Deuteronomy 12

This is a new section. The “lessons from the wilderness” reached a climax in the last two chapters. We had the reveal of the command to love God with all your heart, and a massive answer to the question “why”: because of his goodness in saving them from Egypt.

Now we start a section that looks forward more exclusively at how they will love God.  This chapter is about the places, the temple, where they must go to offer sacrifices. Also the rules about meat, not eating the blood of the animals out of respect for their God given life. 

I like how is a very practical approach to the command to love God. Canaan is literally full of other Gods. Loving God remains a series of moment to moment choices.

Deuteronomy 11

The listeners are the linking generation.

They’ve seen God’s acts: the sea, the water from the rock etc etc. 

They are the ones who must remember God’s character for the next generation in the New land.

It’s a multi chapter sermon on the love God command and it’s flip side: if they don’t love God, the land will be taken from them.

Moses has, with example after example, and with increasingly inspirational rhetoric, encouraged and warned the people about keeping God in their hearts. 

It’s sad in context to recall how literally the Israelites would take the commands to keep the law on their gates and foreheads, considering it’s an impassioned plea about keepin’ it real. 

The first thing they are to do in the holy land is climb two mountains and on one proclaim the blessing of loving God, and on the other the curse of not loving him.

Deuteronomy 10

The God of second chances.

Moses recounts how God made a second set of tablets for the ten commandments, after the first were smashed by him.

Gia forgiveness and sticking to his promise for Moses an overwhelming insight into God’s goodness.  He Marvel’s at God’s love for the weak, as they were a band of 70 who went to Egypt, and now as promised, as numerous as the stars. 

In response, he tells his listeners to circumcise their hearts. For Moses is not a cultural religion, it’s not about the ritual, it’s about heartfelt gratitude for God’s goodness.

Deuteronomy 9

It’s hard to find a theme here. It’s the gospel according to Moses, and he does bring a perspective of the mind of God to his recap of the events of his life. 

The theme might be what the events of the exodus have shown us about God and how that will be useful in the promised land.

Moses describes a purposeful God who will carry out his plans despite us. 

The Israelites let God down irredeemably in the desert when they made the golden calf to worship, and they should gave been destroyed there. They have no greater claim to the land though their worth than the people already there. 

Those people have earned their destruction by their wickedness in their own right, is nothing to do with the holiness of the Israelites. The Israelites get their inheritance because God keeps his promises, not because they have earned it.

So don’t fear Muslims or atheists. Also don’t fear or expect that much more of Christians, who today as ever seem to do as much or more to undermine God’s kingdom. 

As Bob Dylan once sang about God, he has plans of his own to set up his throne.

Deuteronomy 7

My God can be terrifying God from the perspective of being one of his people. 

Here Moses describes how will root out the stronger people in the land and put in the weaker Israelites, making them strong. But if they don’t obey him, the same fate awaits them.

God is a gardener. We don’t hesitate to pull out annuals that have done flowering. Some plants we feed, others we prune, some we remove. The gardener knows that is best for the garden. The gardener’s plans are for the garden to thrive and survive and for it to be something the current garden can’t imagine being. 

We didn’t actually make the plants in our garden, or the dirt or the sun or the water. Yet we are the masters of its fate. But God made us and our world. 

Contemplating the idea that you are a creation is a shocking idea if you are used to the idea that you are god of yourself. But God has completly the right to act that way.

The process of taking the holy land is often understandably disparaged as racial cleansing. But God makes it clear here that it is not because of racial superiority that he chose the Israelites. It’s because of his plans, not their worth. 

I’m not a Jew, but I believe Jesus, who was, was also God and died for me. This is part of the story of God’s love for all mankind. It’s not racial.

He knew the number of hairs on the head of every one of the “ites” who were already in Canaan. He formed them, knew them and loved them in the womb.  Like plants in a garden, they will all eventually die, but that does not mean they are not known and loved. We love and enjoy our plants, but we didn’t make them. How much more would we if we had.

The people he desired to make way for the Israelites are in his hands. The God I see here, the one I was inspired by the last chapter to love with all my heart, is an all mighty, all powerful God of love and kindness.

Deuteronomy 6

Moses gives and elaborates on the commandment that Jesus would say is the greatest and contains all the law, love the lord your God with all your heart. 

He elaborates on it in a way that does not read like a sermon, but rather a heartfelt plea. His fear is the same as previous chapters, that they will forget because they will be so prosperous and comfortable. 

The irony that God’s grace and provision will be the cause of them forgetting is not lost on him, as they occupy large flourishing cities they did not build.

He pleads with them to remember the slavery that God rescued them from, and going forward to only love that God. 

Picking though all the rules, some of which are ridiculously culturally specific, this one has a giant arrow pointing to a huge red flag as a keeper.

Daily, please father let my heart overflow with love for you, remember your goodness, from every cup of coffee to every sunset and keep you as the only lord of my life.

Deuteronomy 5

Obedience. Moses recounts the drama of the fire and darkness out of which God spoke and gave the ten commandments, which he quotes in full.

I was struck by the universal, profound nature of them. Not killing, stealing, taking your neighbours property. I mean the are very very ancient rules, we haven’t progressed beyond acknowledging them as true, and regularly breaking them, in 1000s of years. They are still an accurate mirror of our ideals and weakness.

He recounts how right the reaction of the people was. They were overwhelmed at hearing God’s voice, they were afraid to see him. They backed off and let Moses complete the interaction.

He calls them to have this respect again, to the law, to the words of God. He’s reminding them that the law came from the living God who is awesome and that is why it should be obeyed.

Deuteronomy 4

Spoiler alert for the rest of the Old testament.

Moses continues his final words before they all go to the promised land without him.

He focuses on the ban against idols. He wants them not to forget about it after a few generations or they will be overrun and exiled. He says that even if that happens God’s mercy will mean they are eventually returned. ¬†As I said, spoiler alert.

The overall message is that there is one true God who deserves obedience. It serves as an introduction to a dissertation of the law.

One true God. If he is forgotten and other gods take over, it is a disaster, but his abiding character is mercy, and he will bring us back.

Praise him!