Learning from Deuteronomy 30-34
For Israel, a real turning to the Lord with ‘all the heart and soul’ involved obedience to ‘His commandments... written in this book of the law’(30:10). We are not left wondering what God wants us to do - ‘...the Word is very near you...’(11-14). Through His Word, God ‘sets before’ us a choice. He calls us to ‘choose life’(15-20). Joshua was to succeed Moses (31:1-2,7-8). Conflict lay ahead. God’s people needed His Word of encouragement: ‘Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them’. Beyond the conflict, there would be triumph. God gave His Word of promise: ‘It is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you’(31:6). Turning from the people to Joshua, Moses spoke the same words (31:7-8). Hear; Learn to fear the Lord; Be careful to obey His Word (31:12-13).
‘Write this song, and teach it to the people of Israel’(19,22). Moses did not delay his obedience to God. ‘Write... Teach...’: God is speaking to us about the renewal of our worship. Don’t say, ‘It’s never been done that way before’- ‘the seven last words of the church’! Moses’ song was ‘a witness for God against the people of Israel’(19). It can still help us, in this generation, to confess our sin - We ‘have dealt corruptly with Him’(5) - and glorify our God - ‘I will proclaim the Name of the Lord’(3). Modern music can help us to hear afresh the ancient message: ‘Ascribe greatness to our God...’(3-4; Mission Praise, 40). Let us praise God ‘in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’(Ephesians 5:18-20).
Here, we have both the warning of judgment and the promise of salvation. Rebuking ‘a perverse generation’- ‘They are devious people, children who can’t be trusted’- God says, ‘I will hide My face from them’(20). When, in our need, we look to Him for mercy, we have His promise: ‘The Lord will... have compassion on His servants, when He sees their power is gone’(36). ‘This is the blessing...’(1). For each tribe - Reuben (6), Judah (7), Levi (8-11), Benjamin (12), Joseph (13-17) - , there is a different Word from the Lord. Each of us is different. Our circumstances are different. God knows what we need to hear. He speaks the Word which is just right for each one. He ‘loves’ every one of us. We are ‘in His hands’. Let us ‘follow in His steps, receiving direction from Him’(3).
‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’(27): This is no guarantee of peaceful tranquillity. For Israel, there was conflict. ‘Saved by the Lord’, Israel had found true happiness. Still, there were ‘enemies’ to be ‘thrust out’ and ‘trampled down’(27,29). Knowing the blessing of God’s salvation is no guarantee that life will be easy. When the enemies of the Gospel see a believer intent on glorifying the Lord, they do all they can to create problems. We have ‘enemies’ in ‘high places’(29; Ephesians 6:12). Their argument is not with us. It is with God. If God’s work is to do well, there needs to be spiritual leadership. Moses had led God’s people in his day. Joshua was to take his place (9). Moses was important. Joshua was important. The Lord is more important - ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’(Romans 8:31).
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