Reading for March 18th

Deuteronomy 31-34 (Listen)

Joshua to Succeed Moses
So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the Lord has spoken. And the Lord will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. And the Lord will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Reading of the Law
Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Joshua Commissioned to Lead Israel
And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” And Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting. And the Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud. And the pillar of cloud stood over the entrance of the tent.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.

“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel.

And the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.”

When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord. How much more after my death! Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.”

The Song of Moses
Then Moses spoke the words of this song until they were finished, in the ears of all the assembly of Israel:

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,

and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.

May my teaching drop as the rain,

my speech distill as the dew,

like gentle rain upon the tender grass,

and like showers upon the herb.

For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;

ascribe greatness to our God!

 

“The Rock, his work is perfect,

for all his ways are justice.

A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,

just and upright is he.

They have dealt corruptly with him;

they are no longer his children because they are blemished;

they are a crooked and twisted generation.

Do you thus repay the Lord,

you foolish and senseless people?

Is not he your father, who created you,

who made you and established you?

Remember the days of old;

consider the years of many generations;

ask your father, and he will show you,

your elders, and they will tell you.

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,

when he divided mankind,

he fixed the borders of the peoples

according to the number of the sons of God.

But the Lord's portion is his people,

Jacob his allotted heritage.

 

“He found him in a desert land,

and in the howling waste of the wilderness;

he encircled him, he cared for him,

he kept him as the apple of his eye.

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,

that flutters over its young,

spreading out its wings, catching them,

bearing them on its pinions,

the Lord alone guided him,

no foreign god was with him.

He made him ride on the high places of the land,

and he ate the produce of the field,

and he suckled him with honey out of the rock,

and oil out of the flinty rock.

Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock,

with fat of lambs,

rams of Bashan and goats,

with the very finest of the wheat—

and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.

 

“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;

you grew fat, stout, and sleek;

then he forsook God who made him

and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.

They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;

with abominations they provoked him to anger.

They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,

to gods they had never known,

to new gods that had come recently,

whom your fathers had never dreaded.

You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,

and you forgot the God who gave you birth.

 

“The Lord saw it and spurned them,

because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.

And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;

I will see what their end will be,

for they are a perverse generation,

children in whom is no faithfulness.

They have made me jealous with what is no god;

they have provoked me to anger with their idols.

So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;

I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

For a fire is kindled by my anger,

and it burns to the depths of Sheol,

devours the earth and its increase,

and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

 

“‘And I will heap disasters upon them;

I will spend my arrows on them;

they shall be wasted with hunger,

and devoured by plague

and poisonous pestilence;

I will send the teeth of beasts against them,

with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.

Outdoors the sword shall bereave,

and indoors terror,

for young man and woman alike,

the nursing child with the man of gray hairs.

I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces;

I will wipe them from human memory,”

had I not feared provocation by the enemy,

lest their adversaries should misunderstand,

lest they should say, “Our hand is triumphant,

it was not the Lord who did all this.”’

 

“For they are a nation void of counsel,

and there is no understanding in them.

If they were wise, they would understand this;

they would discern their latter end!

How could one have chased a thousand,

and two have put ten thousand to flight,

unless their Rock had sold them,

and the Lord had given them up?

For their rock is not as our Rock;

our enemies are by themselves.

For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom

and from the fields of Gomorrah;

their grapes are grapes of poison;

their clusters are bitter;

their wine is the poison of serpents

and the cruel venom of asps.

 

“‘Is not this laid up in store with me,

sealed up in my treasuries?

Vengeance is mine, and recompense,

for the time when their foot shall slip;

for the day of their calamity is at hand,

and their doom comes swiftly.’

For the Lord will vindicate his people

and have compassion on his servants,

when he sees that their power is gone

and there is none remaining, bond or free.

Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,

the rock in which they took refuge,

who ate the fat of their sacrifices

and drank the wine of their drink offering?

Let them rise up and help you;

let them be your protection!

 

“‘See now that I, even I, am he,

and there is no god beside me;

I kill and I make alive;

I wound and I heal;

and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

For I lift up my hand to heaven

and swear, As I live forever,

if I sharpen my flashing sword

and my hand takes hold on judgment,

I will take vengeance on my adversaries

and will repay those who hate me.

I will make my arrows drunk with blood,

and my sword shall devour flesh—

with the blood of the slain and the captives,

from the long-haired heads of the enemy.’

 

“Rejoice with him, O heavens;

bow down to him, all gods,

for he avenges the blood of his children

and takes vengeance on his adversaries.

He repays those who hate him

and cleanses his people's land.”

 

Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun. And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Moses' Death Foretold
That very day the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.”

Moses' Final Blessing on Israel
This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. He said,

“The Lord came from Sinai

and dawned from Seir upon us;

he shone forth from Mount Paran;

he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,

with flaming fire at his right hand.

Yes, he loved his people,

all his holy ones were in his hand;

so they followed in your steps,

receiving direction from you,

when Moses commanded us a law,

as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.

Thus the Lord became king in Jeshurun,

when the heads of the people were gathered,

all the tribes of Israel together.

 

“Let Reuben live, and not die,

but let his men be few.”

 

And this he said of Judah:

 

“Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah,

and bring him in to his people.

With your hands contend for him,

and be a help against his adversaries.”

 

And of Levi he said,

 

“Give to Levi your Thummim,

and your Urim to your godly one,

whom you tested at Massah,

with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah;

who said of his father and mother,

‘I regard them not’;

he disowned his brothers

and ignored his children.

For they observed your word

and kept your covenant.

They shall teach Jacob your rules

and Israel your law;

they shall put incense before you

and whole burnt offerings on your altar.

Bless, O Lord, his substance,

and accept the work of his hands;

crush the loins of his adversaries,

of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”

 

Of Benjamin he said,

 

“The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety.

The High God surrounds him all day long,

and dwells between his shoulders.”

 

And of Joseph he said,

 

“Blessed by the Lord be his land,

with the choicest gifts of heaven above,

and of the deep that crouches beneath,

with the choicest fruits of the sun

and the rich yield of the months,

with the finest produce of the ancient mountains

and the abundance of the everlasting hills,

with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness

and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.

May these rest on the head of Joseph,

on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.

A firstborn bull—he has majesty,

and his horns are the horns of a wild ox;

with them he shall gore the peoples,

all of them, to the ends of the earth;

they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,

and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

 

And of Zebulun he said,

 

“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,

and Issachar, in your tents.

They shall call peoples to their mountain;

there they offer right sacrifices;

for they draw from the abundance of the seas

and the hidden treasures of the sand.”

 

And of Gad he said,

 

“Blessed be he who enlarges Gad!

Gad crouches like a lion;

he tears off arm and scalp.

He chose the best of the land for himself,

for there a commander's portion was reserved;

and he came with the heads of the people,

with Israel he executed the justice of the Lord,

and his judgments for Israel.”

 

And of Dan he said,

 

“Dan is a lion's cub

that leaps from Bashan.”

 

And of Naphtali he said,

 

“O Naphtali, sated with favor,

and full of the blessing of the Lord,

possess the lake and the south.”

 

And of Asher he said,

 

“Most blessed of sons be Asher;

let him be the favorite of his brothers,

and let him dip his foot in oil.

Your bars shall be iron and bronze,

and as your days, so shall your strength be.

 

“There is none like God, O Jeshurun,

who rides through the heavens to your help,

through the skies in his majesty.

The eternal God is your dwelling place,

and underneath are the everlasting arms.

And he thrust out the enemy before you

and said, ‘Destroy.’

So Israel lived in safety,

Jacob lived alone,

in a land of grain and wine,

whose heavens drop down dew.

Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,

a people saved by the Lord,

the shield of your help,

and the sword of your triumph!

Your enemies shall come fawning to you,

and you shall tread upon their backs.”

The Death of Moses
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

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 Psalm 78 (Listen)

Tell the Coming Generation

A Maskil of Asaph.

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;

incline your ears to the words of my mouth!

I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will utter dark sayings from of old,

things that we have heard and known,

that our fathers have told us.

We will not hide them from their children,

but tell to the coming generation

the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,

and the wonders that he has done.

 

He established a testimony in Jacob

and appointed a law in Israel,

which he commanded our fathers

to teach to their children,

that the next generation might know them,

the children yet unborn,

and arise and tell them to their children,

so that they should set their hope in God

and not forget the works of God,

but keep his commandments;

and that they should not be like their fathers,

a stubborn and rebellious generation,

a generation whose heart was not steadfast,

whose spirit was not faithful to God.

 

The Ephraimites, armed with the bow,

turned back on the day of battle.

They did not keep God's covenant,

but refused to walk according to his law.

They forgot his works

and the wonders that he had shown them.

In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders

in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.

He divided the sea and let them pass through it,

and made the waters stand like a heap.

In the daytime he led them with a cloud,

and all the night with a fiery light.

He split rocks in the wilderness

and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.

He made streams come out of the rock

and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

 

Yet they sinned still more against him,

rebelling against the Most High in the desert.

They tested God in their heart

by demanding the food they craved.

They spoke against God, saying,

“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?

He struck the rock so that water gushed out

and streams overflowed.

Can he also give bread

or provide meat for his people?”

 

Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath;

a fire was kindled against Jacob;

his anger rose against Israel,

because they did not believe in God

and did not trust his saving power.

Yet he commanded the skies above

and opened the doors of heaven,

and he rained down on them manna to eat

and gave them the grain of heaven.

Man ate of the bread of the angels;

he sent them food in abundance.

He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,

and by his power he led out the south wind;

he rained meat on them like dust,

winged birds like the sand of the seas;

he let them fall in the midst of their camp,

all around their dwellings.

And they ate and were well filled,

for he gave them what they craved.

But before they had satisfied their craving,

while the food was still in their mouths,

the anger of God rose against them,

and he killed the strongest of them

and laid low the young men of Israel.

 

In spite of all this, they still sinned;

despite his wonders, they did not believe.

So he made their days vanish like a breath,

and their years in terror.

When he killed them, they sought him;

they repented and sought God earnestly.

They remembered that God was their rock,

the Most High God their redeemer.

But they flattered him with their mouths;

they lied to him with their tongues.

Their heart was not steadfast toward him;

they were not faithful to his covenant.

Yet he, being compassionate,

atoned for their iniquity

and did not destroy them;

he restrained his anger often

and did not stir up all his wrath.

He remembered that they were but flesh,

a wind that passes and comes not again.

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness

and grieved him in the desert!

They tested God again and again

and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

They did not remember his power

or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,

when he performed his signs in Egypt

and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.

He turned their rivers to blood,

so that they could not drink of their streams.

He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them,

and frogs, which destroyed them.

He gave their crops to the destroying locust

and the fruit of their labor to the locust.

He destroyed their vines with hail

and their sycamores with frost.

He gave over their cattle to the hail

and their flocks to thunderbolts.

He let loose on them his burning anger,

wrath, indignation, and distress,

a company of destroying angels.

He made a path for his anger;

he did not spare them from death,

but gave their lives over to the plague.

He struck down every firstborn in Egypt,

the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.

Then he led out his people like sheep

and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.

He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid,

but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

And he brought them to his holy land,

to the mountain which his right hand had won.

He drove out nations before them;

he apportioned them for a possession

and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.

 

Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God

and did not keep his testimonies,

but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers;

they twisted like a deceitful bow.

For they provoked him to anger with their high places;

they moved him to jealousy with their idols.

When God heard, he was full of wrath,

and he utterly rejected Israel.

He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,

the tent where he dwelt among mankind,

and delivered his power to captivity,

his glory to the hand of the foe.

He gave his people over to the sword

and vented his wrath on his heritage.

Fire devoured their young men,

and their young women had no marriage song.

Their priests fell by the sword,

and their widows made no lamentation.

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,

like a strong man shouting because of wine.

And he put his adversaries to rout;

he put them to everlasting shame.

 

He rejected the tent of Joseph;

he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,

but he chose the tribe of Judah,

Mount Zion, which he loves.

He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,

like the earth, which he has founded forever.

He chose David his servant

and took him from the sheepfolds;

from following the nursing ewes he brought him

to shepherd Jacob his people,

Israel his inheritance.

With upright heart he shepherded them

and guided them with his skillful hand.