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Deuteronomy

September 17, 2009

Background

I. Moses’ First Address to Israel      Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43

     A. A Historical Perspective      Deut. 1:1-3:11

     B. Decisions Explained               Deut. 3:12-29

Summary/Lessons

     C. Israel’s Responsibility          Deut. 4:1-40

     D. The Latest Decision               Deut. 4:41-43

Summary/Lessons

II. Moses’ Second Address to Israel Deuteronomy 4:44-28:68

     A. The Ten Commandments            Deut. 4:44-6:25

Summary/Lessons

     B. God’s Plan                                         Deut. 7:1-29

     C. Remember                                      Deut. 8:1-10:11

Summary/Lessons

     D. Fear, Love, and Obey God           Deut. 10:12-11:32

Summary/Lessons

     E. Basic Principles for Godliness      Deut. 12:1-16:17

1. Principles for Worship Deut. 12:1-32

2. Discernment in Worship Deut. 13:1-18

Summary/Lessons

3. Principles for Living Deut. 14:1-15:22

Summary/Lessons

4. Three Mandatory Celebrations Deut. 16:1-17

Summary/Lessons

     F. Civic Responsibilities                Deut. 16:18-25:19

1. Organizational Structure        Deut. 16:18-18:22

Summary/Lessons

2. Rules and Regulations             Deut. 19:1-26:19

Summary/Lessons

     G. Getting Started           Deut. 27:1-28:68

1. Remember God and His Laws       Deut. 27:1-8

2. Obey God and His Laws                  Deut. 27:9-28:68

Summary/Lessons

III. Moses’ Third Address to Israel      Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20

     A. Renew Your Covenant; Make it Personal      Deut.29:1-29

     B. God is Faithful and Keeps His Promises         Deut 30:1-20

Summary/Lessons

IV. Moses’ Final Duties      Deuteronomy 31:1-34:9

     A. Joshua Becomes Israel’s New Leader        Deut. 31:1-8

     B. Moses Completes His Documentation       Deut. 31:9-13

     C. God’s Final Instructions to Moses               Deut. 31:14-29

     D. Moses Teaches Israel God’s Song                Deut. 31:30-32:47

Summary/Lessons

     E. Moses Blesses Israel by Tribe          Deut. 32:48-33:29

Summary/Lessons

     F. Moses Dies         Deut. 34:1-12

Summary/Lessons

Commentary

Background

Deuteronomy is a continuation of Numbers and records Moses final instructions to Israel before dying. As stated in my last Lesson in Numbers, Moses is tying up loose ends and helping Israel transition from his leadership to that of Joshua. It is said that Numbers is written from God’s perspective and Deuteronomy is written from Moses’ perspective. That is quite true in that the first 3 chapters of Deuteronomy is really a history lesson taught to this new generation of Israelites. After Moses’ death in Chapter 34, only Joshua and Caleb of Israel’s leaders will possess first-hand knowledge of God’s power, sovereignty, and faithfulness during Israel’s Exodus from Egypt to their Promised Land. Chapters 4-33 has Moses teaching Israel the importance of obeying God, following His Ten Commandments, destroying the nations now in possession of their Promised Land, keeping God as #1 priority in their lives, worshipping Him alone, celebrating His Feasts, being pure and holy, and understanding that obedience brings blessing whereas disobedience brings God’s wrath.

If there is one theme in Deuteronomy it is “Remember God’s commands and obey them”. Within this theme, we will be aware of several re-occurring themes such as:

1. You, Israel, have been restored so remember.

2. To remain restored, you must obey.

3. One’s obedience is evidence of one’s belief.

4. One’s belief is God’s witness to others.

Deuteronomy is a book documenting transition; a transition from being led by God’s cloud to being led by the Ark, a transition from being led by Moses to being led by Joshua. God is still in the lead but the means are different.

One should not study Deuteronomy by itself. Always refer to the appropriate and timely recording of God’s instructions in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Deuteronomy is a repetition of all that’s happened or been said before. Moses is teaching Israel what God expects of the people He has chosen to love. Moses is teaching Israel what he has learned first-hand about the character of God. God’s love is unconditional but His blessings are conditional.

I originally had planned to comment of Deuteronomy in lesson form as per Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers. But since Deuteronomy represents the last words of Moses, I think it’s best to comment on it based on an outline similar to an epistle. In fact, this book is very similar to a New Testament Epistle, particularly the pastoral epistles. Read and study Deuteronomy with that perspective.

I have chosen to outline this book based on the speeches/teachings Moses is giving to Israel. They book can be divided as follows:

Moses’ First Address, a historical perspective      Deut. 1:1-4:43

Moses’ Second Address, a legal perspective      Deut. 4:44-28:68

Moses’ Third Address, a Covenant perspective     Deut. 29:1-30:20

Moses’ Final Duties before dying      Deut. 31:1-34:12

Assuming all Israel heard Moses, these talks were probably given many times over during the last days of Moses or it was passed down through Israel’s leadership. I prefer to think that it was given several times. The natural amphitheaters enabled many thousands of people to hear but Israel was 2+ million people so regardless of the manner in which it was delivered, it took time.

Moses’ First Address to Israel Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43

     A Historical Perspective Deut. 1:1-3:11

Moses begins the first part of his last recorded messages to Israel in the Plains of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho. He begins by recounting what took place while Israel was camped at Mt. Sinai. Note that it takes only 11 days to travel from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh Barnea. Refer to Numbers 33:16-17. But with 2-3 million people, Israel probably stopped more often and took more time. Numbers probably only records major stops. The camping at Hezaroth was in the area call Kadesh Barnea. Israel wandered in the desert approximately 40 years before returning to the area of Kadesh Barnea where both Miriam and Aaron died. Moses reminds Israel of two military victories, the defeat of the Amorites and the defeat of Bashan as they approached the Plains of Moab where they are now camped. In other words, God lead them in battle.

Beginning with Deut. 1:6, Moses points out the Lord’s direct involvement in their journey. He told them when to leave and when and where to stop on their way to the Promised land promised to their forefathers. See Numbers 10:13-35.

Israel had been blessed by God in Egypt and had grown into a large number of people. Israel was so large that Moses needed help in administering and resolving all the issues and conflicts that arose. So at the suggestion of Moses’ father-in-law and the agreement of the people, Moses appointed leaders from each tribe to handle the day-to-day issues of their respective tribes. In fact, there were 4 layers of bureaucracy over each tribe to exercise honest and fair judgment over important disputes. Only the very difficult cases would be brought to Moses.

Israel arrived at Kadesh Barnea in position to claim their land. Everybody was in agreement that spies should be sent out to learn how difficult or easy it would be to conquer the land and to learn how fruitful and productive the Promised Land was. See Numbers 13-14. Israel found the land good but they grumbled against the Lord because they were terrified of the people who were said to be taller, stronger, and fortified. At that time Moses had tried to encourage Israel by recalling God’s leading and God’s promise to go before them and fight for them. But Israel rejected Moses’ plea and they rejected God. God became angry with them, promising none of the Israelites would enter the land except Caleb and Joshua. Even Moses himself is not allowed to cross the Jordan because he didn’t completely obey God upon their return to Kadesh Barnea.

Israel tried to correct their error but it was too late. They decided to go and fight which was now against the Lord’s advice Moses had given to Israel after they rejected God’s promise. This resulted in a great defeat and slaughter at the hands of the Amorites. Because Israel did not trust God or obey Him, they wandered in the desert 40 years until God told them to go back to Kadesh Barnea and ask to pass through Edom. Edom would not allow them to pass so they went south around Edom. In Chapter 2:7 Moses makes the point that God has blessed them and watched over them. He has been with them these 40 years even though their wandering was initiated by their rejection of God’s Will. God has directed Israel around Edom and between Moab and Ammon without warring with them. In fact, the Lord is protecting Ammon and Moab [descendents of Lot] and Edom [descendents of Esau] too in addition to Israel.

However, the King of Sihon, an Amorite, refused passage and entered into battle with Israel. But Israel was victorious [see Numbers 21] because God was going before them delivering the Amorites into the hand of Israel without encroaching on Ammonite territory. Israel kept on marching toward the Jordan River. Just as with King Sihon, King Og and all his army was also delivered into the hands of Israel. Israel took over a total of 60 cities, completely destroying the people and plundering their wealth and livestock.

     Decisions Explained Deut. 3:12-29

Moses Explains his decision to grant the land they now occupy to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. He is allowing their families to stay but their fighting men must cross the Jordan River and fight for the Promised Land until Israel is able to occupy it. See Numbers 32.

Next Moses reveals his personal discussion with Joshua. Israel’s miraculous victories over King Sihon and King Og are examples of what will happen once Israel crosses the Jordan River. Israel, and Joshua, should not fear because God has promised to fight for them. Moses asked God to let him cross over and see firsthand the power of God being exercised and displayed in much the same but yet a different way from God’s deeds and mighty works while they journeyed from Egypt. The Lord refused Moses’ request but did grant him an opportunity to see the land from Mt. Pisgah. Instead, Joshua has been commissioned to lead Israel into their land.

Summary/Lessons

Moses seems to have had several purposes in mind for recapping much, but not all, of Israel’s experiences from Mt. Sinai to the Plains of Moab. And they are:

1. God promised them [Abraham] land in Canaan and He is keeping His promise.

2. God promised Abraham many descendents and He is keeping His promise. In fact, Moses appointed 4 layers of management to prevent chaos.

3. Their journey would have been much quicker and less hard had they chosen to trust God and chosen to enter the land earlier.

4. God disciplines those He loves when they do not obey Him. He disciplines without any show of favoritism [example Moses].

5. God has not only directed their journey, He has watched over them and protected them. God has even showed them victory in battle because He went before them fighting on their behalf. Therefore, they are not to fear but take courage when they cross over the Jordan River.

6. There is unity in Israel even though 2 1/2 tribes have requested their inheritance be on the east side of the Jordan.

7. Joshua has been commissioned as their new leader.

The same message can be applied to our lives as His people, Christians, the Church.

1. God has promised us eternal life with Him in His Land, Heaven.

2. God’s Saints, those who have passed on and those of us who live, are great in number. We are not alone.

3. Our lives this side of heaven is made more difficult when we fail to trust God and depend on Him.

4. God employs “tough love” to draw us closer to Him and to walk according to His Will.

5. God watches over us and cares for us. Remember, the victories we have experienced in life are His because He has gone before us.

6. There is unity in the Body of Christ, His Church, even if it doesn’t appear so because of the many denominations.

7. We, the Church, have a new leader too. Israel has Moses. We have Christ. Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf just as Christ intercedes on our behalf. Our new leader is His Holy Spirit indwelling the hearts of God’s people. He will lead us to our Promised Land, the Heavenly Kingdom of God.

     Simply stated, God has led us in the past, He is with us in the present, and He will lead us in the future. God loves us. God disciplines those He loves. And God gives victory to those who faithfully follow Him. Praise God!

     Israel’s Responsibility Deut. 4:1-40

Moses now switches gears and begins the next section of his address. He introduces the laws and decrees of God that he will teach them. Here Moses talks in generalities emphasizing Principles. His actual teaching is the long second address which begins with Chapter 5.

Beginning with Chapter 4, Moses emphasizes obedience to God. Obedience is required if they’re to enter the Promised Land. God’s Laws and decrees are to remain as is, pure and holy. They are not to be changed in any way [as the Pharisees did in Jesus’ time]. The fact that Israel obeyed God and conquered the Midianites without any of Israel’s fighting men dying [Numbers 31:48-49].in the valley of Peor is testimony to the fact that God is with them.

This is not the first time Moses has taught them God’s Laws. But following them and entering the Promised Land will cause others to take note of God, His wisdom, His guidance, His power, and His ways. Moses will teach them again but they must also be responsible to teach them to their children.

He reminds them of how God interacted with Israel at Mt. Sinai when the Law was first given verbally by God [Ex. 19-20] and introduces them to the subject of idolatry. God’s Law forbids idolatry. They are to remember hearing God but not seeing God. If they haven’t seen God, how can they possible make an idol of Him. God is greater than anything we see that He created. Therefore, they are to worship God in spirit [John 4:24] and not with idols.

Moses reminds them of his punishment for disobedience which was minor compared to theirs. Many of their fellowmen were killed by God’s consuming fire as a result of their disobedience. God is serious concerning sin and disobedience to His Law.

If Israel fails to teach God’s Law to their descendents, they will be subject to corruption, idolatry, and all forms of evil. God will become angry and remove them from the land they are about to possess, scattering them among the nations until they come to their senses and seek God. Of course, this did happen so what Moses says in Chapter 4:25-31 is actually prophetic as well as a warning.

Moses challenges the people to consider all history before them and see if there was any other time where God spoke to an assembly through fire and the people lived, and has any other god ever been able to take a nation out of another nation with awesome deeds as did Israel’s Lord God Almighty? This all happened so that they would know the Lord God, the only God. God is Lord of the heavens and the earth. Obeying God will guarantee them a long life in the Promised land.

     The Latest Decision Deut. 4:41-43

Next Moses tells them of his decisions regarding refuge cities. These were cities where persons who killed or who were accused of killing a person may go for refuge and save their life. Bezer was designated for Reuben, Ramoth for Gad, and Golan for Manesseh. These three cities were for those tribes east of the Jordan. Three other cities were appointed for the west side for the Jordan to accommodate the remaining 9 1/2 tribes.

Summary/Lessons

Moses makes several keys points in this section of his address. They are simply:

1. Obey God and refuse to change His Law in any way.

2. Obey God and you will become a witness for God.

3. Teach God’s Laws to your children and you will continue living in the land.

4. Worship only the Lord God, avoiding any and all forms of idolatry.

5. Disobedience brings God’s wrath and removal from the Promised land.

6. Live lives of mercy.

The Lord has led Israel in battle and the Lord has led them throughout their journey. As long as Israel obeys God and His Law, teaches God’s Law to their children, worships God and not idols, God will continue to lead them into battle and into the Land. Moses’ purpose is not just instruction but his purpose is to motivate them and encourage them in the task ahead. There will soon be a change in their human leader but there will not be a change in their divine leader as long as they obey Him. Obeying God removes any fear of one’s enemies.

The same principles outlined by Moses also apply to we who are called to be His children and who have covenanted with God by placing our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. We too are called to obey Him, to know His Will, and to follow Him. We too have been commanded not to change His Word [see Rev. 22:18-19 and Matt. 5:18-19]. We too have a responsibility to tell our children about God, His power, His love, His grace, and His mercy etc. We too are to worship Him and avoid any and all forms of idolatry such as wealth, position/prestige, education, political leaders etc. Failure to obey and follow God subjects us to His discipline and removal as His child if we also fail to humble ourselves before Him and ask His forgiveness. Confession for sin maintains open lines of communication with our Creator God. There are two ways to live, in obedience to God or in disobedience to God. The way we choose affects us for eternity. Let us live in obedience to God so we need not fear our earthly enemies and need not fear God’s wrath. Let us fear God, acknowledging His power, justice, worshipping Him only with reverence, awe, and respect for all He has done for us, especially His plan of salvation through faith in Jesus.

Moses’ Second Address to Israel Deuteronomy 4:44-28:69

     The Ten Commandments Deut. 4:44-6:25

Deuteronomy 4:44-49 could be considered concluding remarks of Moses’ First Address or an introduction to Moses’ Second Address beginning with Chapter 5. Obviously, I have chosen the latter but it is really a transition between the two addresses.

In the first address, Moses spoke of how they remembered standing before the Lord God and hearing His voice but yet not seeing Him. This refers to the time at Mt. Sinai when God first gave Israel the Ten Commandments verbally. Moses mentions this same time in Chapter 5 verse 4. Now if all of that generation had passed on except Joshua and Caleb, how can that be? The reasonable explanation is that those who were 20 years and older, the ones numbered as capable of fighting, were the ones who passed away. Eleazar, Aaron’s son who is now High Priest, was obviously not numbered among the fighters because he was a Levite. Joshua was not numbered [Deut. 1:35] because he most likely was less than 20 years of age at the time. So, if not all, certainly a significant number of Israelites had experienced the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai and would be witnesses able to validate to others this miracle described by Moses.

In Deuteronomy 5:6-21 Moses repeats the Law of God given to them at Mt. Sinai [Exodus 20]. These are the same laws written on 2 stone tablets now residing in the Ark of the Covenant [see Deut. 10:2]. After hearing the Law and God’s voice, Israel’s leaders asked to be removed from God’s presence and have only Moses intercede for them because they feared God. Instead, they promised to listen to Moses and obey [and now Moses wants them to do just that]. They heard the Law. They promised to obey it. Obeying God is necessary if they are to live and prosper in this land for a long time.

Chapter 6 is more of an exhortation than a teaching. It is telling them how to apply God’s Law in their lives. They are to:

1. Love the Lord completely, 300% with all their heart, soul, and strength.

2. They are to teach God’s Law to their children in conjunction with their daily lives so they don’t forget Him.

3. They are to fear God and serve Him.

4. They are not to test Him to see if God really means what He says.

5. They are to do what is right and good according to God.

6. They are to tell their children about God’s miraculous acts in bringing Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.

7. Obeying God declares them righteous.

Summary/Lessons

Israel is God’s chosen people and they are to worship Him only. Israel is God’s chosen people and they are to obey and serve Him only. We Christians are God’s chosen people too. Therefore, we are to worship Him, obey Him, and serve Him only. We are to love Him with our whole life/being. All that we say and do should reflect His Presence in our lives. We are to tell our children and all people about Him, His Promises, and His mighty power. We are to trust His Word and not challenge or question whether it is true or false. We are to do right and good, acting with justice toward all. We are to love God and love our neighbor.

True, these are platitudes and not specifics. But in applying God’s Word to our lives we are to think about the platitudes and develop specific actions we could take to make them real in our personal lives, in our family lives, and in our public lives. Make three columns and take the time to make this personal application. Ask yourself these questions:

1. How will I/people know that I love the Lord?

2. What activities can I employ that will enable my children to learn God’s Laws and Will?

3. What talent do I possess which can be used in loving service to God?

4. How might I have tested God this past week?

5. What is right and good according to God? [see Exodus 21-23 and Leviticus 18-20]

6. List God’s miraculous deeds you have been privileged to see in your life.

It is not your acts that declare you righteous but they are evidence of your belief in God. Ones’ faith in God, believing in Him, is what makes one righteous. [Gen. 15:6]

     God’s Plan Deut. 7:1-29

Let me first draw your attention to three commands/statements made by Moses in this Chapter.

• “Know that the Lord is good and faithful.”   Deut. 7:9

• “Take care to follow His commands.”    Deut. 7:11

• “Our God is awesome.”    Deut. 7:21

Because God is God, because God loves you, and because you are holy and set apart for His purpose, this is what you are supposed to do. Israel is to enter the Promised Land, occupy it, and drive out its inhabitants even though the inhabitants are larger and stronger than they are. God’s plan, which is given again in Deut. 9:1-6 can be summarized as follows:

1. The Lord leads. [vs. 1, 20]

2. Israel enters. [vs. 1]

3. The Lord delivers little by little. [vs. 22-24]

4. Israel destroys them. [vs. 2, 24]

—There is to be no treaties, no mercy, no intermarriage, and no idols. [vs. 2,3,5, 25]

5. Israel will possess the land. [Deut. 9:4]

6. The Lord will bless Israel. [vs. 13-15]

God’s plan is put in motion because:

• Israel is a holy nation; a chosen and treasured possession of the Lord. [vs. 8]

• God is faithful to those who remember His Covenant. [vs. 9]

• God is faithful to those who love Him and keep His commands. [vs. 9]

• God destroys those who hate Him. [Deut. 9:4-6]

     Remember Deut. 8:1-10:11

Note that there are two different commands in Chapter 8, verse 1 and verse 6. Verse 1 is the same as given in Deut. 7:11. Those two refer to God’s instructions concerning the conquering of the Promised Land [present]. Verse 6 seems to infer the present and even ones’ entry into the “Promised Land” [eternal].

Moses exhorts Israel to REMEMBER once again. They are to REMEMBER:

1. To follow God’s instructions.

2. How God humbled them and tested them so they learned to depend on God.

3. To follow God’s commands.

4. Their land is good and will sustain them.

5. To remain humble and follow God.

6. Failure to remember will result in their destruction.

7. God’s Plan is not based on their righteousness but on the Canaanites wickedness.

8. They too provoked God such that He threatened to destroy them.

9. Their past rebellious and stubborn nature.

10. Moses had to get a second set of the Ten Commandments because of their sin.

11. The tribe of Levi has been set apart to lead them in the worship of God.

12. It is not God’s Will to destroy you.

Moses exhorts the people in Chapter 9 to remember that God blesses obedience. Moses gives examples in Chapters 9 and 10 supporting the premise that God will punish them for disobedience.

Summary/Lessons

God’s Plan for Israel is dependent on Israel’s obedience. Likewise, the success of God’s plans today are a function of our obedience to God. God is sovereign but He has given us significant responsibility in carrying out His plan[s]. We, as His disciples, have an awesome responsibility. Refer to Matthew 18:18-20. What we do on earth has a heavenly/eternal purpose. How then should we respond? We are to:

1. Acknowledge God as God and receive His blessing. Ignoring God leads to destruction.

2. We who are loved, chosen, and holy have a mission. We are to attack and destroy evil, disassociate from the wicked, make no compromises in what is Truth, and eliminate idolatry.

3. Stand strong, resisting idolatry and attacking evil practices. Winning spiritual battles will come one by one.  God blesses us who are steadfast and who do not fear the wicked.

4. Always follow the Lord when going into battle.

Consider these roles when engaging in spiritual warfare.

God’s Role: -To be God [vs. 7:9]                               Our Role: -To obey [vs. 8:6]

-To lead [vs. 9:3]                                                         -To never fear [vs. 7:21]

-To love [vs. 7:8]                                                        -To be humble & not boast [vs.9:5]

-To redeem [vs. 7:8]                                                  -To never worship idols [vs. 8:19]

-To be faithful [vs. 7:9]                                             -To not be stubborn [vs. 9″13]

-To bless [vs. 7:13]                                                     -To pray and fast [vs. 9:18, 25]

-To destroy [vs. 7:10]                                               -To mop up & clean up [vs. 7:2-5]

-To show His awesome power [vs. 7:21]           – To stand before the Lord [vs.10:8]

REMEMBER, the Obedient:

1. Are loved by God.

2. Are blessed by God.

3. Are humble before God.

4. Are submissive to God.

5. Are led by God.

6. Fear God but not the enemy.

7. Are steadfast and faithful to God.

8. Are not forgetful of God.

9. Are thankful to God and praise His Name.

10. Know the Lord God is their Redeemer.

     Fear, Love, and Obey God Deut. 10:12-11:32

These word in chapter 10 and 11 close out the first portion of Moses’ second address. It is a great exhortation to fear, love, and obey God. Moses has reminded Israel of the importance of the Ten Commandments. He has shared with them God’s Plan to give them His Promised Land. And now Moses’ emphasizes what is required of Israel to make their possession of this land a reality. The requirements are simple yet easy to forget.

Israel is to fear God, to walk with God, to love God, and to serve God with their total being. They do this by obeying God’s commands and decrees which are given for their own good. If they fear, walk, love, and serve God, they will be victorious in conquering the land [present] and be assured of living in the land a long time [eternal]. God wants the best for His people [and we who claim His Son as our Savior] now and forever. Our ability and desire to walk, love, and serve God begins with our fear of God, our reverent respect for who He is, that is our Worship of God which will be Moses’ next subject in this address.

God is the Creator God, creator of all things [Deut. 10:14]. Of all the things that God had to choose from in His creation, He chose one man, Abraham, from whom to build a people to become a nation above all nations. Therefore, Israel is to be humble before Him [circumcise their hearts] and obey God.

Moses further explains God’s character. He is the most high God; mighty; awesome, just, compassionate, loves all mankind, and provides for them. Israel is to be like Him, showing forth the character of God. That is what it means to fear God and to serve Him [Det. 10:20]. They are to worship God because of what He has done, redeemed them out of Egypt, restored them as His chosen people, and now is about to give them rest in the “Promised Land”.

     Love for and obedience to God cannot be separated from the fear of God [Deut. 11:1-2]. Remember that God disciplines His children, He shows His majesty and power in presenting Himself to them, and He reached out in love to redeem them. Moses goes on to explain using examples of what happened during Israel’s Exodus so that those who did not see theses great deeds would know of them and remember them. These acts can be validated by many among them who were young at the time they happened.

Obeying God is prerequisite for Israel to successfully enter the Promised Land. Obedience to God will result in strength; a great strength, God’s strength, enabling Israel to possess the land now and for a long time. This land is different and the soil is different. Instead of irrigating their crops, they must depend on God to provide rain [Deut. 11:10-11]. The rain they need will be given by God. God’s gift of rain is related to their faithfulness in obeying God’s commands and decrees. If Israel turns to idolatry, the rains will not come and the land will not be productive. So it is extremely important that they take steps to remember God’s Word and to teach God’s Word to their children. Their obedience to God will also determine how quickly and easily they will be able to drive out the nations who now possess the land.

Israel is to take note. Their faithfulness in obeying God, their love and fear of God, is directly related to their ability to possess the land and then to sustain them while in the land. Israel will be blessed for being faithful and cursed if they become unfaithful. God loves them unconditionally but His blessings are conditional.

Summary/Lessons

Likewise, God exhorts us to be faithful in fearing Him, loving Him, and obeying Him. He wants us to be like Israel, redeemed, restored, and resting on Him. He has chosen we who are Christian to serve Him in holiness, righteousness, and justice. This is true for us as individuals, as members of His Church, and it is true for us as a nation. Our nation was formed on Christian [Godly] principles but now we are not much different than anybody else. We as a nation are subject to God’s discipline. Our abundance of wealth, our ability to help other nations, our ability to do what is right and just is being challenged all because we are choosing not to fear, love, and obey God. As Christians, as members of His Church, we must rise up and cause people to remember what God has done for us as individuals and as a nation. We must return to Him, humble ourselves before Him, ask His forgiveness, and commit to love Him and serve Him. We must be faithful and teach our children His Word and His ways so they too may be faithful and obey His Laws and decrees. Our future as a nation, as His Church, and as His Children depends on our faithfulness to fear Him, to love Him, and to obey Him. We have been called to be faithful.

      Basic Principles for Godliness      Deut. 12:1-16:17

Principles for Worship      Deut. 12:1-32

Moses begins this section of his address by emphasizing their need to destroy the idols and the places of worship used by the pagan peoples currently occupying Israel’s Promised Land. Israel’s entering the Promised Land has a threefold purpose: 1.) to destroy all pagan worship. 2.) to drive our the people, and 3.) occupy the land. Israel is to remove all temptation which has the potential of leading them astray and away from worshipping God.

Verses 5-7 mention that there is a specific place God has in mind for setting up His Tabernacle. He will lead them to that place. It will be a place where everyone can come. [Initially this place was at Shiloh but later it was moved to Jerusalem after David had unified all Israel.] Now they worship wherever they are and whenever they please. That is to change once they cross the Jordan River and occupy the land. The Laws and decrees God gave them at Mt. Sinai must be put in place and obeyed.

Moses clarifies that they may slaughter their animals for food where they live. Evidently what they have eaten for meat as they traveled about was left over from their Burnt Offerings. They are given freedom to eat meat for food whether or not the people are “unclean”. But the animals and grain representing the first-born and first-fruits respectively and anything designated as an offering to the Lord are to be brought to the Tabernacle, their place of worship, and sacrificed there. They are not to eat blood nor neglect the Levites. Verses 20-32 repeat the instructions of verses 4-19 a second time.

Discernment in Worship      Deut. 13:1-18

Moses foresees the rise of false prophets among them. They are men who speak eloquently announcing signs and miracles which may even come to pass. The test as to whether these prophets are true or false is determined by whom or what they worship. They are false prophets if they propose worshipping in any way or anything other than what God has decreed. God allows these false prophets to live among His people as a test of Israel’s faithfulness to Him [vs. 3]. However, Israel must also put these false prophets to death once it is known they promote worshipping a god different than the Lord God Almighty. God’s people are those who remain true and faithful to Him. God’s people are to be pure, holy as He is holy, so His Name will be glorified. They are in the world but separated to lift up His Name among the nations. They are not even allowed to hide or protect family members who may lead them astray. They are to show love and mercy to their fellowman but they are also to execute God’s wrath against any and all who would lead them away from God. This may even include whole towns/settlements [vs. 12-13]. If so, that whole town, its inhabitants, its livestock, and any spoils must be destroyed. But before destroying a whole town, there must be a thorough investigation and proof of errant behavior.

Summary/Lessons

God is serious about who we worship. We are to worship Him only. The first four of His Ten Commandments emphasize this Truth. God does not tolerate false worship. In fact, He destroys those who promote false worship. God has commanded Israel to destroy all pagan worship when they enter the land. Their land and their people must remain void of pagan worship. Israel is a holy nation and they must remain holy to continue being blessed.

As Christians, members of His Church, we have the same responsibilities God gave to Israel. We too are to remain pure and holy, glorifying His Name. We are commanded to worship Him and Him alone. Sometimes we are not able to worship Him in the place or manner in which He prefers but we can still worship Him. We are to gather together and worship Him [Heb. 10:25]. We are to discern between true worship/true prophets and false worship/false prophets [see I and II John and II Peter 2 for tests and warnings]. We are to rise up and fight against false prophets. We must test all things against His Word as did the Bereans [Acts 17:11]. We must never leave the basics, the Word of God. Only by adhering to His decrees, the basics, can we worship God in Truth and in Spirit [John 4:24].

Principles for Living      Deut. 14:1-15:22

Moses stops to remind Israel of who they are. They are the chosen people of God, treasured [valued and loved], and holy. Therefore, they are to behave as God’s chosen people in the way they worship and in the way they live their daily lives.

First, they are not to mourn the dead as others do by cutting themselves or shaving their heads. As God’s children, life is eternal and one’s resurrection is real.

Next, Moses reviews the dietary laws written in Leviticus, God’s Manual for Worship and Holiness [see Lev. 11]. They can only eat animals that have a split hoof and who chew their cud. Birds can be eaten but not those who feed on dead bodies. The same is true for insects. Fish must have fins and scales to be acceptable. This dietary law is for their own good and for the prevention of disease. It is given for their protection and preservation. It is given to bless them and not restrict them.

Because God will bless them in the land they are about to occupy, they are to set aside a tenth of all their harvest and the first-born of all their animals, bringing them to the Lord’s Tabernacle as a sacrifice in the worship of Him. If their blessing is so great that they are unable to travel to His Tabernacle, they may sell their tithes and buy sacrifices when they reach His Tabernacle. But in so doing, they are not to neglect the Levites living in their towns. In fact, every 3 years the whole tithe should be given to sustain the local Levites.

Concerning debts, Moses instructs them to cancel debts every 7 years. This represents the Sabbath Year and not the Year of Jubilee for which this instruction was given. Most agree that what is meant here is that debts/payment was not required during the Sabbath Year because they also were not planting crops that year. So this is meant to remove any financial hardship during the Sabbath Year. Thus, they are also instructed to make sure no poor is wanting or in need. They are to give of their abundance so as not to oppress those in need. God promises to bless their generosity. Giving generously to those in need is a very visible testimony to other nations of God’s blessing and goodness to His people.

For the same reasons, all servants are free after 7 years. And the Masters are to give them food when they leave so they can survive until they find work. After 7 years, a servant may choose to stay and become a bond-servant, a person whom they would employ.

Moses closes this section, reminding them of the importance of setting apart their firstborn animals to the Lord and not to eat blood. They are to give generously to the poor, those who labor on their behalf [servants, bond-servants, Levites] and to the Lord because He has and is blessing them for their faithfulness and obedience.

Summary/Lessons

     As His chosen people, we are to live right and give generously. These instructions are for our own good [diet laws] and for the good of others [debtors, servants, bond-servants, Levites]. Some people will have great wealth and others will have little wealth but no one should go hungry. Everyone should have their basic needs met.

Sometimes what we need and what we want get mixed together. Our basic needs are food, shelter, and work so we can provide for ourselves. We should and must help those who have these basic needs. God promises to bless us because we are willing to give generously to those in need. Let us evaluate and take inventory of our blessings and our giving habits, assessing whether or not God would be pleased based on these words to Israel. God’s Word to Moses and Israel do apply to us Christians. We are chosen too. We are blessed too. He wants us to be faithful and obedient too. He wants us to be a witness of His righteousness to others. He wants others to see our holiness for He is holy.

Three Mandatory Celebrations      Deut. 16:1-17

This section of Scripture is detailed in Leviticus 23 where all the feast and celebrations are defined. But these three feasts/celebrations are a mandatory call for corporate worship according to verses 16-17.

Moses begins at the beginning of Israel’s year, the month of Abib/Nissan. Passover is to be celebrated on the 14th day. Following Passover is the Feast of Unleavened Bread for 7 more days. Passover commemorates Israel’s redemption out of Egypt. They had left quickly so all their bread was unleavened so it would not spoil. The Passover sacrifice foretells of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for all our sin and the redemption of all who place their faith in Him just as Israel placed their faith on the blood sprinkled on their door frame to prevent death of their firstborn. The unleavened bread, upon Christ’s death, is analogous to Christ’s body broken for us but it did not decay[spoil].

The second mandatory feast in the Feast of Weeks where they are to bring an offering to the Lord in proportion to His blessings upon them. This began 7 weeks after the first-fruits were brought before the Lord on the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is the third day after Passover so the First Fruits foretell of Christ’s resurrection from death. The Feast of Weeks begins on the 50th day after First Fruits and foretells the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The third feast is the Feast of Tabernacles, a feast of great joy commemorating God’s faithfulness in providing for them during their Exodus and in the Promised Land. This Feast lasted 7 days in the fall, the 15th-21st days of the month of Tishri. All the years harvest has been gathered in at this point. It foretells of God’s provision for His people while awaiting the return of our Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Summary/Lessons

Therefore, these three feasts commemorate Israel’s redemption and God’s blessings on His people. These three feasts foretell of Christ’s sacrifice, resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and Christ’s Second Advent. That is why God requested Israel to make them mandatory observances where His Tabernacle was located. We, as Christians, express our thanks and joy at His Tabernacle too because He Lives in our hearts and our bodies are His Tabernacle.

     Civic Responsibilities Deut. 16:18-25:19

Organizational Structure Deut. 16:18-18:22

Moses advises Israel to continue the practice of appointing judges and officials in every town to handle grievances and accusations among the people. They are to be fair, impartial, and just. They must not take bribes and/or pervert justice.

Each town may have an altar for worshipping the Lord God but they must not erect any type of pole, stone, or altar for sacrificing to idols and other gods. They are to follow the sacrificial laws God gave them in Leviticus 22:17-33. Anyone accused of sacrificing to idols and other gods must be investigated and the act confirmed by at least two witnesses. If found guilty, that person must be purged from the community by stoning them to death at the city gate [court of justice] beginning with the witnesses and then the whole city. God does not tolerate the breaking of His 1st and 2nd Commandments.

When difficult and/or controversial cases arise, they are to refer them to the Levitical priests and the presiding judge at God’s Tabernacle. This activity was done now by Moses consulting the Lord. But Moses is near death so his duty is now being delegated to the priests at the Tabernacle. They will consult with the Lord and rule correctly. This constitutes the last appeal. What they rule is to be done. Anyone showing contempt for their ruling and authority must be put to death because it is the same as showing contempt for God.

There will come a time when they will want a king over them for the sake of unity. Their king must be chosen by God. His power is not to be dependent on a large army [horses], his number of wives, or his wealth. His power and authority is to come from knowing God and obeying God’s Laws and decrees. He is to be humble and judge fairly. He is to be an example of godly behavior, different than the kings of other nations. This description sounds very much like Jesus Christ during His first advent.

The Levites will not have an inheritance of land so they are to be sustained by the Burnt Offerings of the people to the Lord God. They will also receive the first-fruits of Israel’s grain, wine, oil, wool. They are to be sustained by the people because God has singled the Levites out as ministers of the Lord. The Levites serve as priests and in a variety of other tasks at the Lord’s Tabernacle. They are responsible for leading Israel in knowing God, His Will, and in the worship of Him.

Next Moses warns the people not to follow the detestable practices of the nations they are replacing in the Promised Land. One of the reasons God is giving this land to Israel now is because He wants to remove this wickedness from the earth. They willingly sacrifice their children, practice divination and sorcery, engage in witchcraft and follow superstitions, and seek advice from mediums/spiritists who claim they can consult the dead. God’s Will is to transplant His chosen people, Israel, in this land and destroy these wicked nations and their culture. Israel is to consult with, obey, and worship the Lord God only.

God will raise up more prophets among them like Moses. They will be God’s messengers to the people as was Moses. They will speak for God and, therefore, must be heard and obeyed. What they say will be consistent with God’s Laws. Those who speak falsely or speak for other gods must be put to death. Listen to those who claim to be prophets. If what they say comes true, it is of the Lord. If what they say does not happen, they are false prophets.

Summary/Lessons

Summarizing:

1. Israel is to appoint judges and elders in each city to judge fairly and justly.

2. Each city is to have an altar for worshipping God.

3. Difficult cases are to be judged at God’s Tabernacle by the Levitical priests.

4. The Levites are to be supported through the peoples offerings to the Lord because they are ministering to the people on behalf of God.

5. Israel can have a king but only a king of God’s choosing.

6. The worship of other gods or consulting spirits and mediums is forbidden and punishable by death.

7. God will send other prophets among them just like Moses to guide them in the Will of God.

The organization is not very well defined but their roles are defined.

• The elders administer justice among the people.

• The Levites minister, leading the people in worship.

• The king sets a godly example for all the people.

• The prophets proclaim God’s Word to the people.

• The people worship the Lord God only.

The first four [elders, Levites, king, and prophets] serve the people so that the people can serve God. Your church body might use different names but the functions are the same. For Instance:

 Trustees administer.

 Deacons minister.

 Jesus Christ is our example and Lord, the King of Kings.

 Pastors proclaim

 Members worship, glorifying God to all men.

You see, it’s not about us but all about God. It’s about us being committed and in submission to the Lord God Almighty. It’s a narrow road, not easy, and we stumble quite often. But the Lord walks with us, lifting us up when we fall. God promised Israel land and blessings if they would obey Him. God promises to bless us and guarantees us a home in heaven with Him. All God wants from us is to be faithful and follow Him.

Rules and Regulations Deut. 19:1-26:19

This part of Moses’ address instructs Israel on many important issues. Instead of going into much detail, I have chosen to highlight and summarize these instructions in bullet form. These rules and regulations are to be put in place as soon as the Israelites have driven out and/or destroyed those Canaanite nations now living in Israel’s Promised land.

• They are to divide the land in three parts and set aside one centrally located city in each section and designate it as a “refuge city”. Three refuge cities have already been set aside east of the Jordan River. These cities are to be easily accessible by road. These cities are for the protection of those persons who have unintentionally killed another person. More cities nay be set aside as their territory grows in size.

• There must be at least two and preferably three witnesses to convict someone of a crime. Be very careful and verify a witness is not giving false testimony. Punish those giving false testimony by inflicting the defendant’s punishment on them. There is to be no pity on those giving false testimony.

• Do not be afraid of fighting against larger armies than your own. Remember, God is with you and will go before you. Have the priests confirm God’s promise to you before entering the battle arena. But also verify that that those in your army are focused on defeating the enemy and not on what might be happening on the home-front. Always attempt to make peace first, taking captive the people for slave labor. If they refuse, conquer the city, kill all the men, and take as plunder all the women, children, and livestock. Do not destroy the trees, especially the fruit trees. However, you are to completely destroy all the “ites” living in the land you are about to possess.

• If a man is slain but the murderer is not known, you must call the priests and take a young heifer into a low area by a stream and sacrifice it as atonement for your people.

• You may take a foreign woman captured in battle as your wife after she has mourned one month in your house, assuming you are still pleased with her. If you are not pleased with her, you must set her free.

• The right of your firstborn always belongs to the firstborn. Your firstborn is not to be decided based upon which of your wives you love more.

• Sons [and daughters] are to honor their father and mother by obeying them. If they are antagonistic, stubborn, and rebellious they may be brought before the judges and sentenced to stoning. Evil must be purged.

• Those who are put to death and placed on display for a grievous offence must be buried before nightfall.

• Show kindness to your neighbor. Care for his possessions as if they were your own.

• Men and women are different and have different roles. Don’t confuse these differences by wearing each other’s clothes.

• Have the highest respect for mothers.

• Your house should be a safe haven and built such that life threatening accidents cannot happen.

• Do not put different things together such as different seed, different animals, and different cloths.

• A man cannot divorce his wife assuming she can prove she was a virgin upon marriage. In fact, he can be punished for slandering her. If she cannot prove her virginity, she may be stoned to death.

• A man who sleeps with another’s wife are both punishable by death. This is true even if the woman is betrothed and refuses to cry out for help. If the later is true and happens where help is not available, punish only the man.

• A man who rapes a virgin woman, who is not already betrothed, must marry her and never divorce.

• A man is forbidden from marrying his father’s wife.

• Eunuchs, people born of a forbidden marriage, Ammonites, and Moabites may not enter the Tabernacle courts. Edomites and Egyptians may do so.

• When encamped in battle against your enemies, remove those who are “unclean” to prevent the spread of illness.

• Give refuge to slaves who have run from their masters because of oppression.

• No Israelite, man or woman, is to practice prostitution and certainly is unfit to enter the Tabernacle courts.

• You can charge interest to a foreigner but you cannot charge interest to loans made to a fellow Israelite.

• Be faithful and keep all vows made to the Lord.

• You may pick handfuls from your neighbor’s fields but you cannot harvest them for your own.

• Once a man divorces a woman and she remarries, he cannot marry her again if her 2nd husband dies. Such and act is detestable to God.

• It is advisable to not force a man into battle if he has been married less than one year.

• Don’t secure your debt with equipment you need to earn a living and pay off your debt.

• Kidnapping an Israelite brother and making him a slave is punishable by death.

• Carefully follow the priest’s instructions for minimizing the spread of leprous and other infectious diseases.

• Show respect for those to whom you are lending money. Let them bring their collateral property to you. If he is poor, return their property by nightfall.

• Pay wages daily to the poor hired by you.

• Each person, regardless of age, is responsible for their own actions.

• Everyone deserves justice, even the aliens, orphans, and widows.

• When harvesting, leave what you missed the first time for the underprivileged.

• Do not flog the guilty more than 40 times.

• Do not muzzle an ox while he is treading out the grain. They need to eat while they work too.

• Brothers are obligated to marry their brother’s widow if their brother died before a son was born.

• If two men are fighting, pity the woman of one of the men who attempts to break up the fight by grabbing the private parts of her husbands assailant. She should lose her hand.

• Conduct your business with integrity by using only accurate and honest weights.

• You are to seek out the Amalekites and destroy them after you have conquered your land and are settled.

Moses begins to close this section of his Second Address by reviewing the need to bring their first fruits and tithes to the Lord. Again, after they have occupied and settled in the land, they are to take some, not all, of their first fruits of the harvest and bring them as an offering to the Lord where His Tabernacle is located. Initially this was at Shiloh. This instruction was written down in Leviticus 23:9-14. In addition to bringing this offering before the Lord, they are to remember how the Lord has blessed them from Abraham to Egypt and their Exodus from Egypt into the Promised Land. They are to acknowledge before God His goodness, mercy, power, blessing, and faithfulness.

Next Moses reviews the need to bring a tenth of their harvest in the third year in support of the Levites, aliens, orphans, and widows. Those in need are not to be forgotten. It also is a form of worship where they remember the Lord’s instruction, acknowledge they are obeying the Lord’s instruction, and humbly ask for the Lord’s continued blessing.

Verses 16-19 of Deuteronomy 26 are really a transition to the last section of Moses’ Second Address beginning with Deuteronomy 27:1. In drawing this section to a close, Moses simply reminds and exhorts Israel to follow the Lord’s decrees. They have declared their allegiance to God and God has declared Israel as His own. They are to obey God for He has promised to exalt them above all nations and make them holy.

Summary/Lessons

Theses rules and regulations define what is fair, just, right, and neighborly. They:

1. Remove strife and promote peace among people.

2. Remove chaos and promote order.

3. Place a high value on integrity, faithfulness, honor, and love for one’s neighbor.

4. Are not restrictive but promote freedom, peace, and good will to all.

5. Promote good and remove evil.

6. Help direct us in living Godly lives so we can be a blessing to others.

By acknowledging God, worshipping Him, and obeying Him, God blesses us as His People and declares us holy.

     Getting Started      Deut. 27:1-28:68

Beginning with Deuteronomy 27:1, Moses and the elders talk with the people and then in verse 9 Moses and the priests talk to the people. Therefore, one could make a case that Moses’ Second Address is over. But I have included this as the last part of Moses’ Second Address thinking that they have broken up into small groups [tribes] where the elders and the priests begin to assume a more active leadership role with Moses overseeing what is being said. No doubt, all of Moses’ speeches were planned events. After listening to Moses’ long second speech, Israel was probably given a break and they re-gathered together as a tribe for theses closing instructions. Note that these instructions are for after they have crossed the Jordan River. Moses’ previous instructions were for when they had conquered, possessed, and settled the land. The instructions given in chapters 27 and 28 were to be carried out after Israel had crossed the Jordan and had destroyed Jericho and Ai [see Joshua 8:30-35].

Remember God and His Laws   Deut. 27:1-8

The elders, together with Moses, tell the Israelites to set up some large stones on Mt. Ebal, coat them with plaster, and write on them all the words of “this law”. They are to construct a stone altar for their sacrificial offerings in thanksgiving to and worship of God next to the stones containing the written law.

The term “this law” is not defined but I assume it means the laws Moses gave in this Second Address. It would include the Ten Commandments, the laws concerning worship, and the laws governing their civic responsibilities. Therefore, this stone pile would be of significant size, a monument of the laws governing Israel together with an altar for worshipping the Lord God Almighty. These are monuments defining the People of God.

Obey God and His Laws    Deut. 27:9-28:68

Then the priests, together with Moses, challenge the people to obey God and follow these laws which are written on the stones. Six tribes are to stand on Mt. Gerizim to pronounce blessings and six tribes are to stand on Mt. Ebal to pronounce curses. The Levites are included with those tribes pronouncing blessings so the Levites of verse 14 are probably those who are priests and have direct responsibility for leading the people in worship.

Verses 15-26 of Chapter 27 are curses. No blessings are included. The curses [and blessings] are recited by the Levites with the people responding with “Amen” acknowledging their understanding and agreement. The complete list of blessings and curses are given in Deuteronomy 28 so Chapter 27:15-26 is probably an example as part of their instruction. Note that even in this example the curses relate to the Ten Commandments and their civil laws, closing with a general curse if Israel fails to obey. Also note that the laws have been simplified/condensed to make them easily understood and easy to remember. If Israel abides by these principles of worshipping God, respecting parents, loving their neighbor, practicing justice and faithfulness, and being trustworthy and honest, God will bless them abundantly.

Chapter 28 lists Israel’s blessings if they continue to be faithful and obey God. It also lists the many curses God will use to discipline them as necessary to turn them from evil and return them to Him. Chapter 28 is based on Leviticus 26 and is being used by Moses as the basis for his remarks in Chapter 28.

God’s blessings are a direct result of Israel’s obedience to God. Israel has the potential to be greater than any other nation if they obey the Lord and His commands. They will be a blessing wherever they live, in the city or the country. Their blessing comes in the form of many descendents, reproductive livestock, and bumper crops. God will bless all their endeavors. The Lord will see to it that their enemies are defeated. Israel will be recognized as a “holy people”, a Godly people, and feared by others. Their abundance will be loaned to other nations. All these blessings are real if Israel loves God and obeys Him.

     If Israel fails to obey God and fails to follow His commands, God will send curses upon them. They will be cursed regardless of where they live, in the city or in the country. They will be short of food. The number of descendents and the number in their herds will greatly diminish. Wherever they go or whatever they do will be cursed.

      God’s curses become more specific beginning with verse 20. His curses will come in the form of disease, heat, drought, blight, and mildew. Enemies will defeat them and nations will despise them. They will die trying to survive under their own power. They will be afflicted with various types of sores and lose their vision and hope. They will become a people without purpose or meaning. They will be oppressed by all. Everything they attempt to do to resolve their situation will be taken from them or slaughtered. They will be defeated, disheartened, and destroyed. They will even be removed from the land and become slaves to another. They will even stoop to cannibalism to stay alive. Compassion, joy, love, kindness, gentleness, will be unknown and replaced by suffering. They will wish they were dead.

Summary/Lessons

As Israel enters the Promised Land, they have a choice to obey God or disobey God. They will be blessed or cursed depending on their choice. It is easy to make the right decision but it is difficult to follow through because Satan deceives us with his lies, causing us to lose our focus and forget our purpose of being His People.

What Moses describes concerning blessings is analogous to a sports team rising to the top and winning a championship. They win because they obeyed and followed their coach [God]. They were focused on the goal [blessing] and disciplined themselves to obey their coach and train hard. We also know that the United States was born as a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. We were greatly blessed and rose to be the sole world power, a nation other nations looked up to. But where are we headed now? We abort children and we want to remove any mention of God in our culture. Our nation is in debt to others and our economy is floundering. We are trying desperately to right our ship without God. Israel is a prime historical example. They were at the top during Solomon’s reign but everything Moses predicted in his curses happened to them including cannibalism and exile. They were [and still are] despised because they failed [fail] to obey. The Word of God in Chapter 28 has been validated historically and it is on the verge of being validated again in the USA.

These Chapters, when applied to individuals, promote the idea of what we call the “prosperity gospel”. If we, as individuals, obey God we will have a prosperous and wealthy life. It wasn’t true for the Israelites, it wasn’t true for Jesus’ disciples/apostles after He ascended, nor was it true for Jesus. Needs were met and people were content but only because they were committed to obey Christ and follow Him [consider the early Church in Acts 2:42-47]. Their hope rested in Jesus death and resurrection, a resurrection to live eternally in the presence of the Lord God. Their hope on earth for their needs being met rested on fellow obedient Christians loving their neighbor, giving generously, practicing justice, being honest and trustworthy, being compassionate such that everyone’s needs are met and no one suffers. This is what it means to do good [Leviticus 18-20]. It is what Jesus preached in His Sermon on the Mount [Matt. 5-7]. It is what John instructed us concerning love in I John 3:11-29. Christ promised us abundant life now and forever [John 10:10], Paul talked about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and Peter talked about the abundant life coupled with suffering in his first letter. When we obey God, everyone’s life becomes easier and God’s Name is glorified.

Personally, I believe these chapters can only be applied to nations and not to individuals. But they can be applied to His Church, the corporate body of believers in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Church will prosper, grow, and be a positive influence in the world only to the extent we worship the Lord and obey His Word. We, as His Church, must be faithful and obey His Word. Those of us who believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture must be bold and stand against those who believe it is acceptable to question the creation story, questions Jesus’ words and miracles, ordain pastors having a perverted lifestyle, and even to ordain women. God created us and knows what’s best, what is right, and what is truth. We may question but in the end we are to believe and obey.

Simply stated, obedience brings blessing and disobedience brings curses. How do you want to live? Seek the Lord. Depend on Him. Obey Him. Let us live assured of His blessings, now and for eternity. As Christians living in America, let us stand up for our founding principles and resist all ungodly influences. Let us not abandon God and His Laws in favor of being politically correct or fear of offending someone. It is far better to offend another than to offend God.

Moses’ Third Address to Israel      Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20

     Renew Your Covenant; Make it Personal      Deut. 29:1-29

Moses is compelled to bring all Israel together a third time for the purpose of renewing their commitment to God made at Mt. Sinai and recorded in Exodus 24. God gave His Law verbally to Israel in Exodus 20-23 and ended His giving of the Law by promising to send His angel to lead them and guard them from harm while on the way to their Promised Land. In fact, God’s angel will go ahead of them into the land to wipe out the various Canaanite nations currently occupying the land. Israel’s responsibility is to worship God and receive God’s blessings of food, water, exceptional health, prolific reproduction, and long life. So Moses summoned Israel to renew their covenantal vows after giving his Second Address reiterating God’s Laws and exhorting Israel to obey them just as they promised God on Mt. Sinai.

This was necessary because after many years it is always good to recall what you once committed to and to renew those commitments for the future. It was also necessary because a majority of the people were not present at Mt. Sinai [those less than 40 years of age] and these vows are not just corporate but also personal.

Moses begins by recalling God’s wonders and miracles used to free Israel from Egypt. Evidently, some in Israel remember and were still alive. Moses also says they didn’t fully understand or hear all that went on because Moses was their mediator between Israel and Pharaoh and between Israel and God [Ex. 20:19]. Now Moses is near death and Israel will soon be without a mediator having the same stature as Moses. However, all Israel is aware that their clothes and sandals did not wear out and that they survived without bread and wine. This was God’s way of revealing Himself to them during their long journey. God and His angel were also the reason Israel was able to defeat Sihon’s and Og’s armies and give their land to Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. In other words, God reveals Himself through physical means too.

Moses has summoned all Israel, including aliens, before God this day to renew their covenant with God. This ceremony is for them and all their future descendents. God has promised to be their God. The question before them is “Is God going to be their God”? They are familiar with the idol worship taking place in the other cultures but they are to renounce idol worship and acknowledge God Almighty as their God. They are to commit to worshipping one God, the Lord God Almighty. This commitment is personal [vs. 19] and it cannot be faked. There is no call by Moses in this address for a corporate commitment on behalf of Israel. Each will be blessed or cursed based on their personal commitment. God knows their heart and will single them out for destruction if they are unwilling to acknowledge Him as the one true God. In fact, God’s Law states that those who worship idols are punishable by death [Deut. 13:1-18]. Those who refuse to acknowledge and obey Him will not participate in His blessings, including those blessings reserved in heaven for those who love Him.

The commitment the Israelites make this day will be a testimony of God’s faithfulness regardless of their decision. The commitment future generations make will also be a testimony of God’s faithfulness. God has committed to love them unconditionally but His blessings are conditional, conditional according to their faithfulness or unfaithfulness in keeping their commitment to love God and obey Him. Other nations will be able to gauge Israel’s faithfulness or lack thereof by Israel’s prosperity as a nation because God judges their faithfulness on earth as a nation . God judges their faithfulness for eternity on a personal plane. Thus, their commitment is personal but their blessings and curses are both personal and corporate in nature.

     God is Faithful and Keeps His Promises      Deut.30:1-20

Beginning with Chapter 30, Moses the Prophet speaks as though Israel will not be able to remain faithful to God throughout their life because Israel struggled with unfaithfulness over the past 40 years. Therefore, blessings and curses will be a part of their history. In fact, they will abandon God such that He is forced to abandon them, scattering them among the nations. But God promises to love them and restore them when they repent of their wicked ways and return to Him, claiming Him as their God and recommitting themselves to worship and obey Him. Their restoration will even include bringing them back to the land God promised them. God promises to bless them for returning to Him and also promises to curse their enemies.

The right answer, to commit or not, is not something they need to seek or find. The right answer is in their heart [Deut. 30:14] and on their lips. God guarantees them life and prosperity or death and destruction based on the personal commitment they make before God. They have a choice to love God and obey Him or turn away from God and follow their own desires. But the choice they make is both personal and eternal. Moses exhorts them to choose life, to choose to love and obey God, to listen to Him and be faithful. God wants to bless them [and us] with life, abundant life here and for all eternity.

Summary/Lessons

Israel is about to enter the Promised Land because they willingly placed their faith in God. This provides us with a real example of God’s justice in determining who is blessed to enter and who is cursed not to enter God’s Heavenly Promised Land. This is a reminder to all people that only those who worship and obey God, and God only, are guaranteed to enter His Presence in heaven for all eternity. God will judge our faithfulness for eternity on a personal basis and our faithfulness on earth as a nation. Consequently, our faithfulness to God as His People on earth has much to do with the blessings and curses God gives to us as a nation.

God has not revealed all to us but He has revealed enough for us so that we can make the right decisions and enter into a personal covenant with Him. God has revealed Himself in nature [Romans 1], in our circumstances, and in our hearts and minds. We have a choice to either accept Him or reject Him as the Almighty God of all creation.

     People will know us by whom we worship, whom we obey, and by how we love. We cannot fool God by acting one way and thinking another. We cannot fool our neighbor either. The only one we can fool is ourselves.

This Third Address seems to teach that saying “yes” to God while having no intention of following Him would mean the Holy Spirit does not enter that person and they would not be able to participate in God’s eternal blessings. However, if a person did say “yes” to God, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and later ignored God and worshipped another, that person would be subject to God’s discipline [curses] such that they would be reminded to repent, be restored in fellowship with God, and participate in God’s eternal blessings. Therefore, God’s grace and mercy are promised is this Third Address. God’s restoration is available to all who acknowledge their unfaithfulness, repent, seek His forgiveness, and genuinely recommit their lives to worshipping and obeying God. God’s love, grace, and mercy are there to lift us up when we fall. Praise God!

We are saved and guaranteed God’s eternal blessing because Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. We are saved because we have committed to worship God and obey Him. We are saved because we have persevered and remained faithful in our commitment to Him. Our focus is to be on Christ always. We are not to be distracted such that we worship idols of any kind or type. When our hearts stray, we are to repent, seek His forgiveness, and be restored into a right relationship with Him. God promises to bless those who are faithful. He has called us and chosen us to be faithful in our worship of Him and in obedience to His Word. Moses exhorted the Israelites to recommit themselves to following God. We should do likewise.

Moses’ Final Duties      Deuteronomy 31:1-34:9

     Joshua Becomes Israel’s New Leader      Deut. 31:1-8

Moses speaks to all Israel once more. This could be considered Moses’ Fourth Address even though it is very short. He explains that his age prevents him from leading them and God has told him he will not cross the Jordan River. Instead, God will lead them just as He did when Israel defeated Sihon and Og [Amorites]. Israel is to destroy all the people for God commanded it. They are to be strong, courageous, and not fearful as they enter the Promised Land because God is with them and will never leave or forsake them.

After these words of encouragement, Moses summons Joshua before the people and installs him as Israel’s new leader. Moses encourages him to be strong and courageous too for the Lord will go before him and with him. God will never leave or forsake Joshua. Joshua will not only lead Israel in conquering the land, he will be responsible for dividing the land by tribe [Numbers 26].

     Moses Completes His Documentation      Deut. 31:9-13

Moses finishes the writing of God’s Law and gives it to the priests to keep. Perhaps this law was what we know as Leviticus, perhaps this law is Moses’ three addresses in Deuteronomy, or perhaps it is a separate document altogether. Personally, I prefer this Book of Deuteronomy which contains much of God’s Laws and completes the account of Moses’ leadership over Israel. Moses instructs the priests and elders to take this Book of the Law out every Sabbath Year and read it to the people during the Feast of Tabernacles. It is to be read at the Lord’s Tabernacle and in the towns so all will hear God’s Law and learn to fear God so they may be motivated and encouraged to obey God. Israel’s obedience to God is key to their remaining in the Promised land.

     God’s Final Instructions to Moses      Deut. 31:14-29

Moses brings Joshua to the Tabernacle so that God can personally commission him as Israel’s leader. While at the Tabernacle, God reveals to Moses that Israel will again worship idols and break His covenant. Because of Israel’s significant and great rejection of God’s Law, they will be subject to God’s wrath and abandonment. To prolong the arrival of that time, God instructs Moses to write a song to help remind Israel of His Law and what is happening to them because they have rejected God’s Law. God also speaks to Joshua the same words Moses spoke to Joshua. Joshua is to be strong and courageous because God is with him and is faithful to His promise of bringing Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua has absolutely nothing to fear.

Moses continues his documentation [Deuteronomy], giving it to the priest and pointing out its’ importance for keeping Israel faithful to God.

     Moses Teaches Israel a Song      Deut. 31:30-32:47

Traditionally this is called the Song of Moses but remember that these words were given to Moses by God [Deut. 31:19]. Deuteronomy is God’s attempt to impress upon Israel their need to remain faithful and obey His commands. God did this through Moses’ Addresses and He is doing it through this song. Israeli tunes are “catchy” and once it is in your head, it is difficult to forget.

Moses gathers the people again to teach them this song. It begins with Moses speaking to the heavens and earth proclaiming the refreshing [dew, rain, showers] Word of God and the Name of the Lord because He is great, steadfast, holy, just, faithful, and righteous. But Israel has been and is unfaithful by nature to their God [vs. 5-6]. Note that this song is prophetic, both forth-telling and fore-telling. Verses 8-14 explains the faithfulness of God throughout history and especially to His chosen people Israel. Israel was blessed but took God for granted, even abandoning Him altogether. They rejected the Lord in favor of idols causing God to be angry with them and rejecting them [vs. 15-21]. Therefore, God’s wrath comes upon them [God’s curses] and Israel loses its’ sense of direction and purpose. They even lose hope. They forget that the Lord was with them in battle. They have become no different than the people they destroyed. Beginning with verse 34, God justifies His righteous judgment upon them so they may see God once again and experience His compassion and mercy. Israel will rise again and her enemies will feel the wrath of God.

      Moses tells Israel this is their life in song. They are to take this song to heart and obey God. Obedience to God is the key to their future. Obedience brings blessing. Disobedience brings destruction.

Summary/Lessons

Worship songs and hymns are great tools for us to use in remembering God, His character, His faithfulness, and His promises.

Simply speaking, consider you own life. Can you relate it to that of Israel? God wants us to be faithful; acknowledging Him, worshipping Him, and obeying Him. He promises to restore us when we fall. Keep looking up to Him for His help [Psalm 121]. Consider the words of John 14:6-14;21-22; 23-24.

     God knows our hearts. God knows our weakness. He knows we are not perfect and will fail from time to time. But God is faithful, providing His Son as our Savior for redemption and restoration. Through God’s Law we see our need for a Savior. Through God’s Law we see His holiness and righteousness. God wants us to be faithful so we too can become holy as He is holy and righteous as He is righteous. This is available to all who place their trust in Jesus and follow Him for He is the fulfillment of God’s Law. Praise God for His mercy and grace.

     Moses Blesses Israel by Tribe      Deut. 32:48-33:29

Moses is near death, having received his final instructions from God. He is to die on Mt. Nebo overlooking the Promised Land just as Aaron died on Mt. Hor. He will see Israel’s Promised Land but not enter it because he openly disobeyed the instructions of the Lord in getting water at Meribah Kadesh.

Before climbing Mt. Nebo, Moses takes time to bless each tribe of Israel much like Jacob did in Egypt before he died [see Genesis 48-49]. Moses begins his blessing by recalling God’s majesty. power, and love for Israel from Mt. Sinai to the present. God came to Israel with his angels [Deut. 33:2] to instill holiness in Israel [Deut. 33:3] through worship as defined according to God’s Law [Deut. 33:4]. The Lord was/is their King [vs. 5]. Moses blesses each tribe as follows:

Reuben: Live long and have many men.

Judah: Rise up and conquer foes.

Levi: To use their skills in leading Israel in worship of God and preventing them from going astray.

Benjamin: Loved, secured, and protected by God.

Joseph: Prosper in the land from the land and strong in battle.

Zebulun/Issachar: They are to practice righteousness and receive wealth from the sea.

Gad: The best land is theirs and they will lead with righteous judgment.

Dan: Will be a free spirit.

Naphtali: Will receive the Lord’s favor and live by the Sea of Galilee.

Asher: A favorite of all the tribes whose source of wealth will be oil and whose strength is due to fortified cities.

Note that Moses blessings are very similar but not exactly the same as Jacob’s blessings in Genesis 49. The most notable is that Simeon is missing altogether. Jacob included Simeon with Levi. When looking at the map of the land Joshua gave the tribes. Simon doesn’t get a very productive area. In fact, it is mostly desert. It seems Simeon had little influence and eventually became part of Judah as did Benjamin. Also Zebulun and Issachar, who were to get their wealth from the sea, did not receive land on the sea [just nearby].

Moses concludes telling of the Lord’s majesty and protection. God is watching over Israel to give them refuge and rest in the Promised land. Israel has been saved, redeemed, protected, secured, and helped by the Lord. They are greatly blessed.

Summary/Lessons

Most of the same lessons given in Lesson 29 of Genesis of this Commentary apply here too. Blessings seem to be an integral part when leadership changes. We see this happen with the Patriarchs and the kings to come.

It begs the question; “How do we bless our children when it is obviously time for us to step down and time for them to take over the leadership of the family?” Perhaps this is more of a cultural thing that we in the “west” do not do or at least we do not do it formally. But should we? I have written special and unique Baptism Blessings for our grandchildren that I trust will be meaningful to them when they grow older. My becoming the head of our family was gradual until my Dad passed away. It was natural but there was no formal blessing. I’m thinking such has value and it will be interesting to see how the transfer of our family leadership comes about.

     But the important thing to note here is the involvement of God in the blessings. God is the sole reason for the blessing. God made it possible through His redemption and protection of Israel. Likewise, God is the sole reason we are blessed. He has made it possible through redemption by His Son, Jesus Christ. He has made it possible for us to enter the Promised Land of heavenly and eternal blessings by shedding His blood for our sin and by whose blood we have been made righteous. Our God, the one true God, is indeed an awesome God. Worship Him. Obey Him. Love and serve Him faithfully.

     Moses Dies      Deut. 34:1-12

Upon blessing Israel by tribe, Moses ascends Mt. Nebo alone leaving Joshua as Israel’s leader. Moses ascends to view the Promised Land while awaiting God to call him home. From Mt. Nebo Moses is able to see all the land [north, west, and south] to be inhabited by Israel. Presumably it was a clear day so Moses could see the Sea of Galilee, Mt. Hermon, Mt. Carmel, Mts. Zion and Moriah, and the Negev.

Moses dies but no one knows where. He left Israel to climb the mountain and didn’t return. He had told Israel [Deut. 31:1-2] he was not the one to lead them across the Jordan River in his first address [Deut. 3:21-29]. Joshua was given control of Israel and Moses leaves so there is no question as to who Israel’s leader is. God’s spirit now rests on Joshua. Israel mourns Moses when they realize he is gone and they reflect on how great a leader he was. Moses knew the Lord and the Lord knew him. He worked miracles and wonders on behalf of the Lord God enabling them to escape Egypt and enter the Promised Land. Israel grumbled against Moses and disagreed with his leadership and decisions many times but there was no doubt of his leadership by the hand of God when they reflect on the last 40 years. Israel realized God had blessed them through Moses. Now God’s spirit rests on Joshua who has been chosen to lead them into the land. They are ready to accept Joshua and obey God.

Summary/Lessons

I have looked at this last section documenting Moses’ final duties as important to Israel in the near future and that Moses’ prophetic words in his song are to remind Israel of God’s promises when they are in exile. But what about now? Shouldn’t these last words of Moses remind Israel of their current situation and provide them direction now for being restored as God’s people? They refuse to acknowledge the Rock, Jesus Christ in Deut. 32:31. Perhaps Chapters 31-33 refers to their current status and looks forward to their full redemption in the Millennium. Certainly the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel thought so. If one takes this position as a possible interpretation, then the blessing of the tribes takes on a different interpretation too. Then the blessings by tribe are for all Israel and the tribes are just a convenient means for dividing the different blessings. This would explain the differences seen in Moses’ blessing compared to Jacob’s and the reason Simeon is not mentioned [maybe his descendents are gone]. I believe such an interpretation has merit. Actually, I believe both are true because God inspired all Scripture and He is omniscient from beginning to end. Read these chapters with this in mind and I think you will agree that this futuristic interpretation has merit too.

     Deuteronomy represents a gracious and graceful way to accomplish a change in leadership. Follow this pattern if at all possible. It brought to mind events leading up to my retirement from 3M and the preparations I made to assure a smooth transition. I even closed out my last day with a speech containing words of thanksgiving and, more important, reviewed key elements of our operational philosophy, reviewed our accomplishments, and exhorted the people to continue to build on the foundation we had built. There was a reason why we were successful and it was important to continue building and not let circumstances cause us to deviate. It wasn’t much different than Moses telling Israel to remember God’s blessings and power, to review where they had come from and where they were now, and to encourage them to obey God and enter the Promised Land. I left the workplace quietly knowing I had accomplished what I needed to do. Moses left to climb Mt. Nebo with a similar attitude. Moses just happened to go to his permanent home while looking at Israel’s future home. In one sense, retirement frees us to do more for the Kingdom of God but, in reality, we who love the Lord and obey Him are in full time employment for the Lord all the time. We do the same work for the same boss. Only our environment changes.

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