Deut 8.8 gives us a list of some of the produce found in the land, called the “Sheva Minim” (“seven species”-2 Chr 31.4-7). These were brought to the Temple on the festival of Shavuot (Mishnah, Bikkurim 3.1-2). Deut 8.11 says that as Israel went through life, they were “not” to forget the Lord by “not” keeping the commandments, the ordinances and the statutes, which he is giving them “today.” Notice he says if you don’t keep the Torah you have “forgotten” or never knew the Lord. There is a term for this and it is called “lawless” and it means “against the Torah.” In Greek it is “anomos” and this concept can be found all through the Gospels and Epistles (Matt 7.21-23; 2 Thes 2.3-8).
Deut 8.12-16 tells us that just as Israel went through trials, but “in the end” they saw the Lord’s hand in it (v 16). We will see the Lord’s hand in our lives as we look back, too. We can be “Monday morning quarterbacks” and this should encourage us that “in the end” it will be well with us. The reason he does this with Israel and with us is “to confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers as it is this day.”
That’s why he leads us the way he does, away from the replacement theology most of us are familiar with. This was so we could learn his commandments and to confirm the covenants he made with our fathers. He is still working the plan out with their descendants, and that includes us. Deut 8.19-20 is a warning. Every generation must hear the voice that spoke from that mountain (Sinai) for themselves, and recognize that voice. That will mean our children can recognize it, and so on.
When someone says, “Don’t keep the commandments” they are really saying “Don’t listen to the Lord.” Is that the speech that a servant of God would make? No, he is spitting on the shadow. When asked “Should we obey the Lord” they will say “Yes” but then stand up when talking about the the Torah, or the Sabbath, and say “No.” That is a definition of a hypocrite. That “voice” in your heart should match the words of the Lord. If they don’t, then they are not God’s words.
Deut 9.1-29 is instruction for the spiritual person, or “How not to be a religious person.” Verses 1-6 starts right out by saying that Israel was not to think in their heart that Yehovah was giving them the land because they were so righteous. In addition, he is not doing it because of the wickedness of the nations only, even though verse 5 says that was a reason (based Gen 15.16). In the overall picture, it was part of the bigger plan of God called the Abrahamic Covenant seen in Gen 15.1-21. The Lord is confirming his oath with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Deut 9.5-6. After all, he says, “You are a stubborn people” and not the righteous people they think they are. Israel has pulled in the opposite direction God is going many times.
In Deut 9.7-21 Moses recounts what led up to the Golden Calf incident. Then in verse 22 he recounts how Israel complained about the manna, and at Massah and Meribah in Exo 17.7 (quarreling), how they tested the Lord by saying, “Is God with us today?” In Num 11.10-35 we have the quail incident at Kibrot-Hattaavah referred to here in v 22. They got the blessing and still complained. In Num 13, at Kadesh Barnea (Wadi Rum), they refused to go into the land. Moses is reminding them of all this, and how close they came to the Lord destroying them all (v 14).
Before we are too hard on Israel, we need to understand that we are just like them. We complain, we question and wonder “Is the Lord with me” even after he has done many great things for us. We don’t get our “wants” and that is one of the things wrong with the prosperity movement. It teaches “lust” for material things, the very things that Israel is criticized for.
After all that happened, Moses prayed for the people not to be destroyed (v 25-29). He calls them “they people, even thine inheritance, whom thou hast redeemed.” Moses is saying “You chose us, I wish we chose you, but we didn’t.” He wants the Lord to remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and not to look at the stubbornness of the people. Moses points out that the Canaanites will say Yehovah was not able to bring them into the land he promised because he hated them, and brought them into the wilderness to kill them. The Canaanites would then think that their gods are more powerful than Yehovah.
God’s purpose, therefore, in the world is not us (the body of Messiah). All of this is “for us” but it is for his names’ sake. We can partake and receive an inheritance, forgiveness, the blessings and all that but it’s not because of our righteousness that any of this happens. What we need to do is grasp how great Yehovah is and how his plan includes a true believer. The question then becomes, “How did I get here?” All the credit and glory goes to the Lord. So, let’s go back to Deut 9.26 for a moment.
God chose us, we didn’t choose him. We are the children of the fathers he made these promises to, “the inheritance.” He paid for us and put the value on us. We are the work of his hands. We don’t want the Lord to look at us, we are sinners. We want him to remember his promises to our fathers (v 27). We want the Lord to remember the land. Does he want the Canaanites on it or a people who will worship him?
In Deut 10.1 we learn that the Lord has “relented” from Deut 9.14 and the Ten Commandments are put into the Ark. In Deut 10.12-13 tells us that God requires us to fear the Lord and walk in his ways. we are to love him and serve him. We are to keep the commandments and his statutes. Why? Because it is “for your good” (v 13). We get the benefit, we are not the cause. He made us, he chose us and he redeemed us. Everything is his work and we benefit from it.
Deut 10.15-16 is the essence of the teaching of Moses here. He tells them to “Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more.” In this case, the people were to do it. Later, as part of the Covenant at Moab (Seed of the father) or what is known as the New Covenant, God will do it (Deut 30.6). We will deal with that in detail when we get to Deut 29.10 to 30.20.
We can’t obey if our heart isn’t right. We must believe on the inside and circumcise our hearts and not stiffen our necks anymore. For example, there is not one verse in the Tanak that says we must go to a building to keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath was observed at home, away from the public. It was not a day of assembly. Then, those who had this commandment belief in their heart began to assemble with others who had the same belief, but it started in the heart. God was real and they found others like themselves, and people assembled. But people can get this backward.
We think we go to a congregation or a church to “get the faith.” But we should have it already. Some organizations have turned their synagogues and churches into salvation centers when they were to be teaching centers. The Lord will find out where we are at. Are we ready to back up our faith by deeds when we say we “love the Lord (Jam 2.14-26). The commandments were given for us to show the Lord we love him (John 14.15). Many are just talkers (Amorites). Do we love the brethren or do we attack, or resent them? Do we quit and leave the work for others to do when things don’t go our way? Do we call him “Lord” because we do what he says, or are we satisfied in being a “religious” person?
We are not satisfied in being religious, or interested in “religious” things. We cannot be satisfied with that, and none of us should be satisfied with that. Don’t be satisfied until we can hear his voice. We don’t want to know about the Lord, we want to know the Lord (Jer 9.23; 1 John 2. 3-4). That is the essence of what Moses is teaching in Deut 10.15-16.
We will pick here in Part 10.