’s grave but no one can be certain. Calvin delivered such strict instructions concerning his funeral lest he be the cause of idolatry and obstruct the glory of God.

In Deuteronomy chapter 34 is the death of Moses on Mount Nebo in Moab. The Bible tells us that to this day nobody knows where he was buried (Deuteronomy 34:6). Without any assistant or disciple near him, Moses died and was buried alone in the place God only knows. For the greatest leader of Israel, Moses spent the final moments of his life in great humility. Calvin and other theologians posited based on Jude 1:9 that God sent Archangel Michael to bury Moses in an unknown place lest the Israelites idolize his body. There is a spiritual significance as to why God made Moses’ grave unknown. Regardless of how great a person is, he or she cannot be worshipped as divine for all men are creatures. There awaits the judgment of righteousness for those who usurp the glory of God. This judgment is executed not only against believers but also against non-believers. Moses was the greatest leader in the history of Israel. Nevertheless, he was a mere human and a brother, not an absolute being. The Bible prohibits idolatry of any kind. Far-reaching achievement and influence do not provide the ground for idolatry.

We must diligently reap the fruits of the seeds we have sown until the end of life. Even in old age, we must not neglect our prayers or holy hymns. Many kings of Israel in the Bible met their tragic demise. Saul, the first king of Israel, committed suicide and his children were killed. Solomon, once known for wisdom and faith, became corrupt and following his death his kingdom was divided. Herod refused to ascribe glory and honor to God and was eaten by worms and died (Acts 12:23). Like Moses, we must remain in the background and bring the glory of God to the foreground. Instead of using our wealth, wisdom, power, knowledge, time, health, and eternal life only for ourselves, we must use them for the glory of God.

There is a Korean proverb, “The riper the crop is, the lower it bends.” The English equivalent would be “Still water runs deep.” How true that is for our spiritual life. We must exercise humility in life. The longer we practice Christian faith, the more we must repent and grow holy. Paul grew holy and reverent with time. At first, he identified himself as “the last of all” and “one abnormally born”(1 Corinthians 15:8) and later as “the least of the apostles” and he who does not even “deserve to be called an apostle” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Towards the later years of his life, he called himself the worst of all sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and dedicated himself to finishing the race of God by rendering unto Him all honor and glory (1 Timothy 4:7).

It was by God’s providence and grace that we have been brought into this world. As much as the earthly life is a blessing, there lies a greater blessing for us in death. Dying well is more important than birth itself. Like Moses, we must depart from this earth revealing nothing but the glory of God. Just as Moses met his death as he beheld Canaan from Mount Nebo, we must prepare for the end of life’s pilgrimage as we behold our eternal dwelling place, the Kingdom of God. May we like Moses prioritize dying well so that we may receive God’s reward and partake in His glory.

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