November 30, 2015.
Daily Reading: Deuteronomy 10-12.
Background: Deuteronomy 7-9.
Concepts and Connections.
Circumcision of the heart: As Moses continues his discourse from the previous chapter to the children of Israel, he reminds them of how he was told to make two new tablets of stone and an ark, that the Lord might write again the commandments as He did the first time (see Exodus 34). The first tablets being broken in Moses’ righteous indignation of the people who had made a golden calf to bow down and worship (see Exodus 32). This Moses did and the tablets were in the ark of the covenant at this point. There is a parenthetical interlude in his story that details the journey of the children of Israel and the consecration of the tribe of Levi to carry the ark and minister to the Lord. Moses explains how he made intercession for the people so that the Lord was not willing to destroy them, but rather to lead them into the land of promise; and here they were, about to enter into the land. Thus Moses makes his point after reminding the people of their history- they were to circumcise their hearts. The Lord had chosen them as a special people among all the nations, and not was leading them into a land that was not their own where they would be given possessions for which they did not have to labor or toil. What did God want from them? Their obedience that spawned out of their love for Him, serving Him with all their heart and soul. He loved His people and sought their love in return. Thus, they were to circumcise their hearts and cease their stubbornness. Obedience starts with the heart, not with the law. He had done great and wonderful things for them. He was their praise. Moses will continue this concept in the next chapter.
A blessing and a curse: Continuing his exhortation to the people who were about to cross over into the promised land, Moses lays before them the great and wonderful picture of the Lord. He reminds them of what the Lord had done for them, how He had brought them out of Egyptian bondage with a mighty hand, and brought back the waters of the Red Sea on top of the Egyptian army that was pursuing the Israelites (see Exodus 14). He reminds them of their time in the wilderness with the rebellion of Korah, and the manifest punishment from the Lord (see Numbers 16). With this, he charges the children of Israel to keep the whole commandment and take possession of the land they were about to enter into. It was not like Egypt, for it was a land of beauty, flowing with milk and honey. And the Lord was giving it to them, not some other god. Thus, when they entered the land, it was imperative that they not fall away to serving and worshiping the false gods of the peoples in the promised land, for they could do nothing for the Israelites. The gave them nothing, nor had they any power. It is the Lord who is God, and Him only. His anger would be kindled against His people if they turned aside to other gods. To prevent this, Moses charges the people to store these words in their heart and soul, even physically binding them on their hands and frontlets, teaching their children and talking of them in their house, or walking by the way. They were to be on their minds thoughout their daily lives, when they went to sleep and when they woke up. They were to be on the gates and the doorposts. It is apparent that the children of Israel would need a constant reminder to seek the Lord with their whole heart. We should learn a valuable lesson from this, as we are far too often distracted from seeking the Lord. Moses set before the children of Israel a blessing and a curse. A blessing if they were to keep the commandments and walk in the ways of the Lord with their whole heart, but a curse if they indeed turned aside from the way. A blessing and a curse- the choice was theirs. A similar choice is ours.
Worshiping the Lord in His way and His place, separate from the nations: In this chapter, Moses makes it clear to the people that when they go into the land that the Lord is giving them, they are not to adopt even the practices of worship that they see there. This is significant, for even if they were serving the Lord only, they still were not to serve Him in the places or ways that the other nations served their own gods. God had chosen a place for worship, and a consecrated tribe who was to minister before Him. They had their tithes and offerings to bring to Him in the way that He commanded. They were to be separate from the inhabitants of the land, and they were to strike down all their idols and false gods as they entered. They were not to do whatever was right in their own eyes, but rather worship the Lord their God in the place where He choose. They were allowed to fully enjoy the blessings that the Lord gave them in any place (abstaining from eating the blood of animals, see Leviticus 3:17), but their worship to Him must be in the place where He chose. This was to separate the Lord from the other Gods, to place Him higher than any other, to teach their children that the Lord is not like any other god, for He is the Almighty. The practices of the other nations were abominable to the Lord, and to serve Him in that way would be detestable to Him (the other nations even sacrifices their children to their gods, a despicable thing in the sight of the Lord, see Jeremiah 7:30-34). They were to do what the Lord commanded, and not to add to or take from His words. Let us be careful not to add to or take from His words today.
Tomorrow’s Reading: II Chronicles 33-36.
He is our praise.