the burden of prescience

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the burden of prescience

Deuteronomy 5:28-31

Deuteronomy 5:28 “Yahveh heard your words when you spoke to me. He said to me, ‘I have heard the words that these people have spoken to you. Everything they have said is right.

Deuteronomy 5:29 If only they had such a heart to fear me and watch all my commands always, so that they and their children would permanently1 prosper.

Deuteronomy 5:30 Go and tell them: Return to your tents.

Deuteronomy 5:31 But you stand here with me, and I will tell you every command – the prescriptions and rules – you are to teach them, so that they may follow them in the land I am giving them to take possession of.’

the burden of prescience

God expresses his broken heart with those words “if only.” He knows that they will not be obedient always, so their prosperity will not be permanent.

Some people think it would be great to know the future, but imagine knowing everything. God knows everyone who will be with him in eternity, but he also knows everyone who will not.

It is best for us that we remain ignorant of such things.

Thank you Lord for not burdening us with knowledge of the future.

1עוֹלָם

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helping those who are not yet strong

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helping those who are not yet strong

Deuteronomy 5:25-27

Deuteronomy 5:25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us and we will die if we hear the voice of Yahveh our God any longer.

Deuteronomy 5:26 For who out of everyone in skin1 has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the fire, as we have, and stayed alive?

Deuteronomy 5:27 Go near and listen to everything Yahveh our God says. Then you can tell us everything Yahveh our God tells you; we will listen and obey.’

helping those who are not yet strong

The Israelites were afraid to approach God, and they were right to be afraid. Moses could not understand their fear, but God did. He planned for Moses to intercede for them all along.

It is only right for those who are stronger in the faith to help along those who are not yet strong. By helping others with their relationship with God, we are bringing them to their source of strength and growth.

Lord, show us who we can help today.

1בָּשָׂר

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he added nothing to them

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he added nothing to them

Deuteronomy 5:22 “Yahveh spoke these commands in a loud voice to your entire collected assembly from the fire, cloud, and total darkness on the mountain; he added nothing to them. He wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

Deuteronomy 5:23 All of you approached me with your tribal leaders and elders when you heard the voice from the darkness and while the mountain was blazing with fire.

Deuteronomy 5:24 You said, ‘Notice,1 Yahveh our God has shown us his impressive appearance2 and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that God can speak with a human, and he stays alive.

he added nothing to them

After God spoke the covenant commands to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai, he added nothing to them. These ten words summarized his desire for them, so they included all of the specific, prescriptions, rules, and prohibitions.

They are simple words which are not hard to understand, yet they challenged each one who heard them. They lay bare the people’s selfish hearts and impure motives.

These words summarize the sanctification plan under the Mosaic covenant, and following them was essential for the Mosaic mission: witnessing to God’s righteousness among the nations.

Lord, thank you for giving us words we can live by in the teachings of Christ.

1הן

2כּבוֹד

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preying pagans

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preying pagans

Deuteronomy 5:19-21

Deuteronomy 5:19 Do not steal.

Deuteronomy 5:20 Do not give dishonest testimony against your neighbor.

Deuteronomy 5:21 Do not crave1 your neighbor’s wife or desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

preying pagans

The Mosaic mission was designed to create a community which glorified God by caring for one another. The pagan nations around it were steeped in selfishness, which led to rampant theft, fraud and greed. They preyed on each other instead of praying for each other. These commands envision a different community in which the individual put other people’s needs and wants ahead of his own.

Lord, get us out of the preying business, and into the caring and praying business.

1חמד

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respecting life and family

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respecting life and family

Deuteronomy 5:16-18

Deuteronomy 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as Yahveh your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and so that you may prosper in the land Yahveh your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 5:17 Do not murder.

Deuteronomy 5:18 Do not commit adultery.

respecting life and family

A trademark of the Israelite community was the care for others. Parents were to be respected and cared for when the roles reversed because of age. The life and dignity of others was to be held sacred. Murder and adultery would be a heinous breech of that respect. Lives and marriages were intended to be long and uninterrupted.

The family relationships envisioned in these commands would reveal the glory of God to the nations, and bring shame upon them for their selfish idolatry based on looking out for number one. In the Israelite community, God came first, then others, then me.

Lord, may our families show off your glory.

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his name and his day

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his name and his day

Deuteronomy 5:11-15

Deuteronomy 5:11 Do not misuse the name of Yahveh your God, because Yahveh will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses his name.

Deuteronomy 5:12 Be careful to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it sacred1 like Yahveh your God has commanded you.

Deuteronomy 5:13 You are to labor six days and do all your work,

Deuteronomy 5:14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahveh your God. Do not do any work– you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey, any of your livestock, or the guest who lives within your city gates, so that your male and female slaves may rest as you do.

Deuteronomy 5:15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Yahveh your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That is why Yahveh your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

his name and his day

The Mosaic mission required respect and submission to both the Lord’s name and his day. To abuse either was to disavow allegiance to him. Anyone in the possessed land had the same requirement, including foreign guests and foreign slaves.

Note that the Sabbath keeping was because God had freed the Israelites from daily toil as slaves in Egypt. It was a memorial to that deliverance.

Lord, show us how to demonstrate our allegiance to you, and celebrate your deliverance.

1קָדַשׁ

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fine print in the idolatry contract

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fine print in the idolatry contract

Deuteronomy 5:7-10

Deuteronomy 5:7 Do not have other gods besides me.

Deuteronomy 5:8 Do not make an idol for yourself in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the land below or in the water under the land.

Deuteronomy 5:9 Do not bow in worship to them, and do not serve them, because I, Yahveh your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ violation1 to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me,

Deuteronomy 5:10 but showing faithful care to a thousand generations of those who care about me and watch my commands.

fine print in the idolatry contract

The Israelites who were called to the mission were the intended recipients of this command. We benefit from the command today as we recognize a universal moral obligation to be monotheistic.

So, why would the Israelites be tempted to make and serve idols? Popular opinion said that the idols could get you what the big God in the sky would not. Paganism promoted idolatry for practical purposes.

Today, idols still exist all over the world for the same reason. People think the idols will get them what they want.

The fine print in the idolatry contract is that God punishes those who serve man-made idols— to the fourth generation!

Lord, we pledge complete allegiance to you.

1עָוֹן

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fire and mission

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fire and mission

Deuteronomy 5:5 At that time I was standing between Yahveh and you to report the word of Yahveh to you, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain. And this is what he said:

Deuteronomy 5:6 I am Yahveh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

fire and mission

Moses interceded for the Israelites because they were afraid of the manifestation of God as fire on the mountain. Why was Moses not afraid? He had seen God manifest as fire before. His memory of the burning bush experience gave him courage to face God again. He was also in a unique position to recognize that God used fire as a catalyst for mission. So Moses understood that God was calling the Israelites to respond to his deliverance in Egypt by walking free from idolatry and the failure of the past.

Lord, you are still a consuming fire. Show us how to rescue as many as possible from your coming wrath.

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an internal battle

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an internal battle

Deuteronomy 5:1 Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Israel, listen to the prescriptions and rules I am proclaiming as you hear them today. Learn and watch them carefully.

Deuteronomy 5:2 Yahveh our God established a covenant with us at Horeb.

Deuteronomy 5:3 Yahveh did not establish this covenant with our fathers, but with all of us who are alive here today.

Deuteronomy 5:4 Yahveh spoke to you face to face from the fire on the mountain.

an internal battle

God would give the Israelites victory over their enemies by empowering them in battle. But Moses urges the people to prepare for an internal battle— in which victory would mean keeping the land, and witnessing to God’s glory within it.

In the same way, the blood of Christ has given us victory over the penalty of our own sins. But we need the Sacred Breath within us for fighting the internal battle we will all face in this life.

Lord, thank you for making our destiny certain, and giving us what we need to fight our internal battles.

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the transjordon possessions

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the transjordon possessions

Deuteronomy 4:44-49

Deuteronomy 4:44 This is the instruction Moses placed before the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 4:45 These are the reminders,1 prescriptions, and rules Moses proclaimed to them after they came out of Egypt,

Deuteronomy 4:46 across the Jordan in the valley facing Beth-peor in the land of King Sihon of the Amorites. He lived in Heshbon, and Moses and the Israelites defeated him after they came out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 4:47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two Amorite kings who were across the Jordan to the east,

Deuteronomy 4:48 from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Valley as far as Mount Sion (that is, Hermon)

Deuteronomy 4:49 and all the Arabah on the east side of the Jordan as far as the Dead Sea below the slopes of Pisgah.

the transjordon possessions

There were three sections of land the Israelites took possession of before crossing the Jordon River. Moses oversaw the battles to procure these lands, and their distribution.

I have been thinking about the Israelite possession of the promised land as analogous of the Christian possessing the mind of Christ as a result of sanctification. Is it going too far to suggest that the possession of the transjordon lands might be a reference to what we can learn about God and living righteously through the Old Testament? This comes to mind because the Old Testament was originally divided into three parts.

Whether or not that guess is correct, it was gracious of our Lord to allow Moses a part in the conquest, even if he could not cross the Jordon.

Lord, thank you for the things you allow us to experience.

1עֵדוּת

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