This Sunday during our Connect Groups, we are going to conclude the life and ministry of the great man of God, Moses. He has led the children of Israel faithfully for 40 years. It has been a difficult task for Moses and now he is giving his last charge to the people before turning over the leadership role to one of his disciples, Joshua. Our text this week with be Deuteronomy 31 and 32.
Last week we took a look at Balak and Balaam in a lesson entitled: A prophet seeking a profit. We have also seen
- God’s provision for salvation
- Heroes appear after the danger
- The day of atonement
- Idolatry: Are you not entertained?
I. Moses encourages the people
Deuteronomy 29 and 30 recaps the covenant that the Lord made with the children of Israel. God met with Moses and recapped the events. In Deuteronomy 31, Moses now takes the message of the Lord and delivers it to the people.
1 So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.
2 And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’
3 “It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken.
4 “The LORD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them.
5 “The LORD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you.
6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
In doing this, Moses encourages the people to continue on the journey that the Lord began 40 years before when they left the land of slavery, Egypt. It has been a difficult journey because of the obstinate hearts of the people. They need to be encouraged to continue the journey, walking by faith as they trust the promises of the Lord. Moses reminds the people that the Lord is doing this, even though they are going to be led by a new leader, Joshua. Moses has spent the last 40 years mentoring Joshua and preparing him for the task before them. Moses encourages the people to remember the mighty deeds of God over the past 40 years, in spite of their unfaithfulness, God has been faithful and He will continue to be faithful.
7 Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance.
8 “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
9 So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.
Moses also encourages Joshua and elevates his leadership in the sight of the people while still pointing to the fact that the Lord is orchestrating all of the events.
10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths,
11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing.
12 “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.
13 “Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”
Moses encourages the people to remain faithful to the Lord by being good students of the Word of God and then applying what they learn to their daily lives. Not only are they to be led by the Word of God, they are also encouraged to teach the Word of God to the future generations so that they will respect the Lord by obeying Him all the days of their lives.
II. Moses teaches the people
Moses utilizes a great teaching device to help the people remember the Word of God and live by It. He composes a song for the people to sing. As they sing it to themselves and teach it to their children, the Word of God will be memorized, stored in their hearts so that they may not sin against God. (see Psalm 119:11) Moses is a great teacher, using creative ways to teach the people so that they can understand the Word of God. With understanding of the Word comes a better chance of application. (see the parable of the sower and the seed)
28 “Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them.
30 Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:
Moses gathers the leaders of the people together to teach them the song so that they can teach it to others. This reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s charge to young Timothy:
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (II Timothy 2:2)
Moses gives the leaders a practical assignment in his teaching. He does not just pass on theory to the people. He gives them an opportunity to apply that they learn. This is a mark of a great teacher. Jesus did the same with His own disciples on several occasions. That was a lesson that Moses had to learn himself and apply to his own ministry. Upon doing this, it revolutionized his ministry because is now empowering others for ministry.
III. Moses praises the Lord
We have seen over and over again that Moses lives for the glory of God. Even when God offered Moses a chance to rid himself of the burden of the children of Israel and start over with him, Moses was thinking about the Name of God and what the pagans would say about God if He wiped out the children of Israel after bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. The song that Moses composes is a song of praise to the Lord. In the song of praise to the Lord, Moses reminds the people that in spite of their constant rebellion, God will always keep His promises to them.
3 “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God!
4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.
5 “They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation.
6 “Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you.
7 “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, Your elders, and they will tell you.
8 “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel.
9 “For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.
10 “He found him in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
11 “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.
12 “The LORD alone guided him, And there was no foreign god with him.
13 “He made him ride on the high places of the earth, And he ate the produce of the field; And He made him suck honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock,
14 Curds of cows, and milk of the flock, With fat of lambs, And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, With the finest of the wheat – And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.
To sum up the above quote, Moses reminds the people that:
- God will lead them as He has already been doing.
- God will fight for them as He has already been doing.
- God will show compassion to them as He has already been doing.
- God will continue to show mercy to them as He has already been doing.
- God will continue to show grace to them as He has already been doing.
- Even in the midst of His judgment of their sin, God will continue to save (rescue) them as He has already been doing.
In the midst of praising the Lord, Moses does not forget to warn the people. Even though God is merciful, faithful, and gracious, sin still has consequences.
IV. Moses warns the people
Just focusing on the mercy and grace of God can lead to disastrous results because people tend to forget that God is also just. God warns that sin has consequences, even upon forgiveness. Moses wants the people to remember this. They have lived sinfully in the past and their sin nature is still present within them. For the sake of space, I am going to link to Deuteronomy 32:15-47.
Moses warns the people of the consequences of sin. He reminds them of their checkered past so that they will remember the past consequences when tempted to sin in the future. God has already told Moses that the people will continue to rebel. This is a clear sign that as people, we are dominated by our sin nature and we need a Savior. God promised that Savior all the way back in Genesis 3. The people cannot simply stand on their own willpower and defeat their sin nature. They need to trust in the Promised Savior. The same is true today, all of these years later. In our own strength, we are powerless to defeat our sin nature. We must surrender to the Promised Savior and trust His provision.
Moses finishes the course and he dies before entering the Promised Land. His death is also a reminder that there are consequences for sin. In a moment of weakness, Moses disobeyed God.
50 “Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people,
51 because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel.
52 “For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel.”
God uses harsh language when describing Moses’ sin. He says that Moses broke faith with God and that he did not treat God as holy. Even the death of Moses is used as a teaching opportunity for the people as they continue on the journey without him.
What about you my dear friend, do you encourage the people around you to learn of the mighty deeds of God? Are you intentional about teaching people the Word of God? Do you use every opportunity to praise the Name of the Lord when speaking with others? Do you share the faithfulness, mercy, and grace of God with the people within your sphere of influence? Do you warn others of the consequences of sin? Are you living your life to be a minister of the Lord wherever He has you? Are you driven to finish well, the way that Moses did?
May the Lord help us apply His teachings in these passages to our daily lives!