On April 3, 1968—just one day before he was assassinated—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said to a crowd in Memphis: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”
Today, we read the last words of Moses, words of blessing to people headed to a promised land he himself would not reach. The introduction and conclusion focus on their loving and faithful God (vv. 1–5, 26–29). His giving of the Law on Mount Sinai had been like a sunrise breaking into their spiritual darkness. He is their only source of strength, protection, and peace.
The middle sections contain tribe-by-tribe blessings: Reuben, the firstborn who lost his place through sin (v. 6; see Gen. 35:22); Judah, who replaced him in that position (v. 7); Levi (vv. 8–11); Benjamin (v. 12); Joseph, meaning his sons Ephraim and Manasseh (vv. 13–17); Zebulun and Issachar (vv. 18–19); Gad (vv. 20–21); Dan (v. 22); Naphtali (v. 23), and Asher (vv. 24–25). (Of Jacob’s original sons, Simeon is missing, perhaps because that tribe would be somewhat absorbed by Judah.)
Moses’ blessing can be compared to son-by-son blessing of Jacob in Genesis 49. Jacob’s words had a more prophetic dimension, whereas Moses was more focused on blessing, intercession, and prayer. Israel must understand what an incredible privilege it is to be the people of God (v. 29)!
>> The title “man of God” for Moses first appears in today’s reading (v. 1). It’s simple, yet there may be no higher praise. May we all aspire to be a man or woman of God!
Give us a multigenerational mindset, Father. Lead us in the sacrifices we yield and the decisions we make to set up the next generation of believers for fruitful ministry and intimacy with You.