The 365 Day Devotional Commentary

FEBRUARY 6

Reading 37

LOVING GOD

Deuteronomy 5–7 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5).These chapters identify the fundamental principles of personal relationship with God. The rules which come later are merely illustrations of how these fundamental principles are to be applied by a people who love God.

Definition of Key Terms

Deuteronomy 6 calls on us to dedicate “heart,” “soul,” and “strength” to loving God. “Heart” in the Old Testament is the seat of both the mind and emotions. “Soul” is best understood here as one’s “being.” We are to love God with our whole self, not limit Him to smaller compartments of our lives. “Strength” suggests the will’s direction of every capacity toward love. Use of three such powerful terms in a single verse makes it clear that relationship with God calls for wholehearted devotion. The implication of these chapters is that only a person truly devoted to God will obey Him. Ten Commandments. Ten brief, basic rules showing human beings how to love God and other persons. For explanation of the Ten Commandments, see Exodus Reading 19.

Overview

The 10 basic commandments given at Sinai show how to love God and others (5:1–21). Keeping them promotes well-being (vv. 22–33). Love and reverence for God produce obedience, and are to be taught to future generations (6:1–25). God demands complete allegiance; competing faiths were to be driven from the land so that God could keep His covenant of love with Israel (7:1–26).

Understanding the Text

“It was not with our fathers . . . but with us” Deut. 5:1–21. The adults who stood before God at Mount Horeb (Sinai) and first heard the Ten Commandments were dead when Moses proclaimed them to this new generation. Yet Moses said God’s covenant was “not with our fathers” but was “with all of us who are alive here today.” What did Moses mean? That God’s Word has a powerful, present message for each listener. God’s Word was first spoken centuries ago, but it is as fresh, vital, and compelling as if it had been just uttered today. In a real sense, God’s Word is spoken today. The living God meets us in His Word. All He says there is said to us as well as to generations past. You and I must never read the Bible as though it were merely a record of something that happened long ago. We are to read Scripture attentively, expecting God to speak to us in our today. As the writer of Hebrews says, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 3:15). The Bible is God’s voice. Through it He is speaking not only to our fathers, but to us! “Hear . . . learn . . . and be sure to follow” Deut. 5:1. Each of these words is found in Moses’ first words to the assembled Israelites (v. 1). The Ten Commandments state fundamental principles which are to be applied in our relationship with God and with others. It’s important not to confuse loving God and others with love feelings. Love is a choice. The person who loves God will hear God’s Word, study to understand what that Word means, and then carefully apply it in daily life. “That it might go well with them and their children forever” Deut. 5:22–33. Some act as if the moral standards revealed in the Ten Commandments are arbitrary and restrictive. They resent the “You shall nots” of Scripture, as if these were intended to spoil mankind’s fun and make human life as miserable as possible. Nothing could be further from the truth. God’s laws are actually intended to promote human happiness. We humans are moral beings, created by God with a sense of right and wrong. Like a train that functions only when running on a track, human beings function in a healthy, happy way only when living morally good lives. There is a special urgency in Moses’ call to Israel to obey God. Israel enjoyed a covenant relationship with God. In this relationship God was committed not only to bless obedience, but also to punish disobedience. Unbelievers as well as believers are better off living a morally good life. But God is actively involved in the life of believers. Because God cares so much about us, you and I are more likely to feel the immediate effect of our sins. “When you eat and are satisfied” Deut. 6:10–25. Moses said “when” because he knew that God would surely bless His people. For Israel this meant inheriting “a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.” Still, such blessings are dangerous. When life is too easy, and we become satisfied, we tend to “forget the Lord.” Moses explained the way for believers to guard themselves when blessed. First, “fear the Lord your God.” The word here means to treat Him with respect, remembering that He is able to discipline as well as to bless. Then, “keep the commands.” The believer is to “do what is right and good.” Finally, the believer is “in the future” to pass on faith to the next generation. This is the only way to guard ourselves and our children from empty, meaningless lives. “You must destroy them totally” Deut. 7:1–6. The demand that Israel utterly destroy the people who inhabited Canaan before her has troubled many. How does this command square with all the talk in Deuteronomy 6 of love? How do we understand it in view of God’s revelation of love for all people in Jesus? To answer we need to make several observations. First, archeology has confirmed Scripture’s portrait of Canaanite culture as morally and religiously depraved. Some 600 years earlier God had told Abraham that He would not expel the people of the Promised Land then, because “the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Gen. 15:16). Now that full measure of sinfulness had been reached, and Israel was to be God’s instrument of punishment. It’s important for us to remember that the God who loves human beings also hates evil. Any concept of God that fails to take His commitment to punish sin into account is essentially unscriptural. Second, the command to destroy the Canaanites emphasized Israel’s call to be a holy people. Intimate association with the Canaanites would (and did!) lead Israel into idolatry. Only by destroying the Canaanites who currently inhabited the Promised Land could Israel be safe from moral and spiritual corruption. It would be a strange parent indeed who would stand idly by and watch a much-loved child be infected with a deadly disease. God was protecting His children. One other observation. Israel was not commanded to go beyond the borders of Canaan and wipe out the several racial groups represented in Palestine. God’s first concern was for the well-being of His people. Yes, God does care about everyone. But those who know and love Him are His first priority. “It was because the Lord loved you” Deut. 7:7–26. Why did God choose Israel and decide to bless them? Why does God care so much for you and me today? The puzzle is resolved by stating an even greater mystery. Why? “It was because the Lord loved you.” God needs no reason other than love to bless us. Though there are many reasons why it is to our benefit to obey, we need no other reason than love for Him.

DEVOTIONAL

“Communicating God’s Love”(Deut. 6:4–8)

Loving God is so important. Surely a love for the Lord is the most important heritage we can pass on to our children. When my oldest son was a seventh-grader in our local Christian grammar school, and I was a professor of Christian education at Wheaton College Graduate School, I did an experiment with his class to learn how boys and girls from Christian homes “caught” their parents’ faith. What I found was that most of the things parents did or did not do to pass on their faith made very little difference in their children’s lives. The one thing that did make a difference is explained here, in words spoken by Moses millenniums ago. Moses says that communicating faith begins with a parent’s own love for God. A love “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (v. 5). This kind of love opens us up to God, so that He can write His commandments on our hearts (v. 6). Why is this so important? Because as long as God’s commandments seem only like demands engraved in stone, we will never be able to communicate either them or a love for God. It’s only when God has written His laws on our hearts and they find expression in our lives that we are able to “impress” them on our children (v. 7). When God’s love has made us sensitive to His commandments, so that He and they become such an integral part of our lives that we “talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up,” then the God who is real to us will be real to our children too. Then our own love for God will find a home in the hearts of our boys and girls. What makes the difference? Simply this. If God is real to you—if you love Him and follow Him faithfully—then God will be real to your children too.

Personal Application

Show your love for God daily by your commitment to doing His will.

Quotable

“Too often Christians regard the Law merely as a set of legalisms, and they view Jewish people as trying to follow the letter of the Law. On the other hand [they] then proclaim that the New Covenant describes how God works in grace to redeem His people and shower His love on them. In no way should such a compartmentalization exist between the Old and New Testaments. Deuteronomy describes how God blessed Israel and showered His love on them because of His grace and mercy. What the Lord expected from Israel in return was an outpouring of love. While some people misappropriated God’s intentions and developed a legalistic substitute, a remnant in every generation always deeply loved, honored, and served the Lord their God.”—Lewis Goldberg

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary

Deuteronomy

FEBRUARY 5

Reading 36

GOD’S MIGHTY ACTS Deuteronomy 1–4

“These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything” (Deut. 2:7).Moses’ review of the Exodus reminds a new generation that God is faithful despite human failure. But only if they are faithful to Him can God’s people know success.

Overview

Moses reviewed each stage of Israel’s journey from Sinai to their present camp just east of the Jordan River (1:1–3:29). Moses applied the lessons of history and challenged the new generation to obey and to worship God (4:1–49).

Understanding the Text

“It takes eleven days” Deut. 1:1–5. The three sermons of Moses that make up the bulk of Deuteronomy were delivered just over the Jordan from the Promised Land. The site was just an 11-day hike from Mount Horeb (Sinai) where God had given His people the Law. But that Law had been given 40 years earlier! What delay disobedience caused. Deuteronomy 1–3 isolates crises that occurred on the journey, to explain Israel’s years of frustrating delay. God is committed to bring us to the place of blessing. But the length of time it takes you and me to arrive still depends on our willingness to obey. “Hear the disputes” Deut. 1:9–18. Moses first mentioned problems, burdens, and disputes. These characterize all of us and reflect normal human weakness. Note that these did not delay Israel. Moses simply appointed judges and laid down guiding principles. We’re all subject to human weakness and to a variety of failings. This need not delay us on our spiritual journey. We are to judge ourselves and move on. God does not demand perfection, but He does expect us to deal honestly with our sins and failures. “You rebelled against the command of the Lord” Deut. 1:19–46. Israel’s tragic delay in arriving at the Promised Land was caused by conscious, willful disobedience of God’s command. Moses identifies fear of the Canaanites as the immediate cause of the disobedience. That fear was rooted in a failure to trust God’s love (v. 27) and His ability to help (v. 32). Conscious disobedience is sure to delay our spiritual progress. However we may rationalize or explain rebellion, disobedience brings discipline and makes us vulnerable to disaster. “He has watched over your journey” Deut. 2:1–15. This is one of the most touching statements in Moses’ review of history. Despite Israel’s rebellion and repeated sins, God “watched over your journey.” The New Testament says, “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). God’s commitment to us is rooted in His own character, not in anything we may do or fail to do. Even when we rush headlong away from God, He continues to watch over us. But Moses reminded Israel that the nation then wandered for 38 years until the entire rebellious generation perished (Deut. 2:14–15). God will watch over us. But He will also discipline us until tragedy roots out our tendency to rebel. Rugged Mount Sinai (Horeb) is a symbol of the Law that God gave Israel through Moses. Today a monastery stands where Israel once camped. As Deuteronomy shows, despite the thunder that shook the mountain then, God’s Law is rooted in and expresses His love. “Now begin to conquer” Deut. 2:16–3:20. When the old generation died out, God began to give the new generation a taste of success. In a series of increasingly difficult battles God gave Israel increasingly greater victories. When you or I return to the Lord after a time of disobedience, our renewed trust is frequently developed by small, and then greater, spiritual victories. Each step of faith is rewarded as we relearn how to trust God completely. “I pleaded with the Lord” Deut. 3:21–29. Moses is honest in reporting his own personal failure to trust God, though he does not go into detail here. The image of Moses pleading with God to be allowed to go over the Jordan and see the Promised Land is touching. Moses had been a faithful and godly leader. Yet his one act of disobedience was severely punished (cf. Num. 20). Why? Undoubtedly to remind us that no one is immune to divine discipline. No one can sin safely. The text shows that God did, in a sense, grant Moses’ request! The aged leader, then some 120 years old, begged to “go over and see the good land.” Instead God led Moses to the top of Mount Pisgah and gave him a glimpse of Canaan. The sight from this height across the Jordan is impressive. Rising from the fertile plain is a series of hills that gradually flow into an impressive range of mountains. The rich colors and shades reflect the complexity of Palestine, with its wide range of climates and soils which make the land capable of growing every kind of crop. Moses did not “go over” the Jordan. But he did “see the good land” to which he had successfully led God’s people. “Ask now about the former days” Deut. 4:32–40. Now Moses made it very clear why Israel needed to look back as well as to look ahead. In looking back at what God had done, the people would discover how great God is, and who they were to Him. God alone had taken “one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds.” Who God is is defined by His acts in history. Israel is defined by its relationship with God. Israel is a people whom God “loved” and “chose” and “brought . . . out of Egypt . . . to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance.” All this is understood by looking back. Appreciating who God is and seeing Israel’s identity in Him would motivate Israel to obey and would bring God’s people future blessing when taken “to heart.” It’s the same with you and me today. We look back and realize what God has done in Jesus Christ. When we remember that His suffering and subsequent triumph were for us, and we realize how precious we are to God, our awakened love motivates us to serve our Lord.

DEVOTIONAL

Guaranteed Spiritual Success (Deut. 4:1–31)

I’m fascinated by those ads in airline magazines that promise salesmen quick and easy success. I’ve known one salesman, Ed, who listened daily to the tapes and regularly attended the seminars such ads market. But Ed wasn’t exactly successful, and I remain suspicious about the promises those ads make. On the other hand, I’m positive that what Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy 4 can guarantee success in anyone’s spiritual life. What would you hear on one of Moses’ tapes, or at one of his seminars? Probably something like this: (1) “Keep the commands of the Lord your God” (v. 2). Absolutely safe guidelines to the good life! (2) “Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart” (v. 9). Review what God has done for you every day, and you’ll stay motivated! (3) “Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (v. 9). Share what God means to you. It will keep your faith fresh and make God real to your loved ones. (4) “Watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt” (vv. 15–16). Don’t get cocky. Anyone can slip and fall. Never give any idol-whether wealth, pleasure, power, love, or even good works-God’s central place in your life. Of course, I’m not sure Moses’ tapes and seminars would sell. You see, people are always looking for an easy way to succeed. As far as spiritual success is concerned, there isn’t any easy way. So perhaps Moses would add one other step for us moderns. Like, “Work at your relationship with God.” Certainly Moses and the new generation of Israelites would say, with spiritually successful saints through the ages, “It’s worth it!”

Personal Application

What disciplines have you developed to help you achieve spiritual success?

Quotable

“God calls us, not to success, but to faith-obedience and trust and service—and He bids us to be unconcerned with measuring the merits of our work the way the world does. We are to sow; He will reap as He pleases.”—Charles Colson

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary

Deuteronomy

INTRODUCTION

Deuteronomy is the fifth and last book written by Moses. Deuteronomy, placed historically about 1400 B.C., means “second (repeated) law.” It is written in the form of a second-millennium-B.C. treaty between a ruler and his people. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt until God intervened about 1450 B.C. God set them free through a series of miracles and led them to Mount Sinai. There Moses, whom God had called to lead Israel, gave God’s people a Law, a priesthood, a sacrificial system, and a portable place of worship. But when the Exodus generation approached Canaan, a land God had promised to Israel’s ancestor Abraham, the Israelites rebelled.

For 40 years Israel wandered in circles in the desert, until every adult member of that first, rebellious generation had died. In Deuteronomy Moses is speaking to their children—a new generation that is now ready to obey God and about to conquer the land God has promised to His people. This review of the divine Law is given to this new generation of Israelites to explain the nature of their relationship with the Lord. At the end of the book this new generation, knowing the nature of the relationship God intends to have with Israel, is challenged to commit itself fully to the Lord. Deuteronomy reminds us that grace has always characterized God’s relationships with human beings.

God was motivated by love alone in choosing Israel. The Law showing Israel how to live in covenant relationship with Him is also an expression of love. Deuteronomy also teaches that love for God is the sole motive powerful enough to move human beings to respond obediently to the Lord. Deuteronomy, which is quoted some 80 times in the New Testament, has rightly been called the Old Testament’s “gospel of love.”

OUTLINE OF CONTENTS

I.Moses’ Review of HistoryDeut. 1–4
A. What God has done for IsraelDeut. 1–3
B. How Israel is to respondDeut. 4
II.Moses’ Presentation of the Treaty with GodDeut. 5–28
A. Fundamental principles of relationshipDeut. 5–11
B. Specific examples of requirementsDeut. 12–26
C. Challenge to personal commitmentDeut. 27–28
III.Moses’ Exhortation to Complete CommitmentDeut. 29–30
IV.Moses’ Last ActsDeut. 31–34
(pge 106)

Author Scott Austin Tirrell

Maker of fine handcrafted novels!

Heartshare

Sharing words of Support, Motivation and Compassion

In Pursuit of My First Love

Returning to the First Love

Becoming HIS Tapestry

Christian Lifestyle Blogger

Talmidimblogging

Biblical postings, Talmidim- meaning students

Unshakable Hope

"All of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain." (Hebrews 12:27)

Live Your True North

Be true. Be you.

Life Hub Inspirations

Short articles to bring inspiration to people.

Fountains of hope poetry

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

incomprehensibus

Home of Micropoetry, Literature, art and philosophy.

Bible Daily

Hannah's daily devotional

Learning From God's Word

Prayers, Bible Readings Notes, Sermons And Theological Articles

The Eyes of My Heart

Stay true to His calling

Ritika Rasal

Never Wanted Perfect Just Real

Faces of Auschwitz

Photos and stories from victims and survivors of the Holocaust

TheGodminute

A daily dose of God’s touch in a minute...

TheWeeFlea.com

The Blog of David Robertson

Elisha Vision - Commentary

Les Lawrence - Voice of Christian Zionists