Deuteronomy 31-34: Succession of Leadership

Part five of Deuteronomy covers the death of Moses and the eventual succession of Joshua to his place of leadership over the Israelites.

Chapter thirty one

As a parent, this chapter makes me laugh a little.

The first thing that is done is that Moses announces his age and that he is dying soon. He pronounces Joshua his successor and then the go into the tent of meeting for the official passing of the torch. While in there, God tells them that He knows Israel isn’t going to keep up their end of the bargain.

Every bit of the explanation about how things are going to go down remind me of Red Forman  from That 70’s Show talking about the kids taking the car out of town. He lent it to them knowing that they would go against his wishes and knowing that they’d have to deal with the consequences and the subsequent punishment that he would have to inflict once the circumstances got them caught. This was how God sounded to me as He talked Moses and Joshua.Then He instructs Moses to write down a song to remind them that they can go back.

Chapter thirty two

Then there’s the song. I have to say, I was really expecting some sort of uplifting praise song that reminds them to look to God whenever they’re sad or something. I’ve clearly spent too much time listening to Christian music lately. Instead, what they got was a depressing song about all the ways the Israelites have messed up being faithful to God after all He did for them. The song includes the reaction that God will have or has had on account of it and ends kind of darkly. It really isn’t a song that seems like it would be helpful to reminding people how much God loves them and how they should praise him. Maybe that’s my twenty first century perspective.

Moses goes and shares the words of the song with the people and God tells him that he has to go up Mount Nebo to see the promised land from afar before he dies. A part of me wants to take this negatively, but I think the actual intent is more to give Moses a feeling of closure, like he’d done all he could. But he does get reminded that he won’t stand on that soil and what his transgression had been that earned him that plight.

Chapter thirty three

Moses gives one last blessing to the people of Israel. He separates the tribes in his blessings but it’s all roughly similar. Be great, your enemies will fall, follow God, and them so variances.

Chapter thirty four

So he goes to the mountain that God told him to go to die. I thought it was odd that his burial place wasn’t recorded, but somehow it makes sense too. No use giving the temptation to have a place to go see the one who spoke with God when you’re supposed to pray for yourself or go to your current leadership if you don’t feel like you can. It does end with a beautiful note on Moses that is practically his epitaph:

And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.

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