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Deuteronomy 30-31 Listen
1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
7 And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
8 And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
9 And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
We were rolling along in Deuteronomy 29 (see notes) with Moses warning Israel what will happen if they do not exclusively serve the one true God. Then in 29:22 we seem to get a surprise: Moses seems to be issuing his prediction that the descendants of these Israelites will indeed turn their backs on God. This prediction continues right on into chapter 30. Since it eventually happened exactly as Moses specifies in Deuteronomy 29, do we suppose that Moses' words are actually prophetic here? Based upon the developments of Israel, I think we must categorize Moses' statements as prophecy. Moreover, God actually confirms all of this in Deuteronomy 31:14-30 (see below).
So, here they are about to go in to possess Canaan, and Moses issues a prophecy that, after Israel possesses the land God promised, they will eventually turn their backs on God to the point that they will be overcome by enemy nations who will disperse them. He further specifies that they will turn again to the Lord, return to their homeland and prosper. This fall and dispersion subsequently happened in two stages: the Northern Kingdom in 721 B.C. (see notes and dispersion map on II Kings 17:1-6) and the Southern Kingdom in 586 B.C. (see notes in II Kings 24:10-16). Their return? Well, the official return began on May 14, 1948 after 2500+ years of being dispersed from their homeland. The prophesy of Moses is not complete yet, though - haven't turned back to God to the extent specified. That's coming at the end of the tribulation. May 14, 1948 was just the start of a prophesy that was given over 3,400 years ago.
We see four events that must take place to fulfill this prophecy of Israel's restoration:
Some might argue that the return to the land to which Moses referred is the return under Cyrus beginning in 535 B.C. However, the total renewal, prosperity and longevity we see in this chapter were not fulfilled at that time. 1948 was just the beginning of this process. Not until after the millennium begins will the total dependence upon the Messiah by Israel be realized. Click here to see the notes regarding Jeremiah's exile/return prophecy in Jeremiah 25:1-14.
Paul quotes verses 11-14 in Romans 10:6-8 (see notes). In these verses Moses proclaims to the people that simple acceptance of God's law is all that is required. Paul uses this passage to proclaim the same - simple faith in Jesus Christ as one's Savior is all that is required.
1 And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.
2 And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
3 The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said.
4 And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed.
5 And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.
6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
7 And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.
8 And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
Moses says, "Joshua! You take it." But first Moses gives a mini history lesson as a pep talk to Israel. Remember how we whipped King Sihon and King Og of the Amorites back in Numbers 21 (see notes)? I expect you to take that same fervor over the Jordan with you. Og was the giant king with the really big bed. He became the standard of God's ability to deliver enemies into Israel's hands. He's mentioned over and over again as a reminder - gets mentioned 22 times altogether all the way down to the time of David and even after Israel's deportation and return in the Book of Nehemiah. King Og was the poster child demonstrating what Israel can do when they depend on God.
You will notice that Joshua gets his commission in front of all of Israel in verse 7, "And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it." It was important for the Hebrews to recognize the same authority in Joshua as they had in Moses. Incidentally, you will recall that there were only two men left in Israel who were over 60 years of age (except for Levites, see article on the Wilderness Decree) - Joshua and Caleb. In Joshua's testimony of Joshua 14:7 (see notes) he said, "Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land." At that point in time, Moses was about 81. That makes Joshua approximately 80 years old or so when he takes over from Moses as the leader of Israel.
Incidentally, if you're wondering about Joshua's credentials, let's set your mind at ease. Joshua had been Moses' right-hand man through the whole process. Fresh out of Egypt, it was Joshua who was appointed by Moses to assemble an army to fight against the Amalekites in Exodus 17:8-16 (see notes). Moreover, we see in Exodus 24:13 (see notes) that Moses was accompanied by "his minister Joshua" when he ascended Mount Horeb for his extended stay where he communed with God. Joshua had definitely earned the respect of the people of Israel over the last 40 years.
Church meetin' every seven years (Deuteronomy 31:9-13)
9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.
10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:
13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
Instructions from Moses: When you get there (possess Canaan), gather everybody every seven years (in the Sabbatical year aka "year of release," see note on Leviticus 25:1-7) during the Feast of Tabernacles (Click here for more information regarding the Jewish feasts.) and read the whole law to them. Loooooong meeting, but it is just every 7 years. Oh...and while you're at it, be sure to actually keep the law you're reading. It is interesting to note here that a weekly gathering of Jews for a church meetin' was not part of the Law of Moses. We see in verse 9, "Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi." They were to be the custodians of the Law of Moses.
Lest we misunderstand the command here, Israel actually assembled three times each year according to Exodus 34:23 (see notes); these gatherings were the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles. (Click here for more information on the Jewish Festivals.) The specifications of "seven years" in verse 10 was for the purpose of reading the law to the people every seven years at the annual gathering for the Feast of Tabernacles.
14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.
15 And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.
16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
17 Then my anger shall be kindled 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, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?
18 And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.
19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.
20 For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.
21 And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.
22 Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.
23 And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.
24 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,
25 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying,
26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.
27 For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?
28 Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.
29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.
30 And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.
In verse 14, God calls Moses and Joshua to the tabernacle for the transfer of authority. A couple of verses here give us perspective on this transfer: Deuteronomy 31:15-16, "And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them." Imagine getting a prophetic word like that from God after leading these people for forty years.
But you know...what Israel needs is a song - that's right, A SONG! Moses, write a song! He wrote it in a day. I guess you might call it their national anthem. It was to serve as a reminder. Look at Deuteronomy 31:21, "And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware." By the way, the words to the song comprise the first 43 verses of Deuteronomy 32 (see notes).
Let's see...things for Moses to do before dying: Warn Israel again about worshipping other Gods; finish writing the law; give the same law to the Levites and tell them where to store it; attend the Joshua commissioning ceremony; and of course, write a song. That's a big day for a 120-year-old. What a "to do" list!