When God Conquers the Generations

Deuteronomy 3:1-22
And I commanded Joshua at that time, “Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings so will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing.  You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.” –Deut 3:21-22

Here Moses recounts the defeat of Og and his kingdom, a King that truly was Nephilim, one of the few remaining of the giants of those times.  His kingdom was the 2nd of the Amorite tribes that Israel conquered under Moses and his headship.  But Moses had reached his end to the journey God had given him; at this point of recounting what had transpired Moses reminds the people what he had said to Joshua.   It is a call to remember again, not just the things God had done 40 years ago, but what God had done through him and those other men who fought against Sihon and Og.  Moses and his generation saw God do amazing things to the Egyptians, but their failure was to doubt God at the fringe of Cannon; this failure led to not just their wandering for 40 years, their children also had to grow up into adults in nothing but wilderness.  Where Moses and his generation had grown up in a country, within borders, under rule; this generation grew up under Moses and the invisible and “sporadic” God that rescued them.  This generation also has experienced a God who, as punishment to their parents, forced them to wander the desert for 40 years.  Their doubts and frustrations were different from Moses and his generation.  This generation dealt with doubts of whether they would ever be a people, whether they would ever have a land to call home, whether they would ever eat anything beyond manna and quail and whatever else they received from towns they traveled through.  Would they be wanderers until death?  Buried beneath the endless dunes of the desert?
The two defeats by their own hands was indeed momentous and huge for both Joshua and his generation, they had tasted nothing but failure; the failure of their parents was all they knew and defined their way of life for 40 years, could it be that they could have something different?  Can you imagine tasting the victory over your generational curse or sin in this lifetime?  What would that be like?  Of course, like them, you really cannot envision beyond what little success you already have had.  That is because we are fallen and unable to understand God’s ways, because it is God, not us that we have tasted any success at all.  And God has conquered the sins of the generations that precede us today.  He also will conquer the sins of our generation for our children to come, because He is sufficient.  He gives us what success we have had in this life so that we can remember them as we continue to trudge on in the mundane tasks we have determined will free us from the bondages of the sins that follow us from our parents and have identified us.  At the end of it all though, it is always God that brings us both into the trials and out of them that break those chains.  Did not Moses and Israel go to Sihon’s kingdom under the guise that they would just be passing through?  Merely repeating the same as before, asking permission to pass, to gather what supplies were needed to survive; was not Israel under the assumption that this would be like before, the continuation of their nomadic way of life?
So honor your father and mother, for with this command is a promise, that God will bless the generations to come after you, up to a thousand and more.  For though they failed and have harmed you greatly in this life, you will do the same to your children either in the same or a new way, and God will be sufficient to cover it all because He is loving, He is a good Father.  Christ reinstitutes this command and Paul comments on it in Ephesians:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
Ephesians 6:1-3

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What God Gives Us to Remember

Deuteronomy 2:26-37
“Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Jahaz.  And the Lord our God gave him over to us, and we defeated him and his sons and all his people…Only to the land of the sons of Ammon you did not draw near, that is, to all the banks of the river Jabokk and the cities of the hill country, whatever the Lord our God had forbidden us.” –Deuteronomy 2: 32-33, 37

Moses is still delivering his sermon to the next generation of Israelites, those who would fulfill the promise given to Abraham (Genesis 15:12-21); it is important to remember that this is a recount of all that took place up to this point.  In this recount Israel came to the doorstep of an Amorite king and his realm, one among those whom God promised to destroy for their wickedness.  It is likely that Moses asked for trespass without provocation because he had not yet received permission from God to do so, and as before with the Edomites and Moabites Moses asks before presuming.  This submission to God, to wait on Him to lead, is important for the people of Israel who when they rejected the promise of the land of Canaan the first time went in to conquer Canaan despite God’s command not to.  God has already cultivated trust in Israel by showing how the Edomites and Moabites, a people not chosen as God’s allotment, conquered and inhabited the lands of the Nephilim without promise.  He is now taking the time to teach them that He is both trustworthy and sovereign, both in securing victory where He gives it as well as failure where He prohibits conquest (v. 37).  God does this despite knowing their failure to follow His command later when Israel fails to drive out all the Canaanites as they ought to have:

“Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim.  And he said, ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers.  I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’  But you have not obeyed my voice.  What is this you have done?  So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’  As soon as the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept.  And they called the name of that place Bochim.  And they sacrificed there to the Lord.” –Judges 2:1-5

                Along with teaching His people His sovereignty over them He is also giving them something to recall when they go in to Canaan shortly.  Defeating the King Sihon was the first step of fulfilling His promise made to Abraham, something they will need to recall when they gather their forces for battle over and over again in the days to come.  We can be certain this is God’s intention because God is a God that calls and commands His people to remember what He has done; the remembering is the means of obedience for His people, and a practice we do today.  We remember the death of Christ, the culmination of God’s work in man up to this point, and the promise of the Son’s return.  But our remembering doesn’t stop there, we have been given ample evidences of God’s grace in our personal lives to recall when met with temptations to disobey and forget the Lord.  Our birth, our personal salvation, the work of God within the Church, the personal memories of His grace in our small collection of years on this earth thus far.  It is this remembering that drives us to the cross and obey God in where we cannot go as well as where we are called to go.  He is Lord.

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The Grace of God in Deuteronomy 1:-2:25

“No one was ever saved other than by grace, from Abel to the present moment.  Since mankind was banished from the eastward garden, none has ever returned to the divine favor except through the sheer goodness of God.  And whenever grace found any man it was always by Jesus Christ.  Grace indeed came by Jesus Christ, but it did not wait for His birth in the manger or His death on the cross before it became operative.  Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  The first man in human history to be reinstated in the fellowship of God came through faith in Christ.  In olden times men looked forward to Christ’s redeeming work; in later times they gazed back upon it, but always they came and they came by grace, through faith.”
-A. W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy, pg. 95, on the Goodness of God.

The Goodness of God is a foundational attribute of God, and happens to be the one that Israel, and us, tend to disbelieve the most often here in the States.  Indeed a brief recount of events will prove the side of Israel.  I will quote Israel directly up till Aaron’s death, then move into how we today tend to disbelieve God is good, and then finish on God’s goodness based on the big picture briefly covered in chapters 1-2 in Deuteronomy.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly.  And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.  They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?  What have you don’t to us in bringing us out of Egypt?  Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”   Exodus 10-12
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”  Exodus 16:2-3
“But the people thirsted for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”   Exodus 17:3
…”Up, make us gods who shall go before us.  As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”   Exodus 32:1
now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving.  And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.  But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”  Numbers 11:4-6
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.  And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt!  Or would that we had died in this wilderness!  Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the Sword?  Our wives and our little ones will become a prey.  Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”  And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:1-4
And the people became impatient on the way.  And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”  Numbers 21:4-5

In our current day and age we wish we can get away with the thought, “Well, we are on the other side of the covenant of God, now we have Jesus.”, “These are different times, we are different, there is grace.” and many other things that rush to our current Christian minds as we are faced with delving into our hearts before God and bearing ourselves completely to Him for complete forgiveness.  Please don’t stop here and be content with hiding behind self-justification and avoid a real and vibrant relationship with God where you have the freedom to come before Him in all the depths of your sins of your heart, and experience an abiding rest that doesn’t come from the path you may be considering (that of, “well there is grace”)!

Someone who has a habitual sin doesn’t believe God is good, someone who has an idol, an obsession, or something that they can never stop thinking about no matter how hard they try; does not believe God is good.  Essentially any sin is out of a heart that doesn’t believe God is good.  Here is why, God bringing Christ and crushing Him after He lived a perfect life is from God’s goodness.  So Christ’ life, death, and resurrection is a result of, and solely from God’s goodness.  So when you sin, you fail to trust in Christ’ being sufficient for your needs, desires, and wants; when you swim in the muck of self-condemnation and self-pity you fail to believe Christ to be your advocate and your propitiation (replacement for you, that being you are Christ before God in righteousness, holiness, and perfection by the blood of Christ).  And you may interject here and say that you believe all the right doctrine and theology on God, that you believe He is sovereign, that He is just, Holy, righteous, all-knowing, etc.  You may be able to scale the depths of covenant theology, predestination, baptism, election, sanctification, and draw a cute cone diagram of the Sinner, God, and how the more we see our sinfulness and God’s holiness the bigger the cross becomes before us.  The problem here for you my friend, is that Israel had the same theology as a nation, and yet still rebelled against God when they came to Canaan.
The equivalent today for people of our nation, you have trudged through the years of singleness as an adult, let’s say…10 years and your now 28.  You finally meet the person that fits all your desires, you are friends, and the other person actually likes you!  God even spoke to you in your dreams and told you that you two will get married, so go ahead and move forward in this.  But you are terrified of ruining your friendship, you see her/him as in a different category of holiness to yourself, you begin to realize just how jacked up you are and believe if you two actually dated/courted you will bring all your trash in and destroy the relationship; and so you don’t go forward.  You don’t believe God is actually good, that He delights in you moving forward here, that He will bless your efforts here, and that His forgiveness over your sins is enough here as well.  And just like with Israel, as a consequence, you have lost that wonderful blessing for both of your lives.
So before I move onto the last point, consider here; what are your sin patterns right now.  What temptations hit you the hardest usually?  What have been the consequences of these sins before?  Broken relationships, dismantling of trust, personal isolation to hide your sin, strained relationships with family, what is it for you?  Now ask yourself the question, it will be hard, and all kinds of defense mechanisms you have (everyone has at least one, to hide from God) will crop up to keep you from asking and dwelling on this question; why do you not believe God is good?  Consider these sin patters, temptations, and consequences, and pray for God to illuminate your mind to your heart.

Let us close on the Goodness of God by recalling briefly and quickly the Biblical history of His Goodness.  Without compulsion, without any need, God created all matter in existence.  Being triune in nature He had perfect community, relationships, and joy; yet not only did He create matter, He created beings that were specifically designed to be in relationship with Him.  He made it possible for something finite to relate to the infinite.  Then His greatest creation, man, disobeyed His commands and claimed godhood over himself.  God killed an animal, probably the first death Adam and Eve ever saw (unless Adam swatted a fly that landed on him during God’s pronouncement of the curses), which also was the consequence of their sin displayed before them.  They had two sons; the one who trusted in God’s goodness was slaughtered by the one who saw God as a stern task-master.  God then covered the whole earth in a flood after allowing evil mankind to live for some time in constant rebellion; He preserved humanity STILL through Noah.
God then spoke to a pagan man who had no thought or desire for Him, Abram, eventually naming Him the father of all the nations.  God made promises to this man whom did not deserve them (whorring his wife out so he doesn’t get slaughtered comes to mind).  Isaac may have shown exceptional patience and romance by working for a great deal of years to win the woman he loves, but he was a pitiful father in the end.  Though Joseph’s brothers who represented the heads of all the nation of Israel sold him into slavery and hated him, God still saved them all through Joseph instead of dying off in starvation.  Then God saved Israel from the mighty hand of Pharaoh, the people grumbled against God, yet God gave them water, manna, and kept their clothing and sandals in mint condition during their travels.  Though Israel turned their back on the Promised Land God preserved the next generation to take the land, he built confidence by showing them three Gentile nations that conquered a similar type of people as the Canaanites, who were not under any promises from God.
Eventually the Israelite’s conquered the land, and despite God telling them they would rebel and be exiled, He commanded them to obey Him and enjoy the land.  They eventually were exiled, and after some time allowed to come back under the prophet Nehemiah to rebuild the Temple and in effect, the nation of Israel.  Here God began the process of rebuilding the nation He would come down to serve and be slaughtered by.  And indeed He did just that, came down bearing flesh, sat and talked with man like a friend, rebuked the fools like demons, and allowed himself to be slain after living a perfect and sinless life so that after His resurrection we may have Christ’ righteousness, have the power to die to ourselves, and have a future resurrection to look forward too.  And in closing, God also gave us the Holy Spirit, now including us in the Triune relationship that God has with Himself, not that we are now divine or God as well, but we are given intimate access to a God we do not deserve to be in intimate relationship with.

Indeed God is Good.

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Where We Fall, God Works: Deuteronomy 2:1-25

“Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea, as the Lord told me.  And for many days we traveled around Mount Seir.  Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough.  Turn Northward and command the people, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you.  So be very careful.  Do not contend with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession…’Do not harass Moab or contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land for a possession, because I have given Ar to the people of Lot for a possession.’ (The Emim formerly lived there, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim)…’Today you are to cross the border of Moab at Ar.  And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.’  (It is also counted as a land of Rephaim.  Rephaim formerly lived there-but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim-a people of great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the Lord destroyed them and settled in their place, as he did for the people of Esau…)
-Deuteronomy 2:1-5, 9-10, 18-21

We have three themes to work out of this last installment that I started previously; God shows His people His goodness, God is sovereign fully and keeps Israel within their boundaries He laid before them, God blesses even those who are not His people for His purpose.

So here Moses is recounting the way God showed Israel His faithfulness and goodness, in summary.  If you read all of chapter two you realize that Moses covers the entire 40 years from beginning to its conclusion (they begin entering Canaan at verse 26) in one single chapter.  He is recalling to mind the most important points of their wanderings for 40 years, he doesn’t bring up the snakes and how God delivered them from snakes (Numbers 21:4-9), or how he provided water where there was none (Exodus 17:6), rather Moses recounts the specific encounters quoted above.  Moses brought to mind how God showed them these different nations and how he was able to give these people a land that was previously inhabited by a great people, tall, large and in great number.  The Israelite’s used these very qualities of the Canaanites to justify their disbelief in God’s goodness and ability to fulfill His own promise (Numbers 13:28-29 & 14:1-12).  God showed both the rebellious generation and the Promised generation His goodness through these people; nations not chosen by Him, not called His People, whom He gave good land too.  Like any double-edged sword the pruning God did over His people was two-fold.  He rebuked and showed the rebellious generation their foolishness without hope for an excuse.  God is faithful indeed; He is so good He gave the gentiles success in conquering a seemingly unconquerable nation!  And for the Promised generation He gave encouragement in the same blow, showing them how faithful He is and the trust they can have in Him to give them the promised land of Canaan.  

In the same vain though, God also showed His power to preserve the inheritance of those He gives to.  He commanded His people to not contend against any of these Gentile nations, He protected these Gentile nations from His own people!  He shows His people His power to preserve a people and their gift, as well as to preserve the sufferings/discipline over those whom He chooses (namely here His people).  Sure the Israelite’s could’ve theoretically ignored God and attacked these nations, and like their failed attempt to do this very thing with Canaan (Numbers 14:39-45), they would inevitably be driven away by the nation they attack.  Here we see the tension between our freedom to make choices individually and collectively and God’s sovereignty to see through His will being accomplished.  So no matter what Israel did, how they did it, they would inevitably wander the desert for 40 years, and would not conquer a single nation until God gives them the command to go and conquer.  

But lastly let us approach this facet of this section of Scripture.  Here is God giving good things and success to gentiles!  We are after all in the Old Testament right?  Where everything is about the Israelite’s and how they were given all these promises and blessings but just couldn’t measure up so God finally gave up on them and moved onto the Gentiles…right?  Well we have two problems that confront this idea squarely in the nose, God is giving a land the Israelite’s despite them being stubborn and stiffed neck and He has given land to gentile nations whom are not a part of His people.  On both sides of this deal God is giving good things, wonderful things, to people who are fully undeserving.  The nations conquered are done so because the wrath due to them is at its fullest, while the nations conquering them are stubborn and rebellious (Israel, Esau was rejected for Jacob, and Lot was willing to give up his daughters to be raped and probably murdered in place of the angels who came to his own home.).  Do any of these three themes sound familiar yet?

It is by our understanding of God in the Old Testament that we can see God more clearly in the New Testament.  How can we trust that God preserves the saints (John 6:35-40) if we haven’t seen God do this consistently through all time?  When we avoid the Old Testament like it has leprosy?  How can we understand the relationship between our choices but God’s predestining hand if we do not see this as a part of His relationship with man through all time?  How can we trust that we are truly His children and part of His family though we were wretched sinners before if we do not have a comprehensive familiarity of God’s free grace towards undeserving sinners?  Indeed, God has allowed the consequences of our sins to invade our lives after our salvation so that He may walk us through His passion and grace towards ourselves, He has hedged us in righteousness with His Holy Spirit and our consciences, and He has chosen us and given us a free gift despite our exhaustive list of worthlessness we have portrayed up till our salvation.  

Indeed our God is good.

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Deuteronomy 1:9-2:15

“And the Lord heard your words and was angered, and he swore, ‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh.  He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he was wholly followed the Lord!’  Even with me the Lord was angry on your account and said, ‘You also shall not go in there.  Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter.  Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.  And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there.  And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.  But as for you, turn, and journey into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.'”
-Deuteronomy 1:34-40

There are a great deal of directions that can be taken with such a large swath of Scripture, but I will stick to the overall theme here and get into deeper theology and mullings in a third post.  So to hit all of it up-front; Though God was fulfilling His promise made to Abraham quite some time ago, He allowed the Israelites to do things they thought was wise in their own eyes (why did they not consider Him in prayer?), secondly, Israel’s rebellion came from a poor understanding of God due to their hardness of heart despite the clear evidence contrary to such understandings.  Thirdly, despite their hardness of heart and doom to die in the desert, God allows this generation to lead and raise up their own children, and as a whole nation, God show’s them His goodness (though He need not prove Himself to these people).

We see at the forefront Moses explaining in his 30 chapter long sermon how this nation came about a structure of government.  He called the nation to choose their respective leaders by tribes to represent the nation as a whole before Moses and God; they did so seeing this as a good thing to do.  But here we also see the shadow of Christ reveal Christ’ magnitude in power by his weakness.  Moses could not carry the burden of a single nation of people, whereas Christ can carry the burdens of all the nations.  Moses cannot bear patiently with Israel’s foolishness, yet Christ is always patient with all the fools of all the nations under His name.  Indeed Moses did a great deal of amazing works and was a figure that God used greatly to bring about His great work in Christ’ ministry, death, and resurrection.  But even greater still is Christ, our King.  It is also worth noting here for those who see God is favoring only the Jews at this time, the leaders of all the tribes were charged to deal without partiality on all cases brought against them, whether a gentile (the word “alien” is used here, but all those outside of Jew’s were Gentiles) or a Jew.  

Israel sinned against God with their stiff hearts towards Him, portraying Him over and over again as a mean task-master, an evil God (Matthew 25:24 rings a bell).  Here are some examples:


When Pharaoh Drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians’ were marching after them, and they feared greatly.  And the People of Israel cried out to the Lord.  They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?  What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?  For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
-Exodus 14:10-12
They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came up to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.  And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Exodus 16:1-3
All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”  And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you test the Lord?”  But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
Exodus 17:1-3
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.  As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”  So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”
Exodus 32:1-2

Israel cultivated in their own hearts, since their journey out of Egypt and to the land of Canaan, a lie that God was not good, rather that He freed them so He could be the one to wipe them all out.  Some of us do this all the time, such phrases like “of course that happened…”, “No surprises there”, and any other phrases that indicate the inevitable junk you have to deal with in life.  What is it for you?  What area of your life do you find this kind of thinking come up for you?  Why do you believe that God isn’t good in this area?  See it for what it is, you are spitting in God’s face and calling Him evil, not good.  That His gift of salvation isn’t good enough because of x, y, z didn’t happen as well.  What more can you ask for beyond the life, death, and resurrection of His Son?  Whom He raised and watched over only to later unleash His wrath on His own son, crushing Him beneath the weight of the responsibility for Sin.

We will end here; this blog is long enough and much to think on.  I hope to have the conclusion of this segment of Scripture up by tomorrow mid-day.  We will walk through how gracious and patient God is with Israel in the midst of all this, and explore how He does the same towards us today.

Indeed He is our precious King!

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Deuteronomy 1:1-8

Deuteronomy 1:1-8

These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab.  It is eleven days’ journey from Horen by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-Barnea.  In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them, after he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amories, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and in Edrei.  Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law, saying, “The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.  Turn and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amories and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland and in the Negeb and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.  See, I have set the land before you.  Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore to your father, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.’”
Deuteronomy 1:1-8

This is our introductory segment, the passage that lays out the context of this whole book.  Moses and all of Israel are standing at the precipice of the Promised Land.  The Land God had promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:7-20:
“As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram.  And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.  Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.  And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
-v. 12-16

Moses is speaking to the generation that wandered for 40 years in the desert until their parents had died off, the death of Aaron marked the completion of Israel’s wanderings in the desert (Numbers 33:38-39).  This book covers all that Moses told the next generation his very long sermon to them, washing them in the Word’s of the Lord and preparing their hearts for the battles to come, of which they are commanded here to go and take.  This command directly implies that they will indeed succeed in the taking of the promise land.  There are two reasons why God will fulfill His promise to the now-dead Abraham through this generation of Israelites; One because this is the generation that is the fourth, the one to enter the land, secondly the iniquities of the Amorites are now complete and due for judgement.  We find this to be the case in Deuteronomy 9:4-8

“Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you.  Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.  Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness.  From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.  Even at Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, and the Lord was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you.”

So we find here grace for a people undeserving of God’s kindness.  When one often thinks of the Old Testament God in relation to Israel they conjure up a finicky God who is appeased by good works, but due to the depravity of man (that is, that sin is always dwelling within the heart of any human despite their disposition towards God until death) eventually brings judgement on His own people.  Jesus was the save button to keep Himself from completely annihilating the planet.
But here we find a God who laid out the commands and laws before Israel, who guided a rebellious and hateful generation for 40 years, formed the hearts of the next generation and preparing them for entering Canaan.  And even now, still a rebellious people. God gives them something so good and wonderful, God still fulfilled His promise to Abraham, He still blessed the sinners who had faith in Him.  And yes one may point to the fact that He is only blessing them because the Amorites needed to be destroyed, but did not God bless you out of His wrath toward another?  Was it not His wrath poured out on His own Son that gave you the blessing of eternal life?
So we see here that God is consistently gracious between Deuteronomy and Luke (as well as all Scripture).  The weight and power of His grace in these two situations are markedly different.  One is a physical location that a specific nation could dwell in, under the weight of laws and regulations that God said they would break and would be why they would be exiled (Deut. 31:16-18).  We, a multitude of nations, on the other hand have an unbreakable covenant that we cannot initiate or complete.  It is initiated (that is we are extended salvation and given sight to see it’s glory by God and we can then respond) and completed by Christ.  And our dwelling to come is also eternal and we will never be exiled.
What fears or misconceptions have you been shown to be lies from this study?  When you think of God and His graciousness does it line up with what you see here so far?  Where are there differences?
Indeed we have an amazing God who does not leave us to die in our foolishness.

 

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Deuteronomy-Introductions

And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.  For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours?  Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’  But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me.  And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again.  Go up to the top of Pisgah  and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan.  But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of his people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’  So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.

-Deuteronomy 3:23-29

Deuteronomy is my favorite book of the Bible, for so many reasons; and for a prolonged season I will trek through the book providing my “commentary” on this book, from the first verse to the last.  These posts will be deep, theological, and from my heart; I do not claim an authority on this book nor do I wish to presume to be your teacher on this book.  This will be for me an outpouring of my love of God of the Old Testament and New Testament; you will read my passions poured out over this book like a poet over the heart of a woman he loves.  I will explore the depths of this book out of my love and affections over God and His Word given to us, of which includes this book.   For me this will be a journey of passion and pleasure, I cannot read this book and walk away feeling more dead but rather alive.  My journey into theology formed first here when I was a boy at the age of 12.  Indeed this is the book that brought me out of the mire of my struggles in that season of my life, that sharpened my mind and understanding of God, and drove me to my knees in a deep thankfulness in my formative years entering manhood.  This is the book that informed me of the heart of Christ, as I read His physical ministry on this planet I recalled over and over again the same heart of God I found in this book.  My heart in sharing this journey with all of you in the Shepherdsville group is to open up the floodgates of God’s passion over you and the church, you don’t have to just rely on your assumption that the God of the Old Testament is the same you’re most familiar with in the New Testament.  Indeed you will find the Scriptures to recall from this book to cultivate your resolve in the Lord and to embolden your faith in our one and true King!  I hope to write in such a way that isn’t textbook and lecture like, but that is driven by a flood of joy in Him, so that your own studies throughout the Old Testament will be a lively one, rooted in the big picture of God working for our good.
The basic structure of my posts will open with the Scripture being studied italicized, there will be outside references to further elaborate what I understand from the New Testament as well as the Old Testament.  And will close with questions for consideration focused on building a solid approach to the study of all Scripture.  I also hope that for those who are interested in this study and follow along that what you find and see you will share with me.  I look forward to any additions you may provide or things you see that I didn’t being shared with me, for I am equally a student of the Scriptures as anyone else.
So let us consider the following:
What are assumptions you have of God in the Old Testament?  What ways do you understand God to be different between the two testaments?
Do you wish to understand God’s character more, or do you come to the Scriptures for mere personal application?
I strongly believe that through further understanding of God’s character first will lead us to application next.  The Old Testament can be daunting for us when it comes to understanding how we ought to relate to God in our daily lives, but that is often rooted in our own ignorance rather than in God’s actions.  If we can understand God’s character better we can apply our understanding of His character to our time and the decisions we are faced with that are different then the Israelite’s of the Old Testament.  A great example that we all face at one time or another is dating or pursuing marriage.   I often hear the question of how we should do that, or what should it look like now since we don’t do pre-arranged marriages like the Israelite’s of that time.  And the New Testament doesn’t necessarily give us a step-by-step guide.  But if we understand God’s character in relation to humanity throughout history we can see that God calls us to respect one another’s value as image bearers, that life is invaluable and something only He can give and take away.  So we can ask the question; how can I best respect the person I wish to pursue right now?  How can I honor their value before God and propel them towards Him at every opportunity I have when I interact with them?  Such a question deals pointedly with physical boundaries, how we speak to this person in question, how we spend our time with them, and how we think of them when we are away from them.
So in closing, the drive for our studies of Scripture is to first and foremost understand God and see Him more clearly, and to be more in love with Him every passing moment; through that we will find our will and our actions transformed and living to honor and glorify Him in every facet of our lives.  We will find ourselves more intentional with every menial and important decision we make in our day-to-day lives; in our thought life and what we think about, how we think about those things, and what we refuse to dwell on.  Indeed, our God is a mighty and majestic God and is the source of all life and holiness, and so we must start with Him and end with Him in every waking moment we are given.
To His glory.

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