Deuteronomy 32-34

Deuteronomy 32-34…The song of Moses, and his death.

Moses’ final words to Israel include a reminder of their history, an outline of God’s blessings on them, and a dose of reality regarding God’s sovereignty and wrath. This section in Deuteronomy contains the famous verse in 32:35, which the Lord used powerfully during The Great Awakening in early to mid-18th century New England. Jonathan Edwards used this text when he preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in Enfield, Connecticut during the summer of 1741. It is probably the most famous of all American sermons. The sermon lays out the dreadful consequences of man’s sin, and Edwards sought to persuade his listeners that they might at any moment be called to judgment for their sins. Reportedly some in Edwards’s audience cried out in response to his terrible imagery. At the end of the sermon, though, Edwards preached about “an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open.”

This serves as an example to us in our evangelism. The objective reality of both God’s wrath against our sin, and the amazing grace He has extended us in Christ need to be presented. We certainly want to hold out the hope of being with God in heaven as a reason for repentance and faith in Christ. We should also emphasize that we were made for something more than what we can see with our eyes today. However, we do not want to neglect the whole truth, and the bible is clear about hell. In fact, no one in the bible talked more about hell than Jesus. So, while it is not popular, the doctrine of hell needs to be woven into our evangelism. A right view of hell should in fact motivate us to tell others about Christ, because according to Deuteronomy 32:35, “their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.” Outside of Christ, God wrath is terrible; and this life is short, so we should seek to share the gospel with those God has placed in our lives today.

Deuteronomy 11-13

Deuteronomy 11-13…Love and serve the Lord, the place of worship, and warnings against idolatry.

In Deuteronomy 11, we see a connection which is consistent throughout scripture. Love toward God will equate to obedience. This is how we can be assured of our salvation (1 John 5:1-3), and why spiritual fruit is the true measure of one’s faith, not just mere agreement with the gospel.

Moses recounts some of the great works of God’s wrath which their eyes had seen. It is important that in both our evangelism and our discipling relationships we include an accurate presentation of God’s wrath, and of what conversion looks like. Hell is real, and according to Jesus, many are deceived into thinking they are saved from Hell (Matthew 7:21-23):

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Are you doing the will of your Father in heaven? How do you know if you are? This is why the local church is so important in our Christian walk. We are prone to being deceived, and therefore God’s manifold wisdom includes locking arms with other believers to build them up and to be built up. Our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ help us see our blind spots. The bible gives us clear instructions on how we’re to live, so if you have questions about what God’s will is for your life, ask your pastors/elders, or those you are closest to in your church.

Moses warned about the trouble that might come from the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 13. He cautions against the rise of idolatry. It is so important for us to be well-acquainted with the Bible, because just like the Israelites, we live among those who worship idols. We also are in the midst of a daily spiritual battle, and attempting to fight without any armor or weapons is foolish. We’re prone to worship idols, and need to be brought into conformity with God’s word daily.

Numbers 13-15

Numbers 13-15…Exploring Canaan, the people rebel, and offerings for unintentional sins.

Numbers 13 describes the unbelief and complaining of the people about the land God was going to give them in Canaan. They thought more highly of their own wisdom rather than God’s. We do the same and make foolish decisions by believing our emotions rather than Divine revelation. We walk by sight not by faith far too often, and need to be reminded of the objective reality of the gospel. God’s word will keep us from doing that, so we should depend upon it for sustenance.

Moses made humble intercession for Israel in Numbers 14. He was a type of Christ, who prayed for those that hated him and used him. We show our hatred for Christ every time we rebel. And yet, He is patient and merciful, and continues to love us. He knew we would fail to love Him perfectly when He went to the cross, which makes His sacrifice all the more amazing.

We see just how deceptive sin is in Numbers 15. Offerings were made for unintentional sins. In the Psalms, David prayed to be cleansed from his secret faults, those of which he was not aware. Sins committed ignorantly, will be forgiven through Christ the great Sacrifice. When he offered himself up once for all upon the cross, He seemed to explain one part of the intention these offerings, in His prayer in Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Numbers 10-12

Numbers 10-12…The silver trumpets, fire/quail from the Lord, and Miriam/Aaron oppose Moses.

The silver trumpets in Numbers 10 typify the preached gospel. It sounds an alarm to sinners, calls them to repent, proclaims liberty to the captives and slaves of Satan, and collects the worshipers of God. It directs and encourages their heavenly journey, stirs them up to combat against the world and sin, encouraging them with the assurance of victory. It leads their attention to the sacrifice of Christ, and shows the Lord’s presence for their protection. It is also necessary that the gospel trumpet gives a distinct sound, because very few have been called to repent and believe. The sounding of the trumpet of the gospel is God’s ordinance, and demands the attention of all to whom it is sent.

God’s wrath burned against the people because of their complaining in Numbers 11. Complaining is a manifestation of unbelief, pride, and selfishness, with unbelief being at the very heart of it. We are all guilty of unbelief, and therefore need to repent. An habitual, lively faith, is needed for us to fight our three spiritual enemies; our nature, the world, and Satan.

The patience of Moses was tried in his own family, as well as by the people. Opposition from our family and closest friends is painful, but is to be expected in a fallen world. Moses dealt with this opposition by exercising humility. When we understand our relationship with God rightly, we’ll deal with others rightly. In other words, if we know we’ve been given far more than we deserve in Christ, we’ll be more likely to treat others mercifully.

Numbers 7-9

Numbers 7-9…Tabernacle dedication offerings, the lighting of the lamps, and the Passover.

It was a time of joy and rejoicing, but in the midst of their sacrifices, we find a sin-offering in Numbers 7. So it is for us, that even when we do good, we are conscious that there is sin (Romans 7:21), and there should be repentance. In all approaches to God we must by faith look to Christ as the Sin-offering.

Aaron himself lit the lamps in Numbers 8, representing his Divine Master. God’s word is a light shining in a dark place (2 Peter 1:19). The church is dark without it, just as the tabernacle, which had no window, would have been without the lamps. The work of pastors/elders is to light these lamps, by expounding and applying the word of God. Jesus Christ is the only Light of our dark, sinful world, and by his atonement, by his word and the Holy Spirit, he diffuses light around.

In Numbers 9, we see a very similar corporate gathering and time of consecration similar to our partaking of the Lord’s supper today. Instructions were given concerning those who were ceremonially unclean, when they were to eat the passover. Similar careful instructions are given in the New Testament. Those whose minds and consciences are persistent and unrepentant in sin, are unfit for communion with God, and cannot partake with comfort of the Lord’s supper, until they are cleansed by true repentance and faith (1 Corinthians 11:29).

Numbers 1-3

Numbers 1-3…The census, the tribal arrangements, and the Levites.

The census and arrangements were done to show God’s faithfulness in increasing the seed of Jacob. It was also so they might be better trained for the wars and conquest of Canaan, and to ascertain their families for the division of the land.

The tribes were to encamp about the tabernacle, which was to be in the midst of them. It was a token of God’s gracious presence. Yet they were to pitch their tents far off, in reverence to the sanctuary. The children of Israel put themselves in their posts, without murmuring or quarreling. It is our duty and interest to be content with where the Lord places us, and to endeavor to live in a joyful manner, without envying or covetousness.

Leviticus 16-18

Leviticus 16-18…The day of atonement and laws regarding purity.

Most of the procedures followed on the Day of Atonement were similar to those followed for the other offerings except that the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place as well (Leviticus 16:14). This was done lest the accumulated sin cause God to immediately punish the high priest and the people. Aaron and the later high priests also had to throw incense in the air (vv. 12–13) in front of them as they approached the ark of the covenant so as to keep them from being able to see the Lord; otherwise, they would have died (Ex. 33:12–23).

Besides the sacrifice of a bull on behalf of the priesthood, two goats were brought to the tabernacle/temple to deal with the sin of the entire nation (Lev. 16:6–10). One goat was killed and its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (vv. 15–19). This sacrifice on the Day of Atonement resulted in propitiation — the satisfaction of God’s wrath on a substitute in place of the people. The other goat, after hands were laid on it, was sent to Azazel in the wilderness and freed, probably meaning it was taken to a desolate mountain and killed (vv. 20–22). Here it is clear that expiation was accomplished. The sins of the people were taken away from Israel and away from the holy camp.

Leviticus 7-9

Leviticus 7-9…The peace offering, the consecration of Aaron and his sons, and the first offerings of Aaron for himself and the people.

The peace offering was the only sacrifice worshipers could eat. Only part of the animal was offered up, and the rest was left for the person bringing the offering and anyone else in the vicinity of the sanctuary to consume (Leviticus 7:11–18). Being at peace with God is a special occasion indeed and worthy of celebration with a great feast. For many Israelites, this may have been the only time they ever ate meat. Moreover, strict cleanliness laws had to be followed regarding the eating of the sacrifice (Leviticus 7:19–21). Though at peace with the worshiper, our Creator remained holy and could still not tolerate any impurity in His presence.

Leviticus 8 outlines the consecration of Aaron and his sons. This had been delayed until the tabernacle had been prepared, and the laws of the sacrifices given. Aaron and his sons were washed with water, to signify that they should purify themselves from all sin, and keep themselves pure. The anointing of Aaron was to typify the anointing of Christ with the Spirit.

The many sacrifices for the people in Leviticus 9, were all done away by the death of Christ. This passage, in light of Christ’s sacrifice, does teach us that our best services need washing in his blood. Also, our best sacrifices are not good enough, because they are tainted with sin. Let us be thankful that we have a Savior who perfectly believed, and submitted to His Father for our sake.

Leviticus 4-6

Leviticus 4-6…Sin offerings and guilt offerings.

The idea that sin brings pollution is thoroughly biblical, and the reality of this pollution was dealt with under the old covenant through the sin offering described in these chapters. “Sin offering” is a perfectly acceptable translation of the Hebrew term in Leviticus 4, but what the sin offering actually accomplished is better seen in the words purification offering. The sin offering purified the sanctuary; it removed the defilement of sin that occurred when the people broke the covenant.

Our holy God cannot be in the presence of those people and things that are unclean, and each time people sinned under the old covenant, they dirtied themselves. The burnt offering solved the problem of the Lord’s wrath, but it did not purify the one offering the sacrifice. There still needed to be expiation, or the removal of sin’s pollution, from the worshipers and the instruments of worship. The blood of the sin offering accomplished this cleansing. The tabernacle that became defiled because it was located in the midst of a sinful people was cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice, and the sinner was made clean and able to stand before God again (4:1–5:13).

Reading the Old Testament in light of the New is so important for the Christian. Christ’s ultimate, blood sacrifice permanently removed our sins forever. Leviticus shows us how our sin separates us from God, and His character is no different today than when this book was written. Apart from Christ, God’s wrath is awful. However, the joy we have if we’re in Christ is derived from both what we’re saved from (His wrath & Hell), and our reward (eternal life in perfect fellowship with God).

Leviticus 1-3

Leviticus 1-3…The burnt offering, the grain offering, and the fellowship offering.

Burnt offerings were the propitiatory sacrifices in ancient Israel. For God to maintain His justice, He must punish sin. To forgive at the expense of His just wrath would be inconsistent with His character; according to His holiness, those who have sinned must die (Gen. 2:15–17; Rom. 6:23). Once the Lord satisfies His wrath, it passes away, allowing fellowship between the Creator and His people. The burnt offering temporarily accomplished propitiation (satisfied God’s wrath) under the old covenant (2 Chron. 29:7–8), allowing God’s wrath to be appeased against Israel.

In this section of scripture (Leviticus 3 in particular), we also see God’s concern for His glory being made known through a corporate witness. God has always wanted His people to live together in unity, love, and holiness, so His name would be glorified. Today, this is done practically through the local church. This is Christ’s plan for his people, and it includes you if you’re a Christian. Commitment to a local church is they way in which we live out all the “one another” imperatives in the New Testament.