Tread Upon the High Places

Despite the dire warnings God has given Israel through Moses, He does not leave them without a blessing. And we know that in the time of the new covenant, these blessings come to full fruition for God’s final Israel, the Christian church. “And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death . . .” (Dt. 33:1-29).

The first five verses introduce the blessing (vv. 1-5). The blessings for Reuben and Judah follow (vv. 6-7). Levi’s coming vocation is included in his blessing (vv. 8-11). Little Benjamin is blessed as well (v. 12). The blessing for Joseph is the most lyrical of all the blessings (vv. 13-17). Zebulun and Issachar are blessed (vv. 18-19), along with Gad and Dan (vv. 20-22). Naphtali and Asher are next (vv. 23-25). The blessing then concludes with an exultation in the blessings given to Israel (vv. 26-29).

On the edge of the land, it is the threshold of blessing. Moses is here virtually numbered among the patriarchs (v. 1). The Lord came down and delivered the law, along with myriads of His “holy ones.” This is probably the verse behind the New Testament assumption that the law was delivered through angels (v. 2). God loved the people and held them, and taught them the law (v. 3). Moses gave a law (v. 4), and God was king in Jeshurun.

Reuben was the oldest, and should have been a substantial tribe—but a blessing was needed (v. 6). A similar blessing is given to Judah (v. 7). Let his hands be sufficient, give him help with his enemies.

Let the oracle of God be with Levi (v. 8). Levi kept covenant with God, even at great cost to family (v. 9). The task that is set before the Levites is that of teaching God’s judgments and laws, and offering incense and sacrifices (v. 10). A blessing is asked for the work of Levi’s hands, and that his enemies would be smitten (v. 11).

Benjamin was the youngest, and God treats him that way, carrying him around as a father carries a small boy on the shoulders (v. 12).

Joseph is really two tribes—Manasseh and Ephraim. A wonderful blessing is pronounced here. First, he is blessed in his water from above and below (v. 13). Then a blessing is pronounced on the precious fruits of both sun and moon (v. 14). This is related to the fruit of the mountains and hills (v. 15). This is due to the good will of the God who revealed Himself in the burning bush (v. 16). The blessing falls upon Joseph’s head who was sold as a slave into Egypt (v. 16). He will gloriously expand his borders, like an agressive unicorn (v. 17).

Zebulun and Issachar will have maritime blessings (v. 18), and will find treasure in the sand (v. 19). It is cause for great rejoicing. Gad will aggressively grow and expand (v. 20). He is a lawgiver, and dispensed justice (v. 21). Dan is a lion cub (v. 22).

Naphtali is called to be content with fullness and blessing (v. 23). Asher is to be blessed in his children, and will be acceptable to the other tribes (v. 24). He will be a strong tribe (v. 25).

What is the conclusion of the matter? There is no God like the God of Jeshurun (v. 26), who rides in the heavens. We have a refuge in the eternal God Who is thy refuge, and underneath us are the everlasting arms (v. 27). Our enemies will be destroyed before us. This will cause Israel to be established in a full and blessed prosperity (v. 28). Who is like Israel, saved by the Lord? Who is protected behind the shield of God, protected by the swordsmanship of God (v. 29)? No enemy can stand before us, and we will tread upon their high places.

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