Jason L. Kortering is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Grandville, Michigan.
We have come to the concluding part of the book of Deuteronomy, which contains the last words of Moses and the record of his death (Deut. 31:1-34:12). We are up to chapter 32 with our outline.
In chapter 31:19, God instructed Moses to write a song which would witness to the people of Israel concerning God’s faithfulness to them. We now have this song that Moses wrote. In the introduction, Moses expresses the purpose of this song, to ascribe greatness to God (Deut. 32:1-3). This is followed by the theme of the song, the faithfulness of Jehovah, the Rock, in His dealing with them (Deut. 32:4-6). This is proven by reminding Israel of God’s past care for them (Deut. 32:7-14) even though Israel was unworthy by provoking Jehovah with strange gods (Deut. 32:15-18). Again God warns Israel that He will deliver her into the hands of her enemies, and captivity will be her portion (Deut. 32:19-33). God will, however, show mercy upon His people and avenge their blood among the nations (Deut. 2:34-43). Moses now came and instructed the congregation to remember their past history and to commit this song to memory for, “it is your life and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it,” (Deut. 32:44-47). God then instructs Moses to climb Mt. Nebo in the land of Moab and die in that mountain because of his sin at the waters of Meribah. “Ye shall see the land before thee, but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel,” (Deut. 32:28-52). An account follows of the blessing which Moses gave the children of Israel prior to his death, (added by someone else who also wrote the subsequent account of his death). It has an introduction in which Moses pictures God coming from Mt. Sinai with ten thousands of His saints (Deut. 33:1-5). Specific blessing is given to each of the tribes (Deut. 33:6-25), and a conclusion is given, “There is none like the God of Jeshurun who rideth upon the heavens. The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms,” (Deut. 33:26-29). Mention is made of Moses’ going up into the mountain and beholding the promised land in the distance. There he died and was buried, but no one knoweth his sepulchre unto this day (Deut. 34:1-6). He was a hundred and twenty years, his eyes were not dim nor his natural forces abated (Deut. 34:7). Israel wept for Moses thirty days, after which Joshua the son of Nun assumed leadership in the spirit and wisdom of Moses, though none that followed Moses could compare to his leadership nor perform the wonders which God did through him (Deut. 34:8-12).
Questions for Reflection
1. How does Deuteronomy differ from the other four books of the Pentateuch? Why is it called “the second law”?
2. The words of Deuteronomy are Moses’ summary of God’s law, rehearsed in the ears of the people. Why was this necessary at this point in history? Does this method of accounting contradict Biblical inspiration?
4. Go over the outline of the first four chapters of Deuteronomy and list instances in which Israel demonstrated that they were not worthy to enter into the land of Canaan. How does this prove the need for a Savior?
5. The main content of this book is the rehearsal of the laws which God gave at Sinai, chapters 4:43-26:19. Consider the following:
a. Read through the outline and make special note of their significance for the children which were in Israel. Why was this?
b. Show that repeated emphasis was laid upon the need for Israel to keep God’s command if they expected God to bless them. Explain this emphasis and how it relates to the New Testament church.
c. Explain the significance of Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim and their relationship to the law of God for us. (See chapter 11 and 27.)
d. How was the institution of marriage protected? Give examples from the laws recorded here.
e. How were the poor and underprivileged to be cared for in Israel? Are there principles for us that can be applied to the church of the New Testament?
f. Why did God make so many laws that seem to touch every aspect of the life of Israel? Wasn’t this like making laws upon laws which Jesus warned was the way of the Pharisees? How would this be different in the church today?
6. Are there indications of the future blessing of God upon Israel in this book? Point them out and explain their significance.
7. According to Deuteronomy 34:6, God buried Moses’ body and no one knows of his sepulchre. We also read in Jude vs. 9 that Michael contended with the devil over the body of Moses. How can this be explained?
8. What was Moses’ role in the event of the transfiguration of Jesus recorded in the New Testament gospels? Why was he there along with Elijah?