Saturday, August 18, 2007

Deuteronomy 11

Deuteronomy 11: Love and Obey the LORD

Synopsis

This passage continues on from the last passage; Moses is continuing to urge the Israelites to obey the LORD, to follow His decrees, and to love Him. As he says in verse 1, “Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.”

Moses reminds the Israelites that although they have seen and experienced “the discipline of the LORD [their] God” (verse 2), their children haven’t. Their children didn’t see:

  • the things He did in Egypt
  • how He brought them through the desert
  • how He punished Dathan and Abiram (see Numbers 16)

Therefore, they are to obey the commands that Moses is passing along, so that they will have the strength to go in and take possession of the Promised Land—“a land flowing with milk and honey” (verse 9)—and so that they will live there for a long time. And they have a good reason to want to live there, too:

The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. (verses 10–12)

No wonder they wanted this land!

So the Israelites are to be careful, lest they are turned to obey other gods. If they do, the LORD’s anger will burn against them, and he won’t send the rain in its season—the land will no longer be as wonderful as it is today. They are to remember all of the words of His law:

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (verses 18–21)

If they obey the LORD, then He will drive out the nations currently living in the Promised Land, even though they’re larger and stronger than the Israelites. Every place where the Israelites set their feet will be theirs (verse 24), and all of the people currently living in the Promised Land will be terrified of them.

To sum up, Moses says that he is presenting the Israelites a blessing and a curse: a blessing if they obey the LORD’s commands, and a curse if they don’t, and if they turn after other gods And, as a reminder of this, when the Israelites enter the Promised Land, as they pass between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, they are to have people standing on those mountains, proclaiming the LORD’s blessings from the one, and His curses from the other.

Thoughts

I found this next passage very interesting:

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. (verses 13–15)

I find this passage interesting because this is Moses speaking. There aren’t any quotation marks, indicating that the LORD is now speaking; so what’s with the use of the word “I”? Moses won’t be sending rain in its season; Moses won’t be providing grass for their livestock. But this just goes to show—at least, in my mind—that when Moses is speaking to the Israelites, it’s really the LORD speaking to the Israelites. So much so that he doesn’t even feel the need, sometimes, to say “the LORD says this,” and “the LORD says that.” It’s just understood: When Moses is speaking, he’s speaking on behalf of the LORD.

I find it very interesting that the LORD commands the Israelites to pass between two mountains, on their way into the Promised Land, from which His blessings and curses are proclaimed to them. Apparently, God is a big believer in the carrot and the stick: He wants the Israelites to know the rewards they will get, for following His commands (and by avoiding worship of other gods), but He also wants them to know the punishments they will receive for not following His commands, or for going after other gods.
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