Deuteronomy – what a strange word. It just occurred to me that I have no idea what the word even means. So I decided to do some really in depth research. (cough…. google ) And I discovered that the word Deuteronomy essentially means “words” or “Discourses”. And this makes a lot of sense now since the book begins with the following: These are the words that Moses spoke to all the people of Israel while they were in the wilderness east of the Jordan River. – Deuteronomy 1:1
At this point I have read up to Deuteronomy chapter 8. As I was reading today I was surprised to realize that these are the words that Moses spoke to all of Israel. His final words. God has let him know it is time for Israel to take the land promised to them, and Moses knows that he will die before this happens. So his death is imminent. Now what is even more surprising is that I realized that this is the same Moses that complained to God that he did not speak well when God spoke to him through the burning bush. And now Moses is a great speaker. Sharing a message to over a million people (over 600,000 men so I assume nearly an equal number of women). He is confident, a true leader of God’s people. It is great to see how God can change someone from being afraid and weak to being strong and confident. Moses leaves the world as a man completely changed by God.
Moses reminds Israel of how God rescued them. He reminded them of how they got to the edge of the Jordan river. (what should have been an 11 day journey and how it turned into 40 years.) He reminded them of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and how God will bless them. He also reminded them that they must obey God to receive the blessings that the Lord will give. He reminded them of the commandments that God gave. And in all of his words two verses stood out the most for me today. Verses that I had never noticed in the Old Testament. Words that if I saw written I would say Jesus had said them, not Moses.
Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. – Deuteronomy 6:4-5
The commands given to Israel are summed up in this one sentence. I had always thought that this was somewhat of a new idea when Jesus spoke those words. But it was not. God had revealed this to Israel, that what He expected of them could be narrowed down to one simple concept. To “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength”.
Moses is somewhat prophetic with his words as well. He describes to Israel what will happen to them if they forget their Lord, and disobey their Lord. And from the track record of Israel thus far in the Old Testament it looks certain that they will do exactly this. Moses describes Israel being beaten by their enemies and losing the land promised to them if they do not obey the Lord. And within all of this Moses says this:
But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him. In the distant future, when you are suffering all these things, you will finally return to the Lord your God and listen to what he tells you. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.
– Deuteronomy 4:29-31
That even when Israel falls away from God. If they search for Him again, and I mean really honestly search for Him. That they will find Him and He will accept them back. The covenant God made with Israel will remain even if they worship idols and are consumed by their enemies. He will always be there to take them back, because they are His people. So the idea that God was angry and vengeful in the Old Testament is simply not true. These books are telling us a story of how merciful, forgiving and loving God truly is. Because Israel even though they are God’s people were deserving of death. Yet God continues to be merciful with them and working with them. And today we are still the same. I read these books and wonder why Israel keeps messing up, I mean don’t they get it? But do we get it? Do we truly understand that we do not deserve to be alive? That we are only here by the grace of God and that only through the sacrifice of Christ are we even able to fathom being in His presence for eternity. It truly is amazing that God has made a way for us to be with Him.
So the theme continues, I keep seeing God’s grace at work through His interaction with Israel.