Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

“But was his momentary failure not far too severely punished?”

Alexander MacLaren

We tend to look at old man Moses and feel sorry for him. The fiery temper that ended the life of an Egyptian back in Exodus 2 once again showed itself. Moses hit the rock instead of speaking to it, so now he is forbidden to enter the Promised Land. Was this too harsh? Where was the grace?

If you remember, despite the people’s continual grumbling and the disobedience of Moses, God still granted water from that rock. In His mercy, He let the people be nourished from a disobedient act.

“Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.”

Numbers 20:11 NASB

Similarly, the murder of Jesus was the ultimate act of disobedience. The so-called followers of God murdered His Son. But God used it to nourish His people by accepting it as payment for their sin. There was grace to be found in the wreckage. Let’s not forget, much later, we actually see Moses appear in the Promised Land!

“Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.  2  And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  3  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

Matthew 17:1-3 NASB

Let’s also not miss the fact that Moses was a faithful man. He was no doubt upset that he was unable to enter the land, but that was because he was faithful. This was demonstrated by the fact that he continued to lead the people and encourage them even knowing he would not be going along.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 NASB

These are amazing words when you consider the magnitude of the punishment Moses was given. He was obedient until the very end. He did not let the disappointment of God’s consequences affect the responsibility to lead. He was able to set aside his own wants and needs in order to give the people what they needed. So, yes, this was a severe consequence dealt to Moses, however, his leadership continued even after this realization and that is something we can all learn from.

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