The resurrection of the Redeemed is the glorious transforming event for which the dead are waiting.
Meanwhile, the dead remain dead.
But there are exceptions. Here we look at two.
As the children of Israel were about to enter the promised land, it appears that God has dealt harshly with his servant Moses. After Moses’ long years of service in leading God’s people, God says to him, “You will see the land — but you yourself will not enter it.”
Twice God brings Moses up the mountain to view the promised land
- (Deuteronomy 32:48-52) Moses views the land from the mountain top.
- (Deuteronomy 33) Moses gives his final blessing to the children of Israel.
- (Deuteronomy 34:1-7) Moses again views the land from the mountain top — and dies.
Moses first view of the promised land
(Deuteronomy 32:48-52) The Lord said to Moses, “Go up to Mount Nebo and view the land of Canaan, which I’m giving to the children of Israel for a possession. You will die there in the mountain… You shall see the land; but you shalt not go into the land which I’m giving to the children of Israel.”
48 And the Lord spoke to Moses that very same day, and said,
49 Go up into this mountain… and behold the land of Canaan, which I’m giving to the children of Israel for a possession:
50 And die there on the mountain, and be gathered to your people…
51 Because you trespassed against me when leading the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; you did not sanctify me when you stood before of the children of Israel.
52 You shalt see the land before you; but you shalt not go into the land which I’m giving to the children of Israel.
Moses final view of the promised land
(Deuteronomy 34:1-7) Moses went up to the top of Mount Nebo and the Lord showed him all the land. The Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for their descendants. I’ve allowed you to see it with your own eyes — but you will not enter into it. Moses died there according to the word of the Lord. The Lord buried him in a valley, but no-one knows where his grave is.
Deuteronomy 34:1, 4-6
1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah that is near Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead…
4 The Lord said to him, This is the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, I will give it to your descendants: I have caused you to see it with your own eyes, but you shalt not enter there.
5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.
6 And the Lord buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knows of his sepulchre unto this day.
Despite Moses being 120 years old, the description given of his health shows that he was fairly fit. He was not necessarily ready to die of old age.
And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
The Book of Deuteronomy concludes with Moses having died at the command of God, and being buried by God in a grave no-one could find.
But there is more!
A dispute over the body of Moses
Jude records a dispute between Michael the archangel and the devil about the body of Moses.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil — he disputed about the body of Moses — did not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke you.
If God is wanting the body of Moses, which the devil also wants, I believe that there can only be one winner — this winner is God. And the body of Moses in the hand of God implies a resurrection.
The devil certainly would have disputed this; and he could correctly point out that (at this stage) God had not paid any ransom worthy to redeem mankind. The devil probably felt justified that such a ransom would never be paid.
God being God on the other hand knew that His own precious plans to redeem mankind would succeed.
Moses was God’s.
Elijah neither died nor was buried.
In the sight of his faithful servant Elisha, Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
2 Kings 2:1-3, 11-12
1 And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray; for the Lord has sent me to Bethel. And Elisha replied, As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you. So they went down to Bethel.
3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said to him, Do you know that the Lord will take away your master today? And he said, Yes, I know it; hold your peace.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on and talked, that behold there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more…
Elijah ascended into heaven.
Elijah neither died nor was buried as was Moses. He ascended into heaven in transport the Bible describes as the ‘chariot and horsemen of Israel.’