“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 7: JULY 29
DEUTERONOMY 1 – DEUTERONOMY 27:26
Today’s reading is the final (fifth) book of Moses’ contribution to the Old Testament. It’s essentially a summary of the highlights of the Israelite’s 40-year trek through the wilderness, as delivered in a series of speeches (or sermons) by Moses to the children of Israel just before his death and their entrance into the Promised Land. Don’t blink in this reading, because you’ll miss something important.
- What I find compelling is the repetition of important points that Moses obviously wanted to drive home to his listeners and future readers (that would be us!). When I first started reading the Old Testament years ago, I would occasionally think I had lost track of where I’d stopped reading the day before and was going back over the same text, but that wasn’t the case. It was different text but the same topics. The repetition serves the purpose of hammering into us information that needs to be so familiar that it becomes second nature or part of us, and the way to do that is stating the same things over and over but using slightly different words.
- Here are some of the main topics that are repeated by Moses: 1) We need to be obedient to God or we’ll end up like the heathens and get the same punishment as them; 2) we need to remember the children of Israel’s slavery in Egypt and how God brought them out with miracles; 3) we need teach our children and others about the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt and how God brought them out with miracles; 4) we need to keep the Commandments and all relevant laws, statutes, and holidays (note that for us born-agains, most of the laws, statutes and holidays are no longer relevant, other than for the Ten Commandments and the Passover feast, which Jesus commanded us to celebrate in the way he showed us on the night before his crucifixion. But we do – without exception – need to keep the Commandments); and 5) we need to separate ourselves from the heathen (no intermarriage) and not adopt their demonically-inspired sinful ways.
- The fifth point mentioned above became a major trap for the children of Israel. They end up intermarrying with the heathen, which then made them susceptible to adopting the culture of the heathens, which then pitted them against God. I like how God tells his people to utterly smash down the demon-worship pillars (that is, the obelisks) in the heathen cities, and yet today we see obelisks everywhere in supposed Christian nations, including and especially in Vatican City. Some of the abominations in that alleged Christian enclave have even been brought from Egypt at great financial and human cost (with several people dying in the transport of the abominations). It’s like no-one in Vatican City has ever read the Bible, or if they have read it, they decided to do the opposite of what God tells his people to do.
- I have to laugh a little bit at how God reminds his people through Moses (who, by the way, appears to be speaking for himself now that Aaron has passed away) that they were not chosen because they were such a great (i.e., populous) nation or because they were so righteous. In fact, God tells them that the only reason they were chosen is because the heathen were even wickeder than they were. So it’s like God gave the Israelites a D- for their righteousness, but because the heathen got an F, the Israelites win the prize. But a D- is nothing to crow about! One of the prophets later says that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and Jesus says that none is good but God. So God isn’t actually expecting us to achieve righteousness, though we still have to try our hardest to achieve it. No dropping out or quitting, even for ‘mental health’ reasons. The harder we aim for righteousness, the more God blesses our efforts.
- Why did God make the children of Israel wander for 40 years in the wilderness? There were actually a couple of reasons, and Moses mentions them in the reading. The first is that the generation that sinned early on in the wilderness trek needed to be killed. God didn’t want to kill them all at once, as they had their uses, but none of them were allowed to cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land. So it took 40 years for them to die in various ways, most of which were natural causes.
- Another reason for the 40-year wander is that God needed to pace the overthrow of the heathen nations. This couldn’t be done all at once. So he organized for them to sack a certain place and purge (i.e., kill) all the inhabitants but keep the food and cattle, and then live there for a while until he told them to sack the next city and purge all the inhabitants but keep the food and cattle, etc. In this way, the Israelites were provided for but didn’t overextend their military resources or take on too great a burden (too much booty).
- But the main reason for the 40-year wander in the wilderness is that God needed to prove the Israelites, to humble them, to know their heart, and to see whether or not they’d keep his Commandments. If you’re born-again, you know exactly what this means. God is proving you and humbling you, even as he’s providing for you, in order to see what’s really in your heart and whether or not you’ll keep his Commandments (especially under duress). In other words, the Israelites’ 40 year-trek was a training time and a testing time as well as a filtering-out phase for what didn’t belong in the Promised Land. As a born-again believer, I 100% identify with the children of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, because I’m living them now. All born-again believers live them. It’s our earthly reality until we make it to our Promised Land of Heaven (that is, IF we make it to our Promised Land of Heaven).
- I’m going to include most of a passage here, because for me it sums up everything we should be and do as inheritors of God’s promise and followers of Jesus. God, through Moses, is speaking directly to us:
12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?….
16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
20 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
21 He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
I hope you guys are enjoying the read-through and getting out of it what you need to get out of it. Feel free to leave a comment below if something jumped out at you in this reading that you want to share. We all read the same words, but God highlights different ones for each of us at different times. In this way, God’s Word always stays fresh and always has something new to teach us, to cherish, and to apply to our lives.
For the full schedule of the BIBLE READ-THROUGH on PDF, see below: