Plan for week of Aug 4, 2013
Aug 10, Saturday - Deuteronomy 1 - 6
The year is 1406 B.C. We are located at Moab - the last camp ground in the wilderness. Our next plan is to cross Jordan and begin the conquest of Canaan - 'The Promised Land.' We were at this very same spot, 38 years ago. According to the LORD, our great leader Moses, will not be crossing into the promised land, and his time is almost up. He appointed Joshua as his successor, who will be leading us from here on. At this juncture, as we are camped here for forty days, LORD'S friend and our leader, Moses wants to give us a valedictory address.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, we come across a series of three speeches by Moses, grouped together as a long valedictory address.
- Speech # 1: Recalls the forty years of wilderness wanderings
- Speech # 2: Reminds the need for exclusive allegiance to one God and observance of the laws he has given them
- Speech # 3: Offers the comfort that with repentance everything lost can be restored.
It is not exactly a 'swan song' by Moses' as many may wonder. As a young Jewish boy, Jesus Christ was well versed with The Book of Deuteronomy. He quoted from this book on three occasions during His temptation - Deut. 8:3; 6:13; 6:16. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus again quoted Duet 6:5.
Key Characters in this book are Moses and Joshua, and the theme is about the renewal of the covenant. Recurring references are made about God's Love. Essentially this book is a lot of recap of past events and we won't dive into too much details. I hope my readers won't complain if I back off on some of the details. One can sense the bitterness in Moses' words as he is not allowed to enter the promised land (in spite of all these wanderings). He blames Israel quite a bit for their sufferings and his fate as well.
For today's tour, we will look at chapters 1 thru 6.
- Duet 1 - 3: How did we get here (Exodus 10 - 36)
- Duet 4 - 6: The laws.
Events at Horeb Recalled
The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the LORD swore he would give to your fathers - to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - and to their descendants after them.”
Appointment of Tribal Leaders
Moses recalls that he had to appoint tribal leaders, to help him out because Israel had become too heavy a burden for him to carry alone.
"Men were appointed to be leaders, and charged with judging the Israelites impartially, hearing “both small and great alike.”
Spies Sent Out
Here Moses is alluding to sending out of those spies (Numbers 13) saying, "Then all of you came to me and said, 'Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.'"
The spies came back and reported that the land which LORD was giving them was veritably an excellent one.
Rebellion Against the LORD
As in Numbers 14, Moses now recounts the refusal to enter the promised land on account of giants, and they did not listen to the commands of LORD. Therefore, LORD swore nobody from current generation except Joshua and Caleb would enter the promised land. Some of those men changed their minds and went straight ahead - only to be defeated by Amorites and chased like a 'swarm of bees.'
In verse 37, Moses, with bitterness, blames the Israelites and says that it was due to their fault, LORD punished him.
37 Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either.
Wandering in the Desert
Moses had documented their wanderings and is now reading them out to the newer generation. They had:
- traveled around the “hill country of Seir”
- came to the territory of the descendants of Esau,
- the Israelites passed by the descendants of Esau, and came to Moab.
- later, when a generation of Israelites had died, they came back to the land of the Moabites.
Defeat of Sihon King of Heshbon
- Moses sent messengers to Sihon with a peace offering, asking for permission to travel through his land.
- Sihon wouldn't let them pass through
- the LORD asked them to conquer Sihon, and take over the land.
- They destroyed Sihon, killing all of the men, women and children, and took the livestock and plunder as their own.
Defeat of Og King of Bashan
Moses recalls their approach at Bahsan.
- Og is described as a very large man, whose iron bed was 14 ft tall and 6 ft wide.
- Og and his whole army came out to meet them in battle.
- The LORD, however, reassured them: “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.”
- The Israelites defeated Sihon, they defeated Og, capturing all of his cities and leaving no survivors.
- They captured 60 cities, even though they were “fortified with high walls and with gates and bars”
Division of the Land
Moses recounts how the Reubenites and the Gadites took possession of the land East of the Jordan River.
He also reiterates their agreement:
18 "I commanded you at that time: “The LORD, your God has given you this land to take possession of it. But all your able-bodied men, armed for battle, must cross over ahead of the other Israelites.
19 However, your wives, your children and your livestock (I know you have much livestock) may stay in the towns I have given you,
20 until the LORD gives rest to your fellow Israelites as he has to you, and they too have taken over the land that the LORD your God is giving them across the Jordan. After that, each of you may go back to the possession I have given you.”
Moses Forbidden to Cross the Jordan
Here Moses gives us a detailed account of him being forbidden to enter the Promised Land. I am quoting all those verses here, as I join with Moses in his sentiments. Moses sincerely means all of which he is saying to his Best Friend - LORD. Moses understood that LORD is fair and just and finally accepted the truth. He continues to believe so, even while LORD is turning down his request to enter the Promised Land. Here, in these verses below, Moses is clinging to the notion that LORD is angry with him because of the Israelites.
21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings. The LORD will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going.
22 Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.”
23 At that time I pleaded with the LORD:
24 “Sovereign LORD you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?
25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”
26 But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.
27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan.
28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.”
29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor.
This concludes the first part of 'How did we get here.' Next, in chapters 4 - 6, we will see the laws.
This part essentially sums up the entire book of Deuteronomy. I will be unable to match up what Moses addressed the crowd in chapter 4. Hence, let us gather with the crowd and listen to what Moses said - I am quoting the verses as they appear in NIV. Recall that Mount Horeb = Mount Sinai.
1 Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.
2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.
3 You saw with your own eyes what the LORD did at Baal Peor. The LORD your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor,
4 but all of you who held fast to the LORD your God are still alive today.
5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.
6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”
7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?
8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness.
12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.
13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.
14 And the LORD directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.
This should be a familiar message to the Israelites, where Moses tells them not to create any type of idols. When God had spoken to them on Mount Sinai, He had shown them no form - He didn't come down looking like an old man with a long white beard; nor did He come looking like a lion, or a bull, or anything else. Any image, even if it were intended to look like God, would be a poor representation, and not do Him justice. Finally, he tells them one important matter:
24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Jealousy, here, is portrayed in a positive way, where LORD seeks all our attention and love. When people worship false gods, God calls it adultery. The Israelites were to worship God, and God alone; when they didn't, He reacted with a “Holy Jealousy.”
The LORD Is God
In two related arguments, Moses is building up this passage saying our LORD Is God:
- There are no other gods besides God Himself.
- The Israelites should remember all those good and bad things that God has done for them so far, and thus continue trusting in Him going forward.
Cities of Refuge
Moses says that he has set aside three 'Cities of Refuge' east of Jordan, for anyone who has killed a person unintentionally without animosity or afterthought.
Introduction to the Law
This is the introduction to the second speech of Moses. It's a basic introduction to the laws that Moses is about to reiterate for the Israelites. A good portion of the book of Deuteronomy will be Moses reminding the Israelites of the laws that the LORD has handed down, which is to follow.
The Ten Commandments
Moses summoned the younger generation of Israel and re-iterated the Ten Commandments:
1. They were not to have any gods before (or besides) God.
2. They were not to create idols, of any form, and they were not to bow down or worship idols.
3. They were not to “misuse” the LORD’s name.
4. They were to observe the Sabbath, keeping it holy, by doing no work on that day.
5. They were to honor their parents.
6. They were not to murder.
7. They were not to commit adultery.
8. They were not to steal
9. They were not to give 'false testimony' against their neighbor
10 They were not to covet things others had.
Love the LORD Your God
After stating the reasons for these rules/laws, Moses is trying to set priorities among those rules - to put LORD first. He utters the popular quote by Jesus - the one about the greatest commandment.
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Moses instructs them about how to preserve these rules and regulations; the ones which he is handing them over. He tells them:
- they are not just to be written down in the rule-books;
- they are to be consulted when necessary;
- they’re to be written on the Israelites’ hearts.
- they are to teach the rules to their children;
- they are to be constantly thinking about them,
- they are to be discussing them with each other.
Moses warns them that when they arrive at a new land with all the facilities and amenities, they have to be careful not to forget Him.
He adds that our LORD is a jealous God and His anger will burn against those who follow other gods. Advice follows to always do what is right and good in the LORD’S sight.
Philactories or Tefeillin
When Moses told the Israelites to tie the LORD’s commands on their hands and bind them to their foreheads, Israelites did it literally. They created a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers.
Two Boxes of Tefellin (left). A Jewish soldier wearing tefillin during prayers (right).
The hand-tefillin is placed on the upper arm, and the strap wrapped around the arm, hand and fingers; while the head-tefillin is placed above the forehead. The Torah commands that they should be worn to serve as a "sign" and "remembrance" that God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. On days of Sabbath and holidays, it is not used.