Today you will finish reading not only Deuteronomy, but also the Pentateuch, what is elsewhere called the Books of the Law, the Books of Moses – the Torah. The stories, laws and covenant herein lie beneath everything else in the Bible.
Think about the great book series you’ve read, and imagine what it would have been like to start in book five or six, having no idea what happened before. Or take movie series – even if a sequel makes sense on its own, it’s still a sequel, filled with inside knowledge and connections to dots that have a beginning.
This is the gift of walking through these “Books of Moses,” of taking them on their own. You’ve allowed them to tell their own story, to prepare you, as the author intends, for everything that comes after. And you’ve made it to the finish line.
Chapter 32 picks up with a song introduced at the end of yesterday’s reading: “Then Moses spoke the words of this song until they were finished, in the ears of all the assembly of Israel:” As when he recounted their escape from Egypt in Exodus 15, here Moses employs verse to remind Israel of the importance of remembering the LORD’s goodness to them and of observing His law. Listen in this song to how Moses refers to Israel as Jeshurun, an obscure word that could mean “Upright Child.”
When the LORD tells Moses that his moments on earth are dwindling, Moses gives a final blessing to the nation and to its tribes. Notice that Simeon, curiously, is not mentioned. Notice also that his blessing is much kinder, and hopeful, than that of Jacob’s at the end of Genesis.
And then the end comes. We’ve been prepared for this, known about it for some 50 chapters, yet it still moves me and I read Deuteronomy 34 slowly each time. Moses is a unique and profound character, “none like him for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt…”
His life ends on Mount Nebo, looking out over all the land “as far as the western sea,” at the intersection of all he had seen and done and all that lay before, just beyond his reach, his eye undimmed, and his vigor unabated.
Our verse for this week is Galatians 3:29: And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Deuteronomy 32 through 34. Now let’s read it!
Deuteronomy 32 - 34
32:1 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb.
For I will proclaim the name of the LORD;
ascribe greatness to our God!
“The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.
They have dealt corruptly with him;
they are no longer his children because they are blemished;
they are a crooked and twisted generation.
Do you thus repay the LORD,
you foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
who made you and established you?
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.
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
But the LORD's portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.
“He found him in a desert land,
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions,
the LORD alone guided him,
no foreign god was with him.
He made him ride on the high places of the land,
and he ate the produce of the field,
and he suckled him with honey out of the rock,
and oil out of the flinty rock.
Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock,
with fat of lambs,
rams of Bashan and goats,
with the very finest of the wheat—
and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.
“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;
you grew fat, stout, and sleek;
then he forsook God who made him
and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
with abominations they provoked him to anger.
They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded.
You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
and you forgot the God who gave you birth.
“The LORD saw it and spurned them,
because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
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 faithfulness.
They have made me jealous with what is no god;
they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
“‘And I will heap disasters upon them;
I will spend my arrows on them;
they shall be wasted with hunger,
and devoured by plague
and poisonous pestilence;
I will send the teeth of beasts against them,
with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.
Outdoors the sword shall bereave,
and indoors terror,
for young man and woman alike,
the nursing child with the man of gray hairs.
I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces;
I will wipe them from human memory,”
had I not feared provocation by the enemy,
lest their adversaries should misunderstand,
lest they should say, “Our hand is triumphant,
it was not the LORD who did all this.”’
“For they are a nation void of counsel,
and there is no understanding in them.
If they were wise, they would understand this;
they would discern their latter end!
How could one have chased a thousand,
and two have put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
and the LORD had given them up?
For their rock is not as our Rock;
our enemies are by themselves.
For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison;
their clusters are bitter;
their wine is the poison of serpents
and the cruel venom of asps.
“‘Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.
Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge,
who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you;
let them be your protection!
“‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
For I lift up my hand to heaven
and swear, As I live forever,
if I sharpen my flashing sword
and my hand takes hold on judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
and will repay those who hate me.
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 long-haired heads of the enemy.’
“Rejoice with him, O heavens;
bow down to him, all gods,
for he avenges the blood of his children
and takes vengeance on his adversaries.
He repays those who hate him
and cleanses his people's land.”
Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun. And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
That very day the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.”
33:1 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. He said,
“The LORD came from Sinai
and dawned from Seir upon us;
he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
with flaming fire at his right hand.
Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you,
when Moses commanded us a law,
as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun,
when the heads of the people were gathered,
all the tribes of Israel together.
“Let Reuben live, and not die,
but let his men be few.”
And this he said of Judah:
“Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah,
and bring him in to his people.
With your hands contend for him,
and be a help against his adversaries.”
And of Levi he said,
“Give to Levi your Thummim,
and your Urim to your godly one,
whom you tested at Massah,
with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah;
who said of his father and mother,
‘I regard them not’;
he disowned his brothers
and ignored his children.
For they observed your word
and kept your covenant.
They shall teach Jacob your rules
and Israel your law;
they shall put incense before you
and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
Bless, O LORD, his substance,
and accept the work of his hands;
crush the loins of his adversaries,
of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”
Of Benjamin he said,
“The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long,
and dwells between his shoulders.”
And of Joseph he said,
“Blessed by the LORD be his land,
with the choicest gifts of heaven above,
and of the deep that crouches beneath,
with the choicest fruits of the sun
and the rich yield of the months,
with the finest produce of the ancient mountains
and the abundance of the everlasting hills,
with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness
and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.
May these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.
A firstborn bull—he has majesty,
and his horns are the horns of a wild ox;
with them he shall gore the peoples,
all of them, to the ends of the earth;
they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
And of Zebulun he said,
“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
and Issachar, in your tents.
They shall call peoples to their mountain;
there they offer right sacrifices;
for they draw from the abundance of the seas
and the hidden treasures of the sand.”
And of Gad he said,
“Blessed be he who enlarges Gad!
Gad crouches like a lion;
he tears off arm and scalp.
He chose the best of the land for himself,
for there a commander's portion was reserved;
and he came with the heads of the people,
with Israel he executed the justice of the LORD,
and his judgments for Israel.”
And of Dan he said,
“Dan is a lion's cub
that leaps from Bashan.”
And of Naphtali he said,
“O Naphtali, sated with favor,
and full of the blessing of the LORD,
possess the lake and the south.”
And of Asher he said,
“Most blessed of sons be Asher;
let him be the favorite of his brothers,
and let him dip his foot in oil.
Your bars shall be iron and bronze,
and as your days, so shall your strength be.
“There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in his majesty.
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, ‘Destroy.’
So Israel lived in safety,
Jacob lived alone,
in a land of grain and wine,
whose heavens drop down dew.
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 triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
and you shall tread upon their backs.”
34:1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.