Original outline by Barbara Kreider
Finishing up the book of Deuteronomy
- I love this book…. it ties everything together
- Pivotal turning point for the Israelites
- Previously story of God’s faithfulness and a reiteration of the terms of the relationship
- Classic ancient near east treaty
Moses sums up the options that are before them as to what their time in the land has the potential of looking, a warning about their future
- How they got there and how that applies to us
- All about the relationship, which is a theme throughout
27 Then Moses and the leaders of Israel gave this charge to the people: “Obey all these commands that I am giving you today. 2 When you cross the Jordan River and enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. 3 Write this whole body of instruction on them when you cross the river to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you—a land flowing with milk and honey, just as theLord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 4 When you cross the Jordan, set up these stones at Mount Ebal and coat them with plaster, as I am commanding you today.
- Common practice during this time– get some big rocks and write the law on them
5 “Then build an altar there to the Lord your God, using natural, uncut stones. You must not shape the stones with an iron tool. 6 Build the altar of uncut stones, and use it to offer burnt offerings to the Lord your God. 7 Also sacrifice peace offerings on it, and celebrate by feasting there before the Lord your God. 8 You must clearly write all these instructions on the stones coated with plaster.”
- Have a party guys, you’re in the land
- Worship and thank God and enjoy what he has given you
- Their ability to enjoy and take advantage of what God wants to give them is what comes into question in these chapters (based on the choices that they make)
DQ: What might prevent us from enjoying the things that God has given us?
9 Then Moses and the Levitical priests addressed all Israel as follows: “O Israel, be quiet and listen! Today you have become the people of the Lord your God. 10 So you must obey the Lord your God by keeping all these commands and decrees that I am giving you today.”
- This is the an important point here– The sense of anticipation
- They are about to actually go in and possess/claim/take hold of what God has promised them AND THE RELATIONSHIP IS BEING ESTABLISHED
- God is also the political creator of the nation and this is the treaty that is being established between God and his people
- The law relates to their personal commitment to the Lord as their God
- More nuanced than just obeying the law as we will see in later chapters
11 That same day Moses also gave this charge to the people: 12 “When you cross the Jordan River, the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin must stand on Mount Gerizim to proclaim a blessing over the people. 13 And the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali must stand on Mount Ebal to proclaim a curse.
- Half the tribes go on one mountain, half the tribes on another with the priests in the middle
- The Levites go on to establish some of the initial curese (illustrative as opposed to comprehensive)
- People respond with ‘Amen’–this is a solemn assent that is more significant than mere agreement, but a commitment to the terms of the relationship
DQ: Why might it be important to establish “terms of the relationship”?
- Whether they experience the blessings or curses; that is indicative of the state of their relationship with God
- Functional or dysfunctional
- Paying heed to the warnings will keep them in a functional relationship with God that is for their benefit
So what do they have potential for in a good relationship with God? Blessings begin in chapter 28….
28 “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world.2 You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:
3 Your towns and your fields will be blessed.
4 Your children and your crops will be blessed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed.
5 Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed.
6 Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.
7 “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!
8 “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
9 “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. 10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.
11 “The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. 12 The Lordwill send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.13 If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. 14 You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship them.
DQ: What do you see here that God is offering them as his people?
- Provision, security, value, identity, significance (both before Him and before other people), lack of fear etc.
- Rant about how great God is to us for a little bit
However if the Israelites refuse to listen to God all of that is different…
- The same pattern is followed for the kinds of curses the Israelites will come under for abandoning God
- As opposed to towns and fields being blessed, they will be cursed, etc.
- Disobedience to God is really abandonment of the relationship, which plays out in them turning to other gods
- The list of curses and what will happen is about 6 times longer than the list of potential blessings and has an inevitable tone, as if God is telling them what IS goign to happen (most vivid and comprehensive description of the future of Israel and it’s pretty chilling)
30 “You will be engaged to a woman, but another man will sleep with her. You will build a house, but someone else will live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will never enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be butchered before your eyes, but you will not eat a single bite of the meat. Your donkey will be taken from you, never to be returned. Your sheep and goats will be given to your enemies, and no one will be there to help you. 32 You will watch as your sons and daughters are taken away as slaves. Your heart will break for them, but you won’t be able to help them. 33 A foreign nation you have never heard about will eat the crops you worked so hard to grow. You will suffer under constant oppression and harsh treatment. 34 You will go mad because of all the tragedy you see around you. 35 The Lordwill cover your knees and legs with incurable boils. In fact, you will be covered from head to foot.
- Failure in family and relationships
- Unable to benefit from their labor
- Unable to enjoy what they have worked for
- In short… it sounds like a pretty miserable existence
- Introdution of the end of Israel as a nation in the following verses
36 “The Lord will exile you and your king to a nation unknown to you and your ancestors. There in exile you will worship gods of wood and stone! 37 You will become an object of horror, ridicule, and mockery among all the nations to which the Lord sends you.
- skip down to vs 45
45 “If you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and to obey the commands and decrees he has given you, all these curses will pursue and overtake you until you are destroyed.46 These horrors will serve as a sign and warning among you and your descendants forever. 47 If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, 48 you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you. 49 “The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth, and it will swoop down on you like a vulture. It is a nation whose language you do not understand,50 a fierce and heartless nation that shows no respect for the old and no pity for the young. 51 Its armies will devour your livestock and crops, and you will be destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine, olive oil, calves, or lambs, and you will starve to death.52 They will attack your cities until all the fortified walls in your land—the walls you trusted to protect you—are knocked down. They will attack all the towns in the land the Lord your God has given you.
- Predictions of the cannibalism they will engage in (that actually happened in 2 Kings 6)
- Gruesome picture of what the Israelites will become
- Because all of this does happen to them… they turn to idols and God’s that aren’t real and are taking off into exile by Assyria and Babylon
- Next we see summed up a really accurate picture of what life looks like without God…
64 For the Lord will scatter you among all the nations from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship foreign gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods made of wood and stone! 65 There among those nations you will find no peace or place to rest. And the Lord will cause your heart to tremble, your eyesight to fail, and your soul to despair. 66 Your life will constantly hang in the balance. You will live night and day in fear, unsure if you will survive. 67 In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were night!’ And in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’ For you will be terrified by the awful horrors you see around you. 68 Then the Lord will send you back to Egypt in ships, to a destination I promised you would never see again. There you will offer to sell yourselves to your enemies as slaves, but no one will buy you.”
- The anxiety and lack of rest that plagues your heart
- The despair and fear, unsure of what will happen to you
- Bleak and profound picture of life when we abandon God
- This happens when we blatantly abandon God with our lives, and choose to withdraw from him and abandon him in our hearts
- I want to go back for a second to a verse that might shed some light on WHY this will have to the Israelites (back in vs 46-47)–what led to this???
It seems weird that God is saying that a lack of joy and enthusaism in the midst of blessing would be the reason that this incredibly bleak picture is drawn… or in the very least extreme
DQ: Why do you think this is the case? How might a lack of joy lead to us abandoning God (either outright or in our hearts and minds)?
** If it isn’t drawn out through discussion I need to define joy
DQ: How can we tell if our joy might be being sapped? **cut this one if there is no time
DQ: How can we prevent this from happening? How can we maintain or regain joy?
- Joy is dependent on the state of the relationship, point out the trend throughout disucssion
- Chapter 30, however includes more predictions of their future and brings more light to God’s character, what his plans are, and what he is trying to communicate to them
30 “In the future, when you experience all these blessings and curses I have listed for you, and when you are living among the nations to which the Lord your God has exiled you, take to heart all these instructions. 2 If at that time you and your children return to theLord your God, and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul all the commands I have given you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes. He will have mercy on you and gather you back from all the nations where he has scattered you. 4 Even though you are banished to the ends of the earth,[e] the Lord your God will gather you from there and bring you back again. 5 The Lord your God will return you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will possess that land again. Then he will make you even more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors!
6 “The Lord your God will change your heart[f] and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live!
- God will come back for them, have mercy on them, bless them
- AND he will actually make it possible for the people to love him through a change of heart–expand on this some
- Because really what God is trying to get at here is more than just obedience
- Nowhere in scripture is God interested in mere obedience
15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.
and again in vs 19…
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
- This is important and is an important theme that goes all the way back to what it looked like to rebel against God in the garden of Eden
- The choice is not first and foremost right and wrong, but REALLY the choice is between life and death
- Choices that are in line with God’s design of self-sacrificing love and relationship are the ones that lead to spiritual life
- Choices that defy the author and designer of life, choices that cause us to withdraw from him and hold him in contempt are the ones that will rot and decay our spiritual lives
- And that is the essence of sin
- And as sinful human beings we sit in a position already identified with death as a result of our separation from God
- Our first choice is to move from death to life
- John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
- Jesus is the one that has the power to save us from the penalty of sin (which is death and separation from God) and to bring us into life and relationship with God
- Because he chose to experience the death and separation from God that we deserve
- Choosing life and relationship with God is what brings about that change of heart that is talked about in Deut 30, and is what actually enables us to experience rescue from a life away from God and the blessings of a life with God
- Expand on the greatness of God and how much he loves us.
- These are some of the last words that Moses says to the Israelites before he dies, but he has one more things that he has to do
31: 7 Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. 8 Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
- I can’t imagine being Joshua at this point… the sinfulness of the people so blatantly described and Moses is like okay lead them!
- I would be like aaaaaahhhhhhh noooooooo
- Encouraged with THE RELATIONSHIP
Important to keep in mind that we have a responsibility to lead people as well
A lack of joy will prevent us from being able to lead people into lives following God and experiencing his blessing
At this point, Moses is done.
34 Then Moses went up to Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab and climbed Pisgah Peak, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him the whole land, from Gilead as far as Dan; 2 all the land of Naphtali; the land of Ephraim and Manasseh; all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea; 3 the Negev; the Jordan Valley with Jericho—the city of palms—as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.”
5 So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. 6 The Lord buried him[b] in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever. 8 The people of Israel mourned for Moses on the plains of Moab for thirty days, until the customary period of mourning was over.
9 Now Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him, doing just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
10 There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.***THE RELATIONSHIP AGAIN 11 The Lord sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his servants, and his entire land. 12 With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel.
- God establishes his terms with his nation and what their relationship should look like
- He also lays out what their lives will look like
- Both if they choose to go about their relationship his way, or abandon him and turn to other gods
- We learn that the Israelites will at some point in their future end up in a really horrifying spot as a result of their future abandonment of God, but that God has promised to go back for them and rescue them yet again
- We also learned that God is interested in restoring relationship and spiritual life rather than mere obedience
- And that one of the best ways to maintain a healthy relationship with God, and therefore experience his blessing is to cultivate and pursue a joyful life
Next week: We’ve got a new leader… Joshua and we’ll see how he does leading the people