Confidence in God: Deuteronomy 31:14-32:4

Deuteronomy 31:14‑32:4  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Deuteronomy 31:14-32:414And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. 15And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. 16And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? 18And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. 19Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. 20For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. 21And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware. 22Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. 23And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee. 24And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, 25That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, 26Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. 27For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death? 28Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. 29For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. 30And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended. 1Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 2My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: 3Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 4He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 31:14‑32:4)
Moses and Joshua were both called to stand before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the Lord appeared in a pillar of cloud which stood over the door. There He spoke to them, telling Moses of how the people would turn aside after his death and worship the idols of the heathen and break the covenant of the Lord. He told Moses, too, of how He would have to deal with them because of their sins, and then gave Moses a song to teach them which would be a reminder of why all the promised trouble came upon them. It is precious, however, to find at the end of the song the promise that, in spite of all, God would bring them into blessing when they turned to Him in repentance.
All Is Sure in Him
Because of this Joshua is again exhorted to “be strong and of a good courage.” Man’s course has always been one of departure from God, of willfulness and sin. Whether it be Israel or the church, what a record it has been of failure and departure from the Lord. The servant of the Lord is to be prepared for this. He is not to have any confidence in the flesh, for as surely as he does, he is bound to be disappointed. He is not, however, to be discouraged, but to labor on in the confidence that God is working in grace and will never fail. Whenever the eye is turned away from self and “man, whose breath is in his nostrils” (Isaiah 2:2222Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? (Isaiah 2:22)), and fastened upon the Lord instead, we have courage and strength. How needful this is! We will never be able to go on steadily in our service to the Lord unless we realize this, for just as surely as we build our hopes upon some man, we will live to see the day when those hopes fail. If, however, we build only upon the Lord, there will be no disappointment and no deluded hopes. All is sure in Him. May the Lord encourage our hearts to go on faithfully in these days when all that is of man is beginning to break down completely.
The book of the law was then taken and put in the side of the ark. The ark, as we know, is a type of the Lord Jesus, and He alone lived in this dark scene for God’s glory every step of His blessed pathway. What a testimony against them it was, but good it is to know that we have been “reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:1010For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)). His life here before men only condemned us and showed how guilty we were.
God Is Light
The song which follows ascribes greatness to the Lord and tells of His justice and truth. This is most important. We find the power of God called in question today, and the holiness of His throne denied. On every hand we hear the denial of eternal punishment, and while much is said about “God is Love,” the solemn fact that “God is Light” is forgotten. Let us remember that God cannot pass over sin. He must judge it. If it were not for the marvelous fact that the Lord Jesus bore the judgment of God for sin at the cross, then we must bear our own sins in hell forever. And so we read in our chapter, “All His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He” (verse 4). God will never sacrifice the holiness of His own throne, but, blessed be His name, the One who bore sin’s judgment is now seated “on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:33Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:3)). Divine justice has been fully satisfied.
Further Meditations
1. What did the Lord tell Moses and Joshua at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation?
2. How does the cross of Christ show that God can’t pass over sin to show love?
3. The booklet The Four Judgments by A. H. Burton gives a brief and helpful summary of four separate occasions when God has shown and will show His judgment of sin. Reading it will likely deepen your sense of both His holiness and grace.