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|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
Deuteronomy 30-31 Listen
And Israel would end up falling! (Deuteronomy 30)
1 “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you,
2 and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,
3 that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you.
4 If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.
5 Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
7 ¶ “Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.
8 And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today.
9 The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the LORD will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers,
10 if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
11 ¶ “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
15 ¶ “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,
16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,
18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.
19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
20 that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and 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.
Moses to retire at 120 (Deuteronomy 31:1-8)
1 Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.
2 And he said to them: “I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no longer go out and come in. Also the LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’
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.
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.
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.”
7 ¶ Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “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.”
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, "Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “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." 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, "I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart." 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 ¶ So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.
10 And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles,
11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law,
13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.”
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 to 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.
Joshua gets the official promotion (Deuteronomy 31:14-30)
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.
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.
19 ¶ “Now therefore, write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel.
20 When I have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, then they will turn to other gods and serve them; and they will provoke Me and break My covenant.
21 Then it shall be, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify against them as a witness; for it will not be forgotten in the mouths of their descendants, for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I have brought them to the land of which I swore to give them.”
22 ¶ Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel.
23 Then He inaugurated Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”
24 ¶ So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished,
25 that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying:
26 “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you;
27 for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD, then how much more after my death?
28 Gather to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to witness against them.
29 For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands.”
30 ¶ Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly 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, "Now the LORD appeared at the tabernacle in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood above the door of the tabernacle. 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.'" 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, "Then it shall be, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify against them as a witness; for it will not be forgotten in the mouths of their descendants, for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I have brought them to the land of which I swore to give them." 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!