Vayelech - וילך - "He went"
So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. 2 And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ 3 The Lord your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the Lord has spoken. 4 And the Lord will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. 5 And the Lord will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:1-6)
In this week’s Torah portion Joshua officially takes leadership of Israel. This changing of the guards from Moses to Joshua marks the end of Israel’s journeys through the wilderness and the start of a new era with a new leader. Although Joshua was a great leader, he was no Moses. God gave Moses a special authority, an authority that was for Moses alone; In fact, Joshua did not get all of Moses’ authority.
So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.” (Numbers 27:18-21)
God instructed Moses to give Joshua only some or a portion of His authority. Why do you think that God only wanted Joshua to have a portion of Moses’ authority? Moses was about to die, why didn’t God just give Joshua the full authority?
When we examine the works of Moses we can see that he was greater than a Prophet (Numbers 12:4-8). Paul said that death was defeated by Moses (Romans 5:14). What did Moses do? The world knows him primarily as the man who told Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” The world knows that through Moses the Red Sea was miraculously split open to free Israel from Egypt and the world also knows him as the man who wrote down the Ten Commandments which has become a major pillar for moral standards in most modern civilizations today. However, Moses did way more than tell Pharaoh, “Let me people go,” split the Red Sea, and write down Ten Commandments. Moses introduced to the world a complete list of God’s standards for righteousness and definition of sin (Romans 7:7). Through the writings of Moses, the world gained pure access to the commands, decrees and instructions of God Almighty. Because of Adam no one can be righteous but, thanks to Moses anyone can be blameless before God, there is a difference between being righteous and being blameless.
The Bible does not explain why God only wanted Joshua to have a portion of Moses’ authority but I would venture to say that the reason is because God wants Moses’ authority to last forever.
The Lord heard you when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever! (Deuteronomy 5:28-29)
The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said. (Exodus 19:9)
God wants us to trust in the commands of Moses, did this change with Yeshua?
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31)
Listening to Moses and the Prophets is essential for listening to what Yeshua says. If you are not obeying Moses and the Prophets can you truly obey Yeshua? Most Christians believe that what Moses wrote was only for the Jews and that the Gentile believers do not have to follow those commands. If you really want to believe that idea then you must reconcile with two Biblical teachings.
God made one Torah for Israel and for the foreigner in their midst. (Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 15:29-30)
When we become believers in Yeshua we are grafted into Israel. The Olive Tree that Paul talks about in Romans 11 is Israel, see Jeremiah 11:16. (Romans 11:11-24, Ephesians 2:12)
Moses’ authority is still in effect today. Yeshua defended Moses’ authority throughout His three year ministry.
In the Jewish world there is something called the “Noachide Laws” which is seven commands mainly for non Jews. Those who practice Judaism believe that if a gentile were to follow these seven commands then they could be in right standing with God. In Acts 15, the new believers were instructed to start following at least 4 of those 7 commands so that they can go into the synagogues and learn of Moses (Acts 15:19-21).
Moses’ authority is forever because he introduced God’s commands, decrees and instructions to the world. Since God never changes, it makes since that Moses’ authority would last forever. Think about that next time you hear someone say, “We don’t need to follow the commands of Moses anymore.”