Deuteronomy 31-34 Chapter Study
Tonight we come to the end of not only Deuteronomy, but of the Pentateuch; the 5 books of Moses, this towering figure, not just of Jewish but of world history.
Since we covered vs. 1-6 Sunday, we’ll be more summary with them tonight.
1 Then Moses went and spoke these words to all
Moses’ task of leading
There comes a time in every movement & work of God when the one who started it is called to step aside & let a new leader take it.
Seth followed Adam.
Jacob followed Isaac who followed Abraham.
Samuel followed Eli.
David followed Saul then Solomon followed David.
Elisha followed Elijah.
Jesus appointed the 12 to continue after He departed.
When Paul left a city after planting a church there, he appointed elders to carry on the task of leadership.
Where a movement of God often stumbles is when there’s a change in leaders but the expectation of the people is that the new leader will be JUST LIKE THE OLD LEADER.
The question often asked is – “Will the new guy be able to fill the old guy’s shoes?”
Sometimes the new leader is an even more effective leader.
But what often happens is that the new leader is forced by the expectations of the people to fit into the same role & mode as the founder.
He’s judged against the previous leader’s example, style, & method.
People need to realize that God raises up leaders to lead within their own unique calling & giftedness.
We ought not compare one leader to another or judge them because they don’t do things the way the previous ‘guy’ did.
The only question ought to be à Is he/she being faithful to his/her calling by God.
3 The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as the Lord has said.
Moses was clear to let them know that while he wasn’t going with them, God was, & would provide a new leader for them in the person of Joshua.
4 And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites and their land, when He destroyed them. 5 The Lord will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you.
Which was to wipe them out.
6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
As we saw Sunday, this was an important world of encouragement because the Israelites knew the reputation of the Canaanites as a fierce, well-trained & battle-hardened people.
7 Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the
sight of all
Moses first spoke to all
Now he brings Joshua before them & speaks directly to him . . .
“Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8 And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
After encouraging the people as a whole, Moses turns to Joshua & pointedly encourages him to take the leadership of the nation.
succeed in his mission of conquering Canaan, then dividing it among the
Just as he had said for the
nation, the basis of Joshua’s courage & strength was the rock-solid promise
of the Lord’s preparation of
I want to repeat that point I made Sunday as we see it repeated here to Joshua.
Moses said God was going before them and with them.
Spirit was at work in Canaan before they took one step west of the
we’ll see next week in our study in Joshua, when the spies came to
said the Canaanites hearts “had melted within them” – so God was already softening
up the land for
What God did for Israel & Joshua, He does for us.
He not only goes with us, He has gone before us to prepare our future for us.
He is not only shaping us for tomorrow, He is shaping tomorrow for us.
We may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.
And we can all confidence that what comes He is with us in.
9 So Moses wrote this law [Deuteronomy] and
delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant
of the Lord, and to all the
In the Sabbath Year, when all debts were to be released and slaves set free, when they journeyed to the tabernacle to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasted for a full week, they were to read the scroll of Deuteronomy.
This would remind them who they were as the covenant people of God & all God had done for them.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of meeting, that I may inaugurate him.” So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tabernacle of meeting. 15 Now the Lord appeared at the tabernacle in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood above the door of the tabernacle.
Now God is going to tell
Moses about what the future holds for
16 And the Lord said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ 18 And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.
What God foretells here did, of course, come to pass.
wasn’t long after they entered
God sent them many warnings, leaders & prophets to urge them to turn back to Him.
were short bursts of revival, but each one was more than erased in the
decadence & spiritual pollution that followed until
19 “Now therefore, write down this song for yourselves,
and teach it to the children of
God told Moses to record a
song and teach it to the people of
Music is a powerful medium for memorizing.
Many people find it difficult to just memorize scripture but they remember the words to songs they sang 20, 30, 40 years ago.
this song was somewhat depressing because it spoke of apostasy & judgment,
it was to become
And when its words came to pass, it would prompt the people to realize the cause of their distress was their own rebelliousness in turning from the Lord.
Blessing lay in turning back to Him.
22 Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and
taught it to the children of
And now we have the Song in ch. 32 . . .
1 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 2 Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As raindrops on the tender herb, And as showers on the grass. 3 For I proclaim the name of the Lord:
· Ascribe greatness to our God.
· 4 He is the Rock,
· His work is perfect;
· For all His ways are justice,
· A God of truth and without injustice;
· Righteous and upright is He.
Moses begins by declaring the goodness & holiness of God.
A people who are in covenant with such a God ought to themselves be holy & good.
But that was not Israel’s condition . . .
5 “They have corrupted themselves;
· They are not His children, Because of their blemish:
· A perverse and crooked generation.
6 Do you thus deal with the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?
· Is He not your Father, who bought you?
· Has He not made you and established you?
Moses now rehearses their history & tells of God’s favor bestowed on them -
7 “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations.
· Ask your father, and he will show you;
· Your elders, and they will tell you:
· 8 When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations,
· When He separated the sons of Adam,
· He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.
9 For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. 10 “He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness;
· He encircled him,
· He instructed him,
· He kept him as the apple of His eye.
· 11 As an eagle stirs up its nest,
· Hovers over its young,
· Spreading out its wings,
· taking them up,
· Carrying them on its wings,
12 So the Lord alone led him, and there was no foreign god with him. 13 “He made him ride in the heights of the earth,
· That he might eat the produce of the fields;
· He made him draw honey from the rock,
· And oil from the flinty rock;
· 14 Curds from the cattle,
· and milk of the flock,
· With fat of lambs;
· And rams of the breed of Bashan,
· and goats,
· With the choicest wheat;
· And you drank wine, the blood of the grapes.
Moses is speaking of the blessings they will enjoy once they’ve settled in the Promised land.
15 “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
‘Jeshurun’ means “Upright one” and is a nickname for Israel.
But by “Upright” God doesn’t mean moral or spiritual righteousness.
It simply pictures someone who is standing up straight, not bowed or bent over.
Jeshurun here is Israel that has been so blessed by God with material prosperity, they’ve become haughty and arrogant, standing defiantly before the Lord.
The picture here is of an ox that’s been well fed & tended by it’s owner but when the owner comes near, the stupid thing kicks him.
You grew fat, you grew thick, You are obese!
Instead of using the blessing of God to bless & benefit others, they’d hoarded it & grown fat & lazy.
Then he forsook God who made him, And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation. 16 They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. 17 They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear.
We learn an important truth from v. 17 – Demons are behind the worship of idols.
Let’s think about this - it makes no sense that a person would forsake the worship of one God to worship another, unless the new god promised something the current God didn’t.
After the Jews had witnessed God’s obvious existence & presence with them for over 40 years, & after they had enjoyed His protection & provision on a daily basis for that entire time, what could possibly move them to turn from Him to worship idols?
I’ll tell you what – demonic temptation; the lies & deceit of the enemy, who knows what’s in the human heart & plays on it, appeals to it.
Lust, greed, envy, anger, selfishness, all these are things human societies recognize as morally wrong, so they’re condemned.
What the demonic realm has done is to make all these things socially acceptable by wrapping them in religious robes turning them into spiritual pursuits in the worship of idols.
The worship of the Canaanite god Baal was nothing but a religious pursuit of greed & power.
The worship of Asherah was nothing but sexual lust made socially acceptable.
The danger we face today is thinking that because the western world has rejected the use of statues of wood & stone in religious worship that we no longer have a problem with idolatry.
The essence of idolatry isn’t the use of a physical statue as an object of worship.
The essence & root of idolatry is when we use God as the means to our own ends & desires.
We need to be on guard against that continual tendency to mold & shape our faith according to the remaining fallenness of our hearts.
The whole Health & Wealth heresy is nothing more than an idolatry of materialism & greed.
The Signs & Wonders movement is an idolatry of power.
The Church Growth movement is an idolatry of the lust for success.
In an age when Biblical literacy is so abysmally low, we ought to be cautious about any new movement in the Church that is wildly popular & exciting & has everyone talking because there’s a good chance it’s not faithful to the Word & Spirit.
Listen – I am not just being a naysayer here.
I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who’s been around for a while & seen a lot of stuff come & go.
I’m a student of history & know that it’s the age old tactic of the enemy to keep trying to put idols before the people of God.
Turn to 1 John 5:21 –
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Question: Who is this addressed to?
Are they Christians?
Do Christians worship idols?
So why does John end with this statement?
It’s as if as he walks out of the room, he turns back around, pulls the pin on a grenade and tosses it back into the rooms and walks out.
It is a provocatively huge remark to make to a bunch of Christians!
And that is John’s whole purpose – to stun them, to shock them into realizing that idolatry is not about bowing in front of a statue!
It’s about editing our faith so that it becomes nothing more than a religious pursuit of our own selfish desires.
The goal of true religion is to know & be used by God.
18 Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, And have forgotten the God who fathered you. 19 “And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them, Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters. 20 And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faith. 21 They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.
Just as Israel’s worship of idols provoked God’s jealousy, He would provoke Israel to jealousy by pouring His favor on other nations they considered worthless.
Paul picks up on this in Romans & says God has done this in extending salvation to the Gentiles.
22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, And shall burn to the lowest hell;
· It shall consume the earth with her increase,
· And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
· 23 ‘I will heap disasters on them;
· I will spend My arrows on them.
· 24 They shall be wasted with hunger,
· Devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction;
· I will also send against them the teeth of beasts,
· With the poison of serpents of the dust.
· 25 The sword shall destroy outside;
· There shall be terror within for the young man and virgin,
· The nursing child with the man of gray hairs.
26 I would have said, “I will dash them in pieces, I will make the memory of them to cease from among men,” 27 had I not feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should misunderstand, lest they should say, “Our hand is high; and it is not the Lord who has done all this.” ’
God will use many means to judge Israel when they have forsaken the covenant; pestilence, plague, wild beasts & war.
But He will not allow Israel to be utterly destroyed through war because it would cause her enemies to draw the wrong conclusion; that their military might was the cause of their victory.
God would use other nations as the rod of correction for His people, but never allow them to think they were anything other than a tool in His sovereign hand.
28 “For they [Israel] are a nation void of counsel, nor is there any understanding in them. 29 Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
One of the great deceits of sin is thinking you can escape the consequences of your choices.
“Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a person sows, that is what they shall reap.” [Gal 6:7]
30 How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the Lord had surrendered them?
They would become so weak as a nation one enemy soldier would cause a thousand Jewish soldiers to run away; 2 would put ten times that many to flight.
31 For their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
Foreigners would take over the government of the nation.
32 For their vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gomorrah; Their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter. 33 Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras.
Life will become inordinately difficult for those living in the land.
Where once it was a land flowing with milk & honey – it would become a bitter place of desperate need.
34 ‘Is this not laid up in store with Me, sealed up among My treasures? 35 Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.’ 36 “For the Lord will judge His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone, and there is no one remaining, bond or free. 37 He will say: ‘Where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge? 38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise and help you, and be your refuge. 39 ‘Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. 40 For I raise My hand to heaven, and say, “As I live forever, 41 if I whet My glittering sword, and My hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to My enemies, and repay those who hate Me. 42 I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the heads of the leaders of the enemy.” ’
God’s judgment on sins & sinners will be perfect, complete, but in the midst of it all, He will have compassion on His faithful ones.
43 “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”
This ends the Song.
44 So Moses came with Joshua the son of Nun and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people. 45 Moses finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 and he said to them: “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. 47 For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess.”
48 Then the Lord spoke to Moses that very same day, saying: 49 “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho; view the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession; 50 and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; 51 because you trespassed against Me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Zin, because you did not hallow Me in the midst of the children of Israel. 52 Yet you shall see the land before you, though you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel.”
It was Moses’ misrepresentation of God at the waters of Meribah that barred him from entering the Promised Land.
Throughout our study of Exodus through Deuteronomy we’ve referred to the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 10 which draw a parallel between Israel’s experiences in the Exodus and the Christian life.
Just as Israel was delivered from bondage in Egypt through the blood of the Passover lamb, so we’ve been delivered from bondage to sin and death in the world by the Blood of the Lamb of God.
The Red Sea parallels water baptism which ends our identification with the world and initiates us into our new covenant relationship with God.
Mt. Sinai is a picture of our coming face to face with the revelation of God in His Word.
The Promised Land speaks of the Spirit filled life which is entered by a new baptism of the Spirit, just as Israel had to cross the Jordan to enter the place of Promise.
So it’s fitting that Moses was not the one to lead Israel into the Promised Land.
Moses is forever associated with the Law. In fact, it’s called the Mosaic Law because he’s the one God dictated it to & had it implemented with Israel under the old covenant.
As the book of Galatians makes clear, the Spirit-filled life is not something an observance of the law can attain.
The work of the Spirit is the work of God’s grace and it comes apart form the works of the law.
Moses could not take Israel into the Promised land.
Only Joshua could take them in, just as it is not the law, but our Yahshua (same name) who takes us into the place of spiritual fulfillment.
1 Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said: “The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints; from His right hand came a fiery law for them. 3 Yes, He loves the people; all His saints are in Your hand; they sit down at Your feet; everyone receives Your words.
Moses is remembering back to the great day 40 years before when God first came to Mt. Sinai & made the offer of covenant with Israel.
4 Moses commanded a law for us, a heritage of the congregation of Jacob. 5 And He was King in Jeshurun, when the leaders of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.
Now Moses speaks a brief word of blessing for each of the tribes . . .
6 “Let Reuben live, and not die, nor let his men be few.”
7 And this he said of Judah: “Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people; let his hands be sufficient for him, and may You be a help against his enemies.”
8 And of Levi he said: “Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one, whom You tested at Massah, and with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah,
The Urim & Thummim were the means of decision-making the nation would use after Moses was gone.
They were located in a pocket of the high priest’s garment.
9 Who says of his father and mother, ‘I have not seen them’; nor did he acknowledge his brothers, or know his own children; For they have observed Your word and kept Your covenant.
There were times when the people of the tribe of Levi had taken a steadfast stand for the Lord while the rest of the tribes were rebelling and for this they were commended and rewarded.
10 They shall teach Jacob Your judgments, and Israel Your law. They shall put incense before You, and a whole burnt sacrifice on Your altar. 11 Bless his substance, Lord, And accept the work of his hands; Strike the loins of those who rise against him, And of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”
Just as Moses said, as the tribe of priests, the Levites were the teachers of Israel.
12 Of Benjamin he said: “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him, Who shelters him all the day long; and he shall dwell between His shoulders.”
The tribe of Benjamin settled in the region near which the temple was built.
13 And of Joseph he said: “Blessed of the Lord is his land, with the precious things of heaven, with the dew, and the deep lying beneath, 14 with the precious fruits of the sun, with the precious produce of the months, 15 with the best things of the ancient mountains, with the precious things of the everlasting hills, 16 with the precious things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let the blessing come ‘on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’ 17 His glory is like a firstborn bull, and his horns like the horns of the wild ox; together with them He shall push the peoples to the ends of the earth; they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, And they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh comprised two huge tribes who ended up becoming the backbone and leaders of the 10 northern tribes when the nation split under the reign of David’s grandson.
18 And of Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, and Issachar in your tents! 19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain; There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness; for they shall partake of the abundance of the seas and of treasures hidden in the sand.”
Both of these tribes had regions bordering the Lake of Galilee, a rich region that became the breadbasket for the entire area.
20 And of Gad he said: “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad; he dwells as a lion, and tears the arm and the crown of his head. 21 He provided the first part for himself, because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there. He came with the heads of the people; he administered the justice of the Lord, and His judgments with Israel.”
The Gadites produced some of the greatest warriors Israel ever had.
Some of David’s mighty men were from this tribe.
They became the captains of the army of Israel.
22 And of Dan he said: “Dan is a lion’s whelp; He shall leap from Bashan.”
This is not a positive remark!
A ‘lion’s whelp’ meant Dan possessed potential, but it would NOT be unrealized.
Bashan was a region in the far north of Israel.
This is curious because Dan’s allotted region was in the central southern area of the land.
But Dan was not able to oust the Canaanites from their strongholds & instead of moving to finish the job, they just migrated north till they found easier pickings – finding them in Bashan.
It was then, settling in Bashan that they went off into gross idolatry.
They literally leapt away from God in Bashan.
23 And of Naphtali he said: “O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the Lord, possess the west and the south.”
The region of the tribe of Naphtali was the western coast of Galilee – and the main area of Jesus’ ministry.
24 And of Asher he said: “Asher is most blessed of sons; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil. 25 Your sandals shall be iron and bronze; as your days, so shall your strength be.
The region of Asher was incredibly prosperous.
The oil that’s mentioned here is olive oil – a main staple of the ancient world.
26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, and in His excellency on the clouds. 27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, and will say, ‘Destroy!’ 28 Then Israel shall dwell in safety, the fountain of Jacob alone, in a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew. 29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places.”
1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho.
Pisgah is the range of mountains Nebo is a major peak of. [pic]
And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.
From the top of Mt. Nebo, one cannot see all the way to the northern or southern border of Israel or all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
So either God gave Moses a supernatural ability to take in the whole scene, or what this means is that God made Moses to understand the extent of the land the people were about to take possession of.
I rather believe that we ought to take this literally and for a moment, Moses’ eyesight was made keener than normal and he got to see the actual land his people were about to be given.
4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. 6 And He [God] buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day. 7 Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. 8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended. 9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
Moses truly was an amazing person; one of the most important in all of human history.
While Abraham is called the Father of the Jewish people, Moses is the father of the Jewish worldview because he’s the author of the Pentateuch.
When you think about what Judaism has contributed to the world in terms of religion, law, culture, & learning, Moses truly is one of the most important figures in history.
Some years ago, Thomas Cahill wrote a book chronicling the inordinate number of contributions the Jews have made to civilization in the book The Gift of the Jews.
Their influence has been far, far greater than their numbers would tend to suggest.
Though they make up only a very small percent of the total world population, they make for the largest number of inventors & Nobel prize winners.