21st - 28th April: Deuteronomy 18 - 34
"The land the Lord you God is giving you" (Deuteronomy 18:9; Deuteronomy 19:1,8,10,14): In all the practical instructions given to the people of Israel, there is always this reminder of the spiritual dimension. They are the people of God. They have been blessed by the Lord. They are to live as people who appreciate God's blessing. The spiritual dimension must never be forgotten. We are not talking only about social matters. We are talking about the life of God's people, "the redeemed of the Lord."
The conflict between the Israelites and the other nations was really a conflict between the true God and the false gods (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). Everything in life must be seen in connection with our relationship to God: Are we being true to Him? Or, are we being false? We must seek to do what "the Lord considers right", what is "clean" in His eyes (Deuteronomy 21:9,23).
We read the detailed instructions regarding morality. We feel that we are in another world, the world of ancient Israel. Nevertheless, we get hints, here and there, of the timeless, spiritual principles, which are still applicable to us today. Deuteronomy 23:5 - "The Lord your God loves you." Deuteronomy 23:14 - ""The Lord your God moves around in your camp to protect you and hand your enemies over to you." God gives us His guidelines for life because He loves us and wants to protect us from everything that would endanger our enjoyment of His blessing.
Doing "the right thing in the presence of the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 24:13), living "a long time in the land that the Lord your God is giving you" (Deuteronomy 25:15) - the two are vitally connected: obedience and blessing. Together with obedience and blessing, there is prayer. The blessing is not earned by our obedience. It is God at work, answering prayer (Deuteronomy 26:7). Together with the prayer which asks God for blessing, there is to be the prayer which thanks God for His blessing (Deuteronomy 26:8-10). We show our thanksgiving to the Lord by "faithfully obeying His Word with all our heart and with all our soul" (Deuteronomy 26:16). As we keep on obeying the Lord, He will keep on blessing us (Deuteronomy 26:18-19).
Obedience and blessing or disobedience and curse - This was the choice which was set before the people of God. It is still the same choice today. What a difference there is between the two ways - the way of obedience and the way of disobedience, the way of blessing and the way of curse. So much has changed since these words were written - yet the spiritual principles remain the same.
"Today I offer you life ... Choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:15,19). The meaning of these words concerning life is expanded on in Deuteronomy 30:16,20 - "Love the Lord your God." Loving God - This is what life is all about. This is life as He intended it to be. This is the meaning and purpose of life. This is to be the direction of our life.
Moses' time of leadership was coming to an end. Joshua would replace him as the leader of God's people. With God's command - "Be strong and courageous" - and promise - "you will bring the Israelites into the land that I swore to give them, and I will be with you" (Deuteronomy 31:23), Joshua set out into the work of the Lord. Moses still had a Word to bring to the people from the Lord - a Word which proclaimed the Lord as "a faithful God" (Deuteronomy 32:4) and called the people to be faithful to Him (Deuteronomy 32:5-6).
The Lord's work is moving on. the Lord's servant - Moses - is looking towards the future. He is pronouncing God's blessing on the people of Israel. He pays special attention to each tribe. There is a Word from the Lord for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The people of Israel had been "blessed" - "a nation saved by the Lord" (Deuteronomy 33:29). The future lay with the whole people of God, as they moved forward together. there was, however, to be one man who was called to special leadership among the people - Joshua. For this work, Joshua was "filled with the Spirit" (Deuteronomy 34:9). The people of God were moving forward, but they would not forget where they had come from - how the Lord had led them. They remembered Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10-12) - and they gave thanks to God.