March 2 Reading: Deuteronomy 8-10 Commentary
“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” (Deut. 8:17-18)
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” (Deut. 10:12)
Deuteronomy 8 – Remembering the Lord
Moses continues to enforce the concept of remembering God. It seems like that is all he has done in the first section of the book. Chap. 8 of Deuteronomy is no different as the remembering theme continues.
What does Moses call them to remember here? Mainly that the Lord led them for forty years in the wilderness. He directed their wilderness wanderings to humble them and to test them, to see what was in their heart (v. 2).
He did allow them to face hunger and thirst on occasion. However, he did not let them go without for long periods of time either. He provided manna for them to eat (v. 3). While physical nourishment was important, there was a bigger lesson to learn, that being that “man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (v. 3).
Miraculously, while in the wilderness, Israel lacked for nothing. In fact, we read here that their “garments did not wear out” and their feet did not swell (from walking) during the 40 year journey (v. 4). That’s impossible unless directed by the miraculous hand of God.
Dangers of Prosperity
Moses then gives a more significant warning about succumbing to prosperity (see Deut. 6:12).
When the people obeyed, God would bless them. They would eat from the good of the land and become full (vv. 7, 10, 12). They would build beautiful houses, increase their herds and gain silver and gold (v. 12-13).
When this happened, their minds might forget who was responsible for their prosperity. The people’s hearts would be lifted up, thinking they themselves had done this. They might even say something like, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth” (v. 17).
Moses warned against this exultation of self. He says to them, “you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…” (v. 18). All their resources and wealth flowed from the hand of God as a means for Him to “establish his covenant” with the people and possess the land (v. 18). If they ever forgot that, their nation would fall just like the ones God drove out before them (v. 19-20).
Deuteronomy 9 – Reviewing Israel’s Rebellion
Nobody likes to remember past mistakes. We’d rather forget about them and move on. But there is so much we can learn from the past that can help us not make the same mistakes in the future.
Israel had to face that in Deuteronomy 9. Moses reviewed some of Israel’s past rebellions against God, most notably the failure at Mt. Sinai where they persuaded Aaron to construct a golden calf for them to worship.
Why does Moses do this? Because it’s important for this new generation of young people to remember their parent’s failures and make a commitment to never do those things again. They can’t change the past but they can surely learn from it.
The rebellions mentioned in this section include:
1. The golden calf incident of Exodus 32. This happened at Mt. Sinai after Moses received the Ten Commandments (vv. 7-21).
2. At Taberah, where the people complained about an unknown issue and were burned with fire (Num. 11:1-3).
3. Complaining about water at Massah (Ex. 17).
4. When the people complained about meat and the Lord sent quail (but then struck the people with a plague because of their craving)(Num. 11:31-35)
5. At Kadesh-Barnea when the 10 spies turned the people against the Lord with their bad report about the land (Num. 13)
All of this to show that it was not the people’s righteousness that was bringing them into the land (vv. 4-5). The deep wickedness of the nations was the reason God was driving them out and allowing Israel to possess the land. As Moses concluded,
“Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (v. 6)
Deuteronomy 10 – The Heart of the Law
Moses broke the first set of stone tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments (Ex. 34:1-9). He had been so upset about the people’s sin when Aaron constructed a golden calf for them to worship that he threw them to the ground. Here he recounts his second interaction with God where He rewrote the commands on a second set of tablets Moses made (vv. 1-5).
Aaron’s death is also revisited (v. 6) as well as God ordaining the tribe of Levi to serve him instead of the firstborn from every tribe (vv. 8-9).
What Does God Require?
Moses asks a question (in the form of a statement) in Deut. 10:12 that gets to the purpose of the law. One might ask why God gave them so many laws in the first place. It seemed like a daunting task to keep them and sometimes the penalties for disobedience were great.
In fact, it’s conceivable Moses heard this question based on how his statement begins:
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you…”
Can’t you hear an Israelite asking this at some point? “What does God want from me?” might be our modern-day translation.
Moses reveals the answer in the second part of verse 12 and into verse 13:
“…but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today…”
That’s the heart of the law for Israel. It’s also the heart of entire Bible for believers today. Fear God, walk in His ways, love Him and show that love by serving Him.
Why? Because all the commands the Lord gave Israel and that he desires we obey today are “for your good…” (v. 13).
People can do all the outward motions of obedience. This makes it look like they love the Lord. But what really matters happens on the inside – with the heart.
Moses used a dramatic visual to drive this point home to the people. In verse 16 he challenges the people to “…circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.” That analogy may be lost on us today. But they knew full well what Moses was trying to say.
Part of God’s covenant with Abraham required circumcision of all males at 8 days of age. This act was a physical sign of the covenant relationship with God. It reminded the people who they belonged to and should have been a reminder not to participate in the sexual activities embedded within the Canaanite religious systems.
With his wording here, Moses is saying that circumcision must be done within too. Just as there is an outward sign of faith, there should be an inner one as well. The inner one is a heart change, peeling back the hard-hearted nature to expose a heart tender to and willing to follow the things of the Lord.
That is true change – when our heart yields and we allow God’s will to play out in our life.
Questions to Consider:
Do you find it hard to let go of your failures and move on with life? What failure in your past has helped shape you into who you are today? What was one failure or mistake in your past that you learned a lot from?
How quickly we forget all the Lord has done for us and how he’s forgiven us from past mistakes. When trouble or failure comes, we don’t remember He’s always been there for us. The new generation of Israelites needed to hear that from Moses in Deut. 8-10. Do you today?
Does your heart yield to God? Or are you more like the stiff-necked Israelites, always trying to do things your way?
What other points would you want to know about in our Deuteronomy 11-13 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.