The wise man Solomon once wrote: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). During the writing of Deuteronomy, Israel is on the cusp of invading the promised land. God was about to give them tremendous victory in the face of overwhelming odds against them. It would be easy for Israel to think their abilities and even their righteousness was the cause of their success. So in this chapter, Moses gives them a stern warning against pride and a reminder they were no beacon of fidelity.
"The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil," wrote the apostle Paul. One would not think a group of recently emancipated slaves would need to hear such a message, yet as Moses looks forward to the conquest, he realizes that God is about to richly bless His people in a way they could not even imagine. With material wealth comes satisfaction and complacency, and most dangerously of all, a sense of personal achievement. Israel may be tempted to think all they had was of their own work and accomplishments, thus leading them to forget entirely about their God who had been the fountainhead of all they possessed.
Moses describes Israel as "a holy people to the Lord your God... a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6). But this begs the question: why did God choose Israel? Out of all the mighty and important nations of the earth, why select this small, unimportant, and often rebellious group to fulfill His divine will? Moses answers this question in today's chapter, emphasizing the sovereignty of God's election when choosing people or groups of people for His service.
Some of the most treasured Old Testament Scriptures are found in Deuteronomy 6. For example, have you ever heard of the Shema? Whether you are familiar with the word "Shema" or not, you have likely heard these words: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4). This statement is immediately followed by words utilized by the Jesus Christ Himself: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Listen to this week's study to learn why these words meant so much to the Jewish people and should have great significance for Christians as well.
"Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them" (Deuteronomy 5:1). With these words, Moses exhorts the people concerning that incredible scene when "the Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb" (Deuteronomy 5:2). Speaking to a new generation of Israelites, Moses recites the Ten Words or Ten Commandments as they are often called. These laws demonstrate the nature and purpose of the arrangement God made with His people.
Learning from the past with an eye towards the future continues to be a dominant theme in Deuteronomy. God had done more for Israel than any other people in the history of the world, and their recognition of His mighty power and gracious blessings would be foundational to maintaining faithfulness through obedience to His commandments. This would have to be taught to every new generation.
The first half of Deuteronomy 4 begins a section of the book which emphasizes the absolute necessity of loyalty to God and obedience to His commands. Only by obedience can Israel possess the good land before them. Only by diligence can their days be long and blessed. Only by loyalty can they avoid the scourge of idolatry. God, and His word, must be the center of everything Israel thought and did.
In Deuteronomy 3, Moses wraps up his historical overview of the exodus from Egypt, the wilderness wanderings, and the battles Israel waged on the east side of the Jordan. The emphasis in much of this chapter is how God enabled the Israelites to win battles and defeat enemies who outmatched them in every way. For example, Og, king of Bashan had a bed which was 13.5 feet long meaning this man was a towering giant. How could Israel war against huge men with superior weaponry and fortified cities? Only by the hand of God!
What's so special about Seir? Why was Israel told, "do not harass Moab, nor provoke them to war?" What happened when Sihon, king of Heshbon, would not allow Israel to pass by his land peacefully? Moses continues his recap of the wilderness journey in this fascinating chapter.
The book of Deuteronomy begins: "These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness." Deuteronomy is comprised of a series of speeches delivered by Moses to the people. At the start of the book, Moses recounts history, primarily covering the wilderness journeys of the people to remind them how and why they are currently camped on the east side of Jordan and what the next steps for the nation will be.