Deuteronomy 5-8

Deuteronomy 5

Be mindful next time when you hear God’s word: “that you may learn them and observe them carefully” (v. 1). This is because there are many careless hearing and hearers. When there is lack of reverence and fear for God, there is lack of reverence and fear for his word. When God speaks, it is almost always instructional or didactic in nature, so that listeners would learn. Hence, preaching must be instructional. Also, it must be forceful for listeners to apply. That means such preaching is persuasive with strong and sound arguments. The nature of preaching is such that it is liken to  “standing between” God and people, to declare the word of the Lord (v. 5). The type of reverence and fear is liken to what is described in verse 24: “God speaks with man, yet he lives.” Such preaching declares God’s glory and his greatness. Such preaching makes much about God, his glory, and his greatness!

Deuteronomy 6

God’s commands are not grievous, nor are they burdensome. His commands always include purpose and benefits: “Now this is the commandment…that you might do them” (v. 1)… “so that you and your son… might fear the LORD” (v. 2)… “that it may be well with you…” (v. 3). As before, God’s commands are always based on who he is and what he did (e.g., vv. 4-9).

One interesting note: Yahweh reminds what the people did not do, in contrast to what Yahweh did (vv. 10-15). All that to say, the people have nothing to boast of, but that Yahweh alone receives the glory and that he should be feared. In fact, fearing God is one of the central themes in the chapter (vv. 2, 13, 24).

Deuteronomy 7

The first half of the chapter reads like Ephesians 1. It is primarily theocentric, not only in terms of who he is and what he did, but also soteriology focused. The text clearly states that salvation is not based on what people did (obviously the previous chapter already established they have nothing to boast – e.g., 6:10-15), but who and what God did, namely God sovereignly chose them (v. 6), not because they are great in number (v. 7), but because of his sovereign election (vv. 6, 8). Hence, as a result of this grace and truth, the recipients of God’s redeeming covenant must keep his commands (v. 11). That is to say, sanctification is evidence that redeeming grace (justification) has occurred. Hence, both justification and sanctification go together.

Deuteronomy 8

If the previous chapter reads like Ephesians 1 or soteriology, then this chapter reads like sanctification or living as the recipients of God’s sovereign grace. First, all commands are for his redeemed people to do (v. 1a) so that they may live (v. 1b). Second, testings in life are given and God-ordained means to humble his people (v. 2). Third, trials/testings reveal what’s in the heart of man (v. 2). Fourth, so that man would ultimately live by God’s word than mere physical things. Fifth, sanctification requires obedience and reverence (v. 6). Six, giving back to God is part of sanctification, which reveals justification took place (v. 10).

And then the second half of the chapter exhorts the redeemed community not to forget who God is and what he did (v. 11), which implies that people do forget. In fact, the text explicitly states so (vv. 11-19). It is better to receive little and live God-dependent than to have much and be self-sufficient and independent from God, which many are prone to do. The warning is also especially to the have’s and well-off folks. Although this is written so long ago, it speaks as if it was written today!

 

 

Deuteronomy 1-4

Deuteronomy 1-3

The first three chapters are the recounts of Israel’s redemptive history while in the wilderness (1:1). There is value in recounting. After all, when we preach the gospel to ourselves or to others, what are we really doing? We are recounting who God is and what he did. The recounting the history includes not only God’s faithfulness but also the people’s unfaithfulness and its direct consequences (1:26, 32). And one of the consequences include mere wandering in the wilderness and prohibition to enter the land (2:3). If anything, God’s people need to recount the gospel often because everything the redeemed community does is because of the gospel (worship, communion, baptism, membership, service, sanctification, discipline, etc.).

Deuteronomy 4

This is continuation from chapters 1-3, of a long sermon of Moses to the sons of Israel. What is unique yet consistent throughout the whole Scripture is that this sermon illustrates what a powerful, persuasive, and practical sermon looks like. It contains both indicatives and imperatives, in that specific order.

Moses spends the first three chapters recounting who God is and what God did in the redemptive history of Israel. As a result, this chapter begins with the imperative: “Now, O Israel, listen” (4:1). And what follows from verse 1 are repeated applications that flow out of 4:1 and provides logical and persuasive reasons based on the first three chapters (e.g., vv. 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 23, 24, so on).

Moses’ sermon truly illustrates what a biblical, theological, and redemptive-historical sermon looks like. It is theocentric from the start to the end. It contains practical applications, yet driven by the gospel. It is fearful because though Yahweh is loving, gracious (and many other attributes that people have no problem believing), he is also just and do not allow both sin and sinners go without punishment. This type of preaching explains not only why he is to be revered and obeyed, but also what happens when people don’t.

The type of preaching that God is pleased is the one that God ordained, namely one that does “not add nor take away” from his word (v. 2). It presents the whole counsel of God, representing exactly who God is, what he did, what he says, and what he demands. It is true to the text.

It is also redemptive-historical. That is, it explains the gospel in the history of God’s acts of saving, beginning with explaining who God is, sin, redemption, and the reality of future hope. The gospel always begins with God. It is an exposition of who he is (vv. 31, 32-39). It is doctrinal and theocentric (vv. 36-37).

As a result of who God is and what he did, the people must obey (v. 40). This model of preaching and sermon continues not only in the Old Testament, but also throughout the New Testament. It becomes the foundation of the apostles’ teaching and becomes the foundation for the apostolic church.

Numbers 33-36

Numbers 33

Yahweh commands the people to drive out or purge the land that they will settle – away from the gods, idols and images, and moral and spiritual pollutions (v. 55). God is consistent in displaying his holy nature and his standard for the redeemed.

Numbers 34

Conquer and inherit. Obey and reward. Believe and enter. Trust and obey.

Numbers 35

God provides safe refuge for anyone who may be falsely accused. And for true justice to be on the side of the real victims. All that to say, Yahweh commands the people not to pollute the land because he dwells in the midst of the sons of Israel (vv. 33-34).

Numbers 36

The last chapter of the book concludes with the saying that “These are the commandments and the ordinances of Yahweh to the people of Israel” (v. 13). Yahweh indeed speaks. Unlike many dumb idols and gods, Yahweh is living God who speaks, saves, forgives, kills, judges, provides, protects, leads, sees, helps, answers, listens, warns, predicts, destroys, angers, hears, heals, prescribes, commands, demands, shows and so much more, of his glory to the people he redeemed. This God is the same God of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers!

Numbers 29-32

Numbers 29

Yahweh mandates various prescriptions on offerings. The point is God demands how he is to be worshiped and his leader is to faithfully communicate that to the congregation (vv. 39-40).

Numbers 30

Words matter. And the meaning from words matter. People make promises with words. Some keep. Some break. When there is breach, there are consequences. At the same time, there are circumstances when it is allowed without penalties. Overall, the community of faith must characterize as promise keepers than promise breakers because their redeemer is that of the former.

Numbers 31

It may seem very difficult (or harsh) to reconcile God as a loving deity with the severity of his wrath demonstrating here. How can a loving God order or allow systematic killing on children and women?

A few things need to be considered first and foremost: 1) God is holy and just, 2) none of the people are righteous and sinless, 3) God as loving and wrathful are not at odds against each other since those attributes are perfectly in harmony with him, 4) God hates sin, 5) sin has consequence and sinners have to be punished. At the end of the day what people are required to do is obedience – i.e., obey what God commands.

Numbers 32

At the end of the day no one can fully judge the motive of other people’s heart, but God alone. However, give time and opportunity because whatever deception one may play his sin will eventually find him out (v. 23).

Numbers 25-28

Numbers 25

The severity of Yahweh’s judgment is not without any warrant. Yahweh displays anger because of the people’s continual defiance and disobedience (vv. 1-3). This chapter demonstrates once again the severity of sin’s consequence (v. 9).

Numbers 26

Yahweh could have chosen to wipe out the entire people of Israel, yet chose to purge only of the generation of Moses and Aaron (vv. 64-65). Once again, Yahweh is holy and demands his redeemed people to be holy.

Numbers 27

Yahweh demonstrates his perpetual mercy and care for his covenant people (vv. 1-14).

Although Moses sees the need for a leader, Yahweh also sees and provides one, namely Joshua. It is Yahweh’s idea for having ordination and its process (vv. 18-23). According to Moses, a congregational leader is liken to a shepherd (v. 17). One cannot help but to be reminded that Jesus is the great shepherd of his church, and churches do need right under-shepherds.

Numbers 28

Yahweh reminds the people once again that various offerings for worship is mandated by him alone (v. 2). It is a job of congregational leader to 1) command to the people, 2) to warn them, 3) that worship is about God (note all the first person pronoun usage: “My offering, My food, My offerings, to Me“), and 4) worship is done at an appointed time. Clearly the regulative principles of worship are given.

Numbers 21-24

Numbers 21

The theme of complaining continues – i.e., to speak against God and his sovereign choice servant Moses is sin (v. 7). And sin has consequence as previous chapters and books indicate. In this chapter the consequence is shown by being bitten by serpents. Yet God provides redemption – in his way – i.e., to look at Yahweh’s only provision (the bronze serpent). But again, the thing itself doesn’t carry any redemptive power. The redemptive power is in Yahweh alone and what he chose to provide redemption. It is a foreshadow of Jesus Christ, who is Yahweh’s only means and provision for redemption. Again the application here for both Israelites and people today is to trust and obey Yahweh.

Numbers 22

The Balaam’s donkey had more spiritual sense and discernment than his human master. More obedience in the donkey than Balaam.

A bit humorous to witness the dialogue between the donkey and Balaam (vv. 28-30). This resembles the conversation between the serpent and Eve in the Garden. That is, why is the creature talking to man and vice-versa? Balaam should have known something is not right.

The king simply does not understand that blessing and cursing do not come by man, but in Yahweh alone.

Numbers 23

Balaam’s prophetic ministry is something to emulate because he shows no fear in speaking exactly the words of Yahweh to the king (Balak) though he could have easily been killed. Many false or cowardly prophets could have used their ministries for their own personal gain (wealth, power, respect, etc.), but Balaam said exactly what Yahweh said. Such boldness to speak and to give the whole counsel of God is what so many prophetic ministries lack today! Hence, safe to say that Balaam feared Yahweh more than man or a king (vv. 19 and 21).

Numbers 24

Such bold/courageous prophetic ministry proves that the Spirit of God was upon Balaam (v. 2). This gives the glimpse of Acts 2 when Peter spoke boldly once the Spirit came upon him on the day of Pentecost. Balaam’s prophetic ministry is pre-Acts 2, yet the Spirit-driven and the Spirit-empowered preaching ministry! Moreover, this gives a hint of the prophetic ministry of Jesus in Luke 4:18, where Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel…”

Perhaps the most interesting prophetic utterance by Balaam is found in verse 7 with mentioning of a “king and his kingdom” when there is no hint of any desire for a king at that time of Israel’s history. In fact, no Israel will see a king until Saul, but that will not happen in many, many years later! Yet it is hinted here in Numbers 24:7. Also, what about verse 17? What “star shall come forth from Jacob” and “scepter“? These are future references about Jesus! Indeed the words of Jesus are true: search the Scriptures because in them bear the witness of him (John 5:39).

Numbers 17-20

Numbers 17

Perhaps the shortest chapter in Numbers. The theme of complaining continues.

Numbers 18

Giving is an evidence of thankful heart. God mandates giving to him, not because he needs anything but to train his people that it is an important aspect of worship and that it is an important aspect of the redeemed in the redemptive history.

God takes care of his priests with the people’s tithes (vv. 24 and 26). And also requires them (the priests) to tithes as well (v. 28). Moreover, he provides a stern warning about what not to do with people’s offering (v. 32).

Numbers 19

Once again it is Yahweh who mandates how and what to be offered as sacrifice. And it is he who deems what is clean and what is unclean.

Numbers 20

The people seem careless and loveless when they complained against Moses and Aaron when Miriam died (v. 1). Whatever happened to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn? Even pagans know how to show proper respect during death and funeral time.

One cannot imagine serving/leading many repeated offenders who are guilty of complaining. Yet Yahweh commanded Moses and Aaron to “speak to the rock” (v. 8), but Moses “struck the rock twice” (v. 11). Just like Yahweh expected the people of Israel to be obedient, Moses and Aaron were expected to be obedient regardless how they were treated or under what circumstance or however they felt! Obedience to Yahweh does not require excuses.

The ground for their dismissal is found in verse 12. A huge leadership lesson here. As a result, Aaron dies and Moses does not get to lead the people to the promised land. All because Yahweh saw it as disobedience and rebellion against his command (v. 24).