The End of Moses

Posted: December 18, 2008 in Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 33-34, “The End of Moses”

For 40 years, Moses has been leading the Hebrew people. Virtually day in & day out, he’s heard them complain, seen them rebel, and virtually been deaf to his calls for repentance (with rare exceptions). Only when God disciplined them, did they run to Moses & pay attention to what he had to say. Not only that, the one thing Moses wanted to do most (enter the Promised Land), he’s not able to do because of how he reacted to their rebellion.

With that in mind, one would think that Ch 32 would be a more fitting end to Deuteronomy. Moses’ song was dark & heavy, and prophetically spoke of disasters and the curses that were to come upon Israel when they eventually abandoned the Lord for idols. Yet that’s not how Moses ends. The last written words of Moses are not of cursing, but blessing. Like a spiritual father to his children, he calls them together one last time to pray over them & bless them in the name of the Lord. A truly fitting end for the humble man of God.

The blessing is similar in scope to Jacob’s farewell blessing in Gen 49 (and echoing some of the same things). But different focus. Whereas Jacob’s blessing primarily prophesied over their coming difficulties, Moses prophesies about God’s grace upon them. They will fail (of course), but God is still God, and still pours out His grace to us.

Deuteronomy 33 (NKJV)
1 Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said: “The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them.

A. Speaking of the giving of the 10 Commandments. Remember from Exodus 19-20, it was an incredible sight to behold! Thunder, lightning, a thick cloud on Mt. Sinai, God descending in fire & smoke, and a trumpet blast so loud & long that the people trembled. The giving of the law took place between God & Moses, but was witnessed by tens of thousands of angels – this was an absolutely glorious event!
__a. As rightly it should have been. The Law is referred to by some as a burden, but it’s really a gift. For the 1st time, God’s handwriting was revealed to mankind – and although His glory was written in the heavens & His law upon our hearts, now they had a written code of what reflects the holiness of God. Today we know what coveting is because God told us about it in His law. Does it pierce our hearts? Yes – but it also prepares us for the Savior.

B. “Moses the man of God”: 1st time this phrase is used in the Bible… Who else was it used for? The Angel of the Lord (Judges 13) – various prophets (1-2 Sam, 1-2 Kings) – Elijah – Elisha – David (2 Kings 8:14)…Timothy (1 Tim 6:11)… Who else? US! 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (16) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. []
__a. Want to be known as a man of God? Woman of God? Get the word of God into your heart! Let the word of God cleanse you, transform your mind, and mold you into the image of Christ Jesus. Everything there (OT & NT) is breathed out by God & profitable for us.

3 Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hand; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words.

A. Over & over in Deuteronomy, we see the command for Israel to love the Lord their God (most obviously in Deut 6); here we see explicitly that God loves His people. When we think of books like Deuteronomy, it’s easy to get bogged down in the idea of curses & famines for when the people break the covenant. But underneath it all is God’s love for His people. If God didn’t love His people, He wouldn’t warn them away from sin – He wouldn’t discipline them to bring them to repentance – He wouldn’t provide for their repentance through the promise of a Savior. Over & over, the picture we see of God in the OT is not one of a harsh, condemning judge, but of a loving & just King. God truly loves His people.
__a. And God loves you too! It’s an amazing thought to consider that Almighty God truly loves us, and yet He does. Demonstrated through the Cross, proclaimed though the Scriptures, and exemplified in Jesus Christ. God loves you.

B. What’s the proof of God’s love for His people? His provision of the Law. To sit at the feet of our Maker & learn His ways and precepts is an incredible privilege & gift to His people.

4 Moses commanded a law for us, A heritage of the congregation of Jacob. 5 And He was King in Jeshurun, When the leaders of the people were gathered, All the tribes of Israel together.

A. We often say that the monarchy began with King Saul – but Israel (Jeshurun) was originally a monarchy from the beginning. Its monarch was God. When the people would later complain to the Judge/Prophet Samuel to provide them a king, God acknowledged that what they were doing was really rejecting the king they had already: Himself.

B. Moses is going to go through each tribe of Israel (except Simeon) – praying God’s blessing over each of them as they enter the land. (MAP) Some think this could be a reference to the millennial kingdom…

6 “Let Reuben live, and not die, Nor let his men be few.”

A. For the 1st born tribe, it seems like a rather generic blessing…and it is. Reuben had laid with his father’s concubine (Bilhah) & Jacob removed the 1st born blessing from him in Gen 49. At this point, Moses is showing a lot of grace to the tribe…saying, “Don’t let them die out.”

7 And this he said of Judah: “Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, And bring him to his people; Let his hands be sufficient for him, And may You be a help against his enemies.”

A. Judah is the tribe of David, and thus the tribe of Jesus (who is Jacob’s prophesied “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” – Gen 49:9)
B. Interesting that Simeon isn’t mentioned in this blessing – their inheritance was completely surrounded by Judah, so perhaps they’re included here.

8 And of Levi he said: “Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one, Whom You tested at Massah, And with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah, 9 Who says of his father and mother, ‘I have not seen them’; Nor did he acknowledge his brothers, Or know his own children; For they have observed Your word And kept Your covenant. 10 They shall teach Jacob Your judgments, And Israel Your law. They shall put incense before You, And a whole burnt sacrifice on Your altar. 11 Bless his substance, LORD, And accept the work of his hands; Strike the loins of those who rise against him, And of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”

A. Natural to have a longer blessing for Levi – this was Moses’ family.
B. Levi didn’t have an inheritance of property; they had an inheritance of service to the Lord (the Lord Himself WAS their inheritance). Thus they had responsibilities to teach the Scripture… Minister the sacrifice…

12 Of Benjamin he said: “The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by Him, Who shelters him all the day long; And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”

A. Don’t you love the picture of grace this is? Like a boy being carried on his Father’s back, Benjamin will is beloved of the Lord & will dwell between His shoulders. Will Benjamin mess up? Yes! In major ways, as detailed in Judges 19-21. But at the same time, where is Jerusalem located? Southern Benjamin.

13 And of Joseph he said: “Blessed of the LORD is his land, With the precious things of heaven, with the dew, And the deep lying beneath, 14 With the precious fruits of the sun, With the precious produce of the months, 15 With the best things of the ancient mountains, With the precious things of the everlasting hills, 16 With the precious things of the earth and its fullness, And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let the blessing come ‘on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’ 17 His glory is like a firstborn bull, And his horns like the horns of the wild ox; Together with them He shall push the peoples To the ends of the earth; They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, And they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

A. A lot to say about Joseph (Ephraim/Manasseh), but remember he received the 1st born blessing after it was taken from Reuben. Moses speaks of the best of the land given to him, and between Ephraim & Manasseh, they got the lion’s share of the land. They also became some of the most powerful tribes – to the point where the Northern Kingdom was sometimes known as “Ephraim”.

18 And of Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, And Issachar in your tents! 19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain; There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness; For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas And of treasures hidden in the sand.”

A. Zebulun and Issachar were neighbors – neither tribe dwelt right on the seashore, but they weren’t far from it. Moses is blessing them in whatever they do – be it in the mountain, sea, or desert.

20 And of Gad he said: “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad; He dwells as a lion, And tears the arm and the crown of his head. 21 He provided the first part for himself, Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there. He came with the heads of the people; He administered the justice of the LORD, And His judgments with Israel.”

A. Gad was one of the nations on the east side of the Jordan who came over to help “administer the justice of the LORD” on the Canaanite nations. As a result, their lands were large on the east side.

22 And of Dan he said: “Dan is a lion’s whelp; He shall leap from Bashan.” 23 And of Naphtali he said: “O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, And full of the blessing of the LORD, Possess the west and the south.”

A. Two short blessings! Doesn’t say much about Dan; Moses implies that they were a youthful tribe (whelp), but that they were also militarily powerful. Bashan had already been conquered on the east side of the Jordan; the leap may be a reference to the other side of the land by the Mediterranean.
B. Naphtali was also to be blessed by God & satisfied with everything God gave them – they possessed land west of the Sea of Galilee.

24 And of Asher he said: “Asher is most blessed of sons; Let him be favored by his brothers, And let him dip his foot in oil. 25 Your sandals shall be iron and bronze; As your days, so shall your strength be.

A. “Asher” actually means “happy/blessed”…so the blessed one is blessed of God. Moses is prophesying that God would specifically bless them with wealth: olive oil, iron, bronze.

– Ends with a proclamation of praise to God…
26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. 27 The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, ‘Destroy!’ 28 Then Israel shall dwell in safety, The fountain of Jacob alone, In a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop 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 majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, And you shall tread down their high places.”

A. There is no God like God! God is the Almighty Omnipotent Creator who created the heavens and the earth. There is no other god beside Him. And HE is the God of Israel. He is their refuge, strength, protection, and provision. No one & no thing can stand against Him. So the conclusion? Israel is blessed – and Israel should rejoice! Who among the nations of the earth were like them, who had God as their God?

B. The parallels are easy to see. There is no God like OUR God! There is no circumstance that we encounter that is too big for Him to handle. There is nothing in all creation that can pull us away from His love. How happy we should be as men & women saved in Christ! We have been born again & adopted into the family of God & we have much reason to rejoice – we are “a people saved by the LORD!”

Deuteronomy 34 (NKJV)
1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.

A. [PIC] … Basically gave Moses a view of the entire land that Moses just prophesied about.

4 Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

A. Review why Moses isn’t crossing… (Numbers 20) Destroyed a picture God was showing of Jesus Christ (verified by Paul in 1 Cor 10:4)

B. Keep in mind that even though Moses’ sin is the reason he could not go over, it fits in perfectly with the overall plan of salvation. Moses is the lawgiver, but the lawgiver cannot deliver rest; that has to come from someone else – Joshua/Yeshua/Jesus. Thus – John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. []

5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day.

A. Notice Who buried Moses: God Himself. … Seems to have been a spiritual battle even over this – Jude 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” [] (There’s always a spiritual battle! But who does the fighting? God!)
B. Interesting that the Bible makes it clear that Moses died, but also makes his gravesite unknown. No doubt on his death – but no opportunity for idolatry, either…

7 Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.

A. 40 in Egypt in a powerful political home – 40 in Midian as a shepherd/servant – 40 in the desert leading, teaching, & interceding for Israel. From all indications, he could have gone on for another 40 years if God so desired! God was ready to take him home.

8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended. 9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.

A. Moses had laid his hands on Joshua in Deut 31…commissioned him to the ministry. Joshua had the same spirit as Moses – the spirit of wisdom. Was this the filling of the Holy Spirit? Yes…but in a different way than NT believers. OT believers weren’t sealed with the Spirit or indwelt at salvation.
B. Possible that Joshua wrote this last chapter…

10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

A. As of the time of this particular writing, that was true. It was true up till the manger in Bethlehem when another prophet (more than a prophet) arose in Israel.
__a. Jesus knew the Lord face-to-face far better than Moses. With Moses, it’s more or less a figure of speech showing the accessibility he had with God, but Moses never actually saw the face of God because no one can see God & live. But Jesus HAD seen God because Jesus was in the beginning with God and IS God. When Jesus became flesh, He declared God to us (John 1:18).
__b. Jesus did great signs & wonders & showed mighty power. Moses may have parted the Red Sea, but Jesus calmed the stormy sea, fed thousands at a time, healed the sick, cleansed the lepers & much more.

B. Moses told Israel to expect someone like him… Deuteronomy 18:17-18 (17) “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. (18) I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. [] And this is exactly what happened.
__a. Moses was the mediator between Israel & God… Jesus is our Mediator. (1 Tim 2:5)
__b. Moses was an intercessor… Jesus intercedes for us. (Rom 8:34)
__c. Moses was the law giver… Jesus is the law-keeper… (Matt 5:17)
__d. Moses provided manna from heaven… Jesus is the bread of heaven. (John 6:51)
__e. Moses provided water in the wilderness… Jesus gives the living water… (John 7:38)
__f. Moses’ face glowed upon being in the presence of God; Jesus IS the face of God. (Col 1:15)

So what was the legacy of Moses? All of Moses’ life was dedicated to proclaiming the word of God and preparing the people of God for what God had for them. He gave the Law, but oftentimes we think of the “Law” as a dirty 4-letter word. Is the law bad? No! The Law serves at least 2 very important functions:
A. It helps us know what sin is… Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” []
B. Because of that, it helps us understand our need for salvation. The law shows us our need for a Savior, and brings us to the feet of Jesus…. Galatians 3:24-25 (24) Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. []

5 Books of Moses, all leading up to this point. Genesis showed God as creator & man falling away from Him. Exodus showed God calling Israel back to Himself. Leviticus shows God’s holiness & how He gave Israel the law in dealing with ongoing sin. Numbers showed God showering grace upon Israel in their rebellion. Deuteronomy shows God covenanting with Israel to be their God. All of this is in preparation to bring them into the promised land – but more than that, all of this is in preparation to keep them looking for the promised Messiah. In Christ Jesus, God not only deals with sin, but reconciles man back to Himself – ultimately reversing the curse way back in Genesis.

No matter what book of the Bible we read, the message is the same. God has provided salvation through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And the application is always the same as well.

A. To the one convicted of sin: repent & trust Jesus for forgiveness.

B. To those of us already walking with Jesus: rejoice! The One Moses prophesied about was revealed to mankind on Christmas morning…which is the reason why the angels sang (and what we celebrate in 7 days). We have reason to rejoice because the Lawgiver has come & fulfilled the Law on our behalf – freeing us to walk with Him in holiness and fellowship.


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