Deuteronomy 32 is the famous son of Moses. It is the end of the final address that Moses gives to the Israelites before he dies and they enter the promised land. It is not just a rehearsal of Israel’s history up to that point; Moses is giving insight into God’s perspective of that history. He is calling the people to worship God as the creator and sustainer of all things.
Like Jacob, Moses blesses each tribe of Israel individually. They are even similar to Jacob’s blessings of his twelve. However, a keen reader will notice that Simeon is missing from this list of the twelve tribes. In Genesis 49, Jacob says that because of Simeon's anger and violence, he will be dispersed (or dissolved). Remember that he and Levi led the advance in retribution against what happened to Dinah in Genesis 34 (cf. v.25). His punishment for a brash reaction was to have his tribe dispersed, or absorbed into Judah. In one sense, the tribe of Simeon would be "wiped off the map", so to speak, even though the people would be permitted to live. Leaving Simeon out of this particular list is faithful to that blessing/prophecy.
But in Joshua 19, the tribe of Simeon is given a plot of land of their own. However, 19:2 tells us that Simeon will live among the people of Judah. So the tribe of Simeon still technically exists because the people are descendants of Simeon, but they are living among the Judahites, just like Jacob said they would. It's sort-of like a tribe living within a tribe.
Though Moses will not be permitted to enter the promised land, he is buried on Mt. Nebo, which will overlook it. Joshua is now God’s man for Israel. He will lead the charge in the upcoming military conquests.
God speaks to Joshua, commanding and encouraging him to take up the task of leading the people into the land. The people commit to following him.
Joshua sent two spies into the city of Jericho on an information-gathering mission. By staying with a prostitute, the two would likely not garner too much attention. But, the king of Jericho still found out about their mission.
If God told the Israelites to push out all of Canaanites, why did Rahab get special treatment? God is a God of justice, but Rahab also highlights his mercy. Like at the passover, Rahab was to gather all of her family into her house, and the Israelites would pass over her home during their invasion. God never intended for ethnic Israel to be his only people. Rahab, a gentile, would be welcomed into God’s people if she worshipped him and him alone. And of course, she would later be mentioned in Jesus’s genealogy.
The people must travel west from Shittim, over the Jordan river, to Jericho. As they cross the river, God tells Joshua to have one man from each tribe take a stone from the bed of the river and build a memorial in the place they would stay overnight. According to Joshua 4:9, it’s possible that Joshua set up his own memorial in the Jordan river, which would be a second memorial.
Circumcision was the sign and seal of the Abrahamic covenant, and every male was to be circumcised when he was eight days old. Joshua does not circumcise the adult males a second time, but no one practiced circumcision in the wilderness for forty years. So God gives the command a second time. Not only do they get circumcision right, but they also have the first Passover celebration in the land. It’s quite fitting, because ending the wilderness wandering was a type of exodus. All of these are a type, or a shadow, of the greater reality that would be revealed in Christ.
Now that the people are over the river (and through the woods), Jericho is ready to fall. The men of war will walk around the city one time for six days, then seven times on the seventh day with the priests and the ark. When the trumpets blow and the people shout, the walls come a-crumblin’ down. With the defenses (the wall) down, capturing the city was a breeze. Joshua pronounces a future curse on anyone who rebuilds Jericho. Unsurprisingly, the curse is enacted in 1 Kings 16 by a man named Hiel.
When they went to Jericho, everything that was silver, gold, bronze, and iron was to be saved for use the treasury of Israel. But of course, there’s always one. A man named Achan keeps some of it for himself. At the next battle, Israel loses horribly. God reveals to Joshua that someone has kept the devoted things for himself. By fiddling down the possibilities, Joshua finds the man Achan. Achan’s sons and daughters were involved in the thievery (there is no way one man took all that himself), so they are not innocent by any means. Because they lie and steal, they are stoned and burned. Because the evil has been purged from Israel, they become successful in their next battle. They lost at the battle of Ai, and now they win.
The Israelites are not to make any peace treaties or concessions with the Canaanites. A group of Gibeonites deceive Joshua, lying about their origins. The Gibeonites do not want to face the same fate as Jericho, so they con their way into being the slaves of the Israelites. But they “did not seek counsel from the LORD” (9:14). Because they swore protection in God’s name, God did not have them break their word and destroy the Gibeonites. But their punishment for their deception was to do the manual labor for the sacrificial system.
A group of five kings, including the king of Jerusalem (which is not yet under Israelite rule), form a cabal and started a battle in Gibeon, knowing that Israel was now the guardian of Gibeon. This battle is entirely miraculous. God throws down giant stones from the heavens, and Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still during the battle. The book of Jashar is mentioned as corroborating evidence for this miraculous heavenly event. Finally, the people are making some real headway into the land.
In like manner of the initial disciples going out to do the miraculous and to preach, Jesus now sends. Seventy-two disciples. The instructions are quite similar. Seventy-two is often a symbolic number, but there’s no real reason to necessarily take it as symbolic here. Context will usually let the reader know if a number is symbolic or literal.
Jesus mentions several cities. Sodom was destroyed because of its wickedness. Tyre and Sidon were cities mentioned in the Old Testament because of their devotion to Baal worship and idolatry. And yet, these two cities, Chorazin and Bethsaida, which were the two places where most of Jesus’s miracles took place, were more stubborn than the older cities. If those older cities had been around to take part of Jesus’s ministry, they would have repented and believed. It seems to stand true that as human history rolls on, we only get more stubborn toward God.
In the debrief with the seventy-two, Jesus is glad to hear of their success. Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (10:18). He must not be speaking of Satan’s initial rebellion since he says it in the context of this debrief of recent events. It seems as though Jesus saw Satan fall because of the work of the seventy-two. This actually aligns quite nicely with Revelation 12. In that prophetic vision, a woman (Israel) gives birth to a male child (Christ), and because that child is born, a war breaks out in heaven. Michael defeats Satan, and Satan is cast to the earth to pursue the woman. It seems as though these passages are depicting the same period of time. Satan’s initial sin took place long, long ago, before the fall of man. This “fall” is speaking of another time, concurrent with Jesus’s earthly ministry.
Jesus praises the Father for both hiding and revealing spiritual truths. This prayer is imminently Trinitarian. The Father has given the Son all things, and no one knows the Son except those who the Father has chosen to reveal him. Trinitarianism is partly a mystery, but our faith and salvation is rooted in it. We only know of and believe in Jesus because the Father has decided so and because the Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son.
The parable of the good Samaritan is to twist the knife slowly in the hearts of the Jews. Samaritans were hated by the Jews. Samaria was the capital city of the old northern kingdom of Israel. When Assyria took Israel captive, their practice was to remove many natives and scatter them around the Assyrian empire. In turn, Assyria would send people from around their empire to a newly conquered land. The Israelites were already practicing idolatry, so it is no surprise that the religion of the people living in the northern kingdom was barely recognizable as anything related to covenantal, faithful Israelite religion.
But in this parable, the Samaritan is who does the merciful act. And remember, Jesus tells this parable after being asked who our neighbors are. Jesus flips the script and instead says the better question is how to behave as a neighbor. Jesus is the true neighbor and our great example of neighborly love.
Jesus encouraged women to study the Scriptures. That fact does not nullify Paul’s later commands about men and women in the church. Both men and women should be avid reader of Scripture, be able to understand it, and happy to teach it to others. Paul simply gives the proper avenues for doing that.
Mary and Martha are sisters, and like most sisters, are two very different people. Mary is learning from Jesus, but Martha is concerned with pleasing everyone. Jesus has called both Mary and Martha, but we’re told that Martha is “distracted” (10:40). The answer to that problem is to please the Lord over other people and sit at his feet.
Jesus likely taught the Lord’s prayer several times, which accounts for the slight variations between Matthew 6 and Luke 11. In Matthew, Jesus includes this model prayer in the middle of the sermon on the mount. In Luke, Jesus is asked by his disciples to teach them how to pray. Jesus tells them to pray this prayer. It is perfectly permissible to both learn to pray on your own by learning this prayer and to recite this prayer as a prayer itself. In both instances, the Lord’s prayer includes a section on God meeting our daily provisions. So Jesus follows with a lesson on how generous God is to his children.
Jesus was busy casting out demons. He is charged with doing so by Beelzebul, or “the master of the house”, or Satan. If Jesus is powered by Satan, why is he casting out demons? Is that not working against his own master, if that’s true? Of course, it’s nonsense, but some people are willing to throw anything to the wall to see what sticks.
Jesus is always concerned that people know who he is and do not have a caricature of him. As a woman tries to say that Jesus’s mother is a blessed woman, while he does not reject that premise, he instead says that those who keep God’s word are blessed. Worship of and prayer to Mary is idolatry.
Others are only interested in the miraculous. Jesus knows they want proof of his authority, but the only sign he’ll give them (as if his power over nature, exorcisms, and physical healings weren’t enough) is his resurrection, or the sign of Jonah. In Jonah 2:2, Jonah says that he cried out to God from Sheol, not the belly of a fish. It may have been that Jonah actually died. If that’s the case, then the connection between Jonah and Jesus is even less metaphorical and more obvious. This also solidifies the place of typology in the Bible. Typology is when a person, a place, or an event foreshadows something about Christ. In this case, Jonah’s three days in a fish was a type of Christ’s three days in a tomb. The purpose of typology is to see God’s divine hand over redemption history.
If that’s the case, then the Jonah-Jesus connection helps us understand the next passage that speaks about lighting a lamp. The people just want signs, but miracles don’t save anyone. Think about all the miracles that took place at the time of the exodus from Egypt. Nearly three-million Hebrews are saved from slavery and taken by God’s mighty arm into freedom. Three days later, they build a golden calf and choose to worship it instead.
When people are filled with the knowledge of God, miracles are not necessary. The people just want signs, but Jesus says they want them for the wrong reasons. We think miracles will give us faith; only the Spirit of God gives us faith. What is the light that gets put on a stand? Jesus Christ! A healthy eye is a healthy way of seeing and understanding. A bad eye leads to a life full of darkness. If Christ is the light of your life, then you will be wholly bright.
The Pharisees are a constant issue for Jesus. Jesus pronounces woes against them for turning their traditions against the law of God, overturning the authority of Scripture. People like the Pharisees, who always know better, are the ones who killed and persecuted the prophets. So Jesus warns his followers about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Do not fear the people like the Pharisees; fear God, because his power and authority exceeds every earthly power. The Pharisees lead you away from the word of God, which in turn leads you away from Christ. Therefore, acknowledge Christ before men and turn from hypocrisy.
Jesus taught about similar issues many times to different crowds. What we think of as the sermon on the mount is found in parts throughout Luke. Jesus speaks about the dangers of anxiety in chapter 12. God clothes, or care for, those things which are common and short-lived. How much more does he care for those who are his image-bearers?
The same goes for the Olivet discourse. Jesus teaches us to be ready for his return in Luke 12:35ff. As he teaches about his return in parables in Matthew 25, so he does in Luke 12. We must understand the age in which we find ourselves, seeing that his return is always to be considered at hand. He has not yet returned, but he is near, even at the very gates.
Psalm 71: I am weak, but God is my strength.
Psalm 72: God blesses his people continually.
Psalm 73: I have many lingering questions, but God is my counsel.
Psalm 74: God remembers his covenant promises.
Psalm 75: God is patient now, but his wrath will one day be poured out on the unjust.