Archive for the ‘Deuteronomy’ Category

Deuteronomy 34

Deuteronomy 34 ends the play by play on Moses’ life.  God brings him up to Mount Nebo and “showed him all the land”.  He was able to see the land that God had prepared and was giving His people.  “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there”.  It’s been 40 years in the coming, but the time is finally here and Moses gets one last look at what he’s spent the last 40 years preparing God’s people for – entry to the Promised Land.

And then he dies.  Not a lot of fanfare or activity.  Scripture tells us “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated”.  Now that’s the way to finish strong.  He never lost sight of what God had called him to do.  And he never lost his passion to follow God’s call and lead the people well.  Moses had God’s vision and was filled with His power and he lived that way to the very end.  The people were blessed by it as well – he had impacted each and every one.  So “the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days”.

And then the switch was flipped.  Moses is gone, and Joshua steps up.  Moses had been preparing for this day for some time.  It was not a mystery as to who would take the leadership role.  “Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him”.  Moses had prepared him well.  He instructed the people as to what they should do.  “So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses”.  It wasn’t a difficult transition.  Moses is buried and Joshua is at the helm.

Scripture tells us this about the man we’ve spent months studying.  A big chunk of scripture is dedicated to his life and leadership.  “There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face….none like him for all the signs and the wonders….and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds”.  How’s that for a summary of life?  What will God say about you?  We all will leave a legacy.  Will yours look anything like that of Moses?  We create our legacy by how we live.  Moses lived life well for 120 years.  The last forty leading God’s people to this place.  What will your legacy look like based on how you are living life today?

Deuteronomy 33

Deuteronomy 33 has Moses giving his final blessing to the people before He dies.  “This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death”.  He wants one last chance to impact them for his legacy.  He loved these people, stubborn as they were.  And he goes through the list tribe by tribe and gives them the blessing targeted at each one.  They have been together in the wilderness for 40 years now, and Moses knows them well.  And he sends them with his personal blessing to the land God has promised.

Here is the list:

  • Let Reuben live, and not die, but let his men be few
  • Judah: With your hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries
  • Levi: They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law
  • Benjamin: The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety.
  • Joseph: Blessed by the Lord be his land, with the choicest gifts of heaven above
  • Zebulun: Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out
  • Issachar: shall call peoples to their mountain….they draw from the abundance of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand
  • Gad: Blessed be he who enlarges Gad
  • Dan: is a lion’s cub that leaps
  • Naphtali: sated with favor, and full of the blessing of the Lord
  • Asher: Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers

Moses shared with each tribe – personal and specific, he lets them know the blessing he is asking on their behalf.

He ends the blessing reminding them of the God they serve.  Check out how he describes the God he has walked with these past 40 years:

  • There is none like God
  • rides through the heavens to your help
  • through the skies in his majesty
  • The eternal God is your dwelling place
  • underneath are the everlasting arms
  • he thrust out the enemy before you
  • Israel lived in safety
  • a land of grain and wine
  • whose heavens drop down dew
  • saved by the Lord
  • the shield of your help
  • the sword of your triumph

What a picture of God.  He is still the same and will be forever.

Moses ends by giving them this promise: “Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs”.  That is how Moses sends them into the land God has prepared.  He’s led them well.  Now he blesses them well.  And he gives them a promise to claim as they go into a land that is new.

Deuteronomy 32

Deuteronomy 32 contains the song that God gave Moses to teach the people that they may know and remember how to live as they enter the Promised Land.  After receiving it from God, “Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun”.  And what did it contain?  Words of praise and adoration to the God who has faithfully led the people for over 40 years on their journey.  “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he”.

God is our source of wisdom and hope.  We need to keep our eyes focused on Him, our Rock.  Moses goes on to tell us to “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you”.  We have millenniums of history of God’s faithfulness, and we have plenty of things that have happened in the last 24 hours in our own life of God’s faithfulness and love if we just stop and remember.  We might need to write down some of those markers so we don’t forget, but there is so much to remember about God’s love.

When we lose our way though, God will take action.  “They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols….I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend my arrows on them”.  God is not going to turn a blind eye to us putting other things in His place.  He alone is God.  He alone is worthy of our praise.  We must never put anything else in our life as a god or idol.  There is a price to pay for that.  Anything other than God Himself will fall short.  “Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge” is the question people ask when they call upon a god or idol that is not the One True God.  Nothing happens because those gods and idols are nothing more than a piece of wood or iron.

So what does Moses instruct us to do?  “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law”.  We are to learn God’s Word and teach it to our children and then obey it.  It’s that last part that is the hard part – obedience.  But this is high stakes stuff. “For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess”.  If we don’t get this right, it impacts our lives.  It is the very source of what happens to us.

Moses is told to climb up Mount Nebo and die on the mountain.  Not a very romantic way to ride off into the sunset after 120 plus years on the earth walking with God.  But he knows it is time and is ready to go meet the Father.  We learn why God will not allow him to enter the Promised Land in detail: “because you broke faith with me….and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people”.  Moses did not keep God exalted and on the Throne before His people, and it cost him the chance to triumphantly lead the people across the Jordan.  Instead God says “you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel”.  What a price to pay for disobedience.  How we live matters!

Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31 has Moses finishing up his preparation for death and the movement across the Jordan to the Promised Land.  “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, You shall not go over this Jordan”.  Moses knows what is not going to happen.  He isn’t making the trip across the river to receive God’s promises.  Yet he didn’t ever stop leading.  It would have been easy for him to just throw up his hands long ago when he was told he could never receive the final gift.  But he never stopped, and to his death he remains focused.

He tells the people to “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you”.  Moses knows God is faithful.  He won’t let them down.  Now he has to transition power.  “Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel….It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed”.  Moses makes sure everyone knows that Joshua is the man in charge.  He makes a very visible transition for all to see.  “Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting….the Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud”.

He then talks to the priests, whose task it is to keep the people walking with God.  “At the end of every seven years….you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing….Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land”.  Moses wants the people reminded that they have to walk in obedience with God.

But Moses and God know that the nature of the people is to walk in their own way.  So Moses is instructed to “write this song and teach it to the people….Put it in their mouths”.  God wants a way for His people to remember His commandments, and a song is how He instructs Moses to prepare them.  Those words come in the next chapter.  For the prediction is this: “when I have brought them into the land….and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant….I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give”.  God knows our hearts.  We are tempted to do the wrong things.  We have to walk with Him in obedience.  There is no other option.

Deuteronomy 30

Deuteronomy 30 has Moses driving home the importance of obedience to His people.  He points out the reality that we have a choice – we choose whether we will obey or not – and that choice results in blessing or curse.  If we “return to the Lord your God….then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you”.  It is a simple if/then proposition.  Obedience brings blessing.  Disobedience brings a curse.

God wants to help us on this journey.  If we will only obey, “the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live”.  It is God’s desire to walk in harmony with us.  He wants us to receive His blessing, and that plan He has for us is not merely to get by.  His promise is clear.  “The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous….when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”.

So what’s the secret?  It is God’s Word.  “The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it”.  God has given us the roadmap to obedience. It is in His Book – the Bible.  We can do this.  It isn’t natural or easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible if we truly desire to walk in obedience.  We can choose to walk with Him.  It is a moment by moment and day by day decision.  Salvation comes with our choice to make Jesus our Savior based on His death, burial and resurrection on the Cross.  Lordship is something we choose continually from that point forward.

Moses wraps up the chapter by showing the two very black and white options:

  1. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you”
  2. “if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish”.

It really is that simple.  We choose to obey, or to turn away.  The first yields an awesome and blessed relationship with God the Father.  The second yields a curse that leads us to perish.  Moses summarizes the right choice this way: “Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days”.

Deuteronomy 29

Deuteronomy 29 has Moses standing before the people saying “These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb”.  God made an initial covenant with the people many years ago at Mt Horeb, but now as they prepare to enter the Promised Land, He is making another as part of their entry.  Moses “summoned all Israel” to come and hear God’s words, not just the leaders and elders, but every man, woman and child in the land.  It is a big deal!

Moses explains where they are – somewhat lost about what God is promising.  “But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear”.  God has not revealed His covenant since the days 40 years ago or more when He made the first one with His people.  Moses reminds them “I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God”.

That is a pretty amazing testimony of faithfulness from God.  They live in the wilderness for over 40 years without wearing out their clothes or shoes, and without going hungry or thirsty.  God has been faithful.  Moses now exhorts the people to “keep the words of this covenant and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do”.  It all comes down to obedience.  God is offering an eternal covenant to His chosen people.  He wants to set them apart but they have to do their part and keep the covenant with Him.

If they do, He will “establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob”.  God is just carrying out what He promised long ago.  There is a catch.  The blessing of the covenant is tied to sticking with it and walking in obedience.  God says that if things fall apart and His anger comes out “It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord”.  A covenant is a promise between God and His people where both sides need to execute and fulfill the requirements.  God always does.  The question is – will we?

Deuteronomy 28

Deuteronomy 28 contains some strong promises about obedience.  God demands that we obey.  “If you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth”.  What a wonderful promise.  If we obey, God will bless us.  And it won’t just be a little, “all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you”.  Moses goes on to paint a picture of what the blessed life will look like.

Here is the list:

  • Blessed shall you be in the city
  • blessed shall you be in the field
  • Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb
  • Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl
  • Blessed shall you be when you come in
  • blessed shall you be when you go out
  • The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns
  • in all that you undertake
  • he will bless you in the land
  • The Lord will establish you as a people holy to himself
  • the Lord will make you abound in prosperity
  • The Lord will open to you his good treasury
  • give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands
  • the Lord will make you the head and not the tail
  • you shall only go up and not down

What a list of promises God gives.

There is a catch.  They happen “if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them”.  God’s blessings are tied to how we live.  There is a flip side to what God promises.  “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me”.  How we live matters in God’s eyes.

So here’s the reality of God’s plan.  “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting….as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you”.  Being blessed is not a lock.  It means we know and live what God has told us to do.  It is about obedience to His will!

Deuteronomy 27

Deuteronomy 27 has Moses instructing the people about how to enter the Promised Land.  In a word – he commands them to be obedient.  “Keep the whole commandment that I command you today”.  Moses doesn’t tell them to keep some of the law.  To pick and choose what they like and want to obey.  He is very intentional and clear that obedience means keeping all the law – every last word that God has spoken and written to them.  They are to do it without fail, to “obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes”.  He expects no less of us today.

In order to help that happen, Moses tells them “on the day you cross over the Jordan to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall set up large stones and plaster them with plaster….you shall write on them all the words of this law”.  We have to be immersed in God’s Word to have any hope of being obedient to it.  He gives them a series of things to do to help keep them focused:

  • you shall build an altar to the Lord
  • you shall offer burnt offerings
  • you shall sacrifice peace offerings
  • you shall rejoice before the Lord your God
  • you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly

Very clear and practical steps to be sure they don’t forget God and what He has commanded them.

But Moses goes further and warns them of things that will cause them to lose God’s favor and be cursed.  Disobedience moves us from blessing to curse.  It causes us to lose favor in God’s eyes.  He never leaves us, but He will turn His back and not bless us if we choose to put another above Him.  That was really the focus of their warning – putting anything in the place that only God truly deserves.  Here is the list of specifics that Moses calls out which will lead to being cursed:

  • Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the Lord
  • Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother
  • Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark
  • Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road
  • Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow
  • Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife
  • Cursed be anyone who lies with any kind of animal
  • Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister
  • Cursed be anyone who lies with his mother-in-law
  • Cursed be anyone who strikes down his neighbor in secret
  • Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood
  • Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them

Moses has the people respond after each of these areas is called out.  He asks for a response “and all the people shall say, Amen”.  There was no mystery here, no surprises, as Moses reminds them of God’s commandments and expectations.  Now all that is left is to live in obedience!

Deuteronomy 26

Deuteronomy 26 has Moses instructing the people what to do when they enter the Promised Land.  They are to take the first of all they have and bring it to the priests – to give their tithe to the Lord.  Why?  It is a gift based on remembering what God has done.  God has been faithful, and we need to remember that.  “The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders”.  God didn’t just set them free, He did it with style.  He blessed them indeed.  Was it easy?  No.  But it was good!

We often forget God’s goodness to us.  But we’re told “you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you”.  We need to stop and remember and rejoice in all that God has done.  And one way we celebrate His blessing is by returning a portion of what He gives us through our tithes and offerings.  We bring back a portion of what He has freely given us to care for those who are in need.  We must be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that our success is because of ourselves.  What we have comes from God.

So what were those tithes to be used for?  Scripture mentions these areas.  “Giving it to:

  • the Levite
  • the sojourner
  • the fatherless
  • the widow

God cares about taking care of the less fortunate, along with His priests who minister in His name.  He wants us to be good stewards and support those in need.

How should we give?  With a joyful attitude of obedience.  “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God. I have done according to all that you have commanded me”.  That is what God wants from us – total obedience.  He wants us to be focused on walking with Him well.  He wants us to make that the priority so we hear these words.  “You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice”.    Walk, keep, obey – the three things we are to do in our relationship with the Creator of the universe.  He has written the Book.  We need to read and follow it!

Deuteronomy 25

Deuteronomy 25 has Moses giving more direction on how people are to live.  He begins by addressing disputes and the punishment that a judge may hand out.  The guilty is to “be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense”.  The worse the crime, the worse the punishment.  But it also set the maximum number of stripes at 40.  That number sound familiar?  Jesus was given 40 lashes as his punishment – the maximum.  It was the edge of being enough to kill a man.  Jesus paid it all for us.

We sometimes don’t recall the pain and suffering our Lord went through on His way to the cross.  We may remember the pain of His crucifixion, which was immense, but there was much more suffering on that journey to the Cross from the beating He took to the carrying of the Cross to Calvary.  It was a gruesome death our Lord suffered.  Judges in Moses day had the right to inflict significant punishment as well.

There are some rules about what happens if a man dies and leaves a wife behind.  “Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife”.  It was the responsibility of the next brother in line to take her as his wife.  He could refuse, but there was a public humiliation that occurred and the legacy left would not be good at all.  There are family responsibilities we have today – not the same as they were then – but we do have responsibilities to our families today as well.

The last segment of the chapter deals with fairness.  God expects us to be honest and treat each other fairly.  We are not to cheat.  In that day there were those who had two kinds of weights, two kinds of measures, and would use those to cheat others.  God says “all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the Lord your God”.  God expects us to be obedient and to live well with each other.  There is a price to pay for the sin of dishonesty.  He is paying attention to how we live.

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