A Study of Deuteronomy 33:16
“And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.”
In this chapter, Moses is giving his blessings upon Israel. They are blessings conferred by God upon his people (Jeshurun) through his prophet.
Here and in chapter 32:15, Moses gives Israel a title that is used only four times in the entire Bible — “Jeshurun.” Jeshurun means “upright, or righteous people.”
The LORD God calls Israel by this name, even in their most ungodly, fallen condition (Deuteronomy 32:15).
(Deuteronomy 32:15) “But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.”
How can this be? Does God call that holy which is unholy? Does He call that righteous which is unrighteous? Of course, he does not. When the LORD God uses this name, “Jeshurun,” to describe His people Israel, He is not referring to the physical nation, but to His elect, the Israel of God. You see the LORD God always looks upon His people, even when in their fallen state, in Christ, who is our Righteousness, and deals with them accordingly.
Then, the title Jeshurun is used to describe the people of God as the objects of His love, a people loved and blessed of God (Deuteronomy 33:1-5).
Deuteronomy 33:1 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.
Deuteronomy 33:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
Deuteronomy 33:3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.
Deuteronomy 33:4 Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
Deuteronomy 33:5 And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.
In the last part of this great chapter Jeshurun is used in connection with our everlasting safety and security as the people of God (Deuteronomy 33:26-29).
Deuteronomy 33:26 There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
Deuteronomy 33:28 Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.
Deuteronomy 33:29 Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.
The only other place where this title is used is Isaiah 44:2. The context is similar to Deuteronomy 33. It sets forth the blessedness and security of God’s elect, because they are God’s elect, a people chosen, redeemed, and made righteous in and by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 44:1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Isaiah 44:2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.
Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Isaiah 44:4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
Isaiah 44:5 One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.
Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isaiah 44:7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show unto them.
Isaiah 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.”
Now, let’s read the blessing that was given to Joseph (Deuteronomy 33:13-17), remembering that Joseph represents and typifies our great Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. All the tribes of Israel were blessed; but Joseph was exalted above his brethren, just as our great Saviour is exalted above all and given a name greater than all. Joseph’s brethren were blessed with much. He was blessed with all things.
Deuteronomy 33:13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,
Deuteronomy 33:14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,
Deuteronomy 33:15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,
Deuteronomy 33:16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
Deuteronomy 33:17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
What a bountiful package of blessedness this describes!
· His land was blessed.
· He was blessed with the precious things of Heaven.
- Precious Saviour (1st Peter 2:7)
- Precious Blood (1st Peter 1:19)
- Precious Faith (2nd Peter 1:1)
- Precious Trials (1st Peter 1:7)
- Precious Promises (2nd Peter 1:14)
· He was blessed with both the dew falling from heaven and the depths crouching beneath.
· He was blessed with the precious fruits brought forth by the sun the precious things put forth by the moon.
· Joseph was blessed chief things of the mountains and the precious things of the everlasting hills.
· He was blessed with the precious things of the earth and all its fulness.
· He was given horns of power with which to push, to rule over, all flesh, all people to the ends of the earth.
· Joseph was blessed with all things for time and eternity, all things in heaven and earth.
· And he was blessed for his own glory; and he was blessed for the sake of his children, Ephraim and Manasseh.
Then, in addition to all these bountiful blessings, we read that Joseph and all his children, that is Christ and all his children are blessed with “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush!”
(Deuteronomy 33:16) “And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the he0ad of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.”
That is what I want us to focus on — “The good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”
Unless I am mistaken, this is the only reference made in the Old Testament to that great event when the LORD God revealed himself to Moses. How appropriate that as he was about to die, Moses sang of “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”
What was that bush in which the LORD God revealed himself to Moses? — The word translated “bush” refers to a prickly bush, or a thorn bush. This bush is that which came as the curse of God upon the ground because of man’s sin (Genesis 3:18). The LORD God revealed himself to Moses in the thorn bush to show that he overrules and uses even the consequences of man’s sin to make known and accomplish His good will, His delight toward and with reference to fallen sinners through the Lord Jesus Christ.
· Adam’s Fall
· Lot’s Incest
· Judah and Tamar
· Elimelech’s Departure
· David’s Sin
The word translated “good will” would be better translated “delight.” God’s good will is just this: — “He delighteth in mercy!” The good will of God is the salvation of His people by the sacrifice of His darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s good will is His gracious favor, His everlasting compassion, and his eternal purpose of grace toward His people.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
· It was in the bush that God declared to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM.”
· It was in the bush that he declared His great, redemptive name — Jehovah.
· It was in the bush that God sent Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt.
As Joseph was separated from his brethren, so our Lord Jesus was despised, rejected, and separated from men. As Joseph was lifted up on high after his brethren had cast him into a pit, so our Saviour was lifted up on high after He was laid in the grave as our crucified Substitute. As all the blessings enjoyed by His brethren came from the exalted Joseph, so all the blessings of grace and glory bestowed upon chosen sinners come to us through the Lord Jesus Christ, our exalted Elder Brother, Almighty King, and High Priest. His land is the land of grace, full and overflowing with blessedness, even “the unsearchable riches of his grace!”
The “precious things” mentioned in this passage show the great, full, complete variety of blessedness that our Joseph holds for us. Five times in four verses the Spirit of God used the word “precious” to describe these blessings. This particular word is found in only one other place. It is used in the Song of Solomon to describe the fruits found in the Bride for the pleasure of the Bridegroom (Song of Solomon 4:11-13).
(Song of Solomon 4:11-13) “Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant (precious) fruits; camphire, with spikenard.”
So gracious and kind is our God in Christ, so great is “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush,” that He counts even our fruit precious to Him for Christ’s sake!
(1 Peter 2:5) “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
HIM THAT DWELT IN THE BUSH
Who is this One who dwelt in the bush? — Who can this be but Christ, our God and Savior? He is the glorious One who spoke to Moses out of the bush.
It was good will, in the highest possible sense, that prompted the infinite, all-glorious Son of God, from everlasting to love us, to engage for us in the suretyship engagements of the covenant of grace, and to stand up and come forth at the call of God the Father as our Mediator, Surety, Substitute, and Representative, saying, “Lo, I come to do thy will O God!”
It was that same good will that prompted Him, in the fulness of time, to assume our nature for the purpose of fulfilling those covenant engagements (Matthew 1:21).
Then it was that He, indeed, dwelt in the bush, when He assumed our nature. What is our nature, at the best, but a poor dry bramble bush, fit for burning? Yet, as the bush Moses saw burned with fire, the very fire of the shekinah glory of God, and was not consumed, so our nature with Christ in it burned with that same glory (“We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”) and was so sustained and preserved that, though the bush burned with the fire of divine glory, it was not consumed.
Now, the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in our nature by grace (“Christ in you, the Hope of glory.”). — Yes, the Son of God dwells in this prickly bramble bush that stands before you. This bush that burns with the fiery lusts of the flesh, the corruptions of this evil heart, the fiery darts of the devil, and the fiery opposition of the world shall not be consumed. Though ashes to ashes it must go and dust to dust, yet the bush shall not be consumed. It shall be resurrected in glory by the good will of Him that dwells in it!
O, blessed Son of God! O great Saviour, what good will you have shown! What good will you show now! What good will you shall forever show to fallen men! He has dwelt in this bush. He is dwelling in this bush. And He shall forever dwell in this bush!
I remind you, Moses connected his first views of God’s redeeming mercy, grace and love in Christ with his last views of this world. When he was bidding “farewell” to all things temporal and going to that world where all things are eternal, his heart was wrapped up with “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush!”
Moses’ mind was taken up with, revived, and filled with hope and expectation because of “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush!”
What is “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush”? — “The good will of him that dwelt in the bush” is His delight, His pleasure, that upon which His very heart and being is forever fixed. — “The good will of him that dwelt in the bush” is that which was the joy set before Him, for which He endured the cross, despising the shame. — “The good will of him that dwelt in the bush” is the salvation of His people for the everlasting praise and glory of His own great name.
God’s good will is His good pleasure.
(Psalm 51:18) “Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.”
(Luke 12:32) “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
(Ephesians 1:5) “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”
(Ephesians 1:9) “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:”
(Philippians 2:13) “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
(2 Thessalonians 1:11) “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.”
· This is what Moses had own his heart when he was leaving this world.
· This is what Moses set before Israel with his dying words.
· This is what God our Saviour has on His heart always.
Oh, let it be so with me! I pray that it shall be so with you. Let us ever look away from this perishing world to our God-man Mediator, and pray for His good will to be accomplished. Did not our Saviour teach us to pray for this very thing? — That God may perform His good will? (Matthew 6:9-13)
(Matthew 6:9-13) “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
May our every thought and meditation be consumed with “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush” Let us seek Him and His good will above all the riches of the earth, and all the enjoyments of the world.
Let us never forget that it was “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush” that…
· brought Him down from heaven,
· took Him up to the cursed tree,
· raised Him up from the dead,
· seated Him upon His throne,
· washed us in His blood,
· and gives us the glory of His inheritance.
May He grant us this day, and day-by-day, renewed tokens of His good will. How I pray that those visitations might be so gracious, so sweet, and so constant, that we may think of nothing else and speak of nothing else, but “The good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”
· How I want to be utterly consumed by it!
· I pray for grace to spend all my days receiving it, experiencing it, and proclaiming it!
· Then, I hope to enter into that land of blessedness in which “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush” is the everlasting delight and everlasting song of all who are saved by “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”
· That which I seek most earnestly for myself I seek for you. May the LORD God graciously grant that you may know, and cherish, and rejoice forever in “the good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”
(Ephesians 3:17-19) “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”