Deuteronomy 1-6

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Goals

  • Introduce Deuteronomy, including the setting and structure of the book
  • Briefly cover the history of God’s faithfulness to Israel and the record of their unfaithfulness. Talk about why God does this recap and practical ways we can remember the big picture.
    • What I have here for Deut 1-3 should probably be shortened even more
  • Set up the discussion of the ten commandments that follows in chapters 12-25 but reminding of the purpose of the law
  • Talk some about the shema and how the concept applies today

Deuteronomy Structure

Set up the context.

  • What is Deuteronomy?
    • Where and when did it happen? (~1400 BC, outside promised land)
    • Deutero = second and nomos = law. It’s a second telling of the law, where Moses reminds them of God’s faithfulness and expounds on more specifics about how to live this out in the Promised Land.
    • Structure of the book (see diagram)

 

Deuteronomy 1

1 These are the words that Moses spoke to all the people of Israel while they were in the wilderness east of the Jordan River. They were camped in the Jordan Valley near Suph, between Paran on one side and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab on the other.

Camped across from Jericho at Shittim

Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel, telling them everything the Lord had commanded him to say.

Talk about a detour!

NT says this period in Israel’s history is a picture of our spiritual lives.

  • Egypt = Before Christ. Enslaved to the world.
  • Set free at Passover (2 Cor 5:7; 1 Pet 1:18-19) and passed through the Red Sea (1 Cor 10:2)
  • Time in the wilderness is a time of struggle
  • Finally can enter in the rest that comes from abiding in Christ (John 15) and living by faith (Heb 4:1, 8-11)

It takes a certain amount of time to get from salvation to rest, but we can make that period a lot longer!

 

While the Israelites were in the land of Moab east of the Jordan River, Moses carefully explained the Lord’s instructions as follows.

“When we were at Mount Sinai, the Lord our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on…

Moses Appoints Leaders from Each Tribe

Moses continued, “At that time I told you, ‘You are too great a burden for me to carry all by myself…  13 Choose some well-respected men from each tribe who are known for their wisdom and understanding, and I will appoint them as your leaders.’

Exodus 18

Scouts Explore the Land

19 “Then, just as the Lord our God commanded us, we left Mount Sinai and traveled through the great and terrifying wilderness, as you yourselves remember, and headed toward the hill country of the Amorites. When we arrived at Kadesh-barnea, 20 I said to you, ‘You have now reached the hill country of the Amorites that the Lord our God is giving us. 21 Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged!’

22 “But you all came to me and said, ‘First, let’s send out scouts to explore the land for us. They will advise us on the best route to take and which towns we should enter.’

23 “This seemed like a good idea to me, so I chose twelve scouts, one from each of your tribes.

He’s reminding them of what happened last time they got to this point. Remember studying this?

 

26 “But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God and refused to go in. 27 You complained in your tents and said, ‘The Lord must hate us. That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt—to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have demoralized us with their report…

They are saying all of these horrible things about God, things which weren’t true at all!

29 “But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! 30 The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. 31 And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’

32 “But even after all he did, you refused to trust the Lord your God, 33 who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.

 

34 “When the Lord heard your complaining, he became very angry…

So God said that only Caleb and Joshua would enter.

37 “And the Lord was also angry with me because of you. He said to me, ‘Moses, not even you will enter the Promised Land!

Hmmm… That’s not what I remember. Was it the peoples’ fault that Moses couldn’t enter? Or was it Moses’s fault? (come back to this later)

38 Instead, your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will lead the people into the land. Encourage him, for he will lead Israel as they take possession of it. 39 I will give the land to your little ones—your innocent children. You were afraid they would be captured, but they will be the ones who occupy it. 40 As for you, turn around now and go on back through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.’

Then they said, “No, we want to go in.” But God said “No.” But they didn’t listen to that either…

 

44  … the Amorites who lived there came out against you like a swarm of bees. They chased and battered you all the way from Seir to Hormah. 45 Then you returned and wept before the Lord, but he refused to listen. 46 So you stayed there at Kadesh for a long time.

Chapter 2

Remembering Israel’s Wanderings

“Then we turned around and headed back across the wilderness toward the Red Sea, just as the Lord had instructed me, and we wandered around in the region of Mount Seir for a long time.

In this case, “a long time” appears to span 30+ years

“Then at last the Lord said to me, ‘You have been wandering around in this hill country long enough; turn to the north. Give these orders to the people: “You will pass through the country belonging to your relatives the Edomites…  Do not bother them… For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.” ’

In spite of their rebellion, God was with them the whole time. It’s the same way with Christians too. We can ignore the blessings and power of God. And yet he will be there like the father in the story of the prodigal son…

…“Then as we turned north along the desert route through Moab, the Lord warned us, ‘Do not bother the Moabites, the descendants of Lot…

13 Moses continued, “Then the Lord said to us, ‘Get moving. Cross the Zered Brook.’ So we crossed the brook.

14 “Thirty-eight years passed from the time we first left Kadesh-barnea until we finally crossed the Zered Brook! By then, all the men old enough to fight in battle had died in the wilderness, as the Lord had vowed would happen.

16 “When all the men of fighting age had died, 17 the Lord said to me, 18 ‘Today you will cross the border of Moab at Ar 19 and enter the land of the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot. But do not bother them or start a war with them.

24 Moses continued, “Then the Lord said, ‘Now get moving! Cross the Arnon Gorge. Look, I will hand over to you Sihon the Amorite… 25 Beginning today I will make people throughout the earth terrified because of you. When they hear reports about you, they will tremble with dread and fear.’ ”

God is reminding them of their victories he has given them.

30 “But King Sihon of Heshbon refused to allow us to pass through, because the Lord your God made Sihon stubborn and defiant so he could help you defeat him, as he has now done.

32 “Then King Sihon declared war on us and mobilized his forces at Jahaz. 33 But the Lord our God handed him over to us, and we crushed him…

Chapter 3

“Next we turned and headed for the land of Bashan, where King Og and his entire army attacked us at Edrei…

“So the Lord our God handed King Og and all his people over to us, and we killed them all. Not a single person survived.

This is conquest language. We’ll see a lot of military stuff come up over the next few months of study. We’ll talk more next week about how to think about this sort of thing.

10 We had now conquered all the cities on the plateau and all Gilead and Bashan, as far as the towns of Salecah and Edrei, which were part of Og’s kingdom in Bashan. 11 (King Og of Bashan was the last survivor of the giant Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide. It can still be seen in the Ammonite city of Rabbah.)

King sized bed!

12 “When we took possession of this land, I gave to the tribes of Reuben and Gad…

And the half tribe of Manasseh. Which sets them up to go into the Promised Land.

21 “At that time I gave Joshua this charge: ‘You have seen for yourself everything the Lord your God has done to these two kings. He will do the same to all the kingdoms on the west side of the Jordan. 22 Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the Lord your God will fight for you.’

And now, Moses is done with his review of the history of their time in the wilderness.

Q: What sticks out to you from this recap?

Q: Why do you think God put them through this summary?

23 “At that time I pleaded with the Lord and said, 24 ‘O Sovereign Lord, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do? 25 Please let me cross the Jordan to see the wonderful land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon mountains.’

26 “But the Lord was angry with me because of you, and he would not listen to me. ‘That’s enough!’ he declared. ‘Speak of it no more.

Hmmm… Interesting. That’s the second time Moses has said that (keep moving along)

27 But go up to Pisgah Peak, and look over the land in every direction. Take a good look, but you may not cross the Jordan River. 28 Instead, commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead the people across the Jordan. He will give them all the land you now see before you as their possession.’

Chapter 4

1 “And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.

Q: What are some ways that someone might add to or subtract from the word of God?

Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on him? And what great nation has decrees and regulations as righteous and fair as this body of instructions that I am giving you today?

Israel should be a witness to the other nations. And God is with them.

Q: How do we think this might apply to Christians today?

  • If this was true for them, it’s even more true for us today as Christians (Heb 13:5).
  • God is with us
  • Also we should be a witness

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. 10 Never forget the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai…

15 “But be very careful! You did not see the Lord’s form on the day he spoke to you from the heart of the fire at Mount Sinai. 16 So do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form… 20 Remember that the Lord rescued you from the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today.

21 “But the Lord was angry with me because of you. He vowed that I would not cross the Jordan River into the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession. 22 You will cross the Jordan to occupy the land, but I will not. Instead, I will die here on the east side of the river.

Q: What do you think about Moses’s recounting of why he’s not allowed to go into the Promised Land.

Q: What do you think about how God deals with Moses here?

23 So be careful not to break the covenant the Lord your God has made with you. Do not make idols of any shape or form, for the Lord your God has forbidden this. 24 The Lord your God is a devouring fire; he is a jealous God.

Explain “jealous God”

26 “Today I call on heaven and earth as witnesses against you. If you break my covenant, you will quickly disappear from the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. You will live there only a short time; then you will be utterly destroyed. 27 For the Lord will scatter you among the nations, where only a few of you will survive. 28 There, in a foreign land, you will worship idols made from wood and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.

Jesus said that if you seek you will find

30 “In the distant future, when you are suffering all these things, you will finally return to the Lord your God and listen to what he tells you. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.

Regathering of Israel.

32 “Now search all of history, from the time God created people on the earth until now, and search from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything as great as this ever been seen or heard before? …

35 “He showed you these things so you would know that the Lord is God and there is no other. …

39 “So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. 40 If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” …

Verse 40 is one of the big themes in Deuteronomy

Chapter 5 – Recounting the Ten Commandments

“The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Mount Sinai. The Lord did not make this covenant with our ancestors, but with all of us who are alive today…

Ten commandments are recounted here.

Also point out how Deut 12-25 = commentary on each of these commandments, in order.

23 “But when you heard the voice from the heart of the darkness, while the mountain was blazing with fire, all your tribal leaders and elders came to me…

Then the people begged Moses to talk to God for them, because it was so terrifying. They need a mediator

28 “The Lord heard the request you made to me. And he said, ‘I have heard what the people said to you, and they are right.

God agrees. This is the point of the law – to show them they can’t approach God.

Chapter 6

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

OR, NASB: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

The Shema (Hebrew for “Hear” – which is how the sentence starts)

On the use of “One”

  • (Expositor’s Bible Commentary) To the Jews v.4 is not only an assertion of monotheism, it is also an assertion of the numerical oneness of God contradictory to the Christian view of the Trinity of the Godhead. This kind of oneness, however, runs contrary to the use of אֶחָד (ʾeḥāḏ) in the sense of a unity made up of several parts. In Exod 26:6, 11, the fifty gold clasps are used to hold the curtains together so that the tent would be a unit (ʾeḥāḏ). Ezekiel said that the Lord directed him to join two sticks to represent Judah and Ephraim, for he was going to make the two kingdoms one, i.e., a single nation made of two parts (Ezek 37:17, 19, 22)
  • So this isn’t a proof for the Trinity but it definitely leaves the door open for it.

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

Jesus thinks this is the summary of the law. He adds another one though – to love your neighbor as yourself.

Q: What are some things you think would be involved in carrying out this commandment?

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Q: What do you think he means by this part and how might this apply to us today?

10 “The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. 11 The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant.

This is how it feels following God. Blessed beyond anything I deserve

11b When you have eaten your fill in this land, 12 be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.

But these blessings can create spiritual danger. The danger of forgetting. That’s why we need the word of God.

 

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