Welcome to Expound, our verse by verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God, by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
There are certain times in our lives when getting good counsel would be appropriate. Having a trusted friend, or a mentor, or a pastor who would tell you the truth and shoot straight with you. Not necessarily telling you what you want to hear, but what you need to know.
Such times would be transitional moments in your life. If you're going through a career change, or an idea of changing work career opportunities, possibilities, it would be good to get counsel. In the multitude of counselors, there is safety.
My mind immediately goes back to a period in my life where a friend, really a mentor of mine, who was a radiological surgeon, cordoned me off one day. And he said, Skip-- I was working in the radiology field as a tech, working in CAT scans, and working with him in the surgical suite-- and he said, I really believe that what you're doing is a waste of your life. And I think you need to finish medical school and be a doctor. That's what I see you doing.
So he convinced me that's what I should do, and I aimed to do that. That's what I was going to do. I made plans to do that. My dad was happy to even pay for the medical training, just to say, my son, the doctor!
So that was the decision, that was the road I was going down. But then I thought, I should run this by a close friend of mine, a good buddy of mine, a brother in the Lord, also a physician. And I said to him, Dennis, this is what I'm deciding to do. This is what I think I ought to do. What do you think?
And he smiled and he said, well, it would sound foolish for a doctor to say don't become a doctor. But I'm telling you, Skip Heitzig, don't become a doctor. And I say, why would you say that? That's what you are.
And he goes, it's simply because I believe, like I think you know, that God has called you to something else. I would move slowly, I would put the brakes on, and before you jump and finish that, I would take it before the Lord. But my advice to you is don't do it. I think you should go into the ministry.
I'm so thankful for somebody who was honest like that. To just put it right back in my face and say, here's what I think my advice would be to you.
I think if you're transitioning from single life to married life, you need counseling. I think it's almost a sin to say, I'm going to become a married person going from a single person, without getting counsel. You don't know what you're getting into. You need to know what you're getting into. You need good, solid, strengthening, mentoring advice.
I think if you're going to have kids, which most couples tend to do, you should get counsel before that transition. You know, I've always been amazed how in our culture, you have to have a license to drive a car, to drive a motorcycle. You have to have a license to be a contractor, an electrician, to work in a certain profession. Almost everything requires a license, except for having kids. And in looking around, I'm thinking, maybe a license would be in order, as I see the way many people have thought and they raise their kids.
So I believe that solid, good, godly counsel and advice is in order. Deuteronomy is one big counseling session by a wise man who has lived 120 years. He's 120 years old. And for one month, he gives three sermons, three messages, three counseling sessions to a new generation.
Because they are at a very transitional period in their own personal walk, and their literal walk. They have walked through the wilderness, they are on the border of the promised land, they are about to walk into the land of Canaan.
They picked up manna every day off the ground. It was free. It just fell from the sky. Water came from the rock. Now things are going to be different. Now they're going to be surrounded by enemies. And in this transitional period, they need counsel. And Moses, gives it to them here.
If you remember the first generation that departed from Egypt with Moses, they've all died. This is now the second generation, and they have no personal memory at all of the exodus from Egypt, or of the giving of the law at Sinai. Some of the may have been young, little kids, but have no real personal, adult experience in memory to draw from.
And they're about to have a new lifestyle. They're moving from wanderer to settler in this new land. And so the Lord would want them to know, you are my people, I have redeemed you. And as you look towards your future, never forget your past. And that is part of this counseling session of this book.
Now Deuteronomy is a hard word. It's five syllables, but it's an easy meaning. It's a Greek word, that's why it's not an easy word. For most people, when they read it-- if they ready for the first time, most of them can't pronounce it. But it's from two words. "Deutero" or "deuteros," which means two or second, and "nomos" or "nomion," which means the law.
So it is the second law. Not that it is a repetition of the law of Moses, it is a recapitulation of the law. And so Moses will draw from the previous books of Moses. In fact, 250 references to the previous books of Moses are given in this farewell address. Now as we've told you before, each of these messages has a theme. Each of these counseling sessions has a theme.
In the first sermon, the first message, the first counseling session, it's a review of the past. Chapters one, two, and three. Look back and remember your past, a review of the past. Message number two, sermon number two, counseling session number two-- chapters 4 through 26-- is rules and regulations for your present. Message number three, sermon number three, counseling session number three-- chapters 27 through 34-- is looking toward the future, or being ready for the future.
So there's a past, a present, and a future aspect of this book.
Now how important is the book of Deuteronomy? It's so important that the book of Deuteronomy will be referred to 300-- listen to this-- 350 times in the rest of the Old Testament. It will be referred to 95 times in the New Testament. And Jesus Christ himself will quote from Deuteronomy more than quoting from any other book in the Bible. That's how important it is.
So we begin in chapter one, verse one. We're just going to highlight a few verses to bring us up to chapter 22, and the Lord's supper. We're now beginning with the review of the past, chapters one, two, and three. Chapter one, verse one.
"These are the words which Moses spoke to all of Israel, on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab."
What that means is Moses and the people are camped on the east side of the Jordan River, overlooking the land of Canaan, right in front of them. Moses, this is as close as he's going to get. He's going to go back up the hill on the east side and kick the bucket. It's those people that are going to go in, and everyone from the previous generation, except for two men, have died. The two men are Joshua and Caleb.
Verse two. I want you to notice this. "It is 11 days' journey from Horeb," which is Mount Sinai, "by the way of Seir to Kadesh-barnea," which is at the entrance of the promised land. "Now it came to pass--" watch this-- "in the 40th year." So it's 11 days to get there by foot, but "in the 40th year, in the 11th month, on the first day of the month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the Lord had given him as a commandment to them."
They managed to turn an 11 day walk into 40 years of wandering. They went from a march to a meander, going around and around and around.
Something interesting about distance in the ancient biblical times, in ancient times, and in the east, they will reckon distance not by how long it is in miles or kilometers, or in whatever measuring system they would use, but by the hours and days that are occupied by the journey itself. The time it takes to take the journey.
So you read in the book of Jonah that Nineveh was so big, it was three days' journey to go around it. So usually, you would cover 20 miles a day by foot, 30 miles a day by camel. No wonder they said I'd walk a mile for a camel, because you can go-- oh, that's an old commercial, pardon me. You could go so much further on a camel. However, if you were traveling by a caravan you could only go 25 miles a day, because you've got a lot of people and supplies, and the pace would be slower.
Now, that's a little bit interesting to me, because not only in the ancient East, but in the modern West, on the west coast, that's exactly how they tell you the distances. If you ask someone in Disneyland, hey, how far is it to the beach? They won't say, oh, it's so many miles. They will say, oh, it's 40 minutes.
They won't tell you how far it is, they'll tell you how long it will take you to get there. And you'll get a different answer depending on what time of the day. It might be two hours if it's drive time.
So it only takes 11 days to go from Mount Sinai to the promised land. It took them a 40 years. And that is because they failed in their faith.
Beginning in verse 26 of chapter one, the reason is mentioned. Nevertheless, God says, "You would not go up. But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God." It's a reference to numbers 14, the 12 spies sent by Moses into the land, and the bad report of the 10.
Verse 31. "And in the wilderness, where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, and in all the way that you went, until you came to this place. Yet for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God."
Verse 34. "And the Lord heard the sound of your words, and was angry, and took an oath saying, surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb, the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it. To him and his children I am giving the land on which you walk because he wholly followed the Lord." So it would be Caleb. And later on Joshua is also mentioned.
So figuring that within that period of time, it's estimated 1,200,000 people died from Sinai to the entrance of the land-- which is 37 and 1/2 years, because they were a year camped at Sinai. And there was some preliminary activity from Egypt on the way to Sinai, so about 37 and 1/2 years. 1.2 million people dying, that's 85 deaths a day. 85 funerals every day would be the average, or seven every waking hour.
Now this would be a constant reminder of what Romans six tells us. "The wages of sin is death. " They would live step after step, knowing this is true. "The wages of sin is death." "The wages of sin is death." As one person after another person would die, and be buried in the wilderness.
This is the point that the author of Hebrews makes when he personalizes is it to us, and says of them in the Old Testament, "Those who heard the word did not mix it with faith in those who heard it." It tells us, when you hear promise of God, mix it with faith.
You see, you are like a mixing bowl. You're like a little pot. Forgive the analogy. God pours his promise in. What do you pour in? What do you mix the promise with? Some people mix it with faith. Others hear the promise, then go, well, I don't know if that's true. I'm not so sure. They immediately mix God's promise with unbelief.
And so the writer of Hebrews says those who heard the promise, it didn't profit them. God gave them a promise, but they didn't add faith. They added unbelief. So it was not mixed with faith by those who heard it.
Now chapters two and three. Moses reviews the places, the events, and some of the people in the wilderness wandering from Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers. So I'm just going to pull out one verse, verse 10. "All the cities of the plain, all Gilead, all Bashan," that's east of the Galilee, the Sea of Galilee, "as far as Salecah and Edrei cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan."
That means absolutely nothing to any of us, because we don't know where those places are. But what we do know, what we do remember-- all of us will remember that 2 and 1/2 tribes settled east of the Jordan River. They requested that they could bring their families and their flocks there, so Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manassas settled east in these regions.
And also notice who is mentioned. Og of Bashan. He was a king in that northern area, east of the Sea of Galilee. Why is he mentioned? And by the way, he's mentioned a lot in the Old Testament. Not just here, but you'll find him even in the songs. Because he brought an armed resistance against the people of God, and he was defeated. He and another king that also resisted.
So that's chapters one, two, and three.
Now we get into the second part of the book. Remember I mentioned there were three messages, three counseling sessions? The second one, after the review of the past, is rules and regulations for the present. And that's chapters 3 through 26. We made it up through chapter 21 in our journey through it.
But notice something in chapter four. There is a change from the past tense to the present tense. It's as if God is saying, through Moses, this is what I've done this for you in the past, and now this is what I want from you in the present. And what I want from you in the present is based on what I've done for you in the past.
So I've reviewed the past-- chapter, one, two, and three-- now here are rules and regulations for the present. Now notice the change of tense, from the past to the present tense.
Verse one, chapter four. "Now, oh Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving to you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it. But you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
It sounds to me like God doesn't appreciate being edited. God doesn't like it when people hear or read what God has said in his word, and then have a response like, well, I don't like that part. I'm going to remove that part. I'm not going to really focus on that, or consider that part. There's other parts that I like.
Jesus himself said, "I did not come to destroy the law or the prophets. I came to fulfill. And not one jot or one tittle will be removed until all of it is fulfilled."
God doesn't like to be edited. Don't mess with what he has given in his Revelation. Don't add to it. Don't take from it.
In the very last look at the Bible, Revelation 22, he says through John, "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book." If anyone takes away from the prophecy that is written, God will take away his part from the book of life from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
So here are the rules and regulations, Israel, new generation, up and coming crop of people of God. The old ones are dead. You're the new guys on the block, gals on the block. This is what you are to do. Present tense.
Move over to chapter six, verse three. I'm giving you just highlights. "Therefore hear, oh, Israel, and be careful to observe it. That it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you a land flowing with milk and honey." Very productive land. "Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is one. "
That is called the shema. That is the Jewish confession of faith that is regarded by Jews as the very essence of their religious identity. In Hebrew, "Shema Yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai ehad." The Lord is one.
It is recited in every synagogue to this day. It is recited twice a day by every Orthodox Jew. It is taught to children at the earliest age. One of the first things they learn is this prayer. The Lord is one, the Lord is ehad.
Now let me just tell you about that word "one." Because here we are as New Testament Bible believing Christians, and we believe in a trinity. Three persons in one God. The Jewish person will say, there aren't three persons, there is just one. Adonai ehad.
And we believe in one God. We don't believe in three Gods. We believe in one God, but three separate and distinct persons in that one God head.
But it says ehad. It does. And that is the word for "one." When a child learns how to count-- ehad, shtaim, shalosh, arba, hamesh, shesh, all the way-- that's it. Ehad. One.
But the word "ehad" doesn't mean an absolute singularity. It means an absolute unity, and can mean a compound unity, and often does. It could mean a unity of two or three.
It's the same word used in Genesis, where God says, "For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined into his wife. And the two shall become ehad. One flesh." A compound unity. The Lord is one.
Verse five. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength." That's the first and greatest commandment, isn't it? Jesus was asked that. What is the greatest commandment? He quoted this. He quoted Deuteronomy.
But then he immediately goes and quotes Leviticus 19. And says but there is a second commandment, also from Moses, that is also as important. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Love God. Love one another. That's a perfect meditation for the Lord's supper. Because in a little bit we're going to thank the Lord for what he has done, as was said in the prayers during our worship experience. But also pray for one another. Loving God, worshipping God, but praying for and loving and supporting one another.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, with all your strength." By the way, I think it's safe to say there are very few people who actually do that. That God is their consuming thought above all through the day.
"And these words which I command you today, shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children. And you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."
The word there for teach literally means to repeat or recap. So it's interesting. It's the same idea of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a recap, a recapitulation.
So Moses is Deuteronomy-ing them. And Moses said, now Deuteronomy your own children.
Parents, you have a privilege and a spiritual obligation to train up your children by precept, and by practice. And those little eyes are watching you. And if you ever wonder, when your child says something, where did they get that from? I bet you don't have to look far.
Why would they say that? Why would they react that way? Because they're watching how you respond to crisis. How you respond a blessing. What you do with your spare time. You're teaching them not just by precept, but by practice.
Proverbs says, "Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it." The word there for train is a little bit differently. It literally means to stimulate the taste. It was a word to described what the Hebrews and the present day Arabs do with the date honey.
In that land they will take their little finger, dip it in date honey, and touch the lips of their infants-- with that sweet taste of date honey-- to stimulate the sucking reflex. So it will take the breastfeeding.
So the idea is stimulate the taste for God in your children. Teach them and train them in the way that they should go.
Now Deuteronomy, chapter 10, in verse 12. "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you?" That's working off this theme of rules and regulations. "What does the Lord your God require of you? But to fear the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul. And to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command you today for your good."
Here are the things I want from you. This is what I've done for you in the past. This what I want from you in the present.
In other words, we have a relationship, God would say. I love you. I've done this for you. I've delivered you. I bore you. I kept you. I brought you here. Now hear and do and observe, and love with all your heart.
And notice a repeated phrase, a repeated idea in the Bible. It is repeated 50 times. To fear of the Lord.
There is, in my view-- I'm going to sound a little old-fashioned here. In my view, there is one thing missing from the modern day church, modern day believers. And that is the fear of the Lord.
That doesn't mean you shake in your boots, and you think God is frowning at you from Heaven. And He's so mad at you, He just wants to-- you Earthlings! He knows you. He knows your frame, that you're dust. You don't expect a whole lot from dust.
But the idea for fearing the Lord is a wholesome respect, veneration. It is a reverence. That's the idea of it. It's a reverential awe that produces humble submission to a loving God. Reverential awe that produces humble submission to a loving God.
The only fright, the only real shaking in your boots fear you ought to have, is that you would do anything to displeased him. Fear of the Lord.
Now I say all of that in Deuteronomy, sort of recapping a few highlights, to bring you up to where we're going to then jump in next week. In chapter 22. Because beginning in chapter 22, and on into 23 we have property laws, we have purity laws of how to treat one another, sexually, et cetera.
But it's important that you understand it's because of the relationship we have with God, that we are to do that. So just gaze ahead.
And Deuteronomy 22, verse one. "You shall not see your brother's ox or sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them. You shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you don't know him, then you shall bring it to your own house. It shall remain with you until your brother seeks it, and then you shall restore it to him."
So it's not accidental. That's what I want you to see in the study. It is not accidental that love of God, and duty toward God, and duty toward man are seen and put together.
Think of it this way. Because I love and respect God, shouldn't I love and respect those made in the image of God? Isn't that also in New Testament principal?
1 John. If you say you love God, but you don't love and respect others, how does the love of God really dwell in you? So those two always go together.
Now let me end with this. Speaking of repeated words and phrases, there's one particular phrase and one particular word that sort of sums up all of Deuteronomy. And it's perfect for taking the Lord's supper. It's the word "remember." It's the phrase "and you shall remember. " The word remember is mentioned 14 times in the book of Deuteronomy. The phrase "and you shall remember," as a commandment, is seen seven different times throughout the book.
You shall remember. You shall remember. You shall remember.
And just in case you're looking around and you forget, you shall remember. Remember, this is a younger generation. Seven times. Remember, remember, remember.
Here's an example, and I close with this verse. This is chapter 15, verse 15. "You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, that the Lord your God redeemed you. Therefore I command you this thing today."
History proves that great things are easily forgotten. Institutions that were once founded on great principles, decay over time. An example I always think of is Harvard University. Who hasn't heard of Harvard? Great Ivy League school.
Do you know what Harvard was originally? It was designed to train up young men for the ministry of the gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It's hard to find the gospel in Harvard today. It is so left-leaning in its thinking.
Now it didn't happen overnight. It happen incrementally. People just forgot. They forgot to pray before certain events. They started looking at the Bible, and they said, well, we don't have to believe that, or take that hard of a stand. And over time, they forgot.
Memory can be a dreadful thing. But it can also be a delightful thing. It depends what you have to remember. I know there's certain things in our lives we just want to forget. We don't want to remember them.
But the Lord doesn't want you to forget. He wants you to remember, Israel, you were a slave. He wants you to remember, children of Israel, you wandered through the desert 40 years. 11 days, 40 years. And that's a recurring theme through the whole Bible.
Don't forget who you were. Don't forget where you came from. Don't forget how you wandered.
So we are taking the elements of the Lord's supper. We are to remember. We are never to forget what He's done for us. And with this relationship we have with Him, this vertical axis of love-- because He first loved us, we love and honor one another.
And so let's pray, and as I pray, I'm going to ask those who are going to distribute communion to come forward,
Our Father in Heaven, we thank you, that we have a written record of your deeds in the past. Of your words in the past.
Because we have a tendency, Lord, to forget. To move away. We have a tendency, over time, to renegotiate or to diminish or to marginalize.
And that's why we need the pure, simple, straight up counsel of Moses, David, and Paul, and Peter, and John. Those that recorded what You have said. Those who record the faults. Those who record the obedience, the triumphs.
Because we don't want to be like those of old to whom You gave a promise, but in our mixing bowl, we didn't add faith. We didn't bring faith to the promise. So it's an empty promise bouncing around in our vessel.
Lord, I pray that as we hear Your word, as we hear Your promises, we would say yes to it. We would say, the Lord said it. It's true. It's going to happen, lest we wander through a barren wilderness, until we get to Heaven.
I pray, Lord, in a very real sense, we'd enter into a real fullness with you now.
And, Lord, we remember that we were slaves, and we were delivered, as we take these elements together.
In Jesus' name. Amen.
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