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The Scriptorium

Closing the Book

The book of Deuteronomy concludes. Deuteronomy 33, 34

The Final Works of Moses: Deuteronomy 33, 34 (7)

Opening Prayer: Deuteronomy 32.1-3
“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As raindrops on the tender herb,
And as showers on the grass.
For I proclaim the name of the LORD:
Ascribe greatness to our God.

Sing Deuteronomy 32.1-3
(Sagina: And Can It Be)
Give ear, O heav’ns, I will proclaim, and hear, O earth the words I tell:
Let now my teaching drop as rain, my speech as morning dew distill
as show’rs that fall on thirsty grass, and rain on tender herbs at last:
Refrain, v. 3
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

Review Deuteronomy 33, 34; meditate on Deuteronomy 33.29

1. What was the chief source of Israel’s happiness?

2. What final word of warning do we find in this verse?


The book of Deuteronomy concludes with the blessing of God’s people and the promise of happiness, tribe by tribe, if they abide in the Lord.

Moses did his best to keep the people focused on the greatness and graciousness of God (33.1-3, 26-29). He spoke the blessing of God to each of the tribes, assuring them of God’s love, Presence, and goodness toward them. But they must hold fast to Him, and be rid of all the false idols and distracting religions of the pagan peoples of Canaan.

When Moses had finished his work, God led him to the top of Mt. Nebo and showed him all the land of promise in a sweeping panorama (34.1-3). The land of Canaan serves a twofold purpose in the Old Testament. First, it is the “down payment” on the promises of God. Where Moses was about to go was the full and final payment of those promises – the Presence of God and His glory forever. Giving the people the land, tribe by tribe, would prove the reliability of God and His Word, and point them forward to a fuller realization of those promises in the days to come (cf. Deut. 30.1-10).

Second, the land of Canaan is a type, a sign pointing to larger truths. And in this case, the truths are three.

First, Canaan symbolizes the final disposition of God’s people in the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells. As the people enjoyed the good blessings of the land, they would be reminded of God’s great and precious promises, and encouraged to continue living and working toward them. They could not see as far into the eternal future as we can – given that we have the New Testament and know Jesus, exalted in glory – but they understood that better promises were yet to be realized than even these they were about to claim.

Second, as a down payment on God’s promise and Kingdom (Deut. 17), Canaan is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1.13, 14). Its fruitfulness points to the fruitfulness of the Spirit. The people’s lives there would have power to bear witness to the nations around them.

Finally, the land of Canaan points forward to Jesus and the salvation that He brings. All the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Jesus (2 Cor. 1.20). To be in Canaan was to be in the Lord’s favor, just as to be in Jesus Christ is to be redeemed, saved, and adopted into the household of God.

As Moses passed from this world to the next, the vision of Canaan fresh in his mind, he would see in one comprehensive glance all the promises and glory of God he had sought for so many years.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
At the end of the work and ministry of Moses, a paean to him is in order. Moses, the man of God. Moses, the humble and suffering servant. Moses, the writer and poet. Moses, the bringer of the Law. Moses, the determined keeper of the Law. Moses, a forerunner of Jesus.

“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD!” (Psalm 119.1) Humble, suffering, obedient. Blessed.

“Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death” (Deut. 33.1). Man of God.

“And the LORD said to me [Moses], ‘I will raise up for them a Prophet like you…and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him” (Deut. 18.18,19) Forerunner of Jesus.

“For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night…So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom…And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands” (Ps. 90.4, 12, 17). Poet, writer.

“…and [Jesus] was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” (Matt. 17.2,3) Still living. Eternally blessed.

What a final honor. He is Jesus’ choice to represent the Law at this dramatic moment. And then Jesus rehearses the Law for His listeners and closes with: “On these two commandments” – love God and love your neighbor – “hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22.37-40). Brought to you by Moses.

Moses suffered many things during his time on earth, but through it all he was faithful. “By faith Moses…choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure in Egypt, for he looked to the reward…for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb.11.24-27).

Closing the book. Thank you, Moses, for your exemplary service. We admire your trust and obedience. We will remember and follow your love for God and His Law. We choose life!

1. Which aspects of the greatness of Moses speak to you the most? Why?

2. What can you learn from Moses’ teaching about what it means to be a witness for the Lord?

3. How does the end of Moses’ life help you to hope for the glory that is yet to be?

He again exclaims that happy is the people, whose salvation is in God; and surely this is the only true happiness; for unless we ascend to the first cause of Salvation, all salvations, so to speak, are but transitory. John Calvin, (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 33.29

Thank You for Your precious and very great promises, O God. Today I will live toward them as I…

Closing Prayer: Deuteronomy 32.9-14
Thank God for all His protection, provision, and promises. Call on Him for the strength to work your Personal Mission Field today.

Sing Deuteronomy 32.9-14, 3
(Sagina: And Can It Be)
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
I will proclaim our Savior’s fame, and sing the greatness of His Name.

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 going to today’s column at the website. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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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

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