Why did God rebuke Satan over Moses’ body?

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By BibleAsk Team


The rebuke of Satan over the body of Moses is an important incident mentioned in the Bible that has prompted much study. The account is found in the New Testament, specifically in the Book of Jude, which is a short letter attributed to Jude, the brother of James. To understand the significance of this event, we need to examine the biblical passage and consider its historical and theological context.

God Rebuked Satan Over Moses’ Body

The reference to the rebuke of Satan over Moses’ body is found in Jude 1:9 (NKJV):

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'”

This brief verse alludes to a confrontation between the archangel Michael and Satan concerning the body of Moses. “Michael” is one of the names of Christ (Daniel 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 12:7), not as the chief angel but as Ruler over the angels. Angels are created beings; Christ is their Creator of all (Colossians 1:16, 17). Christ is God (John 1:1–3), and the angels are charged to worship Him (Hebrews 1:3–8, 13, 14).

Apart from Jude’s account, the only scriptural reference to the burial of Moses is Deuteronomy 34:5, 6, where it is recorded that the Lord buried His faithful servant and that his grave was not known to men. Jude now reveals that the dead body of Moses was the subject of dispute between Christ and Satan.

From the fact that Moses appeared with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, we can conclude that Christ triumphed in the contest with Satan and raised Moses from his grave, making him the first known subject of Christ’s resurrecting power (Deuteronomy 34:6; Matthew 17:3). The devil is our constant accuser before the Father. But Christ will triumphantly deliver us from him at the Second Coming “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10).

Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Didymus affirm that Jude 9 is a quotation from a passage in the pseudepigraphical work by the name The Assumption of Moses. This book is preserved only in fragmentary form, and the extant portions do not have the passage in question. However, Bible scholars are generally agreed that there is no reason to disbelieve the claim of these early Church Fathers. The affirmation that Jude quotes from the The Assumption of Moses does not mean that we should accept that book as inspired. If Jude quoted from it, he was simply making use of certain factual material included in it (Jude 14).

Historical and Contextual Considerations

Understanding the background and context of Jude’s letter can provide insights into the significance of this passage:

  1. Authorship and Audience:
    • The letter of Jude is addressed to “those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1, NKJV). It is likely directed to early Christian communities facing various challenges and false teachings.
  2. Purpose of the Letter:
    • Jude’s letter emphasizes the need for believers to contend earnestly for the faith and to beware of false teachers who distort the truth and lead others astray (Jude 1:3-4).
    • The reference to the rebuke of Satan over Moses’ body is part of Jude’s larger argument against false teaching and rebellion against God’s authority.

Conclusion

The rebuke of Satan over Moses’ body, while brief, holds theological significance within the broader biblical narrative. Jude now reveals that the dead body of Moses was the subject of dispute between Christ the Creator of all and Satan. From the fact that Moses appeared with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, we can conclude that Christ triumphed in the contest with Satan and raised Moses from his grave, making him the first known subject of Christ’s resurrecting power (Deuteronomy 34:6; Matthew 17:3).

As believers contend earnestly for the faith and resist the influence of false teaching and spiritual deception, the rebuke of Satan over Moses’ body serves as a reminder of God’s power to preserve and vindicate His faithful servants, both in this life and in the life to come.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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