We have now come to the last book of the Torah.
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It is the 11th month of the 40th year since the Israelites came out of Egypt, and Moses knows he will not be crossing over with the people, so he gathers them together and reviews the past 40 years with them. This is, in essence, his last teaching, his good-bye speech, and he wants to make sure he doesn’t leave anything out with this final warning to the people.
In this first section, he reviews their travels and events, starting with leaving Mount Horeb (Sinai) and taking them to the recent victory over the two kings, Sihon and Og, whose conquered lands he gave to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
This book is a recap of the travels, experiences, and teachings that the Israelites have undergone for the past 40 years. Moses states that the old generation, the ones that rebelled when they first came to the Promised Land, have all died in the desert, as God said they would, and now Joshua is to lead this generation into the Promised Land, and do so without fear because God will be going ahead of them and will protect them.
As we go through this book, there are some things I think we should be most aware of.
In Deut. 5, Moses restates “The Ten Words”, the Ten Commandments God gave us.
He also tells the people (Deut. 9) not to become proud and think they are in the Land because they deserve to be (when I read this I automatically think of Romans 11:18); no, they are there because God has kept his promise to their faithful and obedient Fathers (the Patriarchs), but the ones Moses is talking to now are rebellious, stiff-necked children. Moses reminds them of the many ways they have disobeyed and complained against the Lord for the past 40 years.
In a number of places, Moses warns the people against apostatizing and serving other gods, telling them that when (notice he doesn’t say “if”) they do, God will eject them from the land just as he did the people before them.
One of the most important chapters, in my opinion, of the entire Torah, is Chapter 28, The Blessings and Curses, where Moses tells the people exactly what blessings they receive for obedience and the curses they will suffer for disobedience.
Finally, God gives Moses and song for the people to learn (Deut. 32) and pass down throughout their generations as a testimony against them so that when they reject God and are dispersed, they will remember this song and know that what happened was their own fault.
This is Moses’ last chance to warn the people against disobedience, which is why he reviews the entire Torah, all the laws God has given, and all the times the people rebelled against them. He reminds them of how God has protected them when they were obedient and punished them when they disobeyed and emphasizes often that as long as they do what God has told them, they will live a long and peaceful existence in the land they are about to enter.
What you must realize is that the constant admonition from Moses to obey God’s instructions is valid for everyone, not just the Israelites that lived back then. Remember: God told Moses in Exodus 19:6 that the Israelites were to be his (God’s) nation of priests, and that means these lessons that were to be learned, everything Moses reviews in this book of Deuteronomy, is just as valid for both Jews and Christians today as it was for the Israelites back then.
In fact, these instructions are for everyone in the entire world.
If you want to know what God wants from you, all you have to do is read this book, Deuteronomy.
The last thing I want to talk about today is this:
Deuteronomy 29:28: “Things which are hidden belong to Adonai our God. But the things that have been revealed belong to us and our children, forever, so that we can observe all the words of this Torah.
Too many people want to know every single tidbit and iota of information about every single aspect of God and the Bible. Now, it is never wrong to want to know God better, and the best way to do that is to study his word, but when the need to know gets in the way of the ability to accept faithfully that all God wants us to know we have been told, then (in my opinion) it becomes a sin. God hasn’t just told us that all we need to know we have been told, but that anything else is above our pay grade, and only for him to know.
Just remember that the next time someone wants to argue about details that aren’t specifically in the Bible because reading between the lines can be a two-edged sword.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!