Deuteronomy 33 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
After teaching Israel that very solemn hymn in the previous chapter reminding them of all that the Lord has done for them and how they would soon turn their backs on him through idolatry, he now seeks to pronounce a blessing upon each of the tribes of Israel in a manner very similar to Jacob’s own blessings upon each of his sons in Genesis 49.
Moses prefaces these gracious blessings by reminding Israel of the great glory and majesty of God that was manifested at Mt. Sinai in the giving of the law focusing on his holiness and his purifying fire to show Israel his desire to sanctify them in his own image through the law. He then also reminds them of the Lord’s great love for them in choosing them and giving them a great inheritance not only in terms of land but in terms of the Law itself, for no other nation had received this great wisdom from above. Nor had those other nations come under the direct lordship of God as their king, their lawgiver and judge. Even though there is much corruption and wickedness in our own country today, we still are the recipients of many good laws and much freedom because of the early influence of Christian teaching in this land, and we should give thanks for that. Likewise, each of us who has grown up in a covenant household is the gracious beneficiary of God’s love and God’s law that many others are not privy too. And it is good to be reminded from time to time of these great privileges that we have received both in terms of our families and in our nation.
Also, we must remember that all of God’s blessings flow out of his love for his only son who alone is worthy of receiving them. Each tribe of Israel and every tribe of every nation deserves to be cursed by God due to sin, but it is a great mercy that despite our sin, the Lord chooses to bless his people. Reuben is a good example of this. Because he desired to be preeminent among his brothers, he sinned gravely, but the Lord still chose to bless him even if it isn’t as good of a blessing as many of his brothers received. And what a blessing it is for the Lord to contend against one’s enemies as he promised to do for Judah, and to accept the works of one’s hands as the Lord promised Levi, and to grant security as he does with Benjamin.
As usual the Lord granted a double blessing to Joseph with an abundance of fruit and riches for the thousands of sons in Manasseh and ten thousand sons in Ephraim, and these are blessings for God’s people today as well as long as we don’t love God’s gifts more than the giver himself. What a blessing it is to know that the Lord blesses our going out as well as our coming in as He did with the sons of Zebulon. As you know, so much can happen when we leave home each day, and it is so comforting to know that all these things are in God’s hands and part of his blessing unto us. Likewise it is assuring to know that we can enjoy something of the abundance of the earth under God’s blessing as the sons of Issachar were promised and to be used by God to stand up for justice as Gad did. Like Dan, we know that we are as lion’s cubs in the Lord’s hands being filled with the courage and boldness of the Lord, and like Asher we know something of the strength of the Lord. Of course, all of these blessings are given in order that we might be a blessing to others, so let us not be afraid to ask for the Lord’s blessings understanding that they are not only for our own good for the good our neighbor as well.
Moses then concludes his benediction upon Israel by pointing them once again to the Lord himself in all his glory, reminding them that there is no God like our God, who rides through the heavens to help us when we call upon his name, who has become our home, our strong savior and defender. As Moses says, we should be the happiest of peoples who know the love and grace of our Lord, so let us give thanks to the Lord for his great mercies and enjoy our great inheritance of the law and the gospel that have been given freely unto us.