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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 33
Standing on the plains of Moab, the congregation of Israel gathered to hear the final words of the man who had dedicated his life to serving the LORD, and the people of Israel, delivering them from slavery. Moses had finished the song that memorialized the blessings of the LORD and His faithfulness to Israel. However, he concluded the song with a warning: Should the people break the covenant and turn back from the LORD, they would suffer the consequences of their wickedness. The LORD then commanded Moses to go up to Mount Nebo, where he would “behold the land of Canaan” (32:49), and there he would die (32:50).
Moses’ Benediction (Deuteronomy 33:1-5)
The man who led Israel out of Egypt and guided them through the wilderness was described in the Scriptures as “the man of God” (33:1). What an outstanding epitaph for a gravestone! Though he was imperfect, 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). Moses was, however, “the man of God” (33:1).
Before his departure, Moses rehearsed briefly how the LORD had delivered Israel and displayed His glory by 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). One by one, Moses addressed and blessed each tribe of Israel (except Simeon, for Jacob had prophesied that tribe would be scattered among the other tribes because of his sin, Genesis 49:5-7).
Moses’ Parting Blessing (Deuteronomy 33:6-25)
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 (33:22-23). Asher was also the son of Zilpah (33:24-25).
Moses’ Final Benediction (Deuteronomy 33:26-29)
Concluding his benediction, 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 that if the people destroyed their enemies, as the LORD commanded, they would find safety and be blessed (33:28).
As a pastor of forty-four years, I have been privileged to be at the bedside of many saints when they concluded their earthly sojourn 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 dying saints comfort family, loved ones, and friends. Therefore, let all who love the LORD obey His Word, and live in such a way, that it might be said he was “the man of God” (Deuteronomy 33:1).
Questions to consider:
1) What did Moses give to Israel before his death? (33:1)
2) What were the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel? (33:3-24)
3) How did Moses describe God in Deuteronomy 33:27?
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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