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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 31:1-13 (ESV)

Posted on April 15, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 31:1-13 (ESV) - So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “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.’ The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the LORD has spoken. And the LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. And the LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. 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.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 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.”

Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, 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 that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Question to consider: What do you think the people felt when they knew that Moses was about to die and Joshua would be taking them into the land?

Today, when someone uses the phrase “the LORD told me,” they are referring to an idea that came into their mind— perhaps during a time of extended prayer— which they would describe as a “still, small voice.” Personally, I avoid language like this because if I say the LORD “told me” something that does not come to pass, by definition it makes me a false prophet. I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit leads us into a particular course of action, but when it comes to the LORD saying something, I choose to cling to what He has revealed in His written word. Once I have filtered out life choices through the wisdom of the revealed word, I go with my preferred course of action and trust in the LORD to steer me differently if necessary.

When Moses used this phrase, it was because he had a physical and audible encounter with the very LORD who gave him the Law on Mount Horeb. It was every bit as physical and audible as when Moses and Elijah met with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. This had been the ongoing experience of Israel for more than forty years, and so it must have been terrifying to get to this day when Moses gave them final instructions, a copy of the Law, and appointed Joshua to lead them into the land.

Joshua had already demonstrated faith when he was used as a spy by Moses to go ahead into the land of Canaan and see the land the LORD had promised to them. Rather than fearing the people they would go up against, he described the fruitfulness of the land and recognized that it would be the LORD who would deliver it to them.

Even though Joshua must have felt a deep sense of awe at being the one to lead Israel into the land, he didn’t hesitate. I would think the first step of the Levites into the Jordan with the ark of the covenant would have been the most daunting step, but the moment the LORD parted the river and let the people cross on dry ground, I would think that their faith would have turned into courage and confidence that the LORD was indeed with them.

However, as I mentioned yesterday, the key to being able to remain in the land was to teach the next generation. Moses advised them to do a full reading of the Law every Shemitah during the Feast of Booths. This would be the time in which all debts were forgiven, the land was supposed to be on Sabbath rest, and people were enjoying a great feast together. Coming together in the midst of this time of mercy to remind everyone of the holiness of the LORD would have been a wonderful means of introducing each new generation to the LORD who delivered them and provided for them.

Like every piece of advice Moses gave throughout this Deuteronomy, it seems to have gone ignored. The land wasn’t given its rest, and we know from our study of the exile in Ezekiel that Israel had completely caved to the surrounding nations in order to retain their prosperity through earthly means. It wasn’t until Ezra read the Law to the people after the exile was over that they realized how far they had fallen. Thankfully, we worship a God who reconciles the fallen and ushered in an everlasting covenant of peace through Christ.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit to reveal our sin and grow faith in us even though we have not seen the parting of the Red Sea or touched the scars of Jesus. Help us to continually remind ourselves and each generation of who You are through Your word. Amen.