Here are more enlightening words for the Israelites before they crossed over Jordan into Canaan.

Without Moses, Israel would be fine (31:1-3) – Though Moses would not join the Israelites when they entered Canaan, God and Joshua would lead the charge. In that case, Israel would be in good hands.

Be strong and of good courage – That was the Lord’s charge through Moses. It first was a command to all Israel (31:6), then it was made directly to Joshua as well (31:7,23). God’s people, especially its leaders, must be courageous.

God’s promise not to forsake Israel or Joshua (31:6,8) – The comforting message for the Israelites was, “He will not leave you nor forsake you.” When we read what is said later in the same discourse, we see that this promise was conditional. Jehovah foretold the action of Israel and Himself: “. . . they will forsake Me and break My covenant . . . and I will forsake them” (31:16,17). What sobering words!

Reading of the law every seven years (31:9-13) – The law of God was to be read publicly – “before all Israel” (31:11). Some specific instructions about the reading: (1) Who was to read it – the Levites (31:9- 11); (2) When it was to be read – at the end of every seven years, at the Feast of Tabernacles (31:10); (3) Where it was to be read – in the place which God would choose (31:11); eventually, that would be Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:32,36).

Israel’s tragic harlotry (31:16) – Imagine how sad it would be for a husband to learn that his bride is not remaining faithful to him. That is exactly what God said would take place with the Israelites. They would be guilty of forsaking Him and breaking His covenant. Such action would have a devastating consequence: the Lord would forsake and devour them (31:17).

A song to teach and remind Israel (31:19-22) – God told Moses to “write down this song” (31:19), and do you know what? “Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel” (31:22). This song was to be a witness against Israel, as it would remind them that departing from the Lord would doom them. Jehovah told Moses to take this song and “put it in their mouths” (31:19). God wanted Israel to think and talk about His instructions. Is that not still His will for His people today?

Moses wrote the words of God’s law in a book (31:24) – Moses may have had only a little time remaining on the earth, but he stayed busy doing the Lord’s work. What a great lesson for us! The Levites took the book of the law and placed it beside the ark of the covenant (31:24-26). God’s instructions were precious, and He wanted Israel to treat them that way.

— Roger D. Campbell