November 23, 2015.
Daily Reading: Deuteronomy 7-9.
Background: Deuteronomy 4-6.
Concepts and Connections.
Set apart from the world: In this chapter, Moses addresses the children of Israel to teach them what kind of people that are and ought to be. The children of Israel were a holy people, not because of their own righteousness which we will learn in a couple of chapters, but because God had chosen them. He had set them apart from the world. Therefore, when they went into the land of promise, they were not to intermarry with the wicked inhabitants of the land, but rather drive them out completely, devoting them to destruction and making no covenant with them. This was to protect their spiritual purity, for if they rather intermingled with the people of the land, they would be lead away to worshipping their gods and idols and the wrath of the Lord would be brought upon them and they would be destroyed. He had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt with a mighty hand and chosen them to be a treasured possession. He did this out of His love for them and the covenant He made with their fathers. He would continue His covenant with steadfast love to a thousand generations (which symbolizes completeness) with those who walk in His commandments. Thus, the children of Israel were charged to be careful to do the commandments, statues and rules that set them apart from the nations. In doing so, the Lord would bless their nation, so that they would multiply and grow strong. Note the physical blessings the Lord promises to the faithful here. They were to have no fear of the other nations, for the Lord their God was on their side. He had already proved to them His power when He brought them out of the land of Egypt, though they were slaves, with great signs and wonders. The Lord is a great and awesome God. When they entered the promised land, the Lord would drive out the inhabitants before them (though little by little for practical reasons) and they were to devote all their idols to utter destruction, lest they become a snare for them.
The Lord God: Moses then turns his topic to the ultimate sovereignty and deliverance of God, reminding the people to be careful to follow in His commandments and way as He had brought them through the wilderness these forty years. Everything they had they were given by the Lord. When they were hungry, He fed them with manna (see Exodus 16). When they were thirsty, He gave them drink (see Exodus 17:1-7). Their own clothes had not worn out these 40 years. The Lord was for His people, though He tested them in the wilderness. Thus they were to remember the Lord their God, who had been a Father to them, and live not by bread alone, but by every word that came from the mouth of God. Jesus quotes this passage as a rebuttal to Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread (see Matthew 4:4). The Lord was bringing them into a good land, one flowing with milk and honey, and they would eat and be full. But in this blessing, the children of Israel were to be careful not to let pride swell within them. They were not to forget that it was God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt and into the land of promise, not themselves. They could have done nothing by themselves. No, it was the Lord who sustained them in the wilderness, and it was the Lord who was going to sustain them in the promised land. The warning given here is that if they indeed forgot the Lord when they entered the land, they would surely perish just like the nations that He had driven out before them.
Not because of their righteousness: Continuing to prepare the minds of the children of Israel who were about to cross the Jordan and enter into the promised land, Moses makes it clear to the people the reason that the Lord is bringing them into the land so that they do not misunderstand what brought them there. The Lord was indeed bringing them into a great land and driving out the nations before them, but it was not because of their own righteousness that the Lord was doing this. On the contrary, they were actually a stubborn and rebellious people. Thus, Moses makes it clear that they were to know that it wasn’t because of the good that they had done that they received this blessing, but rather it was because of the wickedness of the nations in the promised land and because of the covenant that the Lord had made with their fathers that He was giving them this blessing. To drive home the point, Moses reminds the people of their stubbornness and sin, when they provoked the Lord to wrath time and again in the wildness, and even at Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai). He goes over in great detail their forsaking of the Lord when he was on the mountain receiving the ten commandments from the Lord (see Exodus 32). The people had turned from the Lord and asked Aaron to set up a golden calf before them to worship. The Lord’s anger was kindled against them and against Aaron, so much that He was going to destroy them. If Moses had not interceded for the people, they would have been consumed in the wrath of the Lord. But Moses indeed prayed for the people and for Aaron, and the Lord turned from His wrath and spared the people. Moses also reminds the people how they had provoked the Lord to wrath at Taberah by complaining (see Numbers 11:1-3), Massah for quarreling (see Exodus 17:1-7), Kibroth-hattaavah for their craving (see Numbers 11:31-35) and Kadesh-barnea for not trusting in the Lord and taking the promised land the first time (see Numbers 13-14). The people had been constantly rebellious, and Moses had interceded for them on multiple occasions. This was to remind them that it was not because of their own righteousness that the Lord was bringing them into the land of promise, for if it were by merit of their own righteousness, they would note even have had a hope of entering the land. But they were chosen by God to be His people and heritage. Thus, He was giving them the land of promise as He made a covenant with their fathers.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 126-128.
Do not let pride have a foothold.