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30. Deuteronomy 33: “The Blessings of Israel”

Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 7/18/2013

(edited February 2020)


Last Month we talked about a warning in song that was given to Ancient Israel in The Song of Moses. Remember, the build up to that song which we read in Deuteronomy 31:16-19?

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.  Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.  Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.”


Between this stark introduction and our current chapter lies the song itself. It is bittersweet. Before moving on, let’s look at two excerpts:

Deuteronomy 32:1-4

“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.  My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he…”

Deuteronomy 32:15-22

“But Jeshurun (which we found out was a poetic name for Ancient Israel) waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.  They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.  For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains…”

This song is a marvel and a wonder. It is of God and it needs to be heard! But it is not light entertainment. It is a call to self-inspection. I have noticed that when you preach (or sing) in this way, it can get awful quiet in the room.


Now we come to our current study in Deuteronomy chapter 33 and there isn’t a warning or a criticism in sight! It’s ALL BLESSINGS as Moses, approaching the end of his life and service to the People of God, bids them, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, a very fond farewell:


Verses 1-5: “And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.  And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.  Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words. Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob. And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.”


Now God is blessing HIS PEOPLE! Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob (who was also called “Israel”). Now Moses will bless the families of the sons of Jacob, with references to their roles and their inheritances in the Promised Land to come:


The BLESSINGS of the Tribes of Ancient Israel

Reuben in Verse 6:

“Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.”

Judah in Verse 7:

“And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.”

Levi in Verses 8-11:

“And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.  Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again.”

Benjamin in Verse 12:

“And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.”

Joseph in Verses 13-16:

“And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,  And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,  And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.”

Epharaim and Manasseh in Verse 17:

“His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

Zebulum in Verses 18-19:

“And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents. They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.”

Gad in Verses 20-21:

“And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.”

Dan in Verse 22:

“And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.”

Naphtali in Verse 23:

“And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord: possess thou the west and the south.”

Asher in Verses 24-25:

“And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”


Wow! I had said last month that Moses’ Song would probably be silenced if submitted to our modern music industry. But here in this chapter with all these blessings, I think Old Moses might just have a hit on his hands today! And that raises an important question.


Can modern believers in Jesus Christ claim the blessings of God that are mentioned in the Old Testament for His People? What about the curses, like those in the Song of Moses? Do they apply to us, also? After all, we are the New Israel as described in the New Covenant, such as in Romans chapter 2 and elsewhere.


Also, it could be (and has been!) asked in regard to these blessings and curses, could God be two-faced? Was He ever really fully on their side back then? And is He fully committed to His Church right now? As we close, I want to briefly share my “two cents” on these important questions.


I believe that we can FULLY embrace these blessings! And that the Lord had US in mind, even way back then. God accurately predicted that Ancient Israel would largely fall away from Him even in their Promised Land. Nonetheless, He proceeded to established, through them, a special bond with Man—the calling out of a special People to be His Family on the Earth!


As the years passed, the entire “Song of Moses” became a tragic reality for them. Even with all their advantages and blessings, things REALLY did fall apart. But, even when all was lost for the nation, look at what God told Jeremiah who became and would remain a faithful Prophet in those days:

Jeremiah 31:33-36

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.”


Never take Christianity lightly. We are the People being described here. ALL the promises of God to His People are being applied to us and fulfilled! The Old Covenant was a physical covenant. You had to act, smell, touch and taste your way through it. And, you could walk away from it. And most of them did. And when they did, they also walked away from the blessings of the Lord and stumbled into the curses. But it need not be that way in the New Covenant. Believers in Christ never need to touch or taste, PHYSICALLY, our relationship with God.  

Ours are bonds of LOVE! And those bonds, forged on Mount Calvary and in the heart of a sincere believer, are eternal bonds and cannot be broken. Not because we are superior in any way to the Ancient Jews, but because of Jesus. We OBEY, not to avoid the curses but out of love for Him. And like all true lovers, cursed or blessed, regardless of the outcome.


Now, if we say we believe in Him and then abandon Him, it merely proves that we never fully entered into the Covenant of Christ’s Gospel. In other words, our behavior doesn’t define our Personal Covenant with Him, but it can be an indicator of its existence.


Rooted in Him, by Grace through Faith, we do not fear the curses and we DO FULLY EMBRACE ALL THE BLESSINGS! And in times like these, when life can be so hard, we need to hang on to all those blessings. They aren’t all fully manifested for us yet, but they ALL belong to US. We are HIS PEOPLE on earth NOW and an ETERNAL LAND OF PROMISE is just before us. Look with me at the end of Deuteronomy chapter 33, as we close, AND BE BLESSED!


Verses 26-29: There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.  The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.”