Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Deuteronomy 33-34 - The Life of Moses

Last week Moses told Joshua and all of Israel to be strong and courageous.  Then he wrote a song for the people to sing to remember God’s love for His unfaithful people.  

This week we see Moses at the old age of 120 years and about to die.  He still is thinking about the people he loved and gives each tribe a blessing.  Before he blesses them, he gives praises to the Lord.  Then we see the death of Moses.  No one has ever been like Moses.  He had a special relationship with God.  God spoke face to face to only him. 

Deuteronomy 33 – Moses’ Blessings

Moses was a “man of God”.  (Deut. 33:1) 

Who do you know is a “man or woman of God”?
Will others say you are a “man or woman of God”?
If not, what do you need to do?

Moses blessed all the tribes of Israel before he dies.  He starts out by praising the Lord and describing the Lord saying the Lord came down over them and shown Himself from Mount Paran.  He said the Lord loves the people and the holy ones are in His hands.  He gives them instructions and the law.  He is the King over them. (Deut. 33:1-5)

What do you learn about God’s character from these verses?
Is He your King?
How do you remind others about God?

How do you praise the Lord?  A good way to praise Him is when you pray, start by giving Him praise.  Use words that reflect who He is and His character.  Words you might use are:  King of Kings, Provider, Great Physician, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty, Powerful, Unchanging, Son of God, Savior, Friend, Anointed One, Judge, Sanctuary, Sure Foundation, Lord Most High, Bread of Life, Shepherd, Holy One.  You get the idea.

Then Moses blessed the tribes (Deut. 33:6-25):
Reuben – Let him live and not die and his men not be few
Judah – hear his cry, help him against his enemies
Levi – bless all his skills and work of his hands
Benjamin – rest secure in the Lord and He rest between his shoulders
Joseph – bless his land with the best gifts of the earth
Zebulun & Issachar – to rejoice everywhere they goes
Gad – will enlarge God’s domain and live like a lion
Dad – a warrior - is a lion cub springing out of Bashan
Naphtali – bless with favor of the Lord
Asher – bless with prosperity - most blessed of sons of Asher, will be favored by his brothers, his strength will equal his days

You will notice that Simeon is not mentioned and the list is not in the same order as in Gen. 49 when Jacob gave his blessings.  Simeon’s tribe was absorbed with the tribe of Judah (Joshua 19).

Moses ended his blessings with more praises to God.  He recognized where the blessing came from.  He told them to lean on God’s everlasting arms.  There is no god like our great God.  He is the one true God and He alone is the source of every blessing!  This reminds us that God is for us, not because of our goodness but God’s grace.  We can rest between His shoulders.

How do you bless others? 
How has God blessed you?
How do Moses’ blessings encourage you?

Deuteronomy 34 – Moses’ Legacy

Moses climbed Mount Nebo.  The Lord showed him the Promise Land for the last time.  “Then the Lord said to him, This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, I will give it to your descendants.  I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”Deut. 34:4.  Then Moses died and God buried him in Moab.  To this day no one knows where his grave is.  This is probably because God knew the Israelites were prone to idol worship and they would have probably tried to worship Moses grave.  He was 120 years old, but his eyes and strength were not gone.  The Israelites mourned his death for 30 days. (Duet. 34:5-8)

Now Joshua was to be the new leader.  He was filled with the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid hands on him.  (Deut. 34:9)

There has never been a prophet risen in Israel like Moses.  God spoke to Moses face to face.  God did miraculous signs and wonders through His servant, Moses.  He was the greatest spokesman for God and the greatest worker of miracles by the power of God in the Old Testament.  “For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”  (Deut. 34:10-12)  We are not certain who wrote these last verses in Deuteronomy, but we are certain of Moses’ relationship with God.  We are part of his legacy.

Moses finished well and so can we.  God’s grace gives us power through difficulties and strength to finish well.  Part of leaving a legacy is to disciple others.  It’s modeling obedience and love for God’s Word.  It’s letting others see you in your weaknesses.  It’s letting others see your dependence on God. 

How will you be remembered after your death?
What will others say about you?
Will they say you were a faithful servant of God?

Principle:  “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…”Deut. 33:27

I leave you with a blessing that God will give you a lasting legacy.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Deuteronomy 31-32 - Life of Moses

Last week Moses prepared Israel for the renewal of the covenant and encouraged them to recommit to it.  He listed curses for not keeping the God’s laws and blessings for keeping them.  He ended by telling them they have a choice – life or death, blessings or curses.  This week Moses is about to die.  God gave him 2 final assignments: commission Joshua and write a song.

Deuteronomy 31 –Moses' Charge to Israel

Moses’ life was about to end and he wouldn’t get to cross over to Jordan to the Promise Land with the others.  I feel very sad for Moses.  He had served God faithfully for many years.  The first 40 years was spent in Egypt where he was raised in Pharaoh’s palace.  Then his life began to grow harder.  He spent the next 40 years tending sheep in the wilderness.  His last 40 years he spent leading Israel through the wilderness.  He had a hard life and now he could not cross to the Promise Land.  We may think it’s sad for him not to realize God’s promise, but I don’t think he looked at it that way.  He lived a life of faith (Heb. 11:23-27).  Faith doesn’t live with regrets of earthly comfort.  Faith is living with heavenly hope.  In the book of Hebrews several who were faithful to God are mentioned.  In Heb. 11:13-16 we see that all those faithful died in faith without receiving the promises.  “... I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  - Rom. 8:18.

Principle:  Faith doesn’t live with regrets of earthly comfort - faith is living with heavenly hope.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”Heb. 11:1.

Do you live a life of regrets or do you live with heavenly hope?
How are you living by faith?
How would others describe your faith?

Moses reminded the people that it was God who got them this far not him.  God gave him 2 final assignments: commission Joshua and write a song.  Moses charged the people to be strong and courageous and not to be afraid, because the Lord would go with them.  “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6.  Moses then charges Joshua the same words in Deut. 31:7-8.

How are you encouraged by others?
Are you strong and courageous or are you fearful?
Where do you turn when you are afraid?
How has this promise help you when you are unsure or fearful?

Moses charged the priests to read the law every 7 years during the Feast of Tabernacles.  This was “so the people could listen and learn to fear the Lord our God and follow carefully all the words of this law.  Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”Deut. 31:12-13.  The priests were to place the law in the Ark of the Covenant.

The most important thing we can do is keep reading God’s Word.  Why should we read and study the Bible?  The Bible is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16).  It’s His very words to us.  It’s how we get to know God and His ways.  It is a guide for us to live by and we are to teach it to our children.  God does not change and man’s nature does not change so the Bible is relevant for us as it was when it was written.  There is a lot of false teaching in the world and the Bible give helps us distinguish truth from error.  It equips us to serve God.  It helps us know how to be saved from our sin and how to get to heaven.  There are many people in the Bible like Moses that we can learn from.  We can learn from their victories and failures.  We can ignore the Bible or we can learn from it.

Do you spend time reading and studying God’s Word each day?
How do you teach your children about God and His ways?

Principle:  God wants us to follow carefully all His Words.

God knew Israel would rebel in the future and would serve foreign gods.  They would forsake God and break the covenant.  Because of their rebellion, God would bring disasters and difficulties upon them.  So God told Moses to write a song for the people were to learn and sing so it would be a witness why God would be against them. 

How have you rebelled against God?

Deuteronomy 32 – Moses’ Song to Israel

Moses recited the song for all the people to hear just as God commanded.  He began by calling upon creation to confirm his message to Israel.  He praised God by calling Him the Rock and said that His works are perfect and all His ways are just.  He is a faithful God who does not wrong.  He is upright and just.  These attributes of God show Moses’ love and trust in God.  He knew God could do anything and was totally dedicated to Him.  Moses recited how God had showed His unfailing goodness to His people; how He gave them their inheritance through Jacob, how He always protected them, and how He was always with them.  (Deut. 32:1-14)

Are you totally dedicated to God?
Is He your Rock?

Principle:  God is our Rock and His ways are perfect.

In Deut. 32:15 - “Jeshurum grew fat and kicked.”  In other words when Israel was blessed, they rejected God.  They abandoned Him and rejected the Rock.  They made God jealous by worshipping foreign gods which angered Him.  They rejected Him and He rejected them.  He would bring judgments on them.  He would bring calamities upon them, spend arrows against them, and send famine and pestilence and plagues.  He would scatter them and blot out their memory.   (Deut. 32:15-26)

When Moses spoke the words of the song to Joshua and the people, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law.  They are not just idle words for you – they are your life.  By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”Deut. 32:44-47.

“The spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.  The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”John 6:63.  God’s Words are of great importance and are words to live by.

Do you live by God’s Word?
What has happened in your family or church when you take to heart God’s Word?

Then God told Moses to go to Mount Nebo to view Canaan.  There he would die and be gathered to his people just as Aaron was.  Both of them broke faith with God in front of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh.  They didn’t uphold God’s holiness and were not permitted to go to the Promise Land as we learned back in Numbers 20.  Moses would not cross the Jordan into the Canaan, but was permitted to see it from a distance.  Moses would die, but he would live on with his family and countrymen who have died before.  (Deut. 32:48-52)

Principle:  God demands loyalty and obedience.


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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Deuteronomy 27 – 30 The Life of Moses

Last week we saw that Israel was ready to enter the Promise Land.  God through Moses addressed the people.  He reviewed what God had done for them and reminded them of His laws.  The people who heard the laws the first time had mostly passed away and now there was a new generation who needed to hear God’s truths. 

Deuteronomy 27:1-8 – God’s Word 

As Israel prepared to cross the Jordan River into the Promise Land, Moses finished reviewing the law and now was charging the people to keep it.  God told Moses and the elders once they crossed the Jordan to find large stones and coat them with plaster and write on them God’s law.  They were to take these stones to Mt. Ebal.  Then they were to also build an altar there.  They would be setting up a new government in a new land and needed these laws constantly before them.  They need to see them as a reminder.  They didn’t have the Bible like we do, but they would have the law on stones to refer to. 

Principle:  God wants His Word published and known, but the enemy wants it hidden.

Do you turn to the Bible for God’s guidance and direction?

The altar was to be made with uncut stones (fieldstones) without any added human workmanship.  It was to be used for burnt and fellowship offerings sacrificed to God.  (Deut. 27:1-8)  Uncut stones without any human workmanship added shows that we can’t add anything to our salvation.  We can’t add or do anything, because salvation is by grace.  Jesus did all the work on the cross.  Sin brings judgment and is punished by death.  They sacrificed innocent animals, but this kind of sacrifice couldn’t really take away the punishment for sin.  Their sacrifices point to the only perfect and innocent sacrifice, Jesus Christ.  Only He can take away our sin.

Deuteronomy 27:9-28:1-68 – Blessings and Curses

When they entered the land, they were to have a special assembly to read the curses and blessings.  Six tribes were to stand on Mount Ebal and the other six tribes were to stand on Mount Gerizim.  These mountains were twin facing which enclosed a natural amphitheater so everyone would be able to hear the Levites speak.  The Levites on Mt. Gerizim were to shout the blessings for all those who obeyed.  On Mt. Ebal the Levites were to shout the curses upon those who broke God’s laws.  Then the people on both sides would say “amen” indicating they agreed, their intent to obey, and that they acknowledged the benefits of following the laws as well as the consequences for disobeying them.

This is like it will be someday.  Similar things will happen.  There will be two sides – those who don’t know Jesus as Savior and those who do know Him as Savior.  On that day everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord regardless of which side they chose.  “…at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”Phil. 2:10-11.

Which side will you be on?
Have you acknowledged Jesus as Lord of your life?

If the people fully obeyed the Word of God, He would give them huge blessings.  They would be unbeatable as a nation.  They would be prosperous in their crops and in their families.  All they had to do was follow His commands and not follow other gods.  (Deut. 28:1-14)  He didn’t bless them because they deserved it, but gave blessings only if they obeyed Him.  They were not to seek blessings, but to seek God, then the blessing would come.

God wants to bless us, not curse us.  We don’t have the same blessings God gave to Israel did, but it’s true today.  Sometimes disobedience brings consequences and sometimes obedience brings material and physical blessings.  Our sin brings curses on us.  Our biggest blessing is God Himself, because of His loves for us.  His blessings to us will get the attention of others.  (Deut. 28:10)  Our obedience impacts us and how others view us.  People are watching us and watching our faith.  We set the example whether it’s good or bad, even when we don’t realize it.

How has God blessed you?
How have you shown others that you are obedient?
Do others see as a faithful follower or a hypocrite?

Now here come the curses for disobedience.  You will notice there are more curses mentioned than blessings.  Warnings may have more effect than when blessings are promised.  If the people didn’t obey His Word, God would consider them as having forsaken Him.  Instead of blessings they would receive curses.  They would be continually defeated as a nation.  They would have diseases, plagues, drought, be oppressed, and robbed with no one to rescue them.  Their crops and families would fail.  This was all because they didn’t obey God and observe His commands.  Curses will come upon them, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you.  He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.”Deut. 28:47-48. 

What warning do you see in these verses for yourself?
What area in your life do you need God’s help to obey Him?

Principle:  Obedience to God’s Word brings life and blessings, but disobedience brings death and disaster.

Deuteronomy 29 – Renewal of the Covenant

Moses reminded the people of what God did to Pharaoh and to the land with miraculous signs and wonders when they were in Egypt.  He reminded them of how He led them for 40 years in the desert while providing them with food and clothes.  He urged them to be faithful to God.  God helped them defeat nations and gave them the land He promised.  As all the people were there in front of God, Moses reminded them of the covenant and promise God made with Abraham, which was confirmed that day.  This covenant was also with those who hadn’t been born yet.  Each generation needed to accept the covenant for themselves.  (Deut. 29:1-8)

Principle:  There’s nothing higher or more satisfying than in a covenant relationship with God.

Moses told of what would happen to Israel in the future.  They would be removed from their land and it would be all because the people abandoned the covenant of the Lord.  They would worship other gods and the Lord’s anger would burn against them.  He would send great wrath upon them and they would be uprooted from their land.  (Deut. 29:9-28) 

The future is only known by God.  God doesn’t reveal everything to us.  “The secret things belong to the Lord our God….”Deut. 29:29.  The Bible is sufficient for all our spiritual needs.  All we have to do is follow it and trust Him for the future.

Deuteronomy 30 – Repent and Choose Life

Moses ended with a message of hope.  He urged them to obey.  Moses knew they would rebel, but he also assured them that they would return to God and to their land and they would be blessed again having more than they had before.  When the people turn back to God and obey Him with all their hearts and soul, then the Lord will restore their fortunes.  This turning is called repentance.

Principle:  God can restore the repented heart.

Moses told them to choose life.  It’s a simple choice.  It was a choice to live or die.  It was a choice between good and evil things.  Obey God’s commands and live or reject Him and perish eternally.  Moses told them it was not too difficult or beyond their reach.  They are to simply choose to love God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.  “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him…” Deut. 30:19-20

We have the same choice today.  It’s all up to you, too.  Believing or refusing to believe is a matter of life and death.  Do you want to live or die?  “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming;  That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”Rom. 10:8-10.

What choice have you made?  Have you made a firm choice for God?  Your choice is your destiny.

Principle:  A choice for God and His ways is necessary for eternal life.

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