In Summary: Moses is wrapping his “How we got there” presentation for the people of Israel. Deuteronomy 3 addresses the final conquests and how some of the tribes have come to settle on the eastern half of the Jordan River.
The various battles are remembered, as are the travels. The conditions of the eastern tribes are remembered, that they are to continue in battle while their non-combatants build life in the conquered territory.
In Focus: Then Moses gets down to his point. You may recall from Numbers 20:9-12 that Moses was barred from entering the Promised Land because he struck the rock that God had told him to speak to. This public act of disobedience led to judgment on Moses.
This is the third mention of this event in Scripture. There is the event’s record in Numbers, Moses mentions it earlier in Deuteronomy, and then he returns to it here. This is the first time, though, that Moses mentions pleading with YHWH to undo that punishment.
God, however, refuses. Moses appeals to God, but Moses also deflects responsibility for his actions onto the people of Israel. God’s response is that the judgment on Moses stands.
In Practice: What I think we need to take from this are these points:
1. The consequences of our sins are inescapable. We may mitigate them some what, but they will remain in effect. Sometimes, they are inescapable. The grace of God averts some penalty, He does not relent everything.
Keep in mind, Jesus took the death penalty for sin, but that does prevent bad things from happening in response to sin. If you, for example, drink and drive, God’s grace will allow a believer into heaven—but it won’t prevent the wreck!
2. Taking responsibility for our actions is critical. Moses here sounds a bit defensive and petty. God was angry with me because of you? Nonsense. God was angry with Moses because of his own actions.
You are responsible for what you do. At lower points of maturity, others are responsible for what they involve you in—no child is responsible for the sins of adults—but as you grow, you are responsible for maturing!
(A quick reinforcement: below certain ages/maturity levels, a person is not responsible for partnering with someone else in sin. It is not possible for a teenager to be responsible for an adult involving them in sexual sin, for example. The adult is responsible. Always. Every time.)
3. God has no ego to stroke. When you look at Deuteronomy 3:24, Moses praises God but does so in hopes of receiving something from Him.
God does not get played like that. Praise for the sake of the glory of God, and trust God to do what is right.
In Nerdiness: I find curious the mention in Deuteronomy 3:11 of the “ordinary cubit” (NASB) or “common cubit” (ESV). This indicates that there were differing cubits. Also, note that the translation is taken to be idiomatic from the literal “cubit of a man.” There’s something in that for deep study.
Also as a piece of fun nerdiness in the same verse: apparently, Og’s bed became part of a tourist attraction. It is as if Moses wanted to point out that his readers could go look if they didn’t believe his word. Great thought: ancient museums!