Crossing Over

Moses turns the leadership of Israel over to Joshua by saying he will not cross the Jordan. He cites his age, 120, and says Joshua will take Israel into the land. The math, a vocabulary word and a direct quotation all point at the book of Hebrews.

Deuteronomy 31:1-8

1Moses went on and spoke all these words to all Israel. FE 2He said to them, I am 120 years old this day. I can no longer go out and come in. The Master has said to me, You will not pass this Jordan. 3The Master your god will go over before you. He will overthrow these peoples before you. You will inherit them. FE Joshua will go over before you as the Master has said. 4The Master will do to them as he did to Sihon and to Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their lands which he destroyed. 5The Master will also deliver them before you and you will do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. 6Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear nor quake before them, for it is the Master your god who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you. Q Hebrews 13:5 Deuteronomy 31:1-67Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of good courage, for you will bring this people into the land which the Master has sworn to their fathers to give them. You will cause them to inherit it. A Hebrews 12:2 8It is the Master who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you. Do not fear nor quake nor be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:7-8 (Deuteronomy 31:1-8 BRB)


120 = Hebrews


There are three witnesses to the book of Hebrews from this passage. The first is numeric. The 120 run against the 66 books lands the reader at book 54, the book of Hebrews.

The second witness is the use of the word "cross" in the statement by Moses that he would not cross the Jordan. The word cross is the same word as Hebrew. Context determines whether the word is translated for meaning, as in "cross," or transliterated as a name, as in "Hebrew." The presence of this term names the book of Hebrews directly. For another example of this see the Title Sentences study where book 54, the book of Hebrews, is translated to mean "cross over."

The third witness is a quotation of this passage from the author of Hebrews.

Jeremiah 19|25 5Do not be carried away by the love of silver, but be content with what you have, for the Master himself has said: I will never leave you nor forsake you. Q Deuteronomy 31:6 A Jeremiah 1:8 Hebrews 13:5-6 (Hebrews 13:5 BRB)

So what's the connection? What story or passage in Hebrews is worthy of cross reference to this passage in Deuteronomy?

The quotation comes from Hebrews 13, so it is a curious place to study, but it's not the best fit with the context in Deuteronomy.

The name Moses appears a few different places in Hebrews, including in the faith passage in chapter 11, which is also curious reading, but alas, it does not fit the context in Deuteronomy very well either. It does fit the stories in Exodus really well, but Exodus is not the referring book, Deuteronomy is.

Since the story in Deuteronomy is Moses passing the baton to Joshua the best passage in Hebrews to align with this passage in Deuteronomy is the passage about how Joshua surpasses Moses in Hebrews 3. Here's a piece of the longer passage.

FA 1Therefore, my holy brothers, called by a call from the skies, look to this apostle and high priest of our belief, Joshua, the anointed, 2who was believable to him who appointed him, as Moses was in all his house. 3His glory is much greater than that of Moses, just as the honor of the builder of the house is greater than the house itself. 4For every house is built by some man, but he who builds all things is god. 5Moses, as a servant, was believable to all his house, and was a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after, 6but, the anointed, as a son, over his own house, whose house we are if to the end we hold fast with confidence to the glory of his hope. Hebrews 3:1-6 (Hebrews 3:1-6 BRB)

Of course, if you read this in English you don't see the name Joshua, but Jesus. However, Jesus is a hellenized form of the Hebrew name Joshua. A strict translation of the scriptures into English would actually name Jesus Joshua (if using the customary English names). Of course the power of this passage is robbed precisely because the names are not the same. The author of Hebrews intended us to read this passage knowing that Jesus was named after Joshua by Gabriel for good reason. They are alike in so many ways and Jesus was fulfilling prophetic writing and stories that played out in the Old Testament by people named Joshua, including the successor of Moses.

Just as Moses was called to get Israel from Egypt to the Jordan river, Joshua (or Jesus) was called to get them across the river and into the promised land. The story is a parable for the way Jesus takes the covenant people forward from where Moses leaves off. Note, for example, the way the rest of the passage beginning in Hebrews 3 unfolds.

7Because, the spirit of the holy said: Today, if you hear his voice 8do not harden your hearts to anger him as the murmurers did in the day of temptation in the wilderness. 9Your fathers tempted me even though they examined and saw my works 40 years. 10Because of this, I was not pleased with that generation and I said, These are a people whose hearts have been misled and they have not known my ways. 11I swore in my anger, They will not enter into my rest. Q Psalms 95:7-11 Hebrews 3:7-1112Beware, therefore, my brothers, lest perhaps there is in any of you an evil heart that is not believing, and you would depart from the god of the living, 13but search your hearts daily, until the day which is called, The day, to the end that no man among you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For, we are joined with the anointed, if from the beginning to the end we hold fast to the true contract, 15as it is said: Today, if you hear even the echoes of his voice, do not harden your hearts to anger him. Q Psalms 95:7 Hebrews 3:12-1516Who are those who heard and trembled? Was it not all those who came out of Mizraim by the hand of Moses? 17Who refused him for 40 years, but those who sinned and whose bones fell in the wilderness? 18About whom did he swear that they would not enter into his rest, but those who did not listen? 19We see that they could not enter in because they did not have belief. Hebrews 3:16-19 FA 1Therefore let us fear while stands the promise of entering into his rest lest some of you come short of entering. 2For the thinking was preached to us as it was to them, but the word they heard did not benefit them because it was not mixed with belief in those who heard it. 3But, we who have belief, will enter into rest, but, as he said: I have sworn in my wrath they will not enter into my rest. Q Psalms 95:11 The works of god were from the foundation of the world. 4As he said concerning the sabbath, God rested on the 7th day from all his works. Q Genesis 2:2 5Here again he said, They will not enter into my rest. Q Psalms 95:11 Hebrews 4:1-56There was a chance for some to enter in, but those to whom the thinking was 1st preached did not enter because they would not listen. 7Again, after a long time, he appointed another day, as it is written above, for David said: Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts. Q Psalms 95:7-8 8For, if Joshua the son of Nun had given them rest, he would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9It is therefore the duty of the people of god to keep the sabbath. 10For he who has entered into his rest, has also ceased from his own works, as god did from his. 11Therefore let us strive to enter into that rest, lest any man fall like those who were disobedient. Hebrews 4:6-1112For the word of god is living and powerful and sharper than any 2-edged sword, piercing even to the point of division between soul and spirit and between the joints and marrow and bones, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13There is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open before the eyes of him to whom we are to answer. Hebrews 4:12-1314Therefore we have a great high priest who was taken up into the skies, Joshua the anointed the son of god, let us remain firm in his belief. 15For we do not have a high priest who cannot share our infirmities, but we have one who was tempted with everything as we are, yet without sin. 16Therefore let us come openly to the throne of his grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 (Hebrews 3:7-4:16 BRB)

Getting beyond the low level details of this long passage the big picture argument is that Jesus goes across the skies ahead of us just as Joshua lead Israel across the Jordan river into their promised land. Our real promised land, as Abraham understood (Heb 11:8-16), is not down here, but up there. Let us have faith to enter that place someday by doing what Joshua (Jesus) tells us today.