Grades 3-6 for Sunday School: 
Moses: Parting Words of Wisdom

Teacher’s Notes:  We’ve now come to our final lesson on the life of Moses.  The Israelites have finally made it back to the Promised Land, and are ready to go in.  Only they’ll have to do so without the man who brought them there.  We learned, last week, that Moses would not be allowed to go into the Promised Land because of his disobedience to God, before the congregation of Israel.  And now, as the Israelite prepare to possess the Land, God has told Moses it’s time for him to die.  So our final lesson in this series will be a look at Moses’ last words to the children of Israel.  And you can be sure they came from a very tender heart, as Moses knew what lay ahead for God’s chosen people.

 

Opening comments/story:

 

Do any of you ever think about dying?  Most of you won’t have to think about that for l long time.  But imagine with me, for just a moment, what it would be like if someone told you that you only had a few more days to live, and then God was going to take you to Heaven. 

 

Can you think of anything you’d want to do before you die?  (Let the students consider what this might be like, and share their thoughts.)  Is there any place you would want to go?  Is there anything you would really want to say to someone, that you haven’t had the courage or opportunity to say, before? 

 

That’s just where we’re going to find Moses, today.  The Israelites are back at the edge of the Promised Land.  But if you were here last week, you may remember that God told Moses he would not be able to go in.  He had disobeyed God in front of the entire congregation of Israel, so God had chosen to put a new man in place to lead the Israelites into Canaan. 

 

God then told Moses, “thy days approach that thou must die.”  (Deuteronomy 31:14)  And Moses knew that there wasn’t much time left to do the things he wanted to do, and say the things he needed to say.

 

In today’s lesson, we’ll be looking at some of Moses’ last words – the things that were heaviest on his heart as he knew he would be leaving the children of Israel at one of the most important times in their history as a nation.  These are the things that Moses wanted to be sure the Israelites would remember once he was no longer there to remind them, himself.

 

Our memory verse, today, comes from those very words:

 

Memory verse:  (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves.  And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)

 

“And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”  Deuteronomy 10:12

 

Opening prayer:  Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today.  And thank You for Your precious Word, where we can read and learn from the examples we see there.  Help us, today, to have our eyes and ears open to the lesson You would have us learn from the Israelites’ example.  Amen.

 

This Week’s Lesson:  (Moses:  Parting Words of Wisdom from the book of Deuteronomy)

 

(Parting Words of Instruction)

 

There can be no doubt for those who have followed Moses’ and the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, that Moses deeply loved the children of Israel.  On many occasions, when they had argued against him, and against God - when God was ready to wipe them all out, and start over with just Moses, we found Moses begging for the lives of the Israelites.  He even offered to give his own life if God would spare the rest of them.  John 15:13 tell us, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 

 

So it should come as no surprise that when Moses learned he would soon die, he wanted to share some final words of wisdom with these often stubborn and disobedient, but dear-to-his-heart children of Israel.  The final book that Moses wrote is the book of Deuteronomy.  And it contains a historical review of all that the nation of Israel had gone through in getting to the Promised Land.  It also contains a review of the laws that God had given to Moses throughout their journey.

 

But it also contains the heart of Moses…the words he wanted to leave them with, knowing that things would not always be easy for them, as they went into the Promised Land.  He knew they would continue to struggle with their selfishness and disobedience.  And he knew that there would continue to be consequences.  But he also knew that God wanted, more than anything, to bless His chosen people.  So he gave them these words, as a guide to living lives that would bring glory to the God who had rescued them.

 

Now, it’s very possible that the people, too, knew that Moses would soon be leaving them.  And that they were looking to him for the guidance they would need to get them through all that lay ahead.  It may have seemed overwhelming to them, to know that they were finally moving forward, in God’s plan, into the Promised Land, but doing so without the man who had been the very mouth of God, to them, for so many years.

 

Have you ever been given a job to do, or perhaps an assignment at school that, when you first learned about it, seemed much harder than what you thought you could handle?  (Give the students an opportunity to share any such experiences.)   And if so, did the person who gave you the assignment then provide you with suggestions for how to go about doing the project?  Did they offer to help you if you were confused or needed more information about the project?

 

Oftentimes, new instructions can seem a little overwhelming.  But most of the time, you’ll find that the one who gives you the assignment is also willing and ready to help you complete it.  And that was true of God’s instructions for the Israelites.  Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

 

Moses had some comforting words for the Israelites.  God’s expectations for them were not beyond what they were capable of, and God would be right there with them, to get them through whatever difficulties might arise.  Listen to the words of Moses, as he encouraged them to take heart, and move ahead on God’s chosen path:

 

(Deuteronomy 30)

11For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.

 12It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

 14But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

Moses didn’t want the children of Israel to be discouraged by all that God was asking them to do.  He didn’t want them to feel overwhelmed.  Was there anyone in all of Israel who could reach up, into Heaven?  (no)  Was there anyone who could reach the other side of the sea?  (no)  Those would have been impossible things for God to ask them to do. 

But Moses wanted the Israelites to know that what God expected of them, was not beyond their abilities.  God was not giving them an assignment that was too hard for them.  The NIV Bible translates verse 11 this way, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.”

So what were these instructions that Moses felt so compelled to share with the Israelites.  A good summary can be found back in chapter 10 of Deuteronomy, and is today’s memory verse.  Let’s take a look:

 

“And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”  Deuteronomy 10:12

 

Moses gave the Israelites (and us) four simple instructions for obeying the LORD, in this verse.  Let me read it again, and stop me when you hear the first one.  (read Deuteronomy 10:12 again, stopping when the students find the first instruction)  God’s first requirement in this verse is “to fear the LORD thy God.”   Does anyone know what he meant by that?  Did it mean that the Israelites were supposed to be afraid of God?  Not really.  The word that was translated “fear” does not mean to be frightened.  Instead, this is a reverential fear.  It is talking more about awe and respect.

 

God never wants us to be afraid to come to Him with the things we’re worried about, or to confess our sins.  He is our Father, and loves us very much.  But He is an awesome and holy God, too.  And He should be treated that way. 

 

Listen again to the verse, and stop me when we get to the next instruction.  (read verse 12 again, stopping at the next instruction)  “to walk in all His ways.”  What is Moses telling the people here?  To obey all of God’s instructions.  That didn’t mean they were to pick and choose which ones they liked and do those, but ignore the harder ones.  All means all!

 

And they would most likely find that easier to do if they were following the next instruction in Deuteronomy 10:12.  Listen for it.  (reread the verse, emphasizing the instructions you’ve already covered until you reach the next one“to love Him.”  For those of you who were with us when we studied the Ten Commandments, you may remember that in the New Testament, Jesus asked a lawyer (or one who studied Old Testament law) what the Law says.  The lawyer summed it all up by saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”  (Luke 10:27)  In other words, the way we feel about God should be reflected in our obedience to Him.  If we say that we love Him, then we ought to be obeying Him.  The two should go hand in hand.

 

Which leads right into the final instruction that we find in Deuteronomy 10:12.  But before we read the verse, again, can anyone tell me what the first three instructions were?  Let’s review them.

1 – Fear (or respect) God

2 – Walk in His ways (obey Him)

3 – Love God

 

Now, let’s read it one more time, and find the last instruction.  (reread  the verse, again emphasizing each instruction.)  “to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”  James 4:17 says this, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”   Can anyone explain what this verse means?  James was saying that if we claim to have faith in God, there should be some evidence in the things we do. 

 

That’s what Moses was trying to tell the Israelites.  They were to fear God, obey Him, and love Him.  And the way others should be able to see those things would be in how we live them out, serving God.  Saying we love God is not enough.  If our love for Him is real, then we should be out there serving Him in whatever way He calls us to.

 

As the Israelites headed into the Promised Land, they would need to be willing to serve in many different ways.  Some would be called on to serve in the army.  Some would be needed to serve in the temple.  Some would be needed to teach the children at home.  Each person would need to do their part, serving God, in order for them to build a successful nation.

 

There was one more thing that the Israelites would need to do, in order to become the nation God intended them to be.  They would need to teach their children all that God had done for them, so they would grow up wanting to love and serve the God of their fathers.  Moses told them this:

 

(Deuteronomy 11:18-21)

 

18Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

 19And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

 20And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:

 21That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

Moses wanted to be sure that the Israelite children, and their children, and their children’s children would grow up knowing who the LORD their God was.  They did not have much written word, at that time, so it was up to the parents to teach their children at every opportunity.  And that included when they were sitting at home, when they were out walking, when they were getting ready for bed, and when they got up in the morning.  In other words, parents were to be talking to their children about God all the time.  And they were to be living out what they were saying by serving God, because the children would certainly be learning by listening, but by watching as well.

(Parting Words of Encouragement)

 

Now in addition to giving the Israelites these important instructions from God, Moses also wanted to share some words of encouragement.  Because even though they were about to lose a great leader, God was not going to leave the Israelites on their own.  He had already chosen a new leader, and had been preparing him for this position, for many years.  Would anyone like to guess who God had chosen as the next leader of the Israelites?  If you happened to guess Joshua, then you were right!  If we look back in the book of Numbers, we can read of God’s appointment of Joshua as the next leader.

 

(Numbers 27:18-20)

 

18And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;

 19And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.

 20And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

Joshua, along with Caleb and Moses, would have been the oldest in the camp of Israel.  All of the other men their age had died during the years of wandering.  But Joshua and Caleb were the spies who brought back the news that they should go into the Promised Land the first time they had arrived there. So God had promised that they would go into the Land.  And now, He had chosen Joshua to be Moses’ successor.  And as Moses brought Joshua before the people, he had these words to say, both to the Israelites, and to their new leader:

(Deuteronomy 31:3-7)

3The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said.

 4And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed.

 5And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.

 6Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

 7And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.

God had no intention of sending the Israelites in the Promised Land alone, to face the many challenges that lay ahead.  He had chosen a leader for them.  And, more importantly, He Himself promised to go into the Land before them.  So now they had their leader, and their marching orders.  All that was left was to say good-bye to a very special man.  Moses.

 (Parting Moments from Earth)

 

Let’s just simply read the passage to see, with Moses, what was in store for the nation of Israel.  Then, we’ll find Moses quietly slipping away to meet his LORD up in the mountains, one last time.

 

(Deuteronomy 34)

1And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,

 2And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,

 3And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.

 4And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

 5So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.

 6And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

 7And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

 8And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

 9And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.

 10And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

 11In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,

 12And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.

There are not many men in the Bible who have it said of them that the LORD knew them “face to face.”  Moses was a very special man, chosen by God to serve in a nation of people who often complained about his leadership.  He was a reluctant hero, not choosing for himself the position that God gave him.  But in the end, he was a true servant of the LORD, living out before the nation of Israel all that he had taught them about God, and what it was to love Him.  There was no great monument built over his grave.  In fact, no one even knew where he had been buried.  How fitting for the man whose goal it was, not to gain great glory for himself, but only to serve and bring glory to his God.

And if Moses were standing before us here, today, I’m sure he would share the same words with us as he did with the Israelites as he prepared to go: 

“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:”  Deuteronomy 33:26-27a

The God that Moses served those many years ago is the same God that we serve today.  He expects the same respect, obedience, love and service that he did from Moses and the Israelites.  But He also gives us the same promises.   He is our eternal God and our refuge still today, if we choose to follow Him, as Moses did. 

Would you like to have the God of the universe say that He knows you face to face?  It can be true of us, too, if we would devote our lives to serving Him.  We can even begin this week looking for ways to show God how much we love Him.  That’s what Moses wanted for the Israelites.  And that’s what God wants for each one of us, today.

Closing Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we have learned so much by studying the life of Moses, and watching him trust You as he lead the Israelites to the Land You promised them.  Help us, Lord, not to see the story of Moses as just another story with heroes and villains, but a historical example of what it means to truly love and follow You.  Remind us that we, too, can come to know You as Moses did if we would only commit our lives to loving and serving You.  Help us begin today!  Amen.

Closing Comments/ Activity

 

Moses had many important things to say to the Israelites, as he knew his time on earth was quickly coming to an end.  But they were not new messages to the people.  They were things Moses had been saying to them for years.  He just wanted to be sure that they fully understood all he’d been sharing with them before he left.

 

What about you?  Have you ever shared God’s words with someone else?  You don’t need to wait until you are old, and realize you may only have a short time to live.  You can start sharing those wonderful, life-giving words now.  Just think how much you’ll be able to share in a lifetime if you get started today!

 

(Review Questions)

 

Complete the List of Instructions from Deuteronomy 10:12

 

  1. Fear the Lord thy God
  2. Walk in allHis ways
  3. Love Him
  4. Serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul

 

  True or False

1. God chose Joshua to be the next leader of Israel, after Moses.  (true)

2. God said the children were to study lots of books to learn about Him.  (false – their parents were to teach them)

3. God planned to go before the Israelites into the Promised Land.  (true)

4. Moses died at a young age.  (false – he was one hundred and twenty years old)

5. There is a great monument, in Israel, where Moses was buried.  (false – no one knows where he was buried)

 

Devotional Poem:

 

A Man Named Moses

 

A man of God, right to the very end;

A man who could call God, Himself, his friend;

A man who, with God’s help, could part the sea;

This man named Moses served God, faithfully.

 

And though he never reached the Promised Land,

Upon a mountain top, Moses did stand

To see the promise, there before his eyes.

But for this man, the Land was not his prize.

 

For Moses lived only to serve the Lord;

Their moments face to face, his sure reward.

And this is what he’d say to you and me…

It’s worth it all, to serve the King of Kings.

 

 

Lisa DeVinney, September 2013