A large portion of Deuteronomy is the repetition of the law. Almost forty years earlier Moses had articulated the “Ten Commandments” to the children of Israel (Exodus 20:1-17) and here he does so again.
The Ten Commandments are all repeated in the New Testament with the exception of the Sabbath. In the New Testament we are free to observe any day as our Sabbath, and we are not to judge others on this issue (Colossians 2:16; Romans 14:5).
The Ten Commandments are the moral code to keep, and observe, for anyone and any society. Although no one can keep them perfectly (in their hearts) we should hold tight to them, and require our children to memorize them. It’s tragic that in our nation the highest court in the land has made the display of the Ten Commandments illegal in certain places (see article).
When the people heard the thunderous voice of the LORD they asked Moses to be their mediator, they feared God. It was a healthy fear that the LORD commended:
Deuteronomy 5:29 (NKJV) “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!”
In Deuteronomy 6:4-5 we have the great “Shema”
Deuteronomy 6:4–5 (NKJV) “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
When Jesus was asked which is the first and foremost commandment, Jesus responded with the Shema (Mark 12:28-30). It begins with the fact that there is only one God (it’s interesting that the Hebrew word echad refers to a plurality of one, as husband and wife in Genesis 2:24, or one cluster of grapes – a hint of the Trinity). The commandment continues in simple fashion, we are to love the LORD with all our heart (volition), with all of our soul (emotions and convictions), and with all of our strength (passion).
Love for God is first, and love for others is second, on these two laws hang all other commandments (Matthew 22:40).
The shema would be another great passage to have our children memorize – to hide in their hearts.
Deuteronomy 6:6 (NKJV) “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.”
We are to do all we can to pass the faith on to our children; there will be those formal times of teaching, but generally speaking, it’s the outflow of everyday living, those teaching moments that we find for our family.
When the people inherited the Promised-Land there would be a temptation to forget the LORD as they enjoyed their beautiful cities, and houses, and wells, vineyards, and olive groves. God encouraged them (and us) to remain loyal to Him, the God of the Bible.
God anticipated the curiosity and inquisitiveness of the children, and the LORD advised the parents at that point to share the testimony of Israel. How God redeemed them out of Egypt with a mighty hand, that this covenant was for their own good (Deuteronomy 6:24). God doesn’t give us rules and regulations without relationship; and He doesn’t issue His mandates because He’s a kill-joy…it’s all for our own good.
We who are now under the New Covenant, can still share the great Exodus of Israel, but we can also share the cross and resurrection of Christ, who ushered in this New Covenant. Not only that, we all have our personal testimonies on how the Lord saved us from the bondage of “Egypt.” In God’s timing, we should share our story with our children of what great things God has done for us.
Have you ever noticed that during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He breaks up every funeral He ever comes across? Here’s another example of Him defeating death, as He raises the widow’s son from the dead – proving beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is indeed the Messiah, the Savior of the world. We not only need someone to help us while we live, we need the One who can help us when we die.
John the Baptist has been thrown in prison for making a stand for righteousness. He apparently didn’t know going into it, that that was part of the plan. He also had the same misconception everyone else had, that when the Messiah comes He would set up His kingdom…so doubts start to creep into his heart when things are disturbed and delayed. John therefore sends some of his disciples to Jesus with a shocking question, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
Wait a minute – John was the one saw the Spirit descend on Jesus, that was the entire purpose of his ministry to point people to Jesus, and he did that. John knew Jesus was the One, but after sitting in prison for a period of time, he starts to doubt.
Jesus sends his disciples back to the Baptist with the testimony of His sermons and signs, and then that message in:
Luke 7:23 (NKJV) “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
As we go through the tough times in life; things we don’t understand, things that just aren’t fair, may it not offend us, or cause us to stumble. We’re all very vulnerable, even John the Baptist was tempted to lose heart – to lose faith. We all go through things that we don’t/won’t understand – may trust Him at all times (Romans 8:28) and not be offended.
Jesus gave that word to John, but also defended him. The general public was open to the ministry of John the Baptist, they came by the thousands to be baptized by him, but the religious leaders, ironically, were not open to God’s prophet. They had drifted so far from God, that they didn’t recognize His prophet, or even God Himself, when He arrived. Jesus and John tried different approaches, but even though they tried to reach them in diverse ways, they were not open (Luke 7:32-34).
Jesus’ teaching in Luke 7:28, about the least in the Kingdom of God being greater than John the Baptist (the greatest prophet of the Old Testament) simply speaks of the fact that the Old Covenant has come to a close, and the new has begun. I wonder if we realize how blessed we are as New Testament Christians? How in that sense we’re greater, because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we can freely enter into the Holiest of Holies, and we have the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
Each day God blesses us with benefits (Psalm 68:19) and every day is a gift from God. If the enemy had his way, we’d all be dead, but God protects us – to Him belong “escapes from death.” (Psalm 68:20)
The Psalm goes on to give graphic details on how the LORD would defeat the enemies of Israel, even to the point of dogs licking the blood and feasting upon Israel’s enemies (Psalm 68:23).
As a result Israel was to thank God, to praise God, to seek God in the sanctuary. David anticipated that the future Temple of God would one day draw all nations to the LORD. He had a heart for the world to be saved.
David understood that God wanted Israel to be instrumental in reaching the world – this is why he prayed for Israel to thrive. And although God would use the people and the Temple, ultimately it is God Himself, alone, who the world needs.
Psalm 68:35 (NKJV) “O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!”
These three verses are all what we call synthetic parallelism.
Synthetic parallelism expands upon what has been stated in the first line.
While synonymous parallelism repeats what has been said in the first line, synthetic takes the thought of the first line farther–it develops the first thought. In light of that:
God help us to not trouble our home, to refuse to be fools.
God help us to be a tree of life, to be wise and win souls.
God help the ungodly to know that if the church will be judged first, on earth, what will happen to them? (see also 1 Peter 4:17).
Do you know Jesus? Are you a Christian? If not, I pray that today you would yield your heart to the Lord.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.