So what do you do when you’ve decided to turn a dead guy into one of your national heroes? Well, consider what the Catholics have done with Mary: they have invented a whole bunch of ridiculous fables about her to make her sound extra awesome. The Jews did the same thing with guys like Moses and Abraham. This business about Michael and Satan fighting over Moses’ corpse is a way of making Moses sound super awesome. He’s so fabulous that the highest ranking angel in Heaven just has to have him. But the notorious king of evilSatanwants him, too, and that’s a kind of reverse compliment. Once you understand that New Testament Jews viewed Satan like a kind of demigod who actually ruled over the earth, well, then it’s even more impressive that Satan was paying so much attention to Moses. Whether you’re good or bad, if you’ve got power, then your opinion is considered important. Old Moses had the top ranking officers on both sides of the supernatural realm fighting over him, so obviously that meant he was big stuff.
Now obsessing over the body is nothing newthe ancient Egyptians and many other ancient cultures showed a lot of concern about burying their earthsuits in good condition. But all of this fussing over the body is based on the very wrong assumption that our bodies continue to matter after we die. When you die, only your soul goes on to the next world. Your physical body decomposes as part of God’s fabulous recycling program and it ceases to exist. When Moses died in real life, his soul went on to a new dimension, and his body became irrelevant. But since Moses was a hero, the Jews couldn’t accept that no one in the supernatural realms cared about his body. Instead, they whipped up a bunch of wild tales like this one that Jude is referring to.
No one wants their great hero to just fade out quietlyheroes are supposed to go out in some dramatic way so we can keep talking about them for generations to come. Just look at what Christians have done to Peterthe man volunteered to be crucified upside down. Of course tales like this are just a bunch of hokum that we invented to make our heroes sound more heroic. But such stories keep the idolatry flowing, because how stellar does Peter sound to go for an upside down cross? Obviously a man’s devotion to God is illustrated by his method of execution, right? Well, no. The manner in which you’re killed really doesn’t have bumpkus to do with your soul’s attitude towards God. Whether you’re crucified right side up, upside down, or sideways, God is going to be judging you by the soul choices you made during your whole life on earth. You don’t get extra points for going out in some ultra agonizing way, just as you don’t get docked points for dying of natural causes. The morbid Christian fixation with gruesome martyr stories only reflects how backwards our priorities are.
It’s a very neat trick Yahweh did about hiding Moses’ body from the Jews. And when we see what the Jews turned Moses into, we can appreciate why God did this. Just imagine if Moses’ bones were enshrined in some temple somewhere todayno doubt scores of people would be camped at that place praying to the bones, kissing the bones, and worshiping the bones. When you see how modern day Christians fruit out over their “holy relics”weeping, crying, and praying to fragments of cloth, old bones, and splinters of woodyou can see why Yahweh just wasn’t interested in arming the Jews with a whole corpse that they could deify.
Now when you consider that millions of Jews were present at the time Moses diedand when you consider that those same Jews faithfully carried Joseph’s bones out of Egypt and hauled them around for forty years in the desert just so they could bury him in the Promised Landit is really quite miraculous that Moses’ corpse was completely lost. The Jews usually made quite a fuss over the remains of their prominent leaders, so how do millions of eye witnesses fail to remember where Moses was buried? This account demonstrates how easy it is for God to cause us to lose track of things that He doesn’t want us to keep holding onto.
Wherever Moses was buried, his corpse is long gone. Since the Jews weren’t practicing the mummification rituals of the Egyptians, God’s natural processes would have made short work of Moses’ corpse. As for Moses’ soulthat was immediately transferred to another dimension after Moses died. How Moses is doing with God today is something only he and God know about. We certainly don’t want to view him as some kind of standard that we can only hope to live up to. Instead, we should set our sights on doing far better than Moses did by making our own submission to God a lot deeper than Moses’ was. And as for Jude and his silly tales of angelic beings fighting over a corpse, well, what can we say? It’s Jude. It’s the Bible. Don’t expect perfection.