The Scriptorium

New Leader, Same Law

Joshua is appointed to lead Israel. Deuteronomy 31.11-20

Next Stage in God’s Covenant: Deuteronomy 30, 31  (3)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 105.1, 2, 8-11
Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!...
He remembers His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel as an everlasting covenant,
Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance…”

Psalm 105.1, 2, 8-11

(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Give thanks unto the Lord Most High; call on His Name, before Him cry!
Make known His deeds in every land; sing praise for all the works of His hand.

He will His covenant faithfully guard – His oath, the promise of His Word.
That which He to our fathers swore, He will perform forevermore!

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 31.1-13

1. What instructions did Moses give to Joshua?

2. Why was the Law to be read every seven years?

For nearly forty years, Joshua served as an assistant to Moses (cf. Ex. 17.9-13; 24.13). He would have seen the glory of God many times over and would have understood well the challenges involved in leading the people of Israel into the land of promise. An entire generation grew up seeing Moses and Joshua together, and they would have recognized him as the proper successor to the lawgiver of Sinai.

Joshua seems to have had a bent for battle (Ex. 32.17), and thus he was the logical candidate for Moses to appoint in leading the people against the Amalekites in the wilderness (Ex. 17.9-13), and as part of the team sent to spy out the land of promise (Num. 13.8). His name originally was Hoshea, but Moses changed it to Joshua – “He delivers” (Num. 13.16). Moses seems to have understood that God had great plans for his young assistant, and he instructed him to be strong and of good courage (vv. 6, 7), and not to be afraid. The Lord would be with him and the people.

Moses finished writing the book of the Law and gave it to the priests and Levites, charging them to have it read to the people every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles (vv. 9-13). In a day when perhaps most people could not read, and certainly did not have Bibles of their own, this repeated, public reading of the Law would have been very important. The people were to be reminded to hear and obey the Law, as this is the way to grow in the fear and promises of God (vv. 12, 13).

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
New leader, same Law. Always. Through the years, many people have risen to lead God’s people. They change. God never does (Heb. 13.8). And God always goes before us to show the way: “The LORD your God Himself crosses over before you…And the LORD, He isthe One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deut. 31.3, 8). God always precedes where He wants us to go. “He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him” (Matt. 28.7). “Let not your heart be troubled…I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14.1, 2). Leaders who lead properly will always be following Jesus, Who carefully and lovingly leads the way through life, death, and into life. He has been there, done that, and He knows the way. He is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14.6). He kept the Law perfectly. He showed us the way to hear the Law and to learn to fear the Lord and to carefully observe it. So regardless of who the leaders are, we have a sure foundation in Jesus and can courageously follow Him wherever He leads. The players change, but the rules never do. Courage emerges from the security of knowing that God’s Law and love never change.


1. In what ways were the work of Joshua and Jesus alike? How does the work of Joshua point forward to Jesus?

2. Why did Moses believe it was important that all God’s people hear all of God’s Law regularly? What’s the lesson in this for us?

3. What can we learn from Joshua and Jesus about leading others into the promises of God?

Behold, then, the reason why the Law was written down, that God's truth might be witnessed in the continued lapse of ages.
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 31.9

Thank You for Your Word, O Lord. Help me each day to…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 105.3-7, 45
Thank God for His covenant, and for the generations of faithful believers who have made it possible for the salvation and promises of God to come down to us today.

Psalm 105.3-7, 45
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Glory in God, rejoice in heart, all you who seek His holy part.
Him and His strength and Presence seek; His works proclaim, His judgments speak.

You holy children of Abraham, You chosen ones of Jacob, stand!
He is our Lord, of wondrous worth; His judgments are in all the earth.

So let us all in our Savior confide, and in His holy Law abide.
Let us observe His glorious Word, and praise our sovereign, faithful Lord!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here. And check out our current ReVision series on encouragement.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore