Deuteronomy 31

Moses' Successor

Moses, the elder statesman, focuses on those who will lead Israel after he is gone. Moses reminds the people that he would not be leading the people over the Jordan, but this is not a problem because the Lord himself will go before them and dispossess the nations with Joshua leading. It was the Lord who had given them victories in the past, and he will continue to show himself strong on their behalf. Israel's king will lead them in triumph and so there was no need to fear or be in dread for the Lord is with them, and he will never forsake them. Moses charged Joshua in the sight of all the people and urges him to be strong and courageous as he leads the people into the land that the Lord had sworn to their fathers. Joshua was assured of God's presence which is able to banish fear, discouragement, and doubt. 

Read The Bible

Moses wrote the law down entrusted it to the priests and elders for protection and for transmission to future generations. Moses commissioned the priests to publicly read the law every seven years during the Feast of Booths. All of Israel would assemble to hear the law read including children and sojourners. This would teach the people to fear the Lord and to obey his ways. This would take place perpetually while the people lived in the land they would possess over the Jordan.

God's Commission

The Lord tells Moses that he would soon depart his life on earth and instructs him to summon Joshua to the tent of meeting in order to commission him. When Moses and Joshua presented themselves before the Lord at the tent of meeting, the Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud over the entrance. The Lord advises Moses of his imminent death and that all of his preaching would not prevent the people from drifting into idolatry. Israel's idolatry would kindle the anger of the Lord, and he would hide his face from Israel, and they would suffer. God instructs Moses to write a song that would be remembered long after the sermons were forgotten and it would serve as a testimony against God's people. It may seem surprising that success and prosperity would lead to idolatry, but it seems that comfort is dangerous. God is preparing mercy in advance of their sin. Moses did as he was instructed and he wrote the song that very day. The Lord commissioned Joshua and promised his presence which would ensure success. Moses wrote all the words of the law and turned it over to the Levites. They were told to place the book beside the ark of the covenant as a witness against the nation when they forsook the Lord. Moses knows that the people are stubborn and rebellious which would not change after his impending death. Moses assembles the elders again and issues words of warning about the future of Israel. The people would turn from God to idols and commit evil against the Lord once they had entered the Promised Land. This would provoke the Lord to anger because he has to act resolutely toward sin. After Moses had admonished the people, he taught the song to the entire assembly of Israel.

Things To Consider:

  • Why is God's presence so important?
  • Why is it necessary to acknowledge that God was giving Israel the Promised Land?
  • How does verse six remind you of Jesus' final earthly words before his ascension?
  • How does Moses encourage Joshua?
  • Why is it important to read the word of God?
  • How does this passage encourage teaching children?
  • Why does God affirm Joshua's leadership publicly?
  • How is the practice of recognizing leaders done in the church today?
  • Why is success dangerous?
  • Why do we sometimes forget God?
  • How has God stored up mercy for us?
  • Why is music important?
  • God's story is about rebellious and stubborn people that he rescues in spite of themselves. Why do we continually look to our works for salvation?
  • How is the Bible a witness against sin?
  • How should we use songs to pass on the faith?