The Scriptorium

Blessing the People of God (1)

Moses begins his second final work. Deuteronomy 33.6, 7

The Final Works of Moses: Deuteronomy 33, 34 (2)

Opening Prayer: Deuteronomy 32.9, 10
For the LORD’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the place of His inheritance.
“He found him in a desert land
And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness;
He encircled him, He instructed him,
He kept him as the apple of His eye.

Sing Deuteronomy 32.9, 10, 3

(Sagina: And Can It Be)
God has His people made His own, the place of His inheritance –
found in the desert, all alone, and in the howling wilderness.
God came and taught them and drew them nigh, and kept them the apple of His eye.
Refrain, v. 3
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 33.6, 7

Preparation

1. Which are the first two tribes blessed by Moses?

2. Of what do their blessings consist?

Meditation
The second of Moses’ final works is to bless the people of God. The purpose of this seems to be to give the nation a kind of fresh start, a new beginning. Moses speaks as the voice of God to the people. He thus assures them of God’s continuing love and care for them as they enter the next stage of their covenant relationship with the Lord.

Reuben is the first-born of Jacob, so he is first blessed (v. 6). This may seem a generic and even stingy blessing. But according to the Law that Moses has just given, Reuben should have been cursed for violating his father’s bed (Deut. 22.30; 27.20). Some lingering sense of guilt or unworthiness may have yet hung over the people of that tribe: Would God visit His wrath upon them? Moses says, not to worry. Reuben’s sin is forgiven, now go and multiply like covenant people should.

The blessing of Judah (v. 7) puts him in the role of mediator and ruler for the people of Israel. God will hear his voice when he pleads with Him. God will “bring him to his people”, that is, as the source of their kings (cf. Gen. 49.8-11). By the hand of Judah a “sufficiency” will be accomplished for the entire nation (“him”). God will help him so that he overcomes all his foes.

The people of Moses’ day would not have understood the full implications of this blessing, just as Old Testament people generally did not see all the types and symbols pointing to Christ. But looking back from Jesus to passages like this, and like Genesis 49.8-11, we can see that God was laying down markers along a path leading to the redemption of His people and the destruction of all their enemies. And the Pathfinder for that causeway is Jesus.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin. The first blessing goes to one that does not deserve it. And we are all Reuben. We receive the blessing of life: underserved yet given graciously.
“…for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17.28)
“…the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2.20)
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1.21)

The blessing is to all the Reubens of the world: undeserved life given by God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, 
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace, 
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

“Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord”
(Johnston and Towner, 1911) 

Reflection
1. Why do we not deserve the blessing of life from the Lord?

2. Why was it important that Judah should be placed in the role of mediator for God’s people? What did this signify?

3. How should we respond to the marvelous grace of our loving Lord?

The favor of God is the only favor satisfying to the soul. Those are happy indeed, who have the favor of God; and those shall have it, who reckon that in having it they have enough, and desire no more. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Deuteronomy 32.6ff.

Thank You for Your blessings, Lord; let me know Your favor throughout this day, for I will…

Closing Prayer: Deuteronomy 32.5-8, 11-14
Use this time of prayer to recount all the blessings of God and to give Him thanks for each and all.

Sing Deuteronomy 32.5-8, 11-14
(Sagina: And Can It Be)
See how His children go astray, corrupt and blemished one and all;
wicked and crooked in every way, He will not them His children call.
Fools and unwise, His love to spurn, and from Your Creator and Father turn!
Refrain, v. 3
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

Think now on all the days of old, the generations passed above,
how, by our fathers and elders told, we learned of God’s redeeming love.
When He the nations set apart, He kept His people in His heart.
Refrain, v. 3

Just like an eagle guards its nest, and spreads its wings to shield its own,
takes them and shelters them in his breast, so God preserved them all alone.
No foreign god assistance brings: He carries them on His own wings.
Refrain, v. 3

He made His people lords of earth, to eat the produce of their fields,
lavished them all with creation’s worth, and blessed their harvests and their yields.
He made their flocks and herds abound, and blessed the vintage of their ground.
Refrain, v. 3

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