It shall come to pass when all these things are come upon thee the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and you call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God has driven thee (30:1).
In other words, you are driven out of the land and you’re in captivity and you remember what God has said.
And you return unto the LORD your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all of your heart, and with all of your soul; then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee (30:2-4)
Now in Matthew's gospel chapter twenty-four, verse thirty-one, we find this prophecy of Jesus declaring that its fulfillment will take place when He returns in His glory. "And the Son of Man shall return in His glory then shall the angels go throughout the four corners of the heaven gathering together God's people back into the land." His elect. So that the elect of Matthew twenty-four does not refer to the church, as some who say that the church is going to go through the Great Tribulation do teach, but it is a direct fulfillment of this prophecy that relates to the nation Israel when the Lord returns as the Messiah. Then He is going to gather those who have been driven out to the various parts of the earth back into the land, from the four corners of the earth. And His elect will be drawn back into the land in a direct fulfillment of this prophecy. Jesus relates to this in Matthew 24:31.
That is why those who emphasis their ministry in the New Testament often become confused as to Israel, it's destiny and as to the church. Because they take the Scriptures that God has applied to Israel and they try to apply them to the church. They get all mixed up because they don't have the Old Testament background to see where this particular prophecy is a direct quotation almost of the prophecy, is a direct reference to this prophecy in Deuteronomy, the book that Jesus quoted the most. And when you see it there you realize the elect of Matthew twenty-four, who are gathered together after the Tribulation of those days cannot be the church but is the fulfillment here in Deuteronomy.
Now the Lord thy God will then circumcise your heart, and the heart of thy children, to love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that you may have live (30:6).
And so at that time God will just deal with a man's heart and take away the fleshly desires and so forth out of his heart.
For the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your fathers; If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in the Book of the Law (30:9-10).
And so over and over and over again Moses is talking to them about the commandments. The importance of keeping the commandments. The same in verse eleven:
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that you may do it (30:11-14).
So, God has given His Word and He has given His Word in understandable terms. And not only that, He has put it in your heart, and in your mouth. And any time a person says, “Well, I know I should not have done that,” he is testifying to the fact that God has put His Word, His commandment in his heart. “How do I know that I shouldn't have done that? Well, I just know, inside”. God has put His law within my heart; the commandment is there. I know when I do right. I know when I do wrong. I know when I fail to do right. Oh, I know I should've done that. I knew all the time that I should have done that. Of course you do, because the commandment is there in your heart. And with your mouth, you are only testifying to the fact that the commandment is there in your heart. You know in your heart what is right and what is wrong.
I know I ought to serve God. I know I ought to commit my life completely to God. I know I should commit this situation to the Lord. Then why don't you if you know, and you do know?
God has not hid Himself in some kind of mystic obscurity, so that you have to be some kind of a mystic and go into some kind of a trance and leave your body and project your spirit out into the heavens someplace, where God might there speak to you in the hallowed chamber, with an echoing voice, so that you will know the word and the will of God for your life. Neither is He across the sea some place in a monastery in Tibet. Or in some high place in India with some Guru sitting in a little shed, spreading his divine light. The Word of God is very close to you, extremely close to you. The commandment of God is very close to you. It's actually in your heart, and God has there written His Law. So that you know within your heart when you have done the right thing, you know when you have done the wrong thing and you confess it with your mouth.
So often I say, "I should not have done that, I know it." So often I say, "I should do this. I know I should." Therefore I am not innocent; I am guilty because He who knows to do good and doeth it not to him, it is sin. My failure to do that, which I know I should do, is sin. I know it; it's in my heart.
Now Paul the apostle takes this passage, quotes it in Romans ten. And there as he quotes this passage, again he says, “say not that it is in heaven that someone should ascend to bring it down or in the depths that someone should have to descend to bring it up or beyond the seas that someone should have to bring it back. But the Word of God is nigh unto thee, yes it is close to thee, it is even in your heart and in your mouth, ”(Romans 10:6-8), for, and now Paul adds this, “If thou shall confess with thy mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead thou shalt be saved”(Romans 10:9). Now Paul goes ahead and takes this same passage and he shows how close every man is to salvation. Salvation is just as near as your heart and your mouth.
Salvation is something that you cannot achieve or attain by climbing up to heaven. You can't go across the sea and kill the seven-headed dragon and steal the seven golden apples in order to be saved. It isn't—salvation isn't some difficult experience that you can achieve only by tremendous effort and ability. But Salvation is so close and so easy that no one is without excuse. For it is as close as your mouth and your heart. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the mouth confession is made unto righteousness and with the heart man believes unto salvation."
That's how close any one of you are tonight. You say, “Oh, I feel like I'm a million miles from God. I feel like God is so far away”. No, God is very near to you. I feel like I'm so far from salvation. No, you’re very close to salvation. “But you don't know about the life I've been living.” I don't care about the life you've been living; I don't want to know it. I do know that any one of you can be saved at this very moment if you will just confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. If you would just now say, “Oh, Lord if you would take over my life, I surrender my life to you. Take it over now.” Then He would. "Jesus I believe you rose from the dead." You'll be saved. That's just how close you are.
See, believing is a matter of choice, and you can choose to believe now or you can choose to not believe. You can choose to believe that Jesus did rise from the dead, thus attesting to the truth of what He declared. That He indeed was the Son of God who came down to bear the sins of man in order that He might give to us eternal life, who believe in Him. And the resurrection caps the thing off. It made the hope for eternal life a living hope, more than just a hope. He gave sustenance to the hope by the resurrection.
Or you can choose to believe that He didn't rise from the dead. That somehow the disciples gave some spiked drinks to the guards. And after they passed out, they heaved ho on the stone. And they stole the body of Jesus, took it off someplace else. Buried it where nobody could find it and then got together and made up a big story about finding the tomb empty and the linen cloths in which Jesus was wrapped all there in a form but no body in it. And that they made a pact between themselves that they would stick to this story. That no one would squeal or tell the plot, even if they were put to death and all of them went to their death with this lie, with the exception of John who died of old age. But the rest of them all went to violent deaths for this lie that they told.
Now, Satan has a philosophy of man; he had a philosophy of Job. When God said to Satan, "Have you seen my servant Job? Perfect man, one who loves good, hates evil" (Job 1:8). Satan expressed his philosophy concerning Job. He said, "Did Job serve you for nothing? Job is a mercenary, God. The way you bless that man, a fellow would be a fool not to serve you, the way you have blessed him. Why you've given that guy everything he wants, anybody would serve you for that. Job is a hireling. Job is a mercenary. He is serving you, Lord, for profit. Let me take away his riches, let me take away his goods. He will turn around and curse you."
Satan took away his goods. Everything he had and he came back. And after Satan wiped him out completely, when the servant came with the last message, Job fell on his face before the Lord and he said, "Naked I came into the world and naked I'm go out, The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). And in all these things, Job did not curse God neither did he charge God foolishly. He didn't say, "Oh, God doesn't love me anymore, God doesn't care." He didn't charge God foolishly. So Satan came back egg all over his face. His philosophy was proved wrong.
God said, “Where have you been?” Satan said, “Oh, I've been cruising around the world, going up and down, to and fro throughout it”. “Oh, wait a minute, have you checked out my servant Job? Good man.” God is doing a little bragging on him now. “One who loves good, hates evil, perfect man upright.”
Now, Satan offers his second philosophy concerning man. It is this, skin-for-skin, all that a man has will he give for his life. That's a pretty accurate evaluation of man. Life is the most precious possession that we have and all a man has he will give for his life. Because if I don't have my life what good is it to have anything? So when it comes right down to it, your life is your most valued possession. That was Satan's philosophy. It was an accurate evaluation of man. He has had a long time to study human nature. And psychologists will tell us that self-preservation is the strongest natural instinct that you possess. So they agree with Satan's evaluation. I don't know, maybe they were inspired.
Now, you see the problems you are facing. If a man will give all that he has for his life. And all these men gave their lives because they had agreed together to the lie that Jesus was risen from the dead, if indeed he did not raise and it was all a big hoax that they were perpetrating, You have somehow have to explain how all these men were willing to give their lives for a hoax. You will have to explain how they overcame man's strong basic instinct of self-preservation. So you can choose to believe that the story of the resurrection is a hoax or you can choose to believe that it was true. If you believe that it was a hoax, you have some real problems. With logic, if you believe it was true, then there is no problem, it all makes sense and all these guys bore witness of it. They said, “We bear witness of this”. So, you are believing the mouth of witnesses.
And if you are not willing to believe the mouth of witnesses, then we might as well throw out our whole jurisprudence system, because our whole jurisprudence system is based upon the establishing of fact by the testimony of witnesses. So you get the witnesses that are agreeing together this is what happened. If we can't believe the witnesses then we really should establish a whole new system of jurisprudence.
So you choose to believe or you choose not to believe that He rose from the dead. It's a matter of choice, strictly. But by choosing to believe you gain so much. Why would you be so dumb to choose not to believe, in spite of all the evidence? You know, it just shows man’s stubborn heart and foolish heart, because he doesn't want to acknowledge God. A man is an agnostic, not because God can't be known, God can be known. There are thousands who come to this church every week that will attest to you that God can be known. So a man is an agnostic, not because God cannot be known, but because the man has chosen not to know God, because God is very close to every man. Salvation is very near. All you have to do is turn your life over to Jesus as Lord. Just believe that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.
Paul takes this passage and he shows how that God has dealt with us through this passage in a new way. Because the commandment that Moses speaks about here in the sixteenth verse is that you
love the LORD your God, and that you walk with Him, and that you obey all of His commandments, and statutes, and judgments (30:16).
All right, I love God. And I want to walk with God, but my flesh is weak and I have violated the commandments of God. So the addition that Paul makes by saying, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead”, that takes care of my failure. By that I am forgiven of my violation of the commandment. By that I am washed and cleansed from my sins, thereby I have salvation. I have the life of God, that age-abiding life in Jesus Christ.
So, Moses said,
I call heaven and earth, (verse nineteen), to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life (30:19).
Because it is a matter of choice you choose to serve God. You choose to believe God. You choose to follow God or you choose not to. It is a matter of choice and He is encouraging you. Choose life and the blessings of God rather than death and the curse of God upon your life, but it's your choice. You make that choice for yourself. God doesn't make that choice for you. You make that choice for yourself. God knows and has always known the choice you are going to make, but yet, you're the one that makes the choice. And the foreknowledge of God does not take away from your responsibility to make the choice. Therefore, choose life, choose the blessing,
that you may love the Lord your God and obey His voice and cleave unto Him for He is thy life, and the length of thy days (30:20):
So Moses, chapter thirty-one, went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said unto them, I am now a hundred and twenty years old today (31:1-2).
Happy birthday, dear Moses. One hundred and twenty years old. Ah, what a character, what a beautiful character this man is, one who walked with God in such an intimate way. He said,
I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD had said unto me, You are to go over this Jordan (31:2).
I can't go with you; I have brought you as far as I can.
It is interesting to me that Moses who is representing the law could only bring them to the Promised Land. He could not take them in. The law cannot take you into the full blessings of God. Grace must do that. So the law could only bring them to the border of the land. Now it's up to Joshua to take them in. And so, it's typical of our lives: the law cannot bring you into that glorious rich life in the Spirit. It can only bring you to it, but by grace and faith we must enter in.
Now the LORD is going to go before you, and He is going to drive out these nations just like He has driven out Og and Sihon. Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that goes before you; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people into the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, he it is that goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you, neither forsake you: fear not, neither be dismayed (31:3-8).
Isn't that a glorious charge? Here's Joshua, been depending upon Moses for a long time. He's been his servant. Now Moses said, “Okay Joshua, you’re going to take over”. Oh, that's an awesome thing. Fear would grip your heart, but Moses said, “Be strong, be of good courage, for the Lord is the one who is going to go before you. He will be with you. He will not fail or forsake you”.
So Moses wrote the law. And again notice this, Moses wrote the law. For all those theological scholars who want to, you know, argue about who wrote the five books. If they would only read them, they will find out they tell them. Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priest, the sons of Levi.
And Moses commanded them saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which He shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing (31:10-11).
So every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles when they came to Jerusalem, they were to get out this law of Moses and read it for all the people. Now we're several months going through this thing reading it. So that must have been quite a thing.
Now we remember when Ezra returned from captivity and they gathered the people back into the land that they found the law. They opened it and began to read it and the people stood from morning till evening as the law of God was read. And they covered their heads and began to weep as they realized how much they had failed God. And as they realized from the law of God that their failure was the thing that caused them to be delivered into Babylon and all. So they read the law in the time of Ezra and they gave the explanation. They did this for several days. The people would stand there from morning till evening as the law was read and explained to them, as the people repented before God after the return from Babylon captivity. Quite a fascinating experience, and here there is that command. Every seventh year, the year of release, the law was to be read at the Feast of Tabernacles.
Gather the people together, the men, and the women, and the children, the stranger that are within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and that they may fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law (31:12):
So these four things: They were to hear it, they were to learn it, they were to reverence God, and they were to observe to do the law.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them (31:14-16).
Now God is telling Moses, flat, “Moses, these people are going to go in and they are going to mess up. They are going to start whoring after the gods of the land. They are going to forsake Me. They are going to start following these other gods.” How discouraging it must be to have foreknowledge.
Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. Now therefore write this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel (31:17-19).
In other words, now write this song for them. And the song is something they will remember and later on when the calamities happen, they will still be singing this song, but as they sing it, then all of a sudden they'll begin to understand it. The song will be a reminder to them of the reason why the calamities have befallen them is because they have forsaken God. So the Song of Moses that he was to teach to the children of Israel in order that when the calamities came, it would remind them and be a testimony or a witness against them.
And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, verse twenty-one, that this song shall testify against them as a witness: for it will not be forgotten. So Moses wrote this song the same day, taught it to the children of Israel. And to Joshua he said, Be strong, be of good courage for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee. And it came to pass, when Moses made an end of writing the words, (And again it tells us) that Moses made an end of the writing of the words of this law in a book till they were finished. Then Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the ark of the covenant as it is to be preserved there. And so Moses spake into the ears of the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended (31:21-24),
So this is the song that Moses taught the children of Israel. And incidentally it was the first hit rock song. It is a song about the Rock.
Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the rock, His work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment, a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He (32:3-4).
So the song begins with a declaration of God as our Rock, of His works, His ways, His judgments, His truths, His righteousness. But the people
They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of His children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he your father that hath bought you? hath he not made thee, and established thee? Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask your father, and he will show you; the elders, and they will tell you. When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the LORD's portion is his people (32:5-9);
Then in verse eleven, a beautiful figure.
As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her wings: so the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him (32:11-12).
And so the beautiful figure of God as an eagle: “As an eagle stirreth up the nest”. Now actually the description here is of a mother eagle teaching the little eaglets how to fly. And how does the mother eagle teach the little eaglets how to fly? By kicking them out of the nest. Now the little eaglets are very comfortable in the nest. And the nests were usually high up on the sides of the cliffs. But the mother eagle will kick the little eaglets out of the nest when the time has come to learn how to fly. And the little eaglet will start flapping its wings uncoordinated and all, and start falling as it’s flapping and just start falling on down. And the mother eaglet is fluttering over it but then it swoops, just about the time it gets to the rocks, it swoops underneath the little eaglet and it catches it on its wings and it bears it back up to the nest until the next lesson. Now that may seem like a pretty harsh way to teach an eaglet how to fly, but there is no other way to teach it. And it has got to learn how to fly.
Now the picture really is of God in developing us in our walk and relationship with Him. It is very easy for us to get comfortable sometimes in a particular position, in a particular place, under particular circumstances. And suddenly God begins to stir up the nest. We thought we had great job security, but we find we have been terminated. “God, what are you doing?” He's teaching you how to fly. And sometimes in your awkwardness you look down and you’re flapping around and you’re screaming. And the little eaglets, they really scream as they’re going down, and you see the rocks coming up so fast, and you think, “Sure. I'm going to be dashed. This is the end. It's all over. God, you've forsaken me.” Then God just sorta swoops underneath, picks you up, and all of a sudden you begin to see the plan of God emerging.
I was talking to a man the other day. We went to lunch together. He's the president of a large corporation here in Orange County. Three years ago he was fired from Thrifty's Drug store after working for them for thirteen years. He was a manager of one of their stores. And he had received threats upon his life and upon his family and so he asked Thrifty's to transfer him from that store and they refused to do it. And he said, “Well, either transfer me or fire me”. And so they fired him after thirteen years. And he said, “Lord, what's going to happen to me now? Lord, what's going on? And he was flapping and screaming. But he went to work as a salesman for this corporation and he was blessed. He soon became the sales manager in a few months time, and when the owners decided to sell the corporation, he was then in a position to buy it. And he now is the owner and president of this large corporation.
Now you see that's what God had in mind for all the time. But as long as he had his job security and was working for Thrifty, he was not looking for a job. Now God had this position for him, but how is God ever going to get him to this position? The only way is to stir up the nest, to get him fired from his job at Thriftys. “Now I'm fired. What am I going to do? Well, I'm going to look for a job.” All right, now you’re in a position where God can lead you because you’re out looking. You see we get locked into situations. So often when we get locked in we get comfortable and we're not really looking for what God might have for us, because we're very comfortable in this position. So God stirs up the nest. And we think, “Oh, I'm surely going to perish, no hope”. Then God spreads forth His wings, bears you up, and thus we grow, thus we learn to trust in the Lord and to rely on the Lord as we are gaining strength and learning more and more how to fly.
And so that beautiful picture of the eagle, stirring up her nest, fluttering over her young, spreading abroad her wings, taking them and bearing them on her wings. So the Lord alone did lead him so that there was no strange god within him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; but they lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation.
But Jeshurun, (which is Israel,) waxed fat, they kicked: they waxen fat, they've grown thick, they're covered with fatness; so they forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God (32:15-17);
Now Paul tells us that they who sacrifice to idols are actually sacrificing to devils. There was a common belief that a demon actually inhabited the idols of these gods. And that is very possibly true, I wouldn't doubt it at all. And many of these idols of little pagan gods actually have demons that are associated with them. So they that were sacrificing to these idols were actually sacrificing unto devils which shows the idiocy of saying concerning a person involved in a false religious system. “Well, he is so sincere in the worship of his god surely God will, you know, accept him and save him. He is sincerely worshipping the devil, so God should reward him.”
Now of the Rock that had begotten them, they were not mindful, they had forsaken God that formed him (32:18).
And so this song, is quite a song of Moses. I'm amazed that the people were able to learn it. And so God tells them that because they had provoked His anger by the worship of these other gods that He
will heap mischiefs upon them; Thy shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction (32:23-24):
I personally feel that this is a prophecy of the holocaust in Germany. And the being burned in the ovens in Germany was predicted in this song. And when their trouble came they were to sing this song, and if they would, it was to remind them of why the calamities befell them.
Now so often today you talk to a Jew and you find he is an atheist because he will say, “Where was God when my parents or grandparents were burned in the ovens in Germany?” If they would have kept this song and sung this song, they would know why all the calamities befell them because they had forsaken God, and thus they had been forsaken by God.
And so God tells of the
scattering to the corners of the earth; make the remembrance to cease. O that they were wise, (says God) that they understood this, that they would consider what is the end result (32:26,29).
Oh, how God wants you to be wise and to look ahead and to see what the end result is of the lifestyle you've chosen. God's crying. He's crying over man's ignorance, over man's folly. Oh, that they did know; only if they would look ahead and see what the end result of what that lifestyle is.
How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them and the Lord had shut them in (32:30)?
How could these happen unless God was with you? You forget to see, you forget to look that it was God's hand that did it for you, for the enemies rock is not as our Rock.
For their vine is the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: their wine is the poison of dragons and all (32:32-33).
Now God said,
To me belongs vengeance, (verse thirty-five) and recompense; Their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste (32:35).
That is the text that Jonathan Edwards used for his sermon, Sinners in the hands of an angry God. “Now unto me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” Jonathan Edwards in the sermon Sinners in the hand of an angry God, said, "That a sinner is like a man walking over a fiery pit on a icy plank. Your footing is so unsure at any moment you can slip into the abyss.”
It was a very powerful sermon, one of the most classic sermons in the history of the church, I guess. Jonathan Edwards was nearsighted; he had written out the sermon and he read it holding it up close so that he could see it. And as he was reading this sermon to the congregation, the power of the Holy Spirit began to convict people so greatly that they began to crawl down the aisle, screaming out to God for mercy. You want to read something really chilling sometime read "Sinners in the hands of an angry God" by Jonathan Edwards. Oh, what a servant. It's really heavy duty. This is the text for that sermon.
For the LORD shall judge His people, and repeat Himself for His servants, when He sees that their power is gone, and there is none left. And He shall say, Where are their gods, the rock in whom you were trusting. Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up and help you, and be your protection. See now that I am He, and there is no god with me (or beside Me): I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that deliver out of my hand (32:36-39).
Some people say, “Does God make people sick?” Well, He said here that He does for purposes, different purposes within our lives. God says that He wounds, that He even kills, that He heals; that He makes alive. There are certain teachers today who would deny this, but there it is.
For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with their blood (32:40-42),
And so forth. And God goes on to tell of the calamities that will come, the song they are to sing, so that when the calamities did come they would remember this is the reason.
So, set your hearts to all the words which I testify among you today, (verse forty-six), which you shall command you to observe the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life (32:46-47)
Man, set your heart to it. Look, it is not an empty thing; it's your life. This is a matter of life and death. It isn't just something to just pass off lightly. God is saying, “it's your life, not a vain thing”.
Now the Lord said to Moses, get up to mount Nebo which is in the land of Moab, which is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: And die in the mount where you go up, and you will be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron your brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people. Because you trespassed against me at the waters of Meribah, because you did not sanctify me in the midst of the children of Israel (32:48-51).
So, Moses’ time has come; “get up onto the mountain and die because you failed to properly represent me before the people at the waters of Meribah”. Oh, what a heavy responsibility Moses had of being God's representative. His failure at the waters of Meribah cost him the privilege of leading them into the Promised Land. What a heavy responsibility each of us have, for we are God's representative to that world out there. You’re His witnesses, you're God's representatives and God wants you to properly represent Him. An awesome responsibility. God help us.
Now this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel just before he died. And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints; Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words. Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob. The king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together. Let Reuben live, and not die; and let his men be few (33:1-6).
The word “not” you notice is in italics, that means it was added. It was really “let his men be few”. Now Reuben actually was one of the smaller tribes as they took the land. And it became really sorta scattered among the other tribes and the men of Reuben did become very few.
And this is the blessing of Judah; and he said Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people; let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies. (The prophecy for Levi), Let the Thummin and the Urim be with the holy one, whom thou did prove at Massah, and with whom thou did strive at the waters of Meribah; Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brothers, nor knew his own children; for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant (33:7-9).
In other words, the priests and Levi were observed. Aaron was told don't mourn for your sons when they die. Don't touch their bodies and so forth. And so he kept the word of the Lord and didn't regard his own family but his service to God more important.
Bless LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands. And concerning Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders (33:11-12).
Now if you will take a look at the map of Benjamin, you'll find it sorta looks like shoulders. And right between the shoulders is the city of Jerusalem, if you will look at Benjamin, on a map of the Bible area of Benjamin. “And so the Lord shall dwell between his shoulders.” Here is the first hint that Jerusalem will be the place where the temple will be built and where people will come to worship the Lord, there in the shoulders of Benjamin, which was Jerusalem.
And of Joseph he said, Blessed be Joseph of the LORD or his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, And for the precious fruits (33:13-14)
And so forth. You remember that Jacob said Joseph was as a “fruitful bough whose branches hangs over a wall” (Genesis 49:21). And so the fruitfulness of Ephraim and Manasseh the sons of Joseph.
And of Zebulun, (verse eighteen) he said, Rejoice Zebulun, in thy going out; and Issachar, in thy tents. They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of the treasures hid in the sand (33:18-19).
Now Zebulun occupied the area that is the plains of Megiddo and the mount of Carmel and out towards Hifa. Now Asher actually occupied the port city of Hifa and north along the coast. But because of this prophecy, and also we'll get one about Asher here who will dip his toes in the oil, there are some Christian business men who are oil engineers and geologists and all have gone over and studied the area around Mount Carmel because of these Scriptures and they are convinced that there are vast oil reserves there under Mount Carmel and they are beginning drilling for oil. The first test well is starting the first of this next year. And they are hoping to discover vast reservoirs of oil. They believe from their geologist surveys, their seismology tests and so forth that there are vast reserves of oil. If there indeed be, it makes this prophecy very interesting concerning Zebulun that he will actually suck out the treasures from the sand. And they believe there are oil-bearing sands under this area that was once inhabited by Zebulun.
And so they are beginning a series of test wells the first of the year. In fact, we're supposed to visit one of the wells when we're over there in February. It's just a mile from that monastery on the top of Mount Carmel. You that have been over to Israel, you will remember that monastery on the top of Mount Carmel. Just about a mile east of that monastery is where they’re putting down that first test hole. And so it's very interesting. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.
But this prophecy concerning Zebulun is one of the things that sparked them to start their geological surveys and testing over there. It is interesting that the vast oil resources of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East were discovered by Rockefeller after he read the Bible and in reading of Babylon, how they used tar for their mortar. He figured if there was that much tar in the area, there must be oil deposits there and he is the one that went over on the basis of reading the Scripture and started this vast oil exploration of the Middle East. And of course that is where he became so extremely wealthy is because he was reading the Bible and believed what the Bible said. And they started their drilling there in Iraq, and of course, they discovered more and more of the vast oil reserves of the area. But Rockefeller was prompted by the Scripture talking about their using tar for their mortar in Babylon to go over there and to start drilling for oil. Now if that indeed be the case, it would be interesting to drill down in the area of the Dead Sea because they did use pitch down there also, or tar.
Now of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlarges Gad: he dwells as a lion, and tears the arm with the crown of the head. And he provides the first part for himself, and a portion for the lawgiver (and so forth). And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan. And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied the favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD. And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; Let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be (33:20-26).
Now Asher, if you look at Asher on a Bible map, you'll see that Asher looks like a leg from the knee down with a foot, and the toe of the foot of Asher was at Hifi. “He shall dip his foot in oil.” Actually the first major oil pipeline to bring oil out of the Middle East was built from Iraq to the port city of Hifi. Once it was completed they started shipping out a million gallons of oil a day. Through Hifi, Asher had his foot in the oil just like Moses said he would almost four thousand years ago. So it's a very interesting prophecy of the Bible concerning Asher “his foot in the oil”, and that's exactly what did happen. Whether or not there is more than that, whether or not in their drilling they are going to find oil there, it will be very interesting to find out. They are, as I said, starting their test wells the first of the year.
Now this particular Scripture, verse twenty-five, the latter part, how I love this. “And as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Take that as a promise of God for you. As your days, so shall your strength be. God's grace is sufficient for you. And whatever you are facing for that particular day, God will give you strength for that day. “As your day is so shall your strength be.” I love it.
The eternal God, is thy refuge, (verse twenty-seven) and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop their down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of the excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places (33:27-29).
“The eternal God is they refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” When I consider the heavens the work of thy fingers.
Friday night we were up at Eureka; beautiful night up there, cold and clear. Looking up we could see so many stars. And after the service we were standing outside with some of the fellows, and we were looking up and they were pointing at some stars and I said, “Well that the constellation Orion. Now you see those three stars that are in a row there?” I said, “The bottom star of those three stars is four hundred and fifteen million miles in diameter. If you were to hollow out that star leaving a crust, a hundred million miles thick, you could put the sun in the center of that star and let the earth rotate around it and have room to spare”. Now the amazing thing is that star is traveling at a speed estimated to be somewhere around twelve hundred miles a second. Now that's an awfully large mass to be traveling that fast. How much thrust do you suppose it took to get Betelgeuse into orbit?
The psalmist said, “when I consider the heavens to be the work of thy fingers, the work of thy hands. The sun, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained. What is man that thou art mindful of him?”(Psalms 8:3-4) The thrust that it took to get Betelgeuse in orbit, that huge, huge mass, was just this flick. “But I consider the heavens the work of your hands.”
Now if God with His hands “stretched out the heavens like a curtain”(Psalms 104:2), to me the eternal God is thy refuge and underneath is not the everlasting hands, but the everlasting arms. Believe me that if with His hands He could stretch out the heavens, His arms can hold you through any adversity or problem you might be facing. Underneath are the everlasting arms. So often I've wondered, “God are you able to hold me through this one? Are you sure, God, you can hold me up? I'm awfully heavy at times, Lord.” Underneath are the everlasting arms; how beautiful.
And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead, clear unto Dan (34:1),
From Mount Pisgah there he could see clear up to the area of Mount Hermon. Dan is right down near the base of Mount Hermon. Looking clear up to Dan, on a clear day you can get a beautiful view.
And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, (clear across the land) And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm tress, even to Zoar, (which is the bottom part of the Dead Sea area) And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, I will give it unto your seed: I will cause thee to see it with your eyes, but you will not go over. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD (34:2-5).
And He, that is God, buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-Peor, but no man knows of his sepulchre unto this day.
Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eyes were not dim, nor his natural force abated (34:7).
So, a hundred and twenty-year old man; he died and God buried him.
Now we are told in the book of Jude that Satan and Michael had a dispute over the body of Moses. God buried him, but not before there was a dispute over his body. They never did find where God buried him. His sepulchre remains a mystery. But he went up to Pisgah, and there in one of the valleys he died, and God buried him after Michael and Satan had a big roar over the thing, according to Jude.
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses. But there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, In all the signs and wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses showed in the sight of all Israel (34:9-12).
Now this last part was probably written by Joshua. Surely Moses didn't write the account of his own death. But Joshua no doubt took up and finished the book as he spoke of the prophet Moses in all of the history of Israel never an equal to this man, until of course Jesus who was more than a prophet, the Son of God.
Shall we stand?
Next week Judges, and we are taking eight chapters. Joshua, eight chapters. Joshua is a very exciting book as they begin to conquer the land that God had given them. We'll take it in eight, going through Joshua. Father, we thank you now for the opportunity of studying Your Word again tonight and may Your Holy Spirit hide now Thy truth within our hearts that we would not sin against You. Lord, help us to learn that You have set before us life and death, blessing and curse and it is ours to choose. And may we choose that life that You have given to us in Jesus Christ, confessing Him now as Lord, believing Lord that you rose Him from the dead. We thank You that we have that life and that salvation tonight. Thank You, Lord for Your everlasting arms. Thank You, Lord for the stirring of the nest when You are trying to teach us to grow. May we learn those lessons and may we grow into that full maturity in Christ Jesus our Lord. In His name we pray.