The Bible is fairly clear that Moses is in Heaven. Multiple passages in the Bible reference Moses’ death, but it’s the story of the Transfiguration in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that gives us the most evidence Moses is in Heaven.
Moses is a central figure in the story of the Israelites and is well known (among Jews and Christians) for leading them out of slavery in Egypt and receiving the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai.
One question that has been debated for centuries is whether Moses went to heaven after his death. Some biblical passages suggest that he did, while others aren’t quite as clear.
We’ll explore the evidence for and against the idea that Moses went to heaven and consider what it might mean for our understanding of the Bible and the afterlife as Christians.
The Life of Moses
Moses, a revered figure in the Old Testament, hails from a Hebrew background and was born during a period of enslavement for his people in Egypt. Handpicked by the divine God, Moses embarked on a journey to liberate the Hebrews from their shackles and guide them through the desert to the Promised Land.
The Book of Exodus narrates his incredible leadership and the crossing of the Red Sea with his people. Upon reaching the Promised Land, Moses imparted to the Hebrews the Ten Commandments – a set of laws meant to govern and shape their new lives in the homeland – and delivered the instructions for building the Tabernacle.
For Christians, Moses holds a special significance as the man who met with our faithful God face-to-face, led His people out of slavery, married two wives, and helped establish Israel.
How Did Moses Die?
After four decades of leading the Israelites through the desert, Moses’ journey came to an end at the age of 120 on Mount Nebo, a fate that denied him entry into the Promised Land. He wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience to God’s instruction regarding the rock. He struck it, rather than speaking to it as God had told him.
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.Deuteronomy 34:1-8
There have been various interpretations and speculations surrounding the cause of his death, including whether it was a natural death or if he took his own life. The Bible, however, remains silent on the specific details of his passing.
Deuteronomy 34:6 states that Moses was buried in the land of Moab, near Bethpeor. Many claim Moses is buried on Mount Nebo, but no one knows for sure. This secrecy can only be attributed to the hand of God, who alone has the power to conceal it. The question remains, however, did Moses ascend to heaven after his death?
Does the Book of Numbers Tell Us Moses is In Heaven?
Above we speak of Deuteronomy’s account of Moses’ death, but Numbers also gives us some insight into what happened to him after he passed.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.’”Numbers 27:12-14
God tells Moses he will be gathered to his people, just like Aaron was. While some assume this means Moses will be gathered to his people in Heaven, the intent of the phrase isn’t perfectly clear. Most believe the phrase, being “gathered to your people,” refers to joining your past generations in death. It’s almost like an idiom, and doesn’t explicitly refer to Heaven in any way.
Let’s look at some mentions of Moses’ death and eternal resting place in the New Testament.
Jude on Whether or Not Moses Went to Heaven
One bit of evidence on whether Moses went to Heaven can be found in Jude verse 9:
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!”Jude 9
The point of Jude 9 isn’t to answer the question of whether Moses went to Heaven, but to address those who blaspheme angels.
So what was happening here? Most Bible scholars believe Satan thought he could in some way intercept Moses’ body and deny him a proper burial. It’s not perfectly clear from the text, but Satan was up to something, and it certainly appears as if he did not succeed. Moses was properly buried in Moab.
This still doesn’t answer our question of whether or not Moses ascended to Heaven. Let’s look at one more passage from the Bible.
Does the Transfiguration Confirm Moses is in Heaven?
In the New Testament, a few of the Gospels depict The Transfiguration, a scene where Jesus takes John, Peter, and James up to a mountain. Jesus is transfigured before them while Moses and Elijah (what happened to Elijah?) appear on the scene, talking with Jesus.
“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)Luke 9:28-33
Does the Transfiguration story confirm that Moses is in Heaven? Most Bible commentators believe so. In The Gospel of Matthew by R.T. France, he states that Jesus is among “two well-known inhabitants of heaven.”
We know for certain that Elijah was taken up to Heaven immediately. And we know that Jesus came from Heaven, ushering in its Kingdom. So why would Moses be on the scene if he weren’t also a citizen of Heaven?
Moses is Dwelling in Heaven for Eternity
Based on the accounts of his death and the mentions of him in the New Testament, we can be confident Moses is dwelling in Heaven with the King for all of eternity. Will we see Moses in Heaven? Maybe. I don’t know for sure if we’ll run into everyone there, but we will have quite some time to look for him.