Welcome to expound, our verse by verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Father, thank you for the opportunity we have to push everything aside, interests that compete, messages that are being text to us, worries of life, to push them away, and in the middle of our week, say that you are worthy of our worship and our attention. You are worthy of us gathering and singing to you, and telling you corporately, as well as personally, that you are supreme in our lives. And then to not only speak and sing to you, but then to stop and hear from you as you speak to us through your word.
Tonight Lord, as we look at the last words of Moses to his people, I pray Lord we would be able to take to heart what he wanted those people at that time to take to heart, and that because of it we would grow thereby. As you said in the New Testament, as newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. May that be the case in Jesus' name, Amen.
Moses is old. He's about to kick the bucket, and he knows it. He even announces it. He is so comfortable with that fact that he doesn't say, let's talk about it. He tells everybody about it. He's 120 years old, as we'll see.
Now old age scares a lot of folks. Most of us aren't going to be able to stop it. Fear it all you want, you know, it's coming down the pike. Get ready for it. One old guy tried to put his sentiments in a little poem. He said, I like my new bifocals. My dentures are just fine. I have both hearing aids turned up, but Lord how I miss my mind.
And that's one of the things that some people will note as they grow older, their mind begins to fade. They can't grasp that fact or that memory so easily as they used to. As somebody said, just when your face is clearing up your, mind starts to go.
I don't know if it's that sudden, but I did hear of two gals at church, they were two old gals having a conversation, and one said to the other, you know I've known you all my life, but I just can't remember your name. So she said, tell me. What it is? What is your name. And the other gal paused for a long time and said, do you need an answer right now?
Moses, he's 120, we'll read in just a few verses. And yet if we were to compare the beginning of this chapter with chapter 34, it says that Moses died at 120 years of age, but his eyes were not dim, nor his natural strength abated, or vigor abated. It's an amazing statement. In other words, he's 120. He didn't look at a day over 100. I mean, he looked like he was in great shape. His natural vigor was not abated. His eye was not dim.
But as I mentioned, old age does scare a lot of people, and I think the secret is to start thinking, how am I going to transition, and what am I going to do in the latter years, whatever years you think latter years are. What am I going to do to serve the Lord, to input the next generation? We're going to see that the transition is taking place. Moses is headed off the scene. Joshua is headed on the scene. He's going to be taking over for Moses here, in just a bit.
Verse 1, "Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them, I am 120 years old today." Happy birthday Mo. "I can no longer go out and come in. Also the Lord has said to me, you shall not cross over this Jordan. The Lord your God himself crosses over before you. He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you just as the Lord has said."
Moses begins by making two statements about himself. Number one, I'm old, doesn't hide the facts, not ashamed of it. It is what it is. You can't say for, 120, you're older. You're old. So he says, I'm old. And the second statement, I can't do what I used to do. I find my capacity is now limited because I'm 120 years old.
The interesting thing about Moses, however, and it is true what he's saying here, but the interesting thing about Moses is that he really began ministry at 80. Isn't that remarkable? The best years of his life, the most productive years of his life, were in his latter years. We tend to think that our productive years end at a certain age like this, and that you're just not going to be able to produce.
Moses spent the first 40 years of his life being groomed in Egypt, the next 40 years of his life being trained in the wilderness, and the last 40 years of his life really being used by the Lord. I find that so encouraging. At whatever age you find yourself, if you think, well I'm marginalized. I can't do what I used to do. That's true perhaps. But what you can do is significant.
Did you know that Michelangelo painted his most famous, his greatest of all paintings, which is called the Last Judgment? It's in the Sistine Chapel. I've seen it. He was 89 years old when he began that work and ended that work. Amazing, 89.
John Wesley was 88. He was still preaching. By 88, he had traveled a quarter million miles on a horse, and he was still preaching sermons. Thomas Edison, 90 years old, still inventing, still thinking. So the Lord can use you at any age. As it's been said, the older the fiddle the sweeter the tune.
And the Lord, verse four, Mo continues. "The Lord will do to them," that is the inhabitants of the land that they are taking, "as he did to Sihon and Og." Or if you prefer the American version, Sihon and Og. "The kings of the Amorite and their land, whom he destroyed when he destroyed them. The Lord will give them over to you that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you."
"Be strong and of good courage. Do not fear or be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Love those words. "Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all of Israel," here the transition is taking place to new leadership, "be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them. And you shall cause them to inherit it."
Why was Joshua selected as the new leader after Moses? For two reasons. First of all, he was a faithful man. And second, he was a man of faith. He was a faithful man, first of all. He was faithful to his God. He was faithful to Moses, the leader. He was faithful to God, we'll read in Joshua 24, Lord willing, when we get to it, that Joshua says, "choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
He was faithful to his God, and he was faithful to Moses. He was called Moses' minister, or his assistant. He was an assistant pastor to Moses, and he was devoted. He didn't try to make a name for himself, or push an agenda on others. He was just serving the calling that God had on the life of Moses. So he was a faithful man.
But second, he was a man of faith. He was one of the two witnesses that went from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and only Joshua and Caleb came back with a favorable report, saying, I know there are some big guys in the land. They're just big targets, that's how I see it. Let's take the land that the Lord has given to us.
So they were men of faith. And because Joshua was a faithful man, and a man of faith, and because Caleb wanted that inheritance and just sort of wanted to hang out there and raise his family there, that's what he wanted for himself, Joshua was selected by the Lord and provided for Moses to take over. And here is now, you're seeing biblical transition occur.
God's work is never limited by a single leader. Oh if that person leaves us, I don't know what's going to happen. You know, he's been our leader for so long. God has so much up his sleeve. He has Joshua up his sleeve, and Joshua will bring them over into the land that God has promised.
And the Lord, verse 8, "he is the one who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Do not fear nor be dismayed. So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel."
Now you might not, at first, look at that verse and think that's all that important. To me, it is. And let me tell you why I think this verse is important. First of all it shows us the importance of the written word. You know, I do believe in keeping a journal and writing down what God is doing in your life. Because I'll tell you, there'll be a day when you want to go back over it and look at it.
I'm not always faithful every day in writing that, but I do keep a journal so that I can go back and read what I was going through, what I was struggling, with how the Lord answered that prayer, and brought me through it. And in this case, it's important to have the written word of God in front of you so that you can see it, and there is your standard. That's why I love it when people bring their bibles to church, and aren't just listening, but they're reading along. They're seeing the written word in front of them.
But it's important for a second reason. It's important is because it states that Moses wrote this book. He's the author of this book. And when it says, he wrote the law, it's at least the book of Deuteronomy, if not a reference to the first five books that we call the first five books of Moses, the Torah. Moses is the author. Why is that important?
Well some years ago, a group of crafty Germans decided they knew better than all the Christians and the Jews, historically, who thought that Moses wrote the first five books of Moses. And a couple of them got together and espoused a theory after two German men's names, Graf and Wellhausen, and as it's known as the Graf-Wellhausen Theory. And the theory states that Moses did not write Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy, but that it was written many years afterwards during the Postexilic times, like around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, by at least four scholars who were just trying to piece ideas together and get people to believe in this narrative.
And the reason they said they believe this, is because these two scholars said writing wasn't invented yet in the time of Moses. And this is why we love the spade of the archaeologist, because archaeologists come along and have proven that not only did writing exist at the time of Moses, but way before the time of Moses. As we have written cuneiform writing on tablets in Sumer, in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, et cetera. So once again the spade of the archaeologists shows Graf and Wellhausen that they're, well, wrong.
So I just thought it was important for you to see, right here, we're told, and now we know, writing was well in existence, and also Moses was highly educated. He wasn't a desert rat. He was schooled in the best schools of Egypt, we remember. So learning that trade, being able to write, and he's not just writing Bible verses, keep your attention, there's more that God's going to tell him to write. And I think it's cool for a 120-year-old dude to get asked to write what you're about to see him get asked to write.
Verse 10, "and Moses commanded them saying, at the end of every 7 years, at the appointed time in the year of release," remember that, when the debts were canceled? We covered that. "At the Feast of Tabernacles," that most joyous, week-long feast that took place at the Tabernacle, and later on in Jerusalem, "when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which he chooses," which we know will be Jerusalem. "You shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, women, little ones, the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn to fear of the Lord your God, and carefully observe all the words of this law."
Every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles, as the people of Israel are gathered together, a priest would read the law, either just the book of Deuteronomy, or all first five books of Moses. Now why was that done? A couple of different reasons, reason number one, they didn't carry around personal bibles. They didn't have iPhones with their bibles on it, or iPads. They didn't have bound books, known as a codex, like this.
If they had a scroll, it was like a scroll, and it was kept by the priest. Writing materials were rare, so people didn't have personal copies of the scriptures. So you would learn by hearing it read, hearing it recited by your parents at home, and then you yourself memorizing it. And in those days, people memorized large chunks of scripture.
Did you know, for example, that psalm 119, how many of you know that's the longest psalm in the Bible, like 172 verses? That was something children memorized. They committed that to memory. So it was sort of like a Wednesday night Bible study every seven years on steroids. Talk about reading large chunks of scripture.
Here's the second reason. They were taking a pilgrimage from wherever they lived to the central sanctuary in Jerusalem. Why were they told to do this, and they were told to do it three times a year? I believe it was in part to reenact the exodus from Egypt. While they walked through the desert during the exodus, they had to trust God for food, for water, for safety.
So they were sort of reenacting what their forefathers did for 40 years. They're taking several days, or maybe even a week or two, journeyed toward Jerusalem. They have to trust God for their provision, even though they have planned. They have to trust God for their protection, even though they're in a caravan.
And I'll tell you what that does. When you leave your normal activity, and agenda, and schedule, and you make a trip like this, it clears your head out. You think about life differently. You're not out milking the cows, or tending the sheep, or working in the village.
You're now on your way to a festival. You're walking. You're with people. You're talking. You're praying. You're singing. It puts you in a different frame of mind. And when you hear the word of God spoken like this, you'll receive it differently.
This is the value of a retreat, by the way, when there is a men's retreat or a woman's retreat. Why? Why should I go on a retreat? Why should I pay a whole bunch of money to go stay in a bad room with bad food, when I can stay at home and watch television? Boy you haven't thought this through.
Because it gets you out of your routine and opens you up in a different way to hear God's truth. It can change your life. You're going to hear it read because you don't have a personal Bible. You're going to hear it recited. And you're going to get out of your normal routine, and you're going to just subject yourself to listening to the word of God as it is being read.
By the way, forget the first five books of Moses for a moment. You know how long it would take you to read from Genesis to Revelation? If you were to read, at what we call pulpit speed, that's slow enough to be heard. To read the whole Bible, it'll take you 71 hours. If you divide that up into 365 increments, it's 12 minutes a day. So there is value, and it's doable, to read through the scripture. I make it a practice yearly to do so.
Verse 13, "and that there are children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear of the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess." I love this. Not only are you going listen, I want your kids to listen to it. Sometimes we undercut kids' ability in their hunger and thirst for the scripture. We think, well they're in junior high or they're in high school, we have to give them just a lot of music, and a lot of games, and no Bible because they're kids.
Listen these kids go to junior high and high school. I don't if you remember your chemistry or biology courses in high school, they were pretty tough. I think a young gal or guy can handle, and should be able to handle, the study of the word of God. And amazingly, I have some young people who come up to me every week, and I mean they're in junior high, and they come to our Bible studies here in the big house, and they love it, and they take notes, and they know far more than I ever knew at their age. They know more than some pastors I know. And I love that.
So they're to be subjected to it as well. Now who do we know who did this? As it is commanded to do, who do we know historically who got everybody together and started reading from the law? Ezra. You remember Nehemiah chapter 8. He gathered them together.
They built a platform, a stage area, of wood that lifted him above the people so they could be seen and heard. And Ezra for open up the book of the law, in the first day of the seventh month, and he began to read it aloud. And he read it distinctly, and then it says, he made the sense. He gave commentary and application to what he was reading so that they could go through the law together, as the Lord had said here.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, behold the days approach when you must die." So God is just shooting straight with him. You're going to die, dude. You're going to kick the bucket. You're going to croak. "Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tabernacle of meeting, that I may inaugurate him." That is, commission him, ordain him.
"So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tabernacle of meeting. Now the Lord appeared at the Tabernacle in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood above the door of the tabernacle. And the Lord said to Moses, behold you will rest with your fathers."
Now first of all, the Lord said, you're going to die. And now God tells him, you're going to rest with your fathers. They're the same thing. It's the same event. Physical death, but it's given two different descriptions. One is more raw, you're going to die, dude. This is it.
And the other is, well, more polite. You're going to rest with your father's. Which we find, do you remember, that phrase over and over again, the kings of Judah in Israel. It said, they slept with their fathers. Just means they died.
"And all this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land where they go to be among them. And they will forsake sake me and break my covenant which I have made with them, and my anger will be aroused against them in that day. And I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and trouble shall befall them so that they will say in that day, have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?"
I don't know what reaction you have to that, but I'll just tell you as a leader, God comes to me and says, Skip, you're going to die, and your whole congregation is going to forsake me, I'm going to go, what's up with that God? Why do you want to tell me that before I die? I have to live the rest of my life now with that knowledge.
Why on earth would you tell me that? And it's because the Lord wants Moses to do something about what God knows is going to happen, in hopes that some will be prevented from that activity that God, in his foreknowledge, has stated. He has to do something about it in advance, write something down in advance, as you'll see.
Now back to that description of death. You're going to die, and you're going to rest with your fathers. In the scriptures, the idea of sleep is a euphemism for death. Why does the Bible use that, when it refers to somebody dying? Oh, he's asleep.
You know Stephen, when he was stoned, not when he got stoned, when he was stoned, in the book of Acts, the last thing he said was, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. Don't lay this sin to their charge. And it says, and he fell asleep. He died. That's a polite way of saying he died. Why does the Bible say that?
Or Jesus concerning Lazarus, do you remember in John chapter 11? Jesus said to his disciples, our friend Lazarus is asleep. I'm going to go and wake him up. And the disciples thought, and said it, Lord, if he's asleep, he'll get better.
But John says Jesus was speaking about Lazarus' death, not that he was taking a nap. And so Jesus plainly said, Lazarus is dead, because they didn't get it. They didn't get the nice term, the Old Testament term, he's asleep. So he had to go to the raw term, Lazarus is dead. Not mostly dead, he's all dead.
Why is the word sleep used as a description of death? First of all, because that's the appearance of the body physically. A person looks at rest. The spirit has departed, but you look at the body, it looks so peaceful, like they're just resting.
The second and most important reason the Bible speaks of death as sleep is because it's like going to sleep. For a Christian who dies, you're just taking a nap. There will be an awakening, a resurrection that happens, when the spirit that has departed from that body reunites with the molecules of that body in whatever condition that might be at the time, and a resurrected body is fashioned out of it, and there's an awakening. So Christians have no more need to fear death than they need to take a nap. You have nothing to fear. You're just going to sleep. You'll wake up. And in fact, immediately, you're in God's presence.
When the Bible speaks of sleep, by the way, is not referring to soul sleep. This is a common misconception, is that when you die, you go into oblivion, and you're not experiencing anything until the Lord comes back. Not true. It only speaks of the physical body, not the spiritual state. There is no such thing as soul sleep.
Paul the Apostle said, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. He said, I have a desire to depart and, listen, be with Christ, which is far better. He knew that the moment he died, he would be with Christ. He would be very conscious. He would know what's going on. He would be comforted by Jesus' presence.
When a person takes his last breath on earth, it's his first breath in heaven, a believer that is. For an unbeliever, it's a very different story, but there will be a resurrection even of the unbeliever. But believer, when you die, took a nap. We'll see you again.
When I was younger-- no let's forget when I was younger, because nobody really cares. That was so long ago. Let me make it more contemporary. When I tell my grandchildren, Seth, Katie, it's time to take a nap. Now they're convinced that's like horrible. And they're delirious. They're so darn, no, really, I'm good. I don't need a nap. I'm fine.
And they're about to crash and burn. So you say, you need to take a nap. To them it's punishment. And when I see them react against a nap, it makes me laugh. Because the older they get, it's going to become a reward, not a punishment, am I right?
Somebody says, hey, you know what you can take a nap right now. Really? In church? Well no, not right now. But when you are allowed the luxury of a nap, it's a reward. So you will sleep with your fathers, and mothers, and sisters, and brothers, who have departed to be with the Lord.
Verse 18, "and I will surely hide my face in that day, because of all the evil which they have done, and that they have turned to other gods. Now therefore," so because that's true, and I told you you're about to die, and everybody in your congregation is going to go follow in idols, because that's human nature, and I know human nature, and I know these people. "Now therefore, write down a song," how cool is this?
Moses gets to become a songwriter. He now gets to add to his resume, not that he would have one at 120, leader, law giver, songwriter. He is commissioned at 120 to get a song going, dude. Write this down. It's going to be a song they sing.
He and Josh together were to collaborate on it. "Now therefore write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel, and put it in their mouths that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. When I have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grow fat, then they will turn to other gods and serve them and they will provoke me and break my covenant."
Why a song? I bet you know the answer to that. You remember songs just about more than you remember anything else. I still have worthless information from commercials I watched as a kid that will probably forever be in that little brain. And it's the song, right? It happens with you. Could be a commercial. Nationwide--
--is on your side.
See that. Do you see what I mean? OK or--
See, you can't escape it. It's in your brains too. So there's just something about music that does that. God wired us that way. He's given us the music so that, when truth is set to music-- and if you are a musician and you're writing songs, please put truth in it. Please put God's truth in it. Please figure out ways to commit with musical beat God's truths so that new generations can be impacted by them.
Music will do that, and I heard this great story once, a true story, of a missionary who is in Nigeria. And he said, we were building a mission station, and we had all of the logs, and all of the tools, and all of the workers. And we got up the next day and everybody is just sitting around.
A couple hours passed, everybody's just sitting around. And so the Western mission worker said to the local supervisor, so how come they're not building this thing? And the guy said, you know, I don't know but for some reason the musician has been delayed.
And the guy said, musician? Who cares about a musician? He said, oh you don't understand, we build our buildings according to the beat of the log, and the chant of the song. That's how they do it in that country, at that time. So he understood the value of music.
Do you remember the story in Second Chronicles 20, when Jehoshaphat the King goes out to battle? And he goes out to battle, and it's a little bit different. He's fighting Moabites and Ammonites, and he's down in the area of Tekoa, south of Bethlehem, down toward En Gedi, and he's getting ready to push his armies out. And he puts the musicians out in front of the battle.
Now the musicians' song was, praise the Lord for his mercy endures forever, and they were the first ones-- the first line of infantry were musicians. It's because it was a statement of, we trust the Lord and we're going to get the victory in his name. Either that or Jehoshaphat wanted to kill his worship team, one or the other. I think it was the first one.
But the value and importance of music, because it sticks in the brain. You remember those things from time to come. So write this song unto yourselves. Verse 20, "When have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them."
"They will provoke me and break my covenant. Then it shall be, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify against them as a witness. For it will not be forgotten in the mouths of their descendants, for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I brought them to the land which I swore to give them. Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel."
OK now come on. Could you write a song in one day at 120? I mean, you want to know what the song is? Look at chapter 32. Look how long it is. That's the song. So note that, musicians. He did it in a day. Started it and finished it in a day.
Wow, I tell you, I'm impressed. And he taught it to them in a day. He didn't have much time left. He's about to die. He has to get the song on down the line. "Then he inaugurated Joshua," or commissioned him. Joshua, the son of Nun, his Hebrew name would be Yes-shuah Ben-noon, would be his a Hebrew name. It's translated thus.
"And said be strong and of good courage, for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I swore to them. And I will be with you. So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, and they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites who bore the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord saying, take the book of the law and put it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there is a witness against you."
Now the law was either the book of Deuteronomy alone, or the first five books of Moses. There's sort of a dispute as to which it is, OK, whatever. I tend to think it's Deuteronomy. You might want to think it's the first five books of Moses. Doesn't matter. The important thing, it wasn't in the Ark, it was next to the Ark.
Why? What was in the Ark? Ten Commandments, golden jar of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, those are the only three items that were and the Ark of the Covenant. But next to it was a copy of this law. "For I know your rebellion," verse 27, "and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord, then how much more after my death."
"Gather to me all the elders of your tribes, your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing, and call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you, and evil will befall you in the latter days because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song until they were ended."
Now again, keep in mind, as you're looking over chapter 32, this thing was committed to memory and melody, and it was sung. It sort of became their national anthem for a while. They would sing it as they would hear the law are read in Jerusalem on the Feast of Tabernacles. Every seventh year, in the year of release, this song would be sung.
If you know much about antiquity, you know that, because written materials were scarce, people would commit poems, songs, real estate treaties, other forms of treaties, genealogies, completely to memory. In fact, if you go to like Africa, some of the tribes of Africa, they will be able to tell you their genealogy back hundreds, some thousands, of years. And it takes a long time for them to do, it but they have memorized all those names. Still in some of these cultures today, so, pretty cool.
So as we go through the song, you're going to see it sort of divided up. And we're not going to comment on all the verses, really would like to go through the lyrics of the song. In one sense to tip our hat to it, go through it, make a few remarks, and then we're done with it.
But there's two parts to it, historical and prophetical. What has happened in the past, what will happen in the future, that's how it's divided. It is a country song, so to speak. It's filled with sad events. You know that joke, what do you get when you play a country song backwards? You get your wife back, your dog back, your job back.
Because so many of the themes of country songs is, I lost this, and I lost that, and woe is me. But actually you're going to see it's not a country song, it's the first recorded rock song. I kid you not. You'll see what I mean as we go through it.
"Give ear, oh heavens, and I will speak. And hear, oh earth, let the words of my mouth and my teaching drop as rain. My speech distill as dew as rain drops on the tender herb, and the showers on the grass. For I proclaim the name of the Lord, ascribe greatness to our God. He is the rock." So now you see what I mean, right? It is, indeed, a rock song. "His work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of truth and without injustice, righteous and upright is he."
OK I cannot resist verse 2. You just gotta get this truth. "Let my teaching drop as the rain, and my speech distill as dew as rain drops on the tender herb and as showers on the grass." In other words, may my message refresh and stimulate your spiritual growth.
There is an enormous power of refreshment in a gentle rain, or in just dew that appears. It just appears. You never hear thunder, and then dew, right? It didn't come with a bang, it just slowly appears. But it refreshes the plant life. It gets them through another day.
God's word has the powerful effect, like dew, of refreshment one's spirit. This is why I believe what we're doing here is all important. And this is why I believe wholeheartedly, you will have an edge over those who don't do what we're doing. There is power in it.
Some people look for the dramatic. And they overcome, or they overlook, the most significant work of God, which is this, let me explain what I mean. Elijah was a man who liked the dramatic, right? He was on Mount Carmel, slew the prophets of Baal, you know, lightning, thunder.
Then he runs away because a woman's after him, all the way down to the Sinai. And he hides. And he wants to hear God speak, so he hides himself in the cleft of the rock. And wants to hear God's voice. And the wind comes by and tears it up. He didn't hear God's voice.
And then a fire, and God didn't speak to him. And earthquake, a fire, god didn't speak to him. Finally he hears a whisper, a still small voice, Elijah. I think it kind of spooked him, because he was thinking, Elijah, hallelujah, I have a word. Just this whisper.
Some folks are such spiritual thrill seekers. Forget it, I don't want a gentle dew, and a little falling rain. Man I want thunder and lightning. That's how God moves. Oh you overlook some of the most significant works of God if that's how you think.
Some of the most exciting work of God is in a Bible study like this one God unlocks the heart and lets a person see a truth, and they changed the course of his or her life, or they come to know Christ, or oh I could go on and on. It's a beautiful principle of the power of scripture. The greatest movements of God come from times like this.
"They have corrupted themselves," verse 5, "they are not his children, because of their blemish a perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus deal with the Lord, oh foolish and unwise people? Is he not your father who bought you? Has he not made you and established you? Remember the days of old. Consider the years of many generations."
"Ask your father and he will show you. Your elders, they will tell you. When the most high divided their inheritance to the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord's portion is his people. Jacob is the place of his inheritance. He found them in a desert land, and in the waste land a howling wilderness," speaking of their sojourn in the land of Egypt.
"He encircled them. He instructed them. He kept them as the apple of his eye." That's the pupil, the most sensitive part. The most instinctive reflex you have in your body is to protect your pupil. If a loud sound went off right now, you'd squint. Everybody does it. If a fast movement comes towards you, you squint. You instinctively protect the apple of your eye.
"As an eagle stirs up its nest," love this passage, "hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the Lord alone led him, and there was no foreign God with him." The word eagle here is the Hebrew word nesher, and it speaks of a particular type of Middle Eastern eagle, slash Falcon, slash vulture, called the Griffin eagle. And there are some notable characteristics about these eagles.
Number one, they build their nests in out-of-the-way places, in cliffs, high, high up so that the eaglet has nothing at all to live on except what the mother is going to provide. There's just nothing around it. There's no McDonald's. There's no Starbucks. You're just in this little nest up in the rock, and that eaglet will die unless mom takes care of it.
Interesting how the Lord, in like manner, took the children of Israel out of Egypt where there were vegetables, and leeks, and garlics, and lots of provision, and took them and segregated them out in the wilderness where they were totally dependent on him. Manna that would fall from heaven, water that would come out of the rock. Unless God would provide for them, they're dead meat.
The second thing about eagles, they're very protective. This in particular, this nesher, this Griffin eagle, has a very heavy beak, strong feet, very sharp, curved talons, and it's vicious. If you ever decide that you want to play around with the eaglets of a Griffin eagle, you better make sure you're born again, because it will probably be the last thing you do. They'll tear you to shreds. They could kill you.
So the Lord built the nest for the children of Israel out in the desert, out toward the Red Sea. And the Egyptians came along and saw the nest, and said, ah they are securely shut in. We have them. They have the natural boundaries around them.
They can't escape. They've got mountains, vast wilderness, and this sea. They are securely shut in. But the Lord showed them that he's able to make a way when there was no way. And when the Egyptians attacked the nest of his eaglets, like this eagle, their corpses lay scattered in the Red Sea.
Here's a third thing about these eagles, and eaglets. To me it's the most encouraging, they mature slowly. When I read that, I thought, oh I'm so glad to read that. I feel so good. They're slow in learning things. Doesn't that encourage you?
But at the same time, they need to learn how to fly. So this is now a flying lesson works in eagle land. One day mother eagle says, OK that's a little eaglets been sort of like hanging out in the nest long enough. It's kind of gnarly and smelly in here. And just kicks it out of the nest.
It starts spiraling downward. And that little eaglet is flipping out. Flipping out, thinks it's going to die. And almost before it takes that fateful splat, that huge nesher air just swoops right underneath, and lifts it up on its wings, and carries it back up to the nest. And the little eaglet's going-- That's lesson number one.
Do you remember in Exodus 19, right before God gave the Ten Commandments, he said, do you remember, he says to the children of Israel, do remember how I bore you on eagle's wings, and I brought you into myself. I love this whole idea, and this whole analogy. Then the next day, just when the eaglet thought everything is good, does it again. Swoops down, picks it up.
But on one of those falls, as that little eaglet starts flapping and flopping, it gets air, and starts getting lifted up, and goes, whoa I could fly. Who knew? And it takes a while, but it gets its wings. And until then, the mother is so patient with it. And I just love that. It's so encouraging to me as I read it.
"He made him to ride in the heights of the earth that he may eat the produce of the fields. He made him to draw the honey from the rock and oil from the flinty rock." I could say a lot on that. Don't have time. "Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock, fat of the lambs of the rams of the breed of Bashan." That's the Golan Heights and the goats. "With the choicest wheat, and you drank wine, the blood of the grapes. But Jeshurun," do you see that word? "Jeshurun grew fat and kicked."
Jeshurun is a word that means upright one, and it's a reference, ironically, to the nation of Israel. Now God just says you're going to blow it, you're going to sin, you're going to go away. Oh by the way, I'm calling you Jeshurun, upright one.
Why would he do that? Well, you know, Jesus liked to rename people in the New Testament, didn't he? He took a guy named Levi, who was a tax collector, despised by everybody, and perhaps it was Jesus who gave him the name not Levy, Levi, but Matthew, a gift.
Why would Jesus rename people? Because Jesus sees what he can do with them. What potential is in them if he gets his hands on them. I can make his person a gift. I could make this a dirt clods named Peter a rock. So he calls them Jeshurun. That's a term of endearment. It's what he hopes they would become. It's what they would be and could become, if they would keep what he said.
You grew fat. You grew thick. These are not complementary words, folks. You wouldn't say that to your spouse or your friend, would you? You're thick. You are covered with fat. God said it. I'm going to underline that. That's going to be-- memorize that verse. No I'm just kidding.
"Then he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the rock of his salvation. They provoked him to jealousy with foreign gods. With abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrifice to demons, not to God. To gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals." You know, the new God on the block.
"That your fathers did not fear of the rock who begot you. You are unmindful, and you have forgotten the God who fathered you." Please make a note, quickly, that he doesn't refer to false gods is just an alternate religious system that people have their own sincere beliefs in. But he tells them the truth. Those are all demonically inspired belief systems. There are demons that are worshipped behind them.
"And when the Lord saw it, he spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them. I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation. Children in whom is no faith, they have provoked me to jealousy by what is not God."
"They have moved me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation." Paul alludes to this in the book of Romans, that we Gentiles who have received Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, provoke the Jews to jealousy by the grace he has extended to us.
"For a fire is kindled in my anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell. It shall consume the Earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap disasters upon them. I will spend my arrows upon them. They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence, and bitter destruction."
"I will also send against them the teeth of beasts with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside, and the terror shall be within. For the young man, the virgin, the nursing child, the man of gray hairs, I would have said, I will dash them in pieces.
"I will make the memory of them to cease from among men, had I not feared I wrath of the enemy, lest their adversary should misunderstand. Lest they should say, our hand is high and it is not the Lord who has done all of this. For they are a nation void of counsel, nor is there any understanding in them. Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end." Most people don't. They just think of immediate gratification.
"How could one chase 1,000, and two put 10,000 to flight, unless their rock had sold them, and the Lord had surrendered them. For their rock is not like our rock. Even our enemies themselves being judges, for their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah."
"Their grapes are the grapes of gall. Their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of serpents and the cruel venom of cobras. Is this not laid up in store with me, sealed up among my treasures. Vengeance is mine, and recompense. Their foot shall slip in due time." Please make note Paul, in Romans 12, the writer of Hebrews, in Hebrews 10, both quote this verse from this chapter, vengeance is mine says the Lord.
Question, if vengeance belongs to God and not to you, how does that square with the other law that is written, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? If God in his law said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth, and he did, and then he says, vengeance is mine says the Lord, how do you reconcile the two? Next week, or no, not next week.
Next week, we're going to have a special service, as you see. You want to come for that, because I have a special guest. And the week after, though, next time we're together, we'll, for this Bible study, we'll let you know the answer to that. We're almost done with Deuteronomy, folks. A couple chapters to go. Yes, aren't you going, finally.
Father thank you for being able to view a man who is very passionate, who made mistakes, and because of some of those mistakes he was not allowed to see the promised land. He could only view it from a distance, overlooking ancient Jericho, that's all he saw. But a man who is, to the Jewish nation, the most important personage historically to them, lord thank you that we've been able to look at his words, and his song, and his example, both good and bad, and to learn from it.
Lord, I pray that, as we are growing, every day, a little bit older, I pray we would grow wiser, and closer to you, and more usable by you for your glory. I pray that would the utmost goal that we have, motivation that drives us would be the glory of God in all that we do. In Jesus' name Amen. Would you stand together as we sing?
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