The Lessons Learned from the Past Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43, cont’d.
Deuteronomy 2:1-3:29 Lessons Learned in the Wilderness, cont’d.
Deuteronomy 3:1-They arrive at the land of Og the Amorite, King of Bashan (he was one of the Rephaim) and were confronted by his army. They were told to totally destroy them (3:2-3,6-"we smote them until no survivor was left."). 60 cities were captured.
Deuteronomy 3:12-20-This is a description of the distribution of the Transjordan territory among Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh). This was the Amorite land that they had just conquered.
Deuteronomy 3:21-22-Moses tells Joshua not to fear the people who possess the Promised Land. He will destroy them just as He has the people of the Transjordan (3:21-22).
Deuteronomy 3:23-28-Moses asks God to allow him to cross over and see the Promised Land. But again (cf. 1:37;3:26;4:21) Moses says that God was angry with him "on your account". It was because of their complaining that Moses acted. However, he was responsible for his action. But here, it almost sounds like Moses is trying to blame them for what he did. Remember (Numbers 20:1-13), the people had complained that there was no water while they were camped in the wilderness of Zin. Moses conferred with God and He told him to “Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron…and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water”. The rod was symbolic of God’s power. Moses took the rod and Aaron and gathered the people together. Then, “he said to them, ‘Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly…” God was not happy with this action. He said, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel…” In other words…God is telling Moses that by his actions he was drawing attention to himself and taking credit for the miracle. Notice first that Moses chastised the people when he said, “you rebels”. God didn’t chastise them. He didn’t tell Moses to speak to them this way. This was done at Moses’ initiative. Suddenly, it appeared that they were accountable to Moses, not to God. Then notice that Moses said, “shall we bring forth water”…when it was God. That he didn’t “speak” to the rock, but he “struck” the rock twice”. This directed the attention away from God and towards himself and Aaron. And, by striking the rock with the “rod” in his hand…he made it appear that he was in control of God’s power. All of these add up to the fact that Moses had not honored God and given Him glory for what happened. “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel…” This is the charge against Moses. He had not treated God as “holy”…meaning separate, distinct from all others. Only God can bring water out of a rock and only God should deserve credit for doing so. This identifies Him as “holy”, separate and distinct from all others. By his actions, Moses had blurred the lines. He had tried to receive credit instead of giving it to God and this lessened the perspective, the understanding, the acknowledgment of God’s holiness in the eyes of the people. And that is totally unacceptable. And Moses knew better.
Which brings us back to verse 26. As a result Moses’ action, God would only allow Moses to go on top of Mt. Pisgah and see the land from a distance. Even now, Moses seems to still harbor some resentment. It’s as if he is saying to the people, “I know that I was wrong, but if you hadn’t been so rebellious in the first place, then I never would have acted in the manner that I did.” Maybe he is trying to convince God that he wasn’t the only one guilty of misbehaving and that he shouldn’t be held accountable because the people had incited him to behave in the manner he did. Evidently he brought this to the Lord’s attention on more than one occasion and finally the Lord told him to stop doing so…”and the LORD said to me, ‘Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter.”
He then told Moses to tell Joshua that he would be the one to lead the people into the Promised Land. He knew that Joshua might feel overwhelmed by this task so He told Moses to, “encourage him and strengthen him”. This was to be done based on the promise that God had made to the people that they would receive the land.
Deuteronomy 4:1-43 Lessons Learned in the plains of Moab
Moses declares that the people must keep God's commandments in order to be blessed. Here, he tells them how to do that in something of a free flowing narrative that moves back and forth from what they are to remember…to what they are to do.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2-Remember what God has said…and be diligent to practice it (:9) Do not add to His Word.
Deuteronomy 4:3-4-Remember what God has done in the past…so that you will trust Him for the future.
Deuteronomy 4:5-8-The other nations will recognize the wisdom and understanding that they have has come from God. They will be impressed by the fact that when they pray God is near to them. This is what distinguishes Israel from all of the other nations.
Deuteronomy 4:9-14-Make an intentional effort to remember all that God has done for you and be diligent to teach these things to your children. The things that they teach their children should include:
- Deuteronomy 4:10-14-God spoke to the people and then gave them the 10 Commandments.
- Deuteronomy 4:15-19-Don't make any visual, graven image of God. Don’t worship any man, or animal on the earth below…or anything in the heavens above.
- Deuteronomy 4:20-They were "to be a people for His own possession"…this emphasized their unique and exclusive relationship with God.
Deuteronomy 4:21-23-Moses again mentions the incident when he struck the rock with the rod. He uses it as an example of what happens when we take our eyes off of God and begin to draw attention to anything else…whether it be an idol, or even ourself. There will be consequences.
Deuteronomy 4:24-God is jealous for His people…meaning that He is unwilling to share this relationship with any other god, for them to worship anything or anyone else…other than Himself.
Deuteronomy 4:25-30-Moses tells them what will happen when the people forsake God. They will be scattered among the nations. But they will seek Him and return to Him. “You will seek the LORD your God, and will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul." This almost sounds like the Great Commandment.
Deuteronomy 4:31-God is compassionate to His people. When they call on Him, He will restore them.
Deuteronomy 4:32-40-God has revealed Himself (:33-His voice and fire, :34-by choosing a nation) and demonstrated that He is God and that there is no other god (:35,39). The action that He has taken in regards to Israel identifies His greatness and His superiority over all other supposed gods. He is the one and the only true God. Based on that fact…the people of Israel are to be obedient to Him…and as a result they will be blessed.
Deuteronomy 4:41-43-Moses identifies the cities of refuge in Transjordan (Bezer, Ramoth, Golan).
The Laws that Govern the Future Deuteronomy 4:44-26:19
Deuteronomy 4:44-12:32 Laws Concerning God
Deuteronomy 4:44-49-God is now going to give them the laws that would govern them in the Promised Land. These verses are setting the time and the scene for what God is about to teach them. This was done at their arrival in Transjordan.
Prayer: Lord, I wish that I could have heard the words that Moses spoke to Joshua on Mt. Pisgah. You told Moses to “encourage him and strengthen him”. They must have been wonderful words as one leader passed the mantel to the next. Please help me to do that very thing with the people that I serve. Help me to direct them to Your promises, Your power, Your presence, Your provision. Help me to direct them to You. Please help me to be the man that You would have me to be…as I serve You, through Your people.