Moses: The Last Testament (Deuteronomy 33)

Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 33

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Standing on the plains of Moab, the congregation of Israel had gathered to hear the final words of the man who had dedicated his life to serve the LORD, and delivered the nation from slavery. Moses had finished the song that memorialized the blessings of the LORD, and His faithfulness to Israel, and had concluded the song with a warning: Should the people break covenant, and turn back from the LORD, they would suffer the consequences of their wickedness. The LORD had then commanded Moses to go up to Mount Nebo, where he might “behold the land of Canaan” (32:49), for there he would die (32:50).

Deuteronomy 33 records the final benediction, the final blessing of Moses upon the nation.

The man who led Israel out of Egypt, and guided them through the wilderness for forty years, is described in the Scriptures as “the man of God” (33:1). What a wonderful epitaph for a gravestone! He was not a perfect man, but he was a “man of God.” He was not without his faults, for we have witnessed those in reading the books he authored under the inspiration of the LORD (2 Peter 1:21). He was, however, “the man of God” (33:1).

Before his departure, Moses rehearsed briefly how the LORD had delivered Israel, and displayed His glory in bringing that nation through the wilderness. Why did the LORD bring the people out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and to the borders of Canaan? Because, “He loved the people” (33:3). As a loving father, one-by-one, Moses addressed, and blessed each of the tribes of Israel (with the exception of Simeon, for Jacob had prophesied, his lineage would be scattered among the other tribes because of his sin, Genesis 49:5-7).

Moses named and individually blessed the tribes: Reuben (the first-born son of Jacob), Judah (the royal tribe), and Levi (the priestly tribe), were the sons of Leah (33:6-11). Benjamin (Jacob’s youngest son), and Joseph, were the sons of Rachel (33:12-17). Ephraim, and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph born in Egypt, had taken their place among the tribes of Israel (33:17). Zebulun and Issachar, were also sons of Leah (33:18-19). Gad, was the son of the handmaid Zilpah (33:20-21). Dan, and Naphtali, were the sons of the handmaid Bilhah (33:22023). Asher, was also the son of Zilpah (33:24-25).

His benediction ended, Moses exhorted the people to remember the majesty of “the eternal God,” who had chosen them, and their unique identity in Him (33:26-29). He urged the nation to find its refuge in the LORD, and their security in Him (33:27). He promised, if the people would destroy their enemies, as the LORD had commanded, they would find safety (33:28).

As a pastor of forty-two years, I have been privileged to be at the bedside of many saints when they concluded their sojourn in this earthly life, and passed through what David described as, “the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4).

I have listened to the final words of a godly grandmother, who by God’s grace, found words to comfort her children and grandchildren. I have stood in the circle of a young family as they embraced at the bedside of a dying father, prayed, and sang songs of faith, to comfort him as he drew upon his last breath. I have held the hands of dying saints, who with the glistening dew of death on their brow, slipped from this life, into the loving presence of their Savior.

The words, faith, and testimony of faithful dedicated, dying saints bring comfort to family, loved ones, and friends. Let all who love the LORD, obey His Word, and live in such a way, that it might be said of us, which was said of Moses: “the man of God” (33:1).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith