From Deuteronomy 32-34
Moses is about to die. Before he dies he gives all the tribes a blessing. In his blessing he reminds the people of what the LORD has done and future blessings he will confer in the. In the gospel Jesus reminds us of his death and resurrection. He tells us of the blessings we receive in his name. Repentance, forgiveness and the Holy Spirit.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Moses has just heard from the LORD he is about to die (Dt 32.48-52). In today’s passage we look at his last words to Israel. He blesses the tribes of Israel with a hymn.
33 This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death.
2 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.
3 Yes, he loved his people, all his holy ones were in his hand; so they followed in your steps, receiving direction from you,
4 when Moses commanded us a law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
5 Thus the LORD became king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together. (Dt 33.1-5)
The hymn starts with a depiction of the LORD giving Israel the law of Moses. Apocalyptic language is used to describe his guidance through the law. Jeshurun is another noun for the people of Israel.
Do you follow and receive direction from the LORD?
6 “Let Reuben live, and not die, but let his men be few.”
7 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.” (Dt 33.6-7)
Moses begins to step through the tribes. There is a notable absence of the tribe of Simeon (cf. Gen 49.5). Reuben and Judah are only mentioned briefly. Unlike Gen 49, Judah’s blessing does not include a prophecy pointing to a king (Gen 49.10).
8 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;
9 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.
10 They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law; they shall put incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
11 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.” (Dt 33.8-11)
Levi is given a lot of attention. The role of the priesthood raised above the other tribes. Using Thummim and Urim they communicate to the people the LORD’s judgments.
They stand apart from the others because they observe his word and keep the covenant.
Their role in society is to teach Jacob (Israel) to obey the law and offer sacrifices.
12 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.”
13 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,
14 with the choicest fruits of the sun and the rich yield of the months,
15 with the finest produce of the ancient mountains and the abundance of the everlasting hills,
16 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.
17 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.” (Dt 33.12-17)
Benjamin is blessed and protected by the LORD. Like Levi, Joseph (the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh) is given a lot of attention. He is given the best of the land, perhaps referring to his time in Egypt.
18 And of Zebulun he said, “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, and Issachar, in your tents. 19 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.”
20 And of Gad he said, “Blessed be he who enlarges Gad! Gad crouches like a lion; he tears off arm and scalp. 21 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.”
22 And of Dan he said, “Dan is a lion’s cub that leaps from Bashan.”
23 And of Naphtali he said, “O Naphtali, sated with favor, and full of the blessing of the LORD, possess the lake and the south.”
24 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. 25 Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be. (Dt 33.18-25)
The remaining blessings are short and sweet. They are blessings so they all confer something positive on the tribes.
God’s blessing includes an allusion to their reserving land east of the Jordan and assisting the other tribes to take over the land in the west.
The fight is described as executing the justice of the LORD on the wicked nations, judging them. Their judgment is their destruction.
26 “There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’
28 So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew.
29 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.” (Dt 33.26-29)
The song concludes with an exhortation to reflect on the LORD and all he has done for his people.
The people of Israel would have heard this blessing every seven years when they came to hear the law read out loud. They would have reflected on what the LORD had done for them and the blessings he conferred on them.
Sadly, their history and exile shows they did not always remain faithful to him. But even then recalling God’s past faithfulness and blessing would encourage them that there was still be more to come. The LORD’s faithfulness is new every morning.
When people saw Jesus many hoped he would be the one who would redeem Israel (Lk 24.21). After he rose from the dead he appeared to the disciples. He explained the law and the prophets anticipated he would die and rise again. These are the main events in Jesus life through which God saves his people.
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. (Lk 24.44-53)
Deuteronomy ends with a reminder of what the LORD had done for the tribes of Israel and the blessings he was going to confer upon them. Jesus died and rose again for our benefit. In Jesus name his people would receive the blessings of repentance, forgiveness and the Holy Spirit.
How can you respond to what the LORD has done and the blessings he has given you in Jesus?
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.