Pay Careful Attention To God’s Word.

Deuteronomy 17:14-18:22

Even the king is subject to God’s ‘law’. His supreme responsibility is this: Pay careful attention to God’s Word (17:18-20). Politically, he may be in an elevated position – a ‘king over’ others (17:14-15). Spiritually, he must not allow ‘his heart’ to be ‘lifted up above his brethren’(17:20). There must be humble obedience to God’s Word. Priests speak to God for us. Prophets speak to us for God. We need both – ‘prayer and the ministry of the Word’(Acts 6:4). In our worship, we must keep the Lord at the very centre. Anything or anyone who distracts our attention from the Lord is no help to true worship (9-14). ‘A prophet like Moses’(18:15): Jesus is the ultimate prophet – to see and hear Him is to see and hear God (John 5:19; 12:49; 14:9). He preaches God’s Word. He is ‘the Word of God’(John 1:1).

Lessons For The Life Of Faith

Deuteronomy 1:1-2:37 – Will We Be The New Generation? –  ‘A New Creation In Christ’

With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, the older generation – including Moses – was not to enter the land (34-38). For the new generation, there was a challenge. There must be no more failures. One wasted generation was enough. This was the time for real commitment to the Lord. He loved them – He had ‘set the land before’ them. They were to rise up in faith and ‘take possession of the land’(8). We are called to go on with the Lord. ‘You have stayed long enough’ at a low level of Christian living. God is calling us on to maturity: ‘go in and take possession of the land; (6,8; Philippians 3:13-14). Do not hesitate to move forward with God: ‘do not fear… It is a good land which the Lord gives us’(21,25). Will we be the new generation, ‘a new creation in Christ’(2 Corinthians 5:17) ?

During their wilderness years, God’s people had many problems. God is greater than all the problems! Israel’s journey began in the land of ‘bondage’(Exodus 2:23-25). From there, He led them to the land of promise, ‘the land which the Lord our God gives to us’(29). This is ‘amazing grace’: ‘Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home’(Mission Praise, 31). In the giving and taking of the land, we see both grace and faith: ‘I have begun to give… this land over to you; begin to take possession…’(31). We are not saved by grace apart from faith. We are ‘saved by grace through faith’. We are not saved by faith without grace. We are ‘saved by grace through faith’. Saved by the Lord, let us press on to a life of ‘good works’(Ephesians 2:8-10).

Deuteronomy 26:1-27:10 – The Call To Obedience Is Grounded In The Gift Of Salvation.

The people of Israel had a testimony. They had been redeemed by the God of love. Thankful for His love and salvation, they brought their offerings to the Lord (26:5-9). The call to obedience is grounded in the gift of salvation. Redeemed by the Lord, we are called to be ‘a people holy to the Lord our God’(26:16-19). There is no privilege without responsibility. Israel was privileged: God was giving them ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’. Israel was responsible: God was saying to them, ‘Keep all the commandments which I command you this day’(27:1-3). God blesses us. We obey Him. We enjoy more of His blessing. This leads us to obey Him more. Break the ‘vicious circle’. Get on to God’s ‘victorious circle’: He shows us His love. We love Him. He shows us more of His love. We love Him more… (John 14:21).

Deuteronomy 32:19-33:17 – We Are ‘In The Lord’s Hands.’ Let Us ‘Follow In His Steps.’
Here, we have both the warning of judgment and the promise of salvation. Rebuking ‘a perverse generation’- ‘They are devious people, children who can’t be trusted’- God says, ‘I will hide My face from them’(20). When, in our need, we look to Him for mercy, we have His promise: ‘The Lord will… have compassion on His servants, when He sees their power is gone’(36). ‘This is the blessing…’(1). For each tribe – Reuben (6), Judah (7), Levi (8-11), Benjamin (12), Joseph (13-17) – , there is a different Word from the Lord. Each of us is different. Our circumstances are different. God knows what we need to hear. He speaks the Word which is just right for each one. He ‘loves’ every one of us. We are ‘in His hands’. Let us ‘follow in His steps, receiving direction from Him’(3).
Moses was important. Joshua was important. The Lord is more important.

‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27): This is no guarantee of peaceful tranquility. For Israel, there was conflict. ‘Saved by the Lord’, Israel had found true happiness. Still, there were ‘enemies’ to be ‘thrust out’ and ‘trampled down’ (Deuteronomy 33:27,29). Knowing the blessing of God’s salvation is no guarantee that life will be easy. When the enemies of the Gospel see a believer intent on glorifying the Lord, they do all they can to create problems. We have ‘enemies’ in ‘high places’ (Deuteronomy 33:29; Ephesians 6:12). Their argument is not with us. It is with God. If God’s work is to do well, there needs to be spiritual leadership. Moses had led God’s people in his day. Joshua was to take his place (Deuteronomy 34:9). Moses was important. Joshua was important. The Lord is more important – ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31).

Celebrating God’s Love

Deuteronomy 16:1-17:13

Blessed by God, the people of Israel had much to celebrate. They had been brought out of the land of bondage. They were about to enter the land of promise. The keeping of the feasts (16:1-17) was a response to God’s love, a way of celebrating His love. Why did God bring Israel to the promised land? It was because He ‘loved them’(Psalm 44:3). The Passover was a continuing reminder of God’s mighty work of redemption. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of what God has done for us in Christ. In remembering His dying love for us, we remember what we were without Him and we give thanks for all that He has done for us. As well as ‘joy’(45), there is to be justice (16:18-17:13; Micah 6:8). Note the effect of justice: ‘And all the people shall hear, and fear, and not act presumptuously again’(17:13).

Be Resolute In Your Commitment To Living ‘As The Lord Our God Has Commanded.’

Deuteronomy 20:10-21:23

The offer of ‘peace’ is made (20:10; Romans 5:1). Some refuse to ‘make peace’. They choose to ‘make war’(20:12). When the enemies of Christ and the Gospel are raging, we must be resolute in our commitment to living ‘as the Lord our God has commanded’(20:16-18). We are to ‘do what is right in the sight of the Lord’. This will involve ‘going forth to war against our enemies’. It will involve ‘purging the evil from our midst’ (21:9-10,21; Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Hebrews 12:1-2, 11). Our life of holiness is grounded in the death of Christ who, on the Cross, was ‘accursed by God’ so that we might be saved by God (21:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). Through faith in Him, we have been declared holy (Romans 5:1,3-5,9-10).

We Are To Be ‘A People Holy To The Lord Our God.’

Deuteronomy 13:1-14:21
Obedience to God involves an uncompromising attitude toward those who would lead people away from God. Those who say ‘Let us go and serve other gods’(13:2,6,13) must not be permitted to exert their evil influence on God’s people. God says, ‘You must not listen to them (13:3,8). Temptations to ‘idolatry’ can come under the guise of ‘spirituality’- ‘a prophet… a dreamer of dreams… a sign or a wonder’(13:1; 1 John 4:1). ‘Idolatry’ can come from within one’s own family. The Lord must come first (13:6-11; Luke 14:26). God’s judgment is upon ‘idolaters’ so that others may see their folly, turn from ‘idolatry’ and receive God’s mercy (13:12-18). Remember God’s purpose of love (John 3:17). In our worship and in the whole of life, we are to be ‘a people holy to the Lord our God’(14:2,21).
Deuteronomy 14:22-15:23
‘Tithing’(Giving the tenth to God) emerges out of holiness: ‘You are a people holy to the Lord your God… You shall tithe’(14:21-22). It is more than giving things to God. It is giving ourselves to Him. It also involves caring for others (7-11; Isaiah 58:6-7). We have been ‘earmarked’ as servants of the Lord (17). Being ‘earmarked’ for God involves listening to God (Isaiah 55:2-3). Bring ‘the firstling’ to God (19). ‘We are here to bring You the best that we can bring. And it is our love rising from our hearts’(Mission Praise, 717). ‘Just as I am… to be the best that I can be for truth, and righteousness, and Thee, Lord of my life, I come’(Church Hymnary, 448). No second bests – Only the best will do for God.

Reconciled To God Through The Death Of His Son

Deuteronomy 22:1-30

Care for ‘your brother’(1-4). Our caring is not to be selective – ‘If the brother does not live near you or if you do not know who he is’(2). When Jesus says, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’(Luke 10:27), He means much more than loving the people who live near us, the people who we know. The ‘Samaritan’ didn’t know ‘the man who fell into the hands of robbers’(Luke 10:30,33). ‘Jews did not associate with Samaritans’(John 4:9). Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). Love your enemies with the love of the Lord – ‘when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son’(Romans 5:8,10). Don’t love the ways of those who ‘live as enemies of the Cross of Christ’(Philippians 3:18). ‘Purge the evil from the midst of you’(21-22,24).

God Blesses Us Because He Loves Us – Not Because We Are Worthy Of His Blessing.

Deuteronomy 27:11-28:24

Through His strongly worded warnings, God calls us back from the way of disobedience (27:15-26;28:15-24). Through His promises of blessing, He calls us to the way of obedience, the only way to true happiness (28:1-14). God’s blessing cannot be taken for granted. Where there is disobedience, there is no blessing. Our ‘enemies’ will triumph over us (28:25). We need not be defeated. God has shown us His way of blessing. It is the way of obedience (1-2). We are not blessed because we deserve to be blessed. We can never earn the Lord’s blessing. The blessing comes from Him (8). He blesses us because He loves us – not because we are worthy of His blessing. You can be in ‘the promised land’ without enjoying the promised blessing. Don’t ‘suffer loss’- ‘saved, but only as through fire’(1 Corinthians 3:15).