06 February 2016

Stone 5 - Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy is the final book of what is known as the pentateuch and culminates with the death of Moses. Let's see what is going on.

I find this to be interesting...

Remember back in Exodus when God first called upon Moses to confront Pharoah? Moses gives God objections that he is not so good at speaking (Ex 4:10).

So get this... in Deuteronomy, Moses totally gets up and speaks to the crowd in a sort of final speech as if he were the valedictorian of his class. He calls on them to - as I will word this - get their act together. I picture an old man who sort of smack a younger man on the back of the head and questions them - "Seriously? What are you thinking?" I see no indication that Moses hesitated in this like he did back in Exodus. There is no question in my mind that God did some amazing things in the life of Moses.

Let's Review
So Moses begins his speech to the masses by summarizing the last 40 years and their journey to the current location. As he recalls the history, he does not hold back sharing the events of rebellion and disobedience by the people (Deut 1:26, 1:43). So he reminds them to obey (Deut 4:1-2). I can just hear the frustration in the voice of Moses as he recalls the events of the past, pleading with the people to obey. Multiple times he calls them to listen - like a teacher at the front of the class who snaps their fingers to get the attention of those who may have been drifting off because there is an important point coming up (Deut 4:1, 5:1, 5:27, 6:3, 6:4, 9:1).

So we get a great deal of things we have already read about in prior books but remember that they have been in the wilderness for the last 40 years waiting for the prior generation to die off because they were not going to enter the promised land. This may very well be some new information for those currently in the crowd. Remember that Moses was banned from going into the promised land so this is where his journey will end. Moses wants them to move forward successfully. (Deut 11:8-9)

Remember the Law
So in addition to a retelling of the history, Moses shares with the Israelites all of the laws that God had given them. He covers the ten commandments again, rules about proper worship, rules about leadership, rules about societal activity, etc.

Again at chapter 9, I see Moses snapping the fingers... LISTEN! Guys! C'mon! You are on the verge of whooping up on a group of guys way bigger and stronger than you and take their land because God is giving it to you. Don't get all high and mighty on yourself because it has nothing to do with you. God is evicting them because they are wicked - not because you people are righteous. (Deut 9:1-6)

He tells them the account of the golden calf incident and calls once again on them to obey and follow God. (Deut 10:12-13) Again, I see Moses as exasperated as he indicates 'for your own good' in verse 13. So here we have a recount of more laws given by God - again, for their own good.

Final Plea
After covering all the laws, Moses gives one more appeal to obey and follow God. This is another major point where I imagine Moses snapping his fingers to gain attention to the class. Although since the crowd was likely pretty large, perhaps a shout would be more effective. LISTEN! (Deut 27:9-10)

Moses is kind enough to share the consequences for obedience and the lack thereof (Deut 28) and gives a small bit of encouragement and assurance that all is within their reach (Deut 30:11-20)

Change of Command and Concluding Remarks
Near the conclusion of the speech, Moses informs the people that Joshua will be their new leader. Moses, despite all of his efforts, learns from God that they won't listen anyway (Deut 31:16-18). How sad Moses must have felt in that moment. God has Moses record a song to share with the people as evidence that this was foretold (Deut 31:19-22).

Moses gives a blessing to the people and eventually makes his way to the top of Pisgah at Mount Nebo (Deut 34:1) where he finally came to rest.

Additional Comments on Deuteronomy
I am going to reference Luke Chapter 4 from the New Testament. This tells of when Jesus was in the wilderness facing some temptations. I find it interesting that Jesus quoted Deuteronomy each of the three times he responds to Satan. In Luke 4:4, Jesus quotes Deut 8:3 - In Luke 4:8, Jesus quotes Deut 6:13 - then, interestingly, Satan tries to use scripture as well by twisting it in his attempts to test Jesus. Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12 in Luke 4:10-11 to which Jesus quotes Deut 6:16 in reply.

Jesus was well aware of scripture and used it often. Remember that the laws for Israel were there to help set them apart or make them holy. Clearly, Jesus was set apart and holy.

Jesus used Old Testament scripture to combat Satan and this helps us to reinforce the words of Paul in his letter to Timothy that all scripture is good for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2Tim 3:16)

Next week we will see how Joshua moves forward with the Israelites.

Here is the video for Deuteronomy from the Bible Project.

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