Deuteronomy 9 - The Battles Ahead and the Failures Behind
A. Considering the battles ahead.
1. (1-2) The difficulty of the battles ahead.
Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the descendants of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you heard it said, “Who can stand before the descendants of Anak?”
a. Go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself: God was leading Israel into something too big for them. It was a challenge they could only meet if they trusted in God.
b. Cities great and fortified up to heaven: The cities they would battle against were mighty and the people they would battle against were great and tall. Yet God had called them to enter into this seemingly impossible battle.
i. There was no way Israel could do this in the flesh, or on their strength. God commanded them to do something that was just beyond their ability to do in themselves.
ii. Obviously, God did not inspire Israel with a false sense of confidence or hype. He wanted them to realistically know what the battle ahead would be like.
iii. In the same way, Jesus never calls us with hype or false promises that would lead to false confidence. He plainly says, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Matthew 16:24) Jesus let us know right from the beginning that following Him would require giving God everything.
2. (3) Why victory is possible with the difficult battles ahead.
Therefore understand today that the LORD your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said to you.
a. Understand today: Just as much as Israel had to understand the impossibility of the battle on their own, they also must understand the certainty of victory in the LORD.
b. The LORD your God is He who goes before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them: It was a battle too big for Israel, but not too big for the LORD. Israel could know both facts: That in themselves, the job was impossible (without Me you can do nothing, John 15:5), but in God the battle could not be lost (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4;13).
c. He will destroy them: God was also calling Israel to a partnership in winning the battles. He will destroy them does not contradict you shall quickly drive them out and destroy them quickly. Was God going to do it, or was Israel going to do it? Both, really - God was calling Israel to workers together with Him (2 Corinthians 6:1).
d. Destroy them quickly: God did not want the Israelites to show mercy to the Canaanites. He wanted Israel to be a unique army of judgment against the Canaanites and their culture, which was so depraved that it deserved this kind of judgment.
i. Archaeologist William F. Albright, in his book From the Stone Age to Christianity, describes what the primary focus of Canaanite religion was: sex. The featured idols recovered by archaeologists are hundreds of nude female forms in sexually suggestive forms, as well as male idols associated with homosexual cults (From the Stone Age to Christianity, pages 232-235).
ii. “Thus the Canaanites, with their orgiastic nature-worship, their cult of fertility in the form of serpent symbols and sensuous nudity, and their gross mythology, were replaced by Israel.” (Albright, page 281).
3. (4-6) The danger of pride when the LORD gives them victory.
Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, “Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land”; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.
a. Do not think in your heart: Israel’s temptation to pride did not come in something they would actually say. Long before we will say proud words we think proud thoughts in our heart. Therefore Israel must not think in their heart that it was because of their righteousness that the LORD has given them the land.
i. This is a preview of salvation by grace through faith, in which we cannot think that it is our righteousness that has obtained it. Instead, it is the righteousness we have received in Jesus Christ.
ii. When we receive any gift from God, we are tempted to take it and use it to glorify ourselves. Israel must not do this in regard to the gift of the Promised Land, and we must not do it in regard to any gift the LORD would give us.
iii. Sayings or proverbs of the ancient world reflect man’s desire to earn his own righteousness and justification before God. “I will not have heaven for nothing” said one, and another said “Give me heaven, for Thou owe it to me.” The same idea is expressed in an old Roman Catholic teaching that dying men should pray, “LORD, join my righteousness with Christ’s righteousness” as if the two together could accomplish something. Instead, we look to the righteousness of Jesus alone.
b. For you are a stiff-necked people: The idea is that Israel, like a rebellious domestic animal, would stiffen its neck against the yoke God would put upon it. They would not submit to God’s direction in their life.
i. Stiff-necked “is a figurative expression for stubborn, intractable, obdurate, and hardheaded.” (Kalland)
B. The stiff-necked character of Israel is demonstrated in their past failures.
1. (7) A call to remember their past rebellions.
Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.
a. Remember and do not forget: God’s purpose in reminding Israel of their rebellions against Him was not to discourage them or to make them feel defeated. The purpose was so that they would recognize their own weakness and trust in Him.
b. You have been rebellious against the LORD: The same idea is communicated in the New Testament at 1 Corinthians 10:12: Therefore let him who things he stands take heed lest he fall. When we remember our sinful nature, we walk in the poverty of spirit Jesus said was essential to a life of blessing (Matthew 5:3).
2. (8-21) Remembering the rebellion at Mount Horeb.
Also in Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry enough with you to have destroyed you. When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. Then the LORD said to me, “Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly; they have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made themselves a molded image.” Furthermore the LORD spoke to me, saying, “I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people. Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.” So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire; and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the LORD your God; had made for yourselves a molded calf! You had turned aside quickly from the way which the LORD had commanded you. Then I took the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the LORD was angry with you, to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me at that time also. And the LORD was very angry with Aaron and would have destroyed him; so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. Then I took your sin, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it and ground it very small, until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that descended from the mountain.
a. Also in Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath: This recalls the events at Mount Sinai, where Israel worshipped a golden calf when Moses was gone a long time on Mount Sinai, receiving the law from the LORD (Exodus 19-32).
b. Written with the finger of God: The original tablets of the law Moses received on Mount Sinai were actually written by God Himself, and contained the Ten Commandments (all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mount from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly, found in Exodus 20).
c. I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they: God told Moses of His desire to wipe out Israel in judgment, and to start over again with a new nation, descended from Moses himself.
d. The mountain burned with fire: The burning fires on Mount Sinai were physical representations of the glory of God and His holy presence. The mountain began to burn when Israel first came to Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18). Those fires had burned for 40 straight days, and they burned at the very time Israel made a golden calf and began to worship it.
e. I took the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes: Moses broke the tablets, “Not by an unbridled passion, but in zeal for God’s honour, and by direction of God’s Spirit, to signify to the people, that the covenant between God and them contained in those tables was broken and made void, and they were now quite cast out of God’s favor, and could expect nothing from him but fiery indignation and severe justice.” (Poole)
f. For I was afraid: The Hebrew word here is a rare word, translated in the Septuagint by the strong word ekphobos, which means “exceedingly frightened” or “stricken with terror.” When he saw the sin of Israel and knew the holiness of God, Moses was very afraid for the sake of the people of Israel.
g. I prayed for Aaron also: Aaron’s sin, detailed in Exodus 32, was so bad, that he surely would have been destroyed by the LORD - except Moses prayed for him. This shows both the prevailing power of Moses’ prayer and the great love in the heart of Moses.
h. Burned it with fire and crushed it and ground it very small: Moses burnt the idol, ground it up, and sprinkled it in the people’s drinking water for three reasons.
· To show this god was nothing and could be destroyed easily
· To completely obliterate this idol
· To make the people pay an immediate consequence of their sin
3. (22-24) Parenthesis: remembering the rebellions at Taberah, Massah, Kibroth Hattaavah, and Kadesh Barnea.
Also at Taberah and Massah and Kibroth Hattaavah you provoked the LORD to wrath. Likewise, when the LORD sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying, “Go up and possess the land which I have given you,” then you rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and you did not believe Him nor obey His voice. You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.
a. Also at Taberah: The name Taberah means “burning,” and in Numbers 11, when the people of Israel first left Mount Sinai to head towards Kadesh Barnea and the Promised Land, they immediately complained and God sent fires of judgment against them at a place they called Taberah because of the burning fires of God’s judgment.
b. And Massah: Exodus 17:7 describes the naming of a place called Massah, which means “tempted,” because there Israel provoked the LORD by doubting His loving care and concern for them in the wilderness.
c. Kibroth Hattaavah: The name means “graves of craving” and was the place where Israel longed for meat instead of manna, and God gave them meat. However, it became plagued in the mouths of those with greedy and discontent hearts (described in Numbers 11).
d. When the LORD sent you from Kadesh Barnea: Moses briefly remembered the rebellion at Kadesh Barnea, where Israel doubted God’s love for them and refused to enter the Promised Land by faith - rebelling against the LORD (Numbers 13-14).
e. You did not believe Him nor obey His voice: Israel’s disobedience to God began with their unbelief. They did not believe God loved them and was mighty enough to bring them into the Promised Land.
4. (25-29) Moses’ prayer of intercession for Israel when they rebelled at Mount Horeb.
Thus I prostrated myself before the LORD; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the LORD had said He would destroy you. Therefore I prayed to the LORD, and said: “O Lord GOD, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wickedness or their sin, lest the land from which You brought us should say, ‘Because the LORD was not able to bring them to the land which He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness.’ Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your mighty power and by Your outstretched arm.”
a. Therefore I prayed to the LORD: This great prayer of intercession from Moses is described more fully in Exodus 32. Moses asked for mercy upon Israel because of God’s past faithfulness to them (whom You have redeemed).
b. Remember Your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: Moses asked for mercy upon Israel because of God’s past faithfulness to the patriarchs.
c. Lest the land from which You brought us should say, “Because the LORD was not able”: Moses asked for mercy upon Israel because of concern for the glory of God’s own name and His reputation among the nations.
d. Your people . . . Your inheritance . . . You brought out . . . Your mighty power . . . Your outstretched arm: Moses asked for mercy upon Israel because they were God’s people.
i. We can seek the mercy and power of God through prayer by praying with the same heart and by pleading the same reasons before the LORD. Prayer on solid reasons like these is far more effective than merely casting wishes up towards heaven.
· Because of God’s past faithfulness to us
· Because of His past faithfulness to our forefathers
· Because of His own glory and reputation among the nations
· Because we are His people
ii. Keeping these things in mind is also a way to refine our prayers. When we pray only for the things consistent with God’s glory, we have our hearts set on the right things.
Deuteronomy 10 - Recovering after a Fall
A. God’s plan of recovery for Israel after the rebellion at Mount Sinai.
1. (1-5) Israel had to get back to the Word of God, so God commanded the giving of the new tablets of the law.
At that time the LORD said to me, “Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain and make yourself an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke; and you shall put them in the ark.” So I made an ark of acacia wood, hewed two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain, having the two tablets in my hand. And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the LORD had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, just as the LORD commanded me.
a. Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first: Moses broke the tablets of the law, not only out of anger, but also as a powerful visual representation of Israel’s breaking of the law of God. Now God commanded that the law be restored by bringing forth two new tablets of the law.
b. He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing: God wanted His written word to be the starting point for Israel’s right walk with Him. Therefore He restored the tablets, even writing on the second tablets with His own hand.
i. This is a powerful picture of the inspiration of God’s word; though God did not literally write the Scriptures with His own hand, He did perfectly guide the minds and hands of the writers, so that the Scriptures are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), that is, given by the inspiration of God.
c. And put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are: Getting right with God after a time of rebellion must always begin and center on God’s word. In the days of Josiah, King of Judah, repentance and revival came to the people of God when they focused on God’s word again (2 Kings 22:8-23:25).
2. (6-9) In order to deal with Israel’s sin problem, God established an enduring priesthood.
(Now the children of Israel journeyed from the wells of Bene Jaakan to Moserah, where Aaron died, and where he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his stead. From there they journeyed to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of rivers of water. At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, just as the LORD your God promised him.)
a. Where Aaron died, and where he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his stead: This parenthesis speaking about the priesthood demonstrated the need for priestly sacrifice and intercession in getting right with God after a time of rebellion. Israel needed the sacrifice, intercession, and blessing that the Levites would bring to the nation.
i. The need for a priesthood shouted to Israel: “You can’t do it on your own. You need to come to God through a mediator, who will atone for your sin, pray for you, and bless you. If you refuse your priestly mediator, and trust in your own ability to do these things, you will perish.”
b. To stand before the LORD to minister to Him and to bless in His name: Getting right with God after a time of rebellion must always have a focus on the priestly ministry of Jesus on our behalf. This work of Jesus is shown in His atonement for our sin at the cross, on His intercession for us in heaven, and on the blessing that He brings to us from heaven.
3. (10-11) Israel need to move on towards the Promised Land, so God gave Moses the command to go forth.
As at the first time, I stayed in the mountain forty days and forty nights; the LORD also heard me at that time, and the LORD chose not to destroy you. Then the LORD said to me, “Arise, begin your journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”
a. Arise, begin your journey: Israel’s rebellion at Mount Sinai with the golden calf was significant; it was no small matter. Yet God was not done with them. After they came back to His word and came through His priesthood, it was time to move on. God had a place to take them and they had to get about the business of getting there.
b. That they may go in and possess the land: Getting right with God after a time of rebellion must always come to a place of progress again. It does no good to come back to the word, come through God’s priesthood in Jesus, and then remain stuck in the same place. God wants us to move on with Him, and when we are walking right with God again, we will go in and possess the land.
B. What God requires of Israel.
1. (12-13) What the LORD requires of His people.
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
a. Fear the LORD your God: God requires from us a reverential honor towards Him; not a fear that would make us shrink back, but a heart that so honors God that we would be hesitant to offend Him.
b. To walk in all His ways: God requires us to live our lives after the pattern He has set for us; to walk on His road not on our own.
c. To love Him: God requires us to love Him. This means the love He expects isn’t a love that just happens, but it is a love that comes from a decision to set our affection upon Him.
d. To serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul: God requires us to serve Him, to see all that we do as service unto Him, and to do all that we do as if doing it unto Him.
e. To keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes: God requires us to not only know His word, but to keep it - in the sense of possessing it in ourselves, and in the sense of protecting it.
f. For your good: every command of God is given for our good. They are never given so He can exercise His power, or so He can feel important. Every command He makes is with our best interest in mind, even if we cannot sense it or understand it.
2. (14-15) Why God requires this from Israel.
Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.
a. The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them: God requires this conduct from His people because they are His special possession. Though heaven and earth belong to God, He set His focus and attention on Israel beginning with their fathers.
b. You above all peoples, as it is this day: Being chosen - having the special attention of God focused upon you - is a place of great privilege, but also a place of great responsibility. Israel had a special responsibility to obedience.
3. (16) What it takes to fulfill what God requires.
Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.
a. Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart: All males among Israel had to be circumcised eight days after they were born. But this minor surgery was merely a symbol for the real work of cutting away the flesh God that desired; the work of taking our hearts inclined after the flesh and giving us hearts inclined after the spirit.
b. And be stiff-necked no longer: This theme would be repeated later in the prophets. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts (Jeremiah 4:4). To fulfill God’s law, it takes more than being given a command - it takes an inner transformation, a transformation that only God can bring.
i. God command them to do something that only He could do in them to show them the need to have the inner transformation, and to compel them to seek Him for this inner work.
ii. Israel is said to have uncircumcised hearts in Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 9:26, and Ezekiel 44:7 and 9.
4. (17-22) A call to obedience, reverence, and compassion.
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as the stars of heaven in multitude.
a. The LORD your God is God of gods and LORD of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome: The basis of this brief section of commands is set in the character of God.
b. The great God, mighty and awesome: When God requires us to show justice (no partiality nor takes a bribe), compassion (loves the stranger), and reverence (take oaths in His name), it is because these virtues answer to aspects in God’s own character.
c. Who has done for you these great and awesome things: The obedience God calls us to is always set in the context of what He did for us. Our service and obedience unto the LORD is based on what He has done for us, and is to be the grateful response to His goodness. If there is a lack in obedience and reverence, there is almost always a lack of appreciation for what the LORD has done.
d. He is your praise: This is true in two senses. First, He is the object of our praise; second, He is also the One who makes us praiseworthy. Any wisdom, beauty, or skill we show is not to our praise - but He is your praise.
Deuteronomy 11 - Rewards for Obedience and the Choice
A. How to be blessed.
1. (1-7) Remember the ways God has already blessed.
Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the LORD your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm; His signs and His acts which He did in the midst of Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to all his land; what He did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots: how He made the waters of the Red Sea overflow them as they pursued you, and how the LORD has destroyed them to this day; what He did for you in the wilderness until you came to this place; and what He did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, their households, their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel; but your eyes have seen every great act of the LORD which He did.
a. Therefore you shall love the LORD your God: God commanded Israel to love Him. Love is not a matter left entirely up to our impulse or our feelings. We choose to love the LORD or not.
i. Additionally, this reminds us of what the LORD really wants from us - our love. We could give Him a hundred other things, but none of it really matters unless we give Him our love. As Jesus said to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:4: Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. If we lose love, we lose all.
b. And keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments: Love for God never goes against His word. Some people think their so-called love for Jesus allows them to disregard His commands, but this isn’t real love at all.
i. As Jesus said in John 14:15: If you love Me, keep My commandments. Real love for Jesus always translates into obedience.
c. Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen: Moses addressed the generation which saw the works of God among Israel, both in blessing and chastening. He spoke to the generation that should know and remember.
d. Dathan and Abiram: These were the two key associates - perhaps the instigators - in the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16), where God vindicated His servant Moses and leader over Israel, when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram challenged Moses’ leadership.
e. Which He did . . . what He did . . . how He made . . . how the LORD destroyed them . . . what He did for you . . . what He did . . . every great act of the LORD which He did: Moses called Israel to remember what God did in their history.
i. Most of history - both official and personal - is simply concerned with what man has done. But God wants us to look at history and see what He did. We learn far more, and are far more benefited, by looking at what God has done, rather than looking at what man has done.
2. (8-15) Blessings in the new land.
Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD swore to give your fathers, to them and their descendants, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year. “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.”
a. Therefore you shall keep every commandment: Remembering what God did in history should lead Israel to greater obedience, and enable them to take the Promised Land.
b. A land flowing with milk and honey: The sacrifices in obedience were well worth it for Israel. They had the promise of a land which was far superior to Egypt, which did not need to be artificially irrigated, but was watered by rains which God would send upon the obedient nation.
i. In calling Egypt a place where they watered by foot, it refers to the system of artificial irrigation, using foot-driven pumps to lift water from the Nile to nearby fields. Canaan was so rich it did not need this kind of irrigation.
c. If you earnestly obey My commandments: God simply promised to provide for Israel if chose to obey Him and put Him first. As Jesus said: seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
i. The promise of the blessing of rain was important, because one of the attractive of the Canaanite gods was Baal - the god who was said to control the weather and rain. Perhaps the Israelites would be tempted to think, “well, we are in Canaan, and if we want rain, we should worship the Canaanite god of rain.” But the LORD makes it clear that if they would worship and obey Him, He would supply abundant rain.
d. The early raid and the latter rain: The early rain fell in October and November, and was important to help soften the ground for plowing and preparing the soil for the seed. The latter rain fell about April, and helped the crops come to final harvest.
e. A land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year: God declared His special care for the land of Israel, both then and now.
3. (16-17) The danger of blessing: Turning from God in times of prosperity.
Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.
a. Lest your heart be deceived: God had to warn Israel against the deceptions of prosperity. The person who turns from God in prosperity is simply deceived. They believe they are somehow responsible for the blessings received, and become proud and self-reliant.
b. He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain: Just such a judgment came upon Israel in the days of Ahab, the wicked king over Israel in the time Elijah was a prophet (1 Kings 17:1).
i. The constant need for rain kept Israel in constant dependence on the LORD. It is good for us to have things that keep us in constant dependence on the LORD. We should never despise those things and long for the day when we will no longer need to depend on God as much.
4. (18-21) Blessing is gained by keeping the Word of God always before you.
Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.
a. Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul: God called Israel to not only read the Word of God and to know the Word of God, but to treasure it. In the same way, we should love God’s word and miss it when we are separated from the Word of God. We should call it to mind with longing, having laid it up in our heart and soul.
b. Speaking of them: God’s Word was to be the topic of their conversation. We can fairly measure our love for God’s word by how much we will talk about it with others. God doesn’t want us to have a secret love relationship with His word.
B. The Choice.
1. (22-25) The promise of blessing.
For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do; to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him; then the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand against you; the LORD your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.
a. To love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him: All the commandments are summarized in these three phrases. Each of these speaks of more than a bare, compelled obedience; they speak of a real relationship of love between God and His people, with obedience flowing naturally from that relationship.
b. The LORD will drive out . . . and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations: God promised to fight the battles for an obedient Israel. Many desire God to fight their battles, but have little interest in obeying Him - or cultivating the deep relationship of love which obedience grows from.
c. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads: God repeated this promise to Joshua, just when Israel was about to cross over the Jordan River into Canaan (Joshua 1:3).
d. No man shall be able to stand against you: When Israel walked in love with the LORD and was obedient to Him, they were unbeatable. No man could defeat them. Greater was God who was with them than he who was in the world! (1 John 4:4)
2. (26-28) The choice: Blessing or cursing?
Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.
a. Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: The three great elements to the Old Covenant were the law, the sacrifice, and the choice. Israel had a choice - to obey and be blessed, or to disobey and be cursed. It was a cause and effect relationship with God.
i. It is important to recognize that we, in Jesus Christ, do not have an Old Covenant relationship with God. We expect to be blessed, not because of our obedience, but because of our position in Jesus. The curse we deserved was laid upon Him (Galatians 3:10-14). Though there may be an inherent curse of consequences in our disobedience or even in the correcting hand of God, under the New Covenant, He does not punish us or curse us - because all that we deserved, past, present, and future, was poured out upon Jesus.
b. I set before you today: It was up to Israel. If they wanted to be blessed, then they should walk in obedience (as they were in the days of David and Solomon), but if they disobeyed, they would be cursed (as they were in most of the days of the later kings)
i. A choice was required. There was no neutral ground. God wouldn’t just “leave them alone.” It would either be blessing or cursing.
c. To go after other gods which you have not known: Inherent in Israel’s disobedience was idolatry. Whenever we walk in disobedience, we exalt ourselves against God - and declaring that our rules, our standards, our desires, are all more important than His. This is idolatry in its most base - and common - form.
3. (29-32) Making the choice known unto the people.
Now it shall be, when the LORD your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, toward the setting sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the plain opposite Gilgal, beside the terebinth trees of Moreh? For you will cross over the Jordan and go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and you will possess it and dwell in it. And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.
a. You shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal: The recitation of the blessings on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal will be detailed in later chapters. Yet it is plain that God wanted the word to get to the entire nation, because the entire nation was part of this covenant with Him.
b. Mount Gerizim . . . Mount Ebal: The name Gerizim is supposed to be associated with fruitful harvests, and the name Ebal is supposed to be associated with barrenness.
Deuteronomy 12 - The Worship God Commands
A. The place of worship.
1. (1-4) The command to destroy Canaanite places of worship.
These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things.
a. You shall utterly destroy all the places: Before anyone can worship God, there must be some places where he will no longer worship. There must be a destruction of the places where the ungodly worship.
i. The practice in the ancient world, which was always short on buildings, was to take a nice building such as a temple previously used to worship a prior god, and simply make it a place to worship one’s own god. The LORD God wanted none of that in His own worship. He commanded that the places of pagan worship be completely destroyed, and that they shall not worship the LORD your God with such things.
ii. This is where the worship of many is corrupted. It isn’t that they worship too little; they worship too much. They worship the LORD, and the things of the world. God doesn’t want such worship. It is an abomination to Him.
iii. Many could really begin to worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24), if they would only “destroy” in their hearts their pagan places of worship. Because they give their hearts to so many other things, there is little to give to the LORD.
b. On the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree: Since much of the pagan worship of the Canaanites was a sexualized worship of fertility and nature, their shrines and temples were often in beautiful outdoor settings. God didn’t want Israel to adopt this approach of worshipping the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
2. (5-9) The command to worship at God’s appointed place.
But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you. You shall not at all do as we are doing here today; every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you.
a. And there you shall go: Worship was not left to the opinion or whim of the individual Israelite. They had to worship God at His prescribed place, and among other worshippers of God. Worship is not a “do as you please” or a “Lone Ranger” activity.
b. You shall seek the place: It may not be easy to find the place where God wants you to worship, but it is out there. There is a place where He wants you to worship. He has not called you to follow Him in isolation.
c. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices: The place of worship was to be a place of atonement, confession (which was made when hands were laid on the head of the sacrificial victim), and cleansing.
d. There you shall take . . . your tithes: The place of worship was to be a place of giving. Of course, there were other places where an Israelite could give and be generous, but giving had to begin at the place of worship God has appointed.
i. Some have thought that because Deuteronomy 12:6 mentions your tithes, that this is an additional tithe which was commanded of Israel, on top of the tithe commanded in Numbers 18. Some even call this the “festival tithe.” But in context, this passage is only speaking of where to bring the tithe, not commanding an additional one to be brought.
e. There you shall eat before the LORD your God: The place of worship is to be a place of joyful fellowship with God and others.
f. Not at all as we are doing here today - every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes: Before Israel crossed over the Jordan, during the wilderness wanderings, each Israelite pretty much conducted their own worship as they pleased. But God was not really pleased with this; worship was not a matter left up to whatever pleased the individual. Real worship is concerned with what pleases God.
i. Much of what is called worship in today’s church really isn’t worship. It is self-focused, man-focused, and personal-experience-focused instead of being God focused. Much of today’s worship is measured by how I feel instead of being measured by how God was honored and worshipped.
ii. “Singing should be congregational, but it should never be performed for the credit of the congregation. ‘Such remarkable singing! The place is quite renowned for its musical performances!’ This is a poor achievement. Our singing should be such that God hears it with pleasure - singing in which there is not so much art as heart, not so much of musical sound as of spiritual emotion.” (Spurgeon)
3. (10-14) The joy of real worship in God’s appointed place.
But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, then there will be the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the LORD. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you. Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; but in the place which the LORD chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
a. There will be the place . . . the place which the LORD chooses: A particular place is important to worship. The man who tells himself, “I can worship God just as well out on the golf course” is a man doing whatever is right in his own eyes. It is fine for him to worship God out on the golf course; but there must also be a specific place where he comes to worship with God’s people.
i. This goes against the trend of our times. Studies find that among baby-boomers, 70% say that you should attend worship services not out of a sense of duty, but only if it “meets your needs.” 80% say you can be a good Christian without attending church.
b. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God: Worship at God’s appointed place must be marked with joy. It is a good thing to come and honor our God, and should be done with pleasure and joy.
i. “All Christian duties should be done joyfully; but especially the work of praising the Lord. I have been in congregations where the tune was dolorous to the very last degree; where the time was so dreadfully slow that one wondered whether they would ever be able to sing through the 119 Psalm; whether, to use Watt’s expression, eternity would not be too short from them to get through it; and altogether, the spirit of the people has seemed to be so damp, so heavy, so dead, that we might have supposed that they were met to prepare their minds for a hanging rather than for blessing the ever-gracious God.” (Charles Spurgeon, Praise Thy God, O Zion)
ii. “We ought not to worship God in a half-hearted sort of way; as if it were now our duty to bless God, but we felt it to be a weary business, and we would get it through as quickly as we could, and have done with it; and the sooner the better. No, no; ‘All that is within me, bless his holy name.’ Come, my heart, wake up, and summon all the powers which wait upon thee! Mechanical worship is easy, but worthless. Come rouse yourself, my brother! Rouse thyself, O my own soul!” (Spurgeon)
c. And you shall rejoice: The emphasis on shall shows that rejoicing is commanded. It is also commanded in the New Testament; Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16); Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). If you can’t rejoice out of feeling like it, then rejoice out of being commanded.
i. “No one duty is more pressed in both the Testaments, than this of rejoicing in the Lord always, but specially in his immediate services.” (Trapp)
B. The practice of worship.
1. (15-28) Things permitted and prohibited in regard to butchering animals, sacrificing animals, and respecting the sanctity of blood.
However, you may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, of the gazelle and the deer alike. Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water. You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the heave offering of your hand. But you must eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God chooses, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all to which you put your hands. Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land. When the LORD your God enlarges your border as He has promised you, and you say, “Let me eat meat,” because you long to eat meat, you may eat as much meat as your heart desires. If the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter from your herd and from your flock which the LORD has given you, just as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your gates as much as your heart desires. Just as the gazelle and the deer are eaten, so you may eat them; the unclean and the clean alike may eat them. Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it on the earth like water. You shall not eat it, that it may go well with you and your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD. Only the holy things which you have, and your vowed offerings, you shall take and go to the place which the LORD chooses. And you shall offer your burnt offerings, the meat and the blood, on the altar of the LORD your God; and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the LORD your God, and you shall eat the meat. Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.
a. You may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates: In the ancient world, almost every time an animal was butchered it was sacrificed to a god. Here, the LORD made it clear that not every slaughtered animal was considered a sacrifice to Him.
b. You may not eat within your gates the tithe . . . the firstlings of your herd . . . your freewill offerings, or of the heave offerings: This shows that animals which were offered in sacrifice, even if the offerer was to eat a portion, could only be killed at God’s appointed place of worship.
c. Only be sure that you do not eat the blood: Since the blood was the picture of life in any animal or man (for the blood is the life), God would not allow Israel to eat meat that had not been properly bled. Instead, it was to be given to God by pouring it out on the earth.
2. (29-32) The worship of God must be pure.
When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.” You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
a. That you do not inquire after their gods: Israel was commanded to guard itself against a sinful curiosity (How did these nations serve their gods?). There is an old proverb that says curiosity killed the cat, but ungodly curiosity has also killed many spiritual lives.
b. You shall not worship the LORD your God that way: God would not accept just any offering of worship. He had to be worshipped in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24)
c. They burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods: This referred to the practice of Molech worship, where Canaanites offered up their children by placing them alive on a burning hot metal statue of Molech, while drum beats drowned out the screams of the tortured infants.
i. Israel had a tragic history of following after this horrible god Molech.
· At the least, Solomon sanctioned the worship of Molech, building a temple to this idol (1 Kings 11:7).
· King Ahaz of Judah gave his own son to Molech (2 Kings 16:3).
· One of the great crimes of the northern tribes of Israel was their worship of Molech, leading to the Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17:17).
· King Manasseh of Judah gave his son to Molech (2 Kings 21:6).
· Up to the days of King Josiah of Judah, Molech worship continued, because he destroyed a place of worship to that idol (2 Kings 23:10).
d. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it: The standard for worship was reflected in God’s Word - not in human preference or opinion.
Deuteronomy 13 - Keeping the Worship of God Pure
A. Protecting against those who would entice Israel to serve other gods.
1. (1-3) Protecting against the deceiver who comes with miraculous signs.
If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, “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.
a. A dreamer of dreams: Dreams can be from God (as in Numbers 12:6, or in Genesis 37:5-11), or they can be false prophesies (as in Jeremiah 23:25-26). We must be careful to not put too much stock in dreams, and instead allow God to bring confirmation to any dream we believe brings a message from Him. It would be very unusual for God speak alone through a dream, without other confirmation.
b. And the sign or the wonder comes to pass: Moses warned the people that there may arise from among them prophets or workers of signs who could also produce a sign or a wonder.
i. Deuteronomy 18:22 tells what to do with a prophet who speaks a word and it does not come to pass. But this passage tells what to do with a prophet who speaks a word and it comes to pass, but they then speak against what God has already revealed in His word.
c. And the sign or the wonder comes to pass: This sobering fact is ignored by many Christians in our age which neglects discernment. The fact is that signs and wonders can never be the evidence of truth or God’s hand.
i. Those who are immediately convinced at the sight of supernatural power or reality are in danger of great deception. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 reminds us that the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.
ii. This is why Jesus said and these signs will follow those who believe (Mark 16:17). Signs are to follow believers, instead of believers following signs.
d. You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams: Godly discernment will always carefully examine the message of a spiritual leader, instead of the spiritual experiences which may surround him or her.
e. The LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart: This explains one of God’s reasons in allowing such deceivers to exist among His people - to allow the hearts of His people to be tested and proven, to see if they really love the God of truth, or are merely seeking a spiritual sign or experience.
i. “And particularly there are many signs, yea, such as men may think to be wonders, which may be wrought by evil spirits, God so permitting it for divers wise and just reasons, not only for the trial of the good, as it here follows, but also for the punishment of ungodly men, who would not receive Divine truths, though attested by many evident and unquestionable miracles, and therefore are most justly exposed to these temptations to believe lies.” (Poole)
2. (4-5) The penalty for the deceiver who comes with miraculous signs.
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 spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.
a. You shall walk after the LORD: Israel was first instructed to not let a deceiver succeed in leading them astray. No matter how attractive the deception, they were to keep focused on a faithful walk with God according to His truth.
b. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death: Ancient Israel was a unique situation, where the civil government was also directly appointed by God and charged with maintaining spiritual order as well as civil order. Therefore, such heresy and deception was a capital crime - punishable by execution.
i. For many centuries, when the church held political power, it often exercised this penalty also. Heretics were often given over to the civil government for execution. Trapp writes in the mid seventeenth century, “This power is still in the Christian magistrate, to inflict capital punishment on gross heretics.”
ii. While we admire their priorities (they judged it much more serious for a heretic to kill men’s eternal souls than to kill their temporal bodies), they were ignorant of an important principle of Jesus’ kingdom in contrast to the ancient kingdom of Israel: Jesus declared that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), while the kingdom of Israel was very much of this world. Never before or since has God appointed such a kingdom as Israel to be His nation in this world as He appointed ancient Israel, so it would be wrong for us to execute heretics today.
iii. Still, the church as a community and Christians as individuals should reject and refuse to support such heretics among them. They should use discernment to set aside those who promote themselves as miracle working men and women of anointing and faith, yet who teach heresy in essential doctrines.
3. (6-11) The penalty for a relative who would lead an Israelite to worship other gods.
If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.
a. Brother . . . your son or daughter . . . the wife . . . your friend: If any of these close human relationships would lead one to the worship of other gods, they were not only to be rejected (you shall not consent to him or listen to him), they were to be executed (you shall surely kill him).
i. In fact, the relative should be one of the main witnesses against the guilty party: your hand shall be first against him to put him to death. This was the “casting of the first stone,” the initiation of execution by one of the witnesses to the capital crime.
ii. This also demonstrates that God never puts highest priority on family relationships; if a family member forsakes the LORD, we are never to follow them away from the LORD. Jesus always comes first, as He said in Matthew 10:37: He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
b. Secretly entices you: This demonstrates how seriously God regards leading someone else into idolatry. Even if a sympathetic person entices you, and even if they do it in private, enticement to idolatry is not to be tolerated.
i. This brings to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:6: But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Anyone who leads one of God’s people astray is greatly offending the heart of God.
c. So all Israel shall hear and fear: Many modern researchers and pundits say that capital punishment is no deterrent to crime. God says it is a deterrent (properly practiced, of course).
B. Protecting the nation as a whole against those who would lead them into idolatry.
1. (12-14a) How to deal with reports of a city given over to idolatry.
If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying, “Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’“ which you have not known; then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.
a. Then you shall inquire: If reports arose regarding an Israelite city given over to idolatry, there was first to be a careful investigation.
b. Search out, and ask diligently: This guarded against a harsh judgment; perhaps there were a few idolaters in the city whom needed to be punished, but perhaps the city was not given over to idolatry. God commanded a careful investigation.
2. (14b-18) The penalty for a city given over to idolatry.
And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword; utterly destroying it, all that is in it and its livestock, with the edge of the sword. And you shall gather all its plunder into the middle of the street, and completely burn with fire the city and all its plunder, for the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again. So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers, because you have listened to the voice of the LORD your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of the LORD your God.
a. Such an abomination: The word abomination here refers to a gross, offensive idolatry. Later in Daniel and in the New Testament, the word is used in the phrase abomination of desolation, which refers to the ultimate idolatry of the Antichrist - the establishing of an idolatrous image of himself in the most holy place (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
i. “The term abominable thing is used in the Old Testament for something that is totally displeasing to God and denotes something impure, unclean, and totally devoid of holiness.” (Thompson)
b. You shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword; utterly destroying it: If the investigation finds that the city is indeed given over to idolatry, it is then to be treated as a Canaanite city. They were to utterly destroy the city, including its property. The property was to be given to the LORD by destroying it, a form of “sacred destruction.”
i. This made certain that no one could profit materially by declaring a city given over to idolatry. If this provision were not in the Law of Moses one could imagine a city being plundered under this pretense.
ii. “The very same punishment which was inflicted upon the cities of the cursed Canaanites, to whom having made themselves equal in sin, it is but fit and just that God should equal them in punishment.” (Poole)
c. It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again: The destroyed town was to be left as a heap forever. The word heap is literally tell, and the word tell is used in Arabic for any ruined sight. Throughout Israel today, one w
of , which is