About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Chapter 31 

Previous Section - chapter 30  

Next Section - chapter 32

ch. 31:1-8   ch. 31:9-13      ch. 31:1:29    

Joshua To Succeed Moses (ch. 31:1 - 8)


This portion of Deuteronomy is simply about the acknowledgment of the transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua.  Moses is now 120 years old, and it's not his age the prohibits him from entering the promised land and continuing to be Israel's leader.  God told Moses that he would not enter the land because he struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock on one occasion when asked by God.  Israel had no water and they were complaining.  Moses was upset with them.  God told Moses to speak to a rock and water would come out for Israel.  He did not speak to the rock.  He hit the rock.  God then told Moses that he would never enter the land of promise.


It is my thinking that God wasn't going to allow Moses into the promise land anyway.  It's clear to me from other Biblical passages that Moses is a type, or is a symbol of the Law.  Joshua is a type, or a symbol of Jesus.  The New Testament makes it clear that one can't enter salvation, which the promised land symbolizes, through the Law.  Salvation is only through Jesus.  Since Moses represented the Law and the promised land represent salvation, there was no way that Moses could ever enter the promise land.  Only Joshua could do that.  He represented Jesus.  This is my opinion.  I'm not stating this as the truth of Scripture. 


This must have been one very reflective and sad occasion for Moses.  He had led Israel all these years, and here he was with Israel just across the river from the land God had promised Israel generations ago.  I can't imagine how he must have felt.


Twice in this passage Moses says that the Lord will never leave you or forsake you.  This is one often quoted Bible passage.  It is thought to be a promise, and it was.  Christians can claim this promise for themselves, but, when it was originally made by God, the promise was made to the Jews.  This is yet another reason why Replacement Theology isn't Biblical.  God has not replaced Israel with the church.  He says that He will never leave them or forsake them.  He might put them on the shelf for a period of time as punishment, but He will never leave them.  He will never forget the promise He made to Abraham.


It is also important to note that if Christians want to use this passage of God never leaving or forsaking them, they must understand its context.  As God punished Israel, and they felt all alone, God wanted them to know that He would never leave or forsake them.  He would return to them.  This means that God can punish or discipline the Christian, and in these times of punishment or discipline  you feel alone.  We need to know that God does not leave us in this times.  So if we want to use this passage as a New Testament promise, we must also be willing to accept the fact that God can and will discipline us at times, something many Christians don't want to hear or believe.    


The Reading Of The Law (ch. 30:9 - 13)


The section merely states that Moses commands Israel to read the Law once a year so they could fear the Lord and so their children would know the law. 


Fearing the Lord is more than reverence.  It is literal fear.  Many Christians these days want nothing to do with being afraid of God, but they should be.  That being said, the one we are afraid of, and rightly so, is the one who loves us.  The one we feel like running away from in fear is the one we run to in order to love.


Israel's Rebellion Predicted (ch. 31:14 - 29)


In the first part of this chapter we noted that Moses reminded Israel that Joshua would soon be their leader.  The commissioning and transfer of authority by God Himself takes place in this section.  This must have been one very powerful commissioning service.


During this commissioning service God speaks to Moses and tells him that Israel will forsake Him.  In verse 15 God says that " Israel will prostitute herself" with other gods.  That's a good way to put it.  The people of God belong to God.  We give ourselves to Him.  If we give ourselves to another, it really is prostitution.  The post-modern church of today, who allow worship of other religions in their midst, in one sense of the word, is committing adultery.  They are prostituting themselves.


You might ask, "is Israel prostituting herself today, or, have Jews prostituted themselves in the past recent years with false gods.  I'd suggest that the secular humanistic stance the Jews and Israel take today is  an act of worshipping other gods.   Secular Humanism as defined by most modern dictionaries is "a non-theistic religion".  That means it is a religion, but a religion that does not believe in the existence of a god.  Thus, the present secular humanistic stance of Israel in general can be seen as a religion of other gods, even though the other gods are no gods.  


God tells Moses in verse 16 that Israel will forsake Him.  There is no "ifs", as in, "if Israel forsakes me".  It's "when Israel forsakes me".  I'm convinced that this whole time was very emotional for Moses.  He was ready to die.  He couldn't enter the promise land, and now God tells him that Israel, the people he had been leading for decades would leave their God.  How disappointing this must have been to Moses.  What a way to die.  The sad fact of the matter is that what God said, came true.


In verse 17 God says that on the day that Israel forsakes Him, He will forsake them for breaking the covenant.  That's the Mosaic Covenant.  Many Replacement Theology teachers say this is proof that Israel is no longer significant in the eyes of God.  That's not true.  You must put this in context.  Earlier in this chapter God said that He would never leave or forsake Israel.  So what does verse 17 mean.  God would forsake, destroy, and punish Israel for a period of time for breaking the Mosaic Covenant.  After the time of punishment is up, God would be faithful to the Abrahamic Covenant and restore Israel to the place she was meant to be all along.


You see the words "hide my face" in verse 18.  I think this is a good picture of the relationship God has with Israel during the time of punishment.  He is still there, but He has His hands over His face, so to speak.  He has not given up on them for good. 


From verse 19 onward, Moses becomes a song writer, one who is really inspired by the Lord.  God Himself gives Moses the lyrics to this song.  This is a very important song.  


In the previous verses God told Moses that one day Israel would forsake Him.  Now in verses 19 to 22 God tells Moses that at some future point, that is, beyond the time when Israel forsakes God, and beyond the time of punishment, God will give them the land of promise, and at that time, they will sing this song, which they do.  You can see that in Revelation 15.  This helps us understand what Revelation 15 is all about.  We know the song of Moses will be sung again after Israel's  punishment is complete and the restoration process begins.  Revelation 15 must be futuristic.  It can't be something that has already taken place in light of this chapter.   


From verse 24 on to the end of this chapter Moses writes the Law in a book.  He gives it to the elders to put in the ark of the covenant so it would be a testimony against Israel.  That simply means that this book would stand as the constitutional authority for Israel, and if they forsook it, it would be their judge, and they would suffer the consequences.  Moses told Israel right out that they would turn their back on their God.  Maybe at the time they did not believe Moses, but they did, and right to this very day.


I've often mentioned how Moses must have felt at this point in his life.  He had spent most of his one hundred and twenty year life serving God and Israel, and now the goal of entering the promised land, a goal that has been in existence for more then four hundred years, can't be obtained by Moses.  He will stay on the east side of the Jordan River.  He will only see the promised land.  That being said, we have to think about how Joshua felt at this moment in time.  He has just been commissioned to lead Israel across the river, and fight the battles to possess the land.  Now he is told that soon after Israel enters the land they will fall away from their God, become "utterly corrupt", and in the end lose the land.  How would Joshua feel at this point?  He might wonder what the use is even crossing the river into Canaan.  He might feel his job of leading Israel really would be in vain in the long run.  You can't help feel sorry for Joshua, but this is the calling of God on his life.  God calls people to a ministry for a specific period of time, and Joshua's ministry was to bring Israel into the promised land no matter what the future held.


Joshua's ministry is seen by many Bible teachers as symbolic of Jesus' ministry.  So, as Joshua led God's people into the promised land, only to find himself in the midst of a corrupt people, so it is with Jesus.  Jesus came to earth, came to humanity, but, came to a corrupt humanity.   Like Joshua and Israel, the followers of Jesus who obeyed Him, became corrupt as well.  This can be seen in the church of Rome throughout the dark ages of history.  Constantine introduced Christianity to other gods and the church became "utterly corrupt".               

Next Section - chapter 32

Previous Section - chapter 30  

Home Page