- The People are Commissioned to Learn
- Joshua is Commissioned to Lead
- Moses is Commissioned to Write an Unforgettable Sad Song
- We are Commissioned to be Unembarrassed Believers
PASSING ON THE WORD OF THE LORD TO THE NEXT GENERATION
Moses continues his final speech to the Israelites. He is now 120 years old (Deut 31:2). The Lord has not permitted him to enter the Promised Land due to his disobedience (Numbers 20:12). Therefore his last words stress the importance of the ongoing obedience of the next generation to the revealed will of God (Deut 31:12).
“The things revealed belong to us and our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
Moses had just alluded to the fact that there are things that we don’t understand about God’s will.
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
There may be things in the law that this generation and the future generations will not understand. These are “the secret things that belong to the Lord”. They were to trust God and obey what He has commanded even if the reasons surpassed their understanding.
In the light of the New Testament, we can NOW see of what was not yet fully revealed THEN–that God’s plan of redemption is centered in His Son, Jesus Christ. This mystery of God is now made an open secret through the gospel (Ephesians 3:4, 9; Colossians 1:27; 2:2; 4:3; Revelation 10:7). To the children of Israel, it was still a secret thing. The mystery of Christ had not yet been fully revealed to Moses, yet Jesus could say, “Moses wrote of me” (John 5:46). He could also say “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
Each generation is to live in the light they have been given. They are responsible for the things revealed, even if they were living before the fullness of time when the person and work of the Messiah, the Christ, would be fully disclosed (Galatians 4:4).
The New in the Old concealed,
What about you? Are you living in the light of the revelation you have been given? We are living in the time when Jesus has been revealed as being the substance of the Old Testament shadows (the types given in the priesthood, the tabernacle, the sacrifices, and the work of Joshua who brings believers into their inheritance). Have you taken your responsibility to act on what has been revealed? Have you trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior?
All human beings are given enough light to acknowledge God as the One to whom they are accountable. All have an awareness of guilt (Romans 1:20; 2:14).
Mark Twain put it this way: “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”
Acts 17:30-31 (NASB) 30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
The gospel declares that we have a Savior, a Refuge, and a certain hope that we can receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. By faith, we are to own Christ as the One who fulfills the Law on our behalf.
In Deuteronomy 31, Moses makes provision for the word of the Lord to be heard by all who lived in the land; the young, the old, and the foreigner.
Deuteronomy 31:10-13 (NIV) 10 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people–men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns–so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
THE COMMISSIONING OF JOSHUA
The LORD gives Moses two final deeds to accomplish before he dies. He is to commission Joshua and write a song.
It is clear that the Lord had Joshua in mind as Israel’s future leader from the time when he is first mentioned in Exodus 17 defending his people from the attacks of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16). Joshua had been Moses’ assistant when the children of Israel camped at Mt. Horeb when the law was first given (Exodus 24:13; 32:17-18). After the Tabernacle is built, we see Joshua lingering long at the door contemplating what he has witnessed while in the presence of God. Joshua is being trained by the Lord and is at Moses’ right hand during the years in the wilderness (Numbers 11:24-29). Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent to explore Canaan. Only he and Caleb brought back the assessment that God was truly able to give them the land He had promised (Numbers 13:3,8,16; 14:6-9).
Moses gives Joshua words that we all need to hear:
Deut. 31:6 “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.”
Deuteronomy 31:23 (NIV) 23 The LORD gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”
The Lord will repeat these words to Joshua again:
Joshua 1:6 (NIV) 6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.
The second task given to Moses was to write a song that reflected what God had told him about the people’s future in the land. They will become prosperous and satisfied when they are at rest from their enemies and then turn to other gods and break their covenant with their Redeemer.
The song Moses was called to write would have to be a popular song that would stay upon the lips of his people for generations to come. The words would “testify as a witness” to them. Unlike the first song of Moses, which is the first song in the Bible, and a song of triumph, this new song is a sad one.
The song begins with a verse that extols God’s faithfulness and tender mercy in giving instruction to His people (Deut 32:2). It then sets forth the glories of God’s solid character as their reliable Rock- His work is perfect. His ways are impeccable and just. (v.3-4)
Then, in stark contrast to the record of God’s faithfulness, the song suddenly turns to the unfaithfulness, perversion, and corruption of His people as they turn away from the One Who called them into a covenant relationship with Himself (v.5-6).
This is followed by an exhortation to remember their unique story as a people under the government of God. The song reminds the Israelites that it was the love of God that rescued them, provided for them, encircled them, cared for them, and kept them (v.7-14).
The song then turns to a lament (v. 15-18). It describes their turning to strange gods, sacrificing to demons, adopting new gods, and forgetting the God who gave them birth.
The next section describes the chastisement brought about by their rebellion predicting times of hunger, plague, pestilence, violence, and terror (v19-28).
The Song was first sung as a warning. In later generations, it would be a song that described their current miseries.
An appeal is given for wisdom in the midst of this lamentation:
Deuteronomy 32:29 (NASB) 29 “Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future!
Despite the failure of God’s people, the Song testifies throughout the generations that God’s sovereign purpose will prevail.
Deuteronomy 32:39-46 (NASB) 39 ‘See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand. 40 ‘Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, as I live forever, 41 If I sharpen My flashing sword, And My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, And I will repay those who hate Me. 42 ‘I will make My arrows drunk with blood, And My sword will devour flesh, With the blood of the slain and the captives, From the long-haired leaders of the enemy.’ 43 “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.
Moses composed this important song on the day he was prompted to write it (Deut 31:22). (How important it is to seize the moment for songwriting!)
He then taught it to the sons of Israel.
Music is a helpful way to take words to your heart and pass them on to the future generation.
Moses said to the people:
Deuteronomy 32:46-47 (NASB) “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. 47 “For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”
Do we cling to the Word for life?
John 6:63 (NASB) 63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
NEW TESTAMENT READING- Luke 12:8-34
Jesus calls us to be unembarrassed believers.
Do not be ashamed to confess Jesus before men if you want Him to confess you before the angels of God (Luke 12:8-9).
Luke speaks of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which is the deliberate ongoing rejection of the Holy Spirit’s work to convict people of their sin and bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ (Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28-29). Those who have committed this sin have rejected all overtures to repentance of sin and faith in God through Jesus Christ.
Those who have committed this unforgivable sin have no concern or interest in having committed it. They have willingly turned their backs on the gospel.
PSALM 78- A PSALM OF HISTORY
In Psalm 78, the Psalmist reviews the history of God’s people from verse 9. He captures the overarching faithfulness of God in spite of His people’s disloyalties.
G Campbell Morgan writes, “History, written as it should be, will always show that true prosperity comes from God and that man has no hope save that which is centered in Him.”
How has God been at work in your life? Do you write down how you have seen Him at work in your life and share these stories with your family? What are you doing to pass on the history of your redemption to your children?
TODAY’S READING FROM PROVERBS
Proverbs 12:21-23 21 No harm befalls the righteous, But the wicked are filled with trouble. 22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight. 23 A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.
It is important to point out that ‘proverbs are not promises’. They are axioms, and general principles. They are designed to guide us to put our trust in God’s wisdom given to us in His self-revelation in the Scriptures. Sometimes believers experience atrocities. Job experienced trouble. All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Hard times fall upon the righteous, but we know that our God is good, and He is a Father to those who are in Christ and will not ultimately do them harm. In contrast, those who do not have a Savior have many reasons to be troubled. May we heed God’s wisdom to be faithful Truth-tellers and stand out from a culture that lives by lies.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS– Continue to pray for China; Prayer Requests can be found on p.217-219 in the book, “Operation World”.
PRAYER: Father, we praise You for Your self-revelation in the Scriptures and the hidden mysteries concealed in the Old Testament that are brought to light in the New. We thank You for all that You have made known of Your counsel and will in the Person of Your Son. Help us to be good stewards of the mystery. Help us to study Your Word and proclaim it. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)
New Life Community Church, Concord, MA 10742