Deuteronomy Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Exodus with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Deut 6

Deut 6 has been really speaking to me:

“These words that I command you today shall be ON YOUR HEART.
You shall TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY TO YOUR CHILDREN,
and shall TALK OF THEM WHEN YOU SIT in your house,
and WHEN YOU WALK by the way,
and WHEN YOU LIE DOWN,
and WHEN YOU RISE.
You shall BIND THEM AS A SIGN ON YOUR HAND,
and they shall be as FRONTLETS BETWEEN YOUR EYES.
You shall WRITE THEM ON THE DOORPOSTS OF YOUR HOUSE
and ON YOUR GATES…
“And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.” (6:6-25).

So much could be said here! But let me give a quick take, rephrased for today:

Get God’s word in your heart. Actively teach them to your children (if you don’t someone else will teach them false things). When you sit, walk, lie down, and rise up–basically all parts of the day–talk about these words with your family and friends. Meditate on them, work them out, keep going back to them. Make it what you think about and what you work towards. Write them anywhere you can. On Slack channels…at your house…on pieces of paper…in your text messages…in your e-mails…everywhere. If you don’t, you will unwittingly end up taking in the words of the world and the Enemy…and before you know it you fell for Satan’s way of thinking about things, instead of God’s. And if you are careful to do all this…you will see goodness and be filled with life. You will walk in true righteousness.

Deut 13

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5

What a contrast — God’s Scripture has authority over signs/prophecies, etc.!

“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.”
Deuteronomy 13:6-9

Gods word is greater even than close relationships! It’s greater than what those around us think/do.

Threes

There are some interesting things I keep coming across

  • why were there (3) cities for accidental murders?
  • why were men to go before God 3 times per year (at the 3 feasts)? 
    • what did they say/give an account of?
    • should we do this as elders of a community 3 times a year? 
  • Deut 14:28: “At the end of every three years…” – why 3 years?

Deut 14 & Tithing

Deut 14 speaks to different uses of our tithe (which I think speaks to all of our possessions this side of the cross):

  • feed ourselves
  • feed the helpless (widows, fatherless)
  • Feed guests (“sojourners”)
  • Feed those ministering Christ

I’m amazed at how much this parallels uses of the church’s funds in the NT!

I was also amazed and struck how much Deut. speaks of the sojourner. So very close to the heart of God! Guests could also include foreigners to our neck of the woods.

Deut 17

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
Deuteronomy 17:18-20

Boom!

  1. I find it amazing that God speaks prophetically about kings a couple hundred years before they came into being…and even when they came, it wasn’t how God wanted, but He was still willing to work with it.
  2. I love—again—the emphasis on knowing and meditating over EVERY word of God.

Deut 18

  1. love that those who minister the Lord (Levites) had no inheritance on earth, though their needs were met (dependent on their community, the fellow Israelites). What a picture for us!—being detached from this earth frees us to minister heaven (our true inheritance) to others
  2. the “prophet” who was coming like Moses seems to point squarely and ultimately at Jesus, Acts 3:17-26, though other (lesser) prophets did come first

Should Christians Follow the OT Law?

See Blog Post: Should Christians Obey the Old Testament?

Also, I see 3 general categories of law:

  1. RITUAL (eating foods, washing clothes, feasts, Sabbath, etc.) – these are external things that have been fulfilled in Christ; our faith in Him and being led of the Spirit means we fulfill all these and go beyond them in terms of righteousness before God. You can do them if you want, but it makes you no more righteous than the one who doesn’t.
  2. MORAL (sexuality, remove idols, don’t murder, don’t covet, etc) – these carry on for us today. But even these are lived into in a greater degree as we follow the Spirit within us, and obey these from the heart.
  3. GOVERNMENTAL (rules on murder; slavery; marriage-divorce; etc) – these can be helpful in making policies on a governmental/civil level, but aren’t meant for the church alone (for instance, I believe in capital punishment based on Scripture, but that would need to happen by elected officials of the State; it would be wrong for the church to kill anyone by their own decrees).

In ALL of these categories:

  • Jesus/ The Spirit within wants to lead us into a greater righteousness than what is communicated by the “letter of the law”
  • principles should be given more weight than the “letter of the law” see 1 Cor 9:8-10

Yes, the NT repeatedly differentiates moral from ritual of the OT. Hebrews, for instance, says we are in sin to look for a priest, temple, animal sacrifice, Sabbath observance, eating kosher, etc. as part of becoming righteous or sanctified in Jesus. Similarly, Paul says in Col 2 how we are not judged by the ritual anymore.

Yet Paul also quotes from 10 commandments in saying parents should obey masters (Eph 5), or we shouldn’t covet (Rom 7).

Mark 7:14-15, 17-23 says: “And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I think that passage shows this:

  • foods DON’T make you unclean (ritual)
  • wicked hearts DO make you unclean (moral)

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17

This passage from Col 2:16-17 is another key one. Look at all the things we aren’t judged for anymore: eating, festivals, sabbaths.

Why not? Because they were all just temporary placeholders fulfilled in Christ (“shadows” if you will). We in Christ no longer need them. Further, we are told that each of these OT ordinances will have things pointing out and pointing toward Jesus and his sacrifice and his life in us. Now that is some exciting OT reading for us to discover all these treasures pointing toward Him! Dig in!! While knowing we fulfill them by believing on Christ and the gospel and being led by His Spirit.

See also The Old Testament Law – Jeff Durbin Critiques Andy Stanley.

Deut 20: Fear Is Contagious

And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.’
Deuteronomy 20:8

Deut 29 – Don’t Focus on Secret Things

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29

Stop fixating on “secret things”. Focus on the revealed things of Gods word that you could walk faithfully with Him.

Sabbaths

Quick note (more for me than anyone):

  • Jesus was on cross 6 hours, then said it is finished, and now we enter His rest.
  • God worked 6 days, then people were created, and the 7th day was rest.
  • Feast of booths started 7 weeks after Sabbath of Passover (in month 1)
  • The 7th month held 3 feasts for sabbath (Lev 23)
  • The 7th year was supposed to be a year of rest
  • After the 7th of the 7th years you had Jubilee
  • 490 years = 70 * 7 years (see Dan 9)

God’s Justice

“All his ways are justice.” Deuteronomy 32:4

Compare with Isaiah 55 – “God’s ways are not our ways”

If we are serious about justice in this society it will come from looking at God and His word much closer. Our versions of justice will always be warped.

Deut 30 – God’s Blessing & Multiplication

Reflecting on how blessing and multiplication comes, according to God: “If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” Deut 30:16

Ultimately, only Christ is faithful like this, so I believe it comes firstly on trusting in Christ’s work and righteousness alone! But then He also gives us His Spirit and Word to walk in his ways.

Deut 31

And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
Deuteronomy 31:10-13

Yet another way to get this word in us and the  next generation.

Deut / Torah Reflections

I have really enjoyed reading the Torah in succession- it is really helpful to see the same themes continuing to emerge and how much the Lord continues to call the Israelites to not fear and follow Him. He provides over and over and over. They are pretty stubborn and stiff necked and this is so applicable to today! Unfortunately all too often neglected.

In Deut. specifically toward the end I was amazed how many times God called them to “purge evil from their midst.” It hit me how God’s sovereignty was ever present giving them the ability to choose Him over and over and His commandments which lead to life or to sin which leads to death. The same choice we have now. He calls us His treasured possession and says follow me-I desire you but ultimately it’s our choice.

Deut. 30: 19-20 “ I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, CHOOSE LIFE, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice, and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days.”

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