Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Thirty-One Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
He Is With You
Verses 1-2: "So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2 And he said to them, 'I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ " Psalm 90 was written by Moses, probably during the third decade or so after he left Egypt the first time—in Verse 10 of Psalm 90, he mused that a person might, "by reason of strength," live seventy or eighty years. In places like Acts 7:23,30, we find that Moses was eighty years old when He was greeted by the Voice from the bush that was on fire but did not burn (Exodus 3:2). His expectation was that his life was essentially over, but it was at that point the Lord called Him to lead a nation. We're never too old, too young, too sick or too damaged to be used by Him. Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees baseball player, amused us with statements like, "It ain't over 'til it's over," and God's literal truth is—it ain't ever over. When it's "over" on earth, it isn't, because in Matthew 17:1-4, we find this same Moses, along with the departed Elijah, speaking with the Lord Jesus in the presence of eyewitnesses. God is with us now and forever when we trust in Him. The "Jordan" in this verse is the Jordan River.
Verses 3-5: "It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken. 4 The Lord will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. 5 The Lord will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you." We are in the midst of a supernatural war which has plagued humanity since the beginning of time. The war was launched when our earliest ancestors set the standard for our race by choosing independence from God. Much later in time, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was sent to earth with God's response to our declaration: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). That's God's answer of PEACE to you and me. In this war, just as it would be for Israel's wars, the Lord "will deliver them up before you." He will cross into battle ahead of you, and through faith, you are safe in Him. Like Israel's victories over Amorite kings, the Lord will have victory in your life and mine.
Verses 6-8: "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.' 7 Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, 'Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. 8 The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.'" Life can be frightening because there really is an enemy who fights against the people of God. In our response to all this, we are reasonably to be "strong and courageous," not because we are so capable, but instead it's "the Lord your God... who goes with you." Blessedly, "He will not fail you or forsake you," as also seen in Hebrews 13:5. Like it was and is for Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-4), the Lord Himself makes His faithful ones ALIVE even when we are dead. And He equips us for battle, as can be seen in Ephesians 6:10-18. "Do not fear or be dismayed" because the Lord is with us when we are with Him.
Verse 9: "So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel." One of the great lies of the enemy is that writing did not exist at the time of Moses, and another lie is that the the words of these verses were first written down hundreds of years later. Here in this verse we find that Moses personally "wrote." In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said about Moses' words in Deuteronomy 8:3—"It is written." Jesus also said about Moses, in John 5:46, "he wrote about Me." If anyone is qualified to speak about the authors and writing of Scripture, it is the Lord Himself. Moses wrote, enabling the nation to be based on the Law of God, intended as the model for every nation of all time. We are to look to the Lord and to His Word, entrusted to people like Moses, who wrote as he was led by God. And like Moses, we are to share God's Word with others.
Verses 10-13: "Then Moses commanded them, saying, 'At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.'" The Feast of Booths is also called the Feast of Tabernacles, as seen in Leviticus 24:34-43. Have you placed your trust, your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? If so, you are chosen, saved, reconciled to God, redeemed, forgiven and are set free from the slavery of sin. He has a will for your life because you are His, and you are to "be careful to observe" His word, discovering His direction for your life. Pray, remember, learn, and share as God leads.
Verse 14: "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.' So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting." As Solomon would later observe, there is "a time to die" (Ecclesiastes 3:2), and the Lord knows when that is for each one. He lives in the future just like He lives in the present, and He has a purpose for your life and mine. As it was for Moses and Joshua, it is for us: Whether or not our purpose is fulfilled, be aware that He will 1) Take us to eternal safety, and 2) He will complete our intended work through others. And notice in Verse 15 that He is utterly able to authenticate His Presence in and around us, through whatever means He chooses: "The Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent." He reveals Himself in Scripture, by the touch of the Holy Spirit, through the words of a friend, in a pillar of cloud, or however He wants.
Verses 16-18: "The Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’ 18 But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.'" Note carefully that the Lord knew, in every respect, the future of that people. He knows US right now and is precisely aware of what we will do tomorrow, next week and throughout our lives. He knows the past, better than our historians, and has every one of our nations in His Hand. Israel would fall away from the will of God, kindling God's anger against that nation. But His anger is simply the hand of correction on the people He loves. As seen in Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12:5-6—"whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." Life will not be easy because we tend to go astray, but He really loves you and me.
Verses 19-22: "Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. 20 For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant. 21 Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore." Moses not only spoke and wrote the words of this chapter, but he also put those thoughts to music. If you have trouble in memorization, as I do, and want to memorize Scripture more effectively, think of a favorite song and incorporate the words of a Scripture you are trying to remember into it. It helps when you sing what you need to recall. And if it works for you, share the re-worded song with others—it might be precisely what they need during a time of trouble. God's Word, written and sung, is an excellent antidote to the idolatry of this world. As in Verse 22, "So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel." We will see the precise words of "The Song Of Moses" in Chapter 32.
Verse 23: "Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, 'Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you." You have a replacement and so do I. Moses was now leaving this world and Joshua was the Lord's replacement. Jesus later observed in Matthew 20:16, "Many are called, but few chosen." Our lives don't measure up to His call, and the reason there aren't more who are "chosen" is because 1) The tendency is to want to run things ourselves, limiting our ability to hear His call... and 2) Many run from Him when they do hear, afraid of not being up to the task—and of course, none of us are.
Verses 24-27: "It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, 25 that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, 26 'Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. 27 For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the Lord; how much more, then, after my death?" The Bible we are studying is the Word of God. It is His Word, written corporately to all and individually to each one. Moses had observed this people and their ways for forty years and he was not impressed. He did see clearly that God uses His written Word to show us the way we should go, and additionally we are given God's Holy Spirit, inside our very being, to reveal what His Word is all about (John 14:26). The Lord knows we are prone to fall, and He gives us what we need to get back up.
Verses 28-30: "Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger with 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 complete:" The words of this chapter were like a signpost, warning of dangers on the road ahead. The bridge to their future would fail because the people themselves would fall, but God's Holy Word would bring them back. His Word will bring US back also. The leaders, priests and people of Israel listened in shocked silence as Moses continued to speak. As they listened, so should we. The literal words of "The Song Of Moses" are in the next chapter and are to be in our hearts.
Lord, thank You for being with us. We hear Your call, Lord, and we say "Yes." Lead us, comfort us in our fear, and show us clearly what to do. We surrender. We are Yours. We trust in You. In Jesus Name. Amen.