Continuing in this series on the Book of Deuteronomy, we pick up from our previous post in this series and look at chapters 10 and 11.
Scripture and Summary
Moses once again hearkens back to the giving of the covenant at Sinai and the second set of tablets that was given to replace the original set Moses had destroyed upon the discovery of the Israelites idolatry. He recounts the construction of the ark of the covenant and the installation of the tablets in it.
Moses reminds the people that while Yahweh is creator and God of all, he chose to make himself specially and personally known to Israel. This was not to be a point of pride as much as a humbling perspective. Of all the people of the world, what was essentially a slave nation was chosen by the Almighty to be his herald to the world. This should cause the people to cling to their God. Moses reminds the people of the fact that when their family initially went to Egypt there were but a few, and now they were many, but it was not their numbers that saved them, rather it was the power of God demonstrated against the gods of Egypt. Most importantly, something else is required: a new sign. Just as male Israelites were to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant, all were called to be circumcised of heart toward their God, this sign to be demonstrated in obedience.
These facts, Moses concludes, should cause the Israelites to cling tightly to Yahweh. In spite of what the people had seen, they rebelled. The people mistakenly thought that they were bucking against Moses but God demonstrated that it was, in fact, him against whom they were rebelling, so God had to discipline the people.
Moses reminds the people that obedience and loyalty results in a continuing prosperity for the people in the form of their new home in Canaan.
Moses cautions, once again, against the danger of forgetfulness. Israel’s fortunes are inherently tied to their obedience.
Moses reminds the people that obedience has its rewards. The best way to remember the fact of the covenant was to post it promiscuously, and discuss it constantly, even with children. Age was not a consideration because all Israelites were accountable to keep the covenant.
Moses foreshadows an event in the future: when the land is secured, the people will once again covenant together to remember the covenant. It was only by adhering to the terms of the covenant that the people had any hope. Success in taking the land would be sign of God’s fulfillment of the terms of the covenant, and it was only by obedience to the terms that the people would have success.
Pride is a dangerous thing.
Christians, especially those raised in the church, will often count their belief and their obedience as something that they have done, rather than a product of the work of God in the salvation of a particular people. Just as God demonstrated his power in rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt, he demonstrates his power in raising sinners from death in sin to newness of life in Christ. It is this fact that should compel believers to fully engage in the new covenant with Christ and make obedience to Christ paramount. The key emotion of believers then should be gratitude, and not pride. That gratitude should become a well-spring for obedience and act as a reminder to others.
There is an important disconnect, however, that should be made between obedience and reward. While obedience brings its reward, God first gave to the people a land full of promise. God did not promise to reward the people if they obeyed; rather, God gave and then conditioned their continuing in that gift upon their obedience. The people of Israel had done nothing to merit their freedom from slavery, had done nothing to deserve a land and a nation of their own. God gave and promised to help them maintain their possession and use of that gift as long as they obeyed. Such is the gift of salvation: it is all from God, for God, and to God.
Jesus freed his people from their slavery in and to sin. He promised his inheritance to all who will follow him in love and obedience. No one can be separated, no one can be lost, because God’s grace is there and all who believe and live in light of that belief will be are saved, are being saved, and will be saved.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30, ESV)