“By this word you shall live”

Moses has reached the end of his long life, he is now 120 years old and his final effort is a final message to the nation. We read, “then Moses spoke the words of this song … in the ears of the assembly of Israel” (Deuteronomy 31:30). His words were designed to be memorised. “When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel” (32:45) “he said to them, take to heart these words … that you may command them to your children … for it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live …” (verses 46,47).

We can see his final message as a microcosm of all God’s words that he has caused to be preserved for humanity for the guidance of those who seek to believe in him and seek to do his will. Such will therefore read his word and apply their minds to understand.

Moses final message to the emerging nation of Israel applies, in its basic principles, to all who seek to serve God. God could see that many in succeeding generations in Israel would lose their vision of God and not remain faithful – and so, sadly, this has also largely been the case with those who say they are following Christ.

God says to Israel, prophetically through Moses, “I will hide my face from them … for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness” (verse 20) and so it has been – and is equally true in this twenty-first century with so many who claim to follow Christ. Through Moses, God said the people would become “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” (verses 28,29).

Other scriptures give us more details of their latter end but Moses ends his song positively seeing a time when God “avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries and cleanses his people’s land” (verse 43). Then Moses “came and recited all the words … in the hearing of the people” (verse 44) and added in conclusion the words we quoted at the start; “it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live”. This is parallel with the words of Christ and the apostles by which we must live – and, as a result, live eternally.

“Words” in our world are “empty” of eternal meaning – so let us make God’s words our “very life.”