Saturday, September 29, 2012

LXIV - Deuteronomy 31-34 - Final Words of Moses

Moses's ministry was drawing to a close.  Soon Israel would enter and take possession of the Promised Land.  This will be the glorious culmination of their efforts and an end to their wilderness wandering, but this of course is overshadowed by the imminent death of their beloved leader Moses.  Also noteworthy is the fact that Moses was the oldest among them being 120 years old.  All the others of his generation were gone (except Joshua and Caleb, and they were still younger than Moses).  Furthermore, Moses was the only leader these people had ever known.

Moses knew that there would be doubts about Joshua's ability to lead.  This always happens with new leaders.  So Moses addresses this starting in verse 3.  After crossing the Jordan, Israel would face the most critical phase of the conquest.  Moses would not be with them.  Moses tells them that it is not he, but God who has lead them to military victory, and that God would continue to be with them.   God would do two things:  1) He would be with them and 2) He would destroy the nations that opposed them.  In this verse Moses reaffirms Joshua as their new leader.  Joshua must have been fairly well known.  He was Moses's understudy, plus he and Caleb drew much attention and notoriety as the two spies who were in descent of the majority reporting the situation as they returned from Canaan.  Also, Joshua had regularly accompanied Moses at the tabernacle in important situations. 

In verses 4 and 5, Moses again reminds them how God delivered them victory against the Amorite kings and He is prepared to lead them into battle again.  Moses uses the often used phrase from this point forward:  "Be strong and of good courage (KJV)".  These people and Joshua would frequently need encouragement as the task that lies before them is very challenging.  In verses 7 and 8 Moses brings Joshua before the people and again endorses him.  Also, encouragement is given twice again in these two verses.  In vss 9-13 Moses wrote down the law and ordered the Levites to place them in the Ark of the Covenant and read them aloud to the nation every seven years.

In the remaining verses of chapter 31, Moses foretells of Israel's rebellion and corruption which leads to their destruction as a nation.

Chapter 34 is mostly the song that Moses writes and teaches to the people.  Take a few moments and read this song.  It covers a wide range of time and activities.  Vs 48:  On that same day God told Moses to go up to the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab and view Canaan.    He told Moses these are his final days.

In chapter 33, Moses places a blessing on each of the twelve tribes individually.  This is not as detailed as the blessings previously stated, but Moses found it important to name each tribe individually in his last speech to them.
Chapter 34  -  Moses climbed Mount Nebo as God instructed him.  God gave Moses a special panoramic view of the land that God had chosen for His people.  He showed Moses the whole land, and the territories each tribe was to occupy.  This is the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Verse 5 tells of Moses's death.  How sad it is to read that this great man died.  It mentions in vs 6 that he was buried in Moab and noone knows where his grave is.  {This is a good thing.  If the exact spot was known, things could get out of hand to the point that the grave could actually become a worshipping site, which would be in direct conflict with God's wishes.}  Israel grieved for Moses thirty days.  Now Joshua was their new leader and verse 9 tells us that he was filled with the spirit of wisdom.

Verse 10 wraps up the book of Deuteronomy and the ministry of Moses, saying simply that "there has been no prophet, before Moses or since that has equaled Moses.  Verse 12:  "No one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel."

Next post:  The Book of Joshua

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