Posts Tagged ‘Moses’

1 Corinthians 10:1-4

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 Paul gives a history lesson on Israel and the Exodus from Egypt. He is continuing to address the whole issue of meat sacrificed to idols that the Corinthian church is hung up over. “I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.” Paul wrote about the need to finish what God has set before us, and how dangerous it is to refuse to give up something that gets in the way of finishing. Now, he will use Israel’s experience in the Exodus from Egypt to illustrate this principle.

Paul has already established two principles related to this topic in prior chapters of his letter to the church:

  1. An idol really is nothing, and it was fine for Corinthian Christians who understood this to act according to this knowledge, in regard to themselves.
  2. For Christians love is more important than knowledge. So even though I may “know” eating meat sacrificed to an idol is all right for myself, if it causes my brother to stumble, I won’t do it, because it isn’t the loving thing to do.

He also has shown how important it is for Christians to give up their “rights.” Just as Paul gave up his “right” to be supported by his own preaching of the gospel, so some of the Corinthian Christians must sometimes give up their “right” to eat meat sacrificed to idols, based on the principle of love towards a weaker brother. He wants to have them focus on all the blessings Israel had in the Exodus from Egypt!

Paul reminds them of the cloud of Shekinah glory that overshadowed Israel throughout their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. During the day, the cloud sheltered them from the brutal desert sun, and during the night, it burned as a pillar of fire. It was a constant, ready reminder of God’s glory and presence. He also recalls how all Israel came through the Red Sea and saw God’s incredible power in holding up the walls of the sea so they could cross over on dry ground. Then they saw God send the water back to drown the Egyptian army. This was not only an amazing demonstration of God’s love and power, but also a picture of baptism – by “passing through water,” all of Israel was identified with Moses, even as by “passing through water,” a Christian is identified with Jesus Christ.

All of Israel was sustained by God’s miraculous provision of food and drink during their time in the wilderness. This was a remarkable display of God’s love and power for Israel, and a picture of the spiritual food and drink we receive at the Lord’s table. “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” Israel even had the presence of Jesus Christ with them in the wilderness! Here, in identifying the Rock that followed them, Paul builds on a tradition that said Israel was supplied with water by the same rock all through the wilderness, a rock that followed them. Some scholars question this, but the point is the same: Jesus Christ was present with Israel in the wilderness, providing for their needs miraculously.

Deuteronomy 34

Deuteronomy 34 ends the play by play on Moses’ life.  God brings him up to Mount Nebo and “showed him all the land”.  He was able to see the land that God had prepared and was giving His people.  “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there”.  It’s been 40 years in the coming, but the time is finally here and Moses gets one last look at what he’s spent the last 40 years preparing God’s people for – entry to the Promised Land.

And then he dies.  Not a lot of fanfare or activity.  Scripture tells us “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated”.  Now that’s the way to finish strong.  He never lost sight of what God had called him to do.  And he never lost his passion to follow God’s call and lead the people well.  Moses had God’s vision and was filled with His power and he lived that way to the very end.  The people were blessed by it as well – he had impacted each and every one.  So “the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days”.

And then the switch was flipped.  Moses is gone, and Joshua steps up.  Moses had been preparing for this day for some time.  It was not a mystery as to who would take the leadership role.  “Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him”.  Moses had prepared him well.  He instructed the people as to what they should do.  “So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses”.  It wasn’t a difficult transition.  Moses is buried and Joshua is at the helm.

Scripture tells us this about the man we’ve spent months studying.  A big chunk of scripture is dedicated to his life and leadership.  “There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face….none like him for all the signs and the wonders….and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds”.  How’s that for a summary of life?  What will God say about you?  We all will leave a legacy.  Will yours look anything like that of Moses?  We create our legacy by how we live.  Moses lived life well for 120 years.  The last forty leading God’s people to this place.  What will your legacy look like based on how you are living life today?

Deuteronomy 33

Deuteronomy 33 has Moses giving his final blessing to the people before He dies.  “This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death”.  He wants one last chance to impact them for his legacy.  He loved these people, stubborn as they were.  And he goes through the list tribe by tribe and gives them the blessing targeted at each one.  They have been together in the wilderness for 40 years now, and Moses knows them well.  And he sends them with his personal blessing to the land God has promised.

Here is the list:

  • Let Reuben live, and not die, but let his men be few
  • Judah: With your hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries
  • Levi: They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law
  • Benjamin: The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety.
  • Joseph: Blessed by the Lord be his land, with the choicest gifts of heaven above
  • Zebulun: Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out
  • Issachar: shall call peoples to their mountain….they draw from the abundance of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand
  • Gad: Blessed be he who enlarges Gad
  • Dan: is a lion’s cub that leaps
  • Naphtali: sated with favor, and full of the blessing of the Lord
  • Asher: Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers

Moses shared with each tribe – personal and specific, he lets them know the blessing he is asking on their behalf.

He ends the blessing reminding them of the God they serve.  Check out how he describes the God he has walked with these past 40 years:

  • There is none like God
  • rides through the heavens to your help
  • through the skies in his majesty
  • The eternal God is your dwelling place
  • underneath are the everlasting arms
  • he thrust out the enemy before you
  • Israel lived in safety
  • a land of grain and wine
  • whose heavens drop down dew
  • saved by the Lord
  • the shield of your help
  • the sword of your triumph

What a picture of God.  He is still the same and will be forever.

Moses ends by giving them this promise: “Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs”.  That is how Moses sends them into the land God has prepared.  He’s led them well.  Now he blesses them well.  And he gives them a promise to claim as they go into a land that is new.

Deuteronomy 32

Deuteronomy 32 contains the song that God gave Moses to teach the people that they may know and remember how to live as they enter the Promised Land.  After receiving it from God, “Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun”.  And what did it contain?  Words of praise and adoration to the God who has faithfully led the people for over 40 years on their journey.  “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he”.

God is our source of wisdom and hope.  We need to keep our eyes focused on Him, our Rock.  Moses goes on to tell us to “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you”.  We have millenniums of history of God’s faithfulness, and we have plenty of things that have happened in the last 24 hours in our own life of God’s faithfulness and love if we just stop and remember.  We might need to write down some of those markers so we don’t forget, but there is so much to remember about God’s love.

When we lose our way though, God will take action.  “They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols….I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend my arrows on them”.  God is not going to turn a blind eye to us putting other things in His place.  He alone is God.  He alone is worthy of our praise.  We must never put anything else in our life as a god or idol.  There is a price to pay for that.  Anything other than God Himself will fall short.  “Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge” is the question people ask when they call upon a god or idol that is not the One True God.  Nothing happens because those gods and idols are nothing more than a piece of wood or iron.

So what does Moses instruct us to do?  “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law”.  We are to learn God’s Word and teach it to our children and then obey it.  It’s that last part that is the hard part – obedience.  But this is high stakes stuff. “For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess”.  If we don’t get this right, it impacts our lives.  It is the very source of what happens to us.

Moses is told to climb up Mount Nebo and die on the mountain.  Not a very romantic way to ride off into the sunset after 120 plus years on the earth walking with God.  But he knows it is time and is ready to go meet the Father.  We learn why God will not allow him to enter the Promised Land in detail: “because you broke faith with me….and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people”.  Moses did not keep God exalted and on the Throne before His people, and it cost him the chance to triumphantly lead the people across the Jordan.  Instead God says “you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel”.  What a price to pay for disobedience.  How we live matters!

Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31 has Moses finishing up his preparation for death and the movement across the Jordan to the Promised Land.  “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, You shall not go over this Jordan”.  Moses knows what is not going to happen.  He isn’t making the trip across the river to receive God’s promises.  Yet he didn’t ever stop leading.  It would have been easy for him to just throw up his hands long ago when he was told he could never receive the final gift.  But he never stopped, and to his death he remains focused.

He tells the people to “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you”.  Moses knows God is faithful.  He won’t let them down.  Now he has to transition power.  “Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel….It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed”.  Moses makes sure everyone knows that Joshua is the man in charge.  He makes a very visible transition for all to see.  “Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting….the Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud”.

He then talks to the priests, whose task it is to keep the people walking with God.  “At the end of every seven years….you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing….Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land”.  Moses wants the people reminded that they have to walk in obedience with God.

But Moses and God know that the nature of the people is to walk in their own way.  So Moses is instructed to “write this song and teach it to the people….Put it in their mouths”.  God wants a way for His people to remember His commandments, and a song is how He instructs Moses to prepare them.  Those words come in the next chapter.  For the prediction is this: “when I have brought them into the land….and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant….I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give”.  God knows our hearts.  We are tempted to do the wrong things.  We have to walk with Him in obedience.  There is no other option.

Deuteronomy 30

Deuteronomy 30 has Moses driving home the importance of obedience to His people.  He points out the reality that we have a choice – we choose whether we will obey or not – and that choice results in blessing or curse.  If we “return to the Lord your God….then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you”.  It is a simple if/then proposition.  Obedience brings blessing.  Disobedience brings a curse.

God wants to help us on this journey.  If we will only obey, “the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live”.  It is God’s desire to walk in harmony with us.  He wants us to receive His blessing, and that plan He has for us is not merely to get by.  His promise is clear.  “The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous….when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”.

So what’s the secret?  It is God’s Word.  “The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it”.  God has given us the roadmap to obedience. It is in His Book – the Bible.  We can do this.  It isn’t natural or easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible if we truly desire to walk in obedience.  We can choose to walk with Him.  It is a moment by moment and day by day decision.  Salvation comes with our choice to make Jesus our Savior based on His death, burial and resurrection on the Cross.  Lordship is something we choose continually from that point forward.

Moses wraps up the chapter by showing the two very black and white options:

  1. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you”
  2. “if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish”.

It really is that simple.  We choose to obey, or to turn away.  The first yields an awesome and blessed relationship with God the Father.  The second yields a curse that leads us to perish.  Moses summarizes the right choice this way: “Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days”.

Deuteronomy 29

Deuteronomy 29 has Moses standing before the people saying “These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb”.  God made an initial covenant with the people many years ago at Mt Horeb, but now as they prepare to enter the Promised Land, He is making another as part of their entry.  Moses “summoned all Israel” to come and hear God’s words, not just the leaders and elders, but every man, woman and child in the land.  It is a big deal!

Moses explains where they are – somewhat lost about what God is promising.  “But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear”.  God has not revealed His covenant since the days 40 years ago or more when He made the first one with His people.  Moses reminds them “I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God”.

That is a pretty amazing testimony of faithfulness from God.  They live in the wilderness for over 40 years without wearing out their clothes or shoes, and without going hungry or thirsty.  God has been faithful.  Moses now exhorts the people to “keep the words of this covenant and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do”.  It all comes down to obedience.  God is offering an eternal covenant to His chosen people.  He wants to set them apart but they have to do their part and keep the covenant with Him.

If they do, He will “establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob”.  God is just carrying out what He promised long ago.  There is a catch.  The blessing of the covenant is tied to sticking with it and walking in obedience.  God says that if things fall apart and His anger comes out “It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord”.  A covenant is a promise between God and His people where both sides need to execute and fulfill the requirements.  God always does.  The question is – will we?

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