We now come to the final week in our corporate pursuit of Deuteronomy with the concluding messages of the Life-Study of Deuteronomy. These messages (28-30) include the final exhortations and charges, the song of Moses, the blessings on the tribes of Israel, and the death of Moses.
In his final exhortation to Israel, Moses spoke as a concerned father for his children. He encouraged them not to be afraid of the nations, because Jehovah was with them and would cross into the good land before them to destroy the nations. Moses knew that the children of Israel were rebellious in nature; since they had already rebelled numerous times while he was alive, Moses was concerned that they would rebel even more after he died. For this reason Moses repeated his charge a number of times (Deut. 30:17-20). We must realize that the Israelites are a type of us, the New Testament believers today (1 Cor. 10:1-11). Although we may have been in the church life for many years and have read many ministry books, we still have a rebellious nature and need the Lord’s mercy and grace to keep us pursuing Him.
Deuteronomy 32 records the song of Moses, which was to be a witness against the children of Israel if they turned away from Jehovah to serve other gods (Deut. 31:19-20). In it Moses vindicates God as the righteous and upright One, a God of faithfulness and without injustice. This is in contrast to the murmuring and complaining of children of Israel in the wilderness (Deut. 32:3-4). Although the children of Israel dealt with Jehovah corruptly and did not behave like His sons (32:5-6), Jehovah still considered Israel as His portion and His inheritance, encircling them, caring for them, and guarding them like the pupil of His eye (32:7-14). Eventually, Jehovah would be forced to judge Israel for turning away from Him to strange gods (32:15-31). However, ultimately Jehovah will vindicate His people and have compassion on them in their sufferings (32:36-43).
Deuteronomy 33 presents Moses’ blessing to the 12 tribes of Israel. Although Reuben had sinned and lost the birthright, including the kingship, priesthood, and double-portion of land, Moses still blessed Reuben with increase (33:6). Judah received the kingship, and was a tribe accustomed to fighting for the people; their blessing was to be brought back from the battlefield and be helped by Jehovah against their adversaries (33:7). Because they cared for God’s interests more than their natural relationships, Levi received the priesthood: they were blessed with God’s speaking, with serving God at both the bronze altar and the incense altar, and the work of their hands was to be accepted by God (33:8-11). Benjamin was blessed to be the location of God’s dwelling place, Jerusalem (32:12). Joseph received the double-portion of the rich land, which would be shared by his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (32:13-17). Zebulun and Issachar were close to the sea; their going forth was blessed in that most of the apostles were produced from that region of Galilee (32:18-19). Gad was small, but was blessed to be enlarged and strong in fighting. Moreover, some among Gad knew God’s law and His judgments (32:20-21). Dan was not very much under Moses’ care as evident by Moses merely saying that he would be like a lion’s whelp that leaps forth from Bashan (32:22). Naphtali was satisfied with favor and full of the blessing of Jehovah – this was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus came to the district of Zebulun and Naphtali (Isa. 9:1-2; Matt. 4:13-16; Deut. 32:23). The last tribe, Asher, was blessed to be rich in the produce of the earth (32:24-25). Finally, Moses gives a general blessing to the children of Israel. He declares that there is no one like God, that He would be their habitation in whom they would dwell securely, and that God would drive their enemies out from before them.
As a summary of Deuteronomy, there are four particular matters implied in this book. First, we see God’s governmental dealing, which is wise, loving, sympathetic, patient, purposeful, and successful (week 6). Second, Israel’s stubbornness is revealed, which is versus God’s sovereignty for the demonstration of God’s wisdom in accomplishing His economy. Third, we see Moses’ character which was experienced, matured, loving, caring, faithful, and meek. Lastly, Christ’s uniqueness is implied as the unique Prophet of God, the unique word as the embodiment of the divine riches, and the unique good land as the divine goal. As pointed out earlier in our pursuit (week 1, week 2, and week 3), all the words in Deuteronomy—the commandments, laws, ordinances, statutes, judgments, warnings, exhortations, blessings, and curses—are embodied in Christ. Therefore, our primary goal in reading this book should be to enjoy Christ as the embodiment of God’s breathing out (2 Tim. 3:16; John 1:1, 14; John 6:63). The more we receive and enjoy Christ in this way through the reading of the Bible (week 9), the more we will enjoy Christ as the unique Prophet of God, as the unique word to be our means to accomplish what God requires, and as the unique good land as the divine goal. May the Lord continue to train us in this way so that we can enter and possess the good land to fulfill God’s eternal purpose, especially in these days.