The book of Deuteronomy records Moses’ final words to Israel before they entered the land God had promised to them. 40 years before, the Law had been given and a previous generation had the opportunity to enter Canaan. Through their lack of faith, they turned back and an entire generation died in the wilderness.
Now, a new generation is preparing to claim the promises made to their ancestors. They had not seen the miracles in Egypt, but they had seen the miracle of sustenance their entire lives.
Deuteronomy literally means second law. It was first received in Exodus, but now it is repeated to a generation to remind them of some awesome truths.
It was to remind them of God’s greatness, His promises of blessing and judgment, and to encourage them to press on and under the leadership of Joshua, claim the victory God had promised.
In chapter 33 Moses gives a final blessing and farewell to the 12 tribes. At the end of chapter 32 God told Moses to go to the top of Mount Nebo. There he would view the land from a distance, but he would die without ever entering its borders.
Promises are made to and blessings are invoked to each of the tribes throughout the chapter.
Then in verse 26 Moses enters into one of the classic revelations of the nature and character of God.
This is the view of God I encourage you to hold today and to share with others. While the immediate context and application here is for Israel, I want to draw out some principles that we can claim for ourselves as they are repeated through the Word for all people, and not just Israel.
- God is Unique (26a)
- God is Eternal (27a)
- God is our Refuge (27)
- God is our Joy (29)
God is Unique
“There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun…”Deuteronomy 33:26
Jeshurun was a poetic name for Israel, a term of endearment. Three of the four times it is used is in Deuteronomy. The final time is in Isaiah. Each time the idea is of comfort and grace. Jeshurun is God’s grace on display. As undeserving as Israel was, God would still pour out His love upon them.
There is none other like Jehovah, the God of the Bible.
Not only is He unique in His nature, but unique when you consider religions of human invention. So, He is truly unique, there is not a pantheon of God’s among whom the God of Christians is equal, superior or inferior.
He is also unqiue in that even in the religions of human invention, no one has conceived of a God like Jehovah.
He is holy, absolutely sinless, and yet He is gracious. One of my favorite hymns explains it with these words,
On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love
God is truly unique.
God is Eternal
The eternal God is thy refuge…Deuteronomy 33:27
I’ve seen it said that the past week has been a long year. So much has happened and everyone’s life has been turned upside down. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that the current crises will pass. A time will come when this will all seem very distant, and the time it took to unfold relatively short. But for the moment, each day seems like a month, and as some have said, the past week has been a long year.
As Christians, or perspective is to be on the eternal. We are on a journey, this world is not our home. Paul constantly encouraged the Ephesians in his letter to them to fix their eyes on the heavenlies, because that is where God dwells and it gives the proper perspective on everything in this life. Don’t be discouraged or distressed, this current crises will pass.
Another blessing of the truth of the eternality of God is that He exists outside of time. None of this has taken Him by surprise. In all the unknowns of life we can trust the one Who knows all.
If you are a child of God, underneath and all around you are the everlasting arms of a loving Father.
This week was St Patricks day and he expressed this truth well,
“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”
We are never alone or undone, our eternal God upholds us, He is our refuge.
God is our Joy
Happy art thou, O IsraelDeuteronomy 33:29
Moses told Israel they could be and should be happy because God had saved them.
As Christians we know that God has saved us, just as He saved Israel.
Israel were slaves in Egypt and could never have delivered themselves. And even if they could have escaped Egypt, where could they go. Deliverance from Egypt was only a part of their salvation, entering into Canaan was their deliverance complete.
Each individual begins life a slave to sin, just as Israel were slaves in Egypt. Israel’s chances were slim to none, our ability to deliver ourselves from Egypt are none whatsoever. Because we are sinners by nature, and we cannot change our nature.
Yet, we read in 2 Corinthians 5 that Christ became sin, something He was not, so that He could take the punishment we deserved. Then, we get to be made righteous because of Him, something that we are not.
This miraculous exchange is only posisble by the almighty power and grace of God.
When I confess myself as a sinner and ask God to save me because of what Christ has done, He delivers me from the power and penalty of sin, and I enter into His family to forever become His child.
So, whatever the future holds, whether it be the international COVID-19 crises, or a personal struggle in your own family or life, know that God is unique – He is alone can bring us throughh the trials of life. He is eternal, and can be our refuge to give strength and peace. He is our joy because He gives salvation.