The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 22
As Israel prepares to leave the wilderness behind and enter the land of Canaan, God grants Moses three forward-looking glimpses into the Conquest Era before he dies: the Levites made responsible for Bible literacy, a panoramic view of Canaan, and the transfer of leadership to Joshua.
Moses pronounces a blessing on each of Israel’s tribes before he dies. He appoints the Levites as responsible for Bible literacy: “For they have observed Your word and kept Your covenant. They shall teach Jacob Your judgments, and Israel Your law” (Deut. 33:9b-10). Besides serving in the temple, the Levites were responsible for elevating God’s Word and keeping both the promises of God and the pictures of redemption before Israel. Joshua begins his leadership under the authority of God’s Word, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
From Mount Nebo, Moses surveys the land of Israel, and the Lord declares, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there” (Deuteronomy 34:4). God allows Moses to see through tear-filled eyes the land that Abraham saw and owned by faith. What a panoramic view of Canaan Moses sees―”all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar” (Deut. 34:1-3). This requires an exceptionally clear day and perfect vision, both of which God gives Moses. Joshua and his leaders recognize what Moses sees: “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands” (Josh. 2:24).
Before he dies, Moses commissions Joshua as Israel’s next leader, “Now Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him” (Deut. 34:9). Moses has spent the past 40 years mentoring Joshua to lead Israel; therefore, Moses knows that Israel is in good hands. God has answered his prayer to raise up Joshua as leader of Israel, lest they be “like sheep which have no shepherd” (Num. 27:17): “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them” (Josh. 1:1-2).
What a life Moses lived! Even though he wasn’t allowed to enter Canaan, God blessed him and allowed him to see both the land of the promise and the man to take the baton of leadership as it passed to the next generation.
What a life Joshua lived! Trained in the shadow of Moses, in a smooth transition, Joshua took the reins of leadership.
Questions from today’s reading (Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12; Joshua 1-2:24):
How does Israel respond to Joshua’s leadership?
What does Rahab divulge about the impact Israel’s forty years in the wilderness has had on the residents of Jericho? What does this reveal about God?