This final section wraps up Deuteronomy. Joshua succeeds Moses and Moses performs four significant acts. He writes down the law, gives Israel a prophetic song, prays for the twelve tribes, and then dies.
The bulk of Deuteronomy leading up to this point was written down by Moses and carried in the ark of the covenant. Every seven years, this law was to be taken out and read in the hearing of all the people. It would stand as a witness against them for all their sins and, hopefully, lead them to repent.
God then gives Moses a prophetic song to sing. All of Israel would memorize this song and teach it to their children. They were to sing it for generations. But it is an ironic song because it predicts Israel’s own disobedience and punishment.
The song was given to provide people with the reasons for why they were being punished. You can imagine a child singing this song after Israel was exiled from the land, only to see realization dawn over their parents’ face.
After the song, Moses prays a blessing over all the tribes of Israel before he dies. In light of Moses’ experience of their past disobedience and Moses’ knowledge of the disobedience coming in the future, he blesses them. Almost all of the blessings remind each tribe that they are favored by God. Despite all the evil they had done and all the evil they would do, God would not abandon them.
Moses deputizes Joshua to lead Israel after him, and then goes up a mountain on the outskirts of the Promised Land to die. God allows him to see the land, but he is not allowed to enter it because of his disobedience at the rock in Meribah (Numbers 20:11-12).
Deuteronomy closes with a striking statement. “There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (34:10). Though Deuteronomy does contain a promise that God would provide another prophet like Moses (18:15-19), that prophet had not arisen by the time this comment was added (possibly around the 7th century BC).
Where is Jesus?
The good news is that a prophet even greater than Moses has finally come, for Jesus did not just know God face to face, but is God himself. In fact, the fullness of God’s glory can be seen in the face of Jesus and his gospel (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Unlike Moses who could not enter the land but dies, Jesus not only entered the final Promised Land of Heaven, but he earns us passage into it with him through his death.
The law Moses wrote down has survived to this day. It fulfills its role as a witness against us and our sin. But Jesus has kept the law for us. Therefore, as Moses blessed Israel in the midst of their disobedience, we receive the blessing of Christ in the midst of all our disobedience. Despite our sin, God has shown us favor.
Isn’t it great news, then, that the ironic song that should give us the reason behind our punishment and exile, becomes a song we will never have to sing. Instead, we can sing a new song of thanks to Jesus for rescuing us from sin and death.
See For Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes to see the God who has preserved the law and the scriptures as a witness against us and our sin. And that you would see Jesus as the new and better prophet like Moses, who frees us from what would have been our inevitable demise.