Deuteronomy Series #1

This is the situation. You are healthy. You are mentally and physically fit. You are free. You are in no imminent danger. However, you know for an absolute certainty that you will physically die very soon. You will not die from sickness. Your death will not be the result of a criminal act. But you know for a fact that you will die, and your death is unavoidable.

While you do not fear death, you are not ready to die. There is something that you want to do before you die, and you really want to do it. Yet, you are absolutely certain that you will never do it. You want to live, but you know that you are going to die.

For forty years your extended family has been in a major crisis. You provided the only leadership that enabled your family to survive. In a very short time, the family crisis will end; it will be history. While the crisis will end soon, you know you will be dead before it ends.

You have one last opportunity to share with your family. What would you say?

  1. If you can place yourself in that situation, you can identify with Moses when he spoke and wrote the book of Deuteronomy.
    1. That was Moses' situation.
      1. Though he was a very old man, he was in excellent physical health.
        1. His body was much younger than his chronological age.
        2. Deuteronomy 34:7 records, "Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated."
        3. He did not die because he was old, or sick, or murdered.
        4. As far as his physical condition was concerned, there was no reason for him to die.
      2. However, Moses knew that he would die.
        1. In Deuteronomy 4:21 Moses told them, "Now the Lord was angry with me on your account and swore that I should not cross the Jordan..."
        2. Moses clearly understood that he would die before Israel crossed the Jordan into Canaan.
        3. Deuteronomy starts with Israel camped next to the Jordan River.
        4. The date is the eleventh month of the fortieth year of Israel's wilderness wandering (Deuteronomy 1:1-3).
        5. Israel wandered in the wilderness one year for each day the Israelite spies spent traveling in Canaan [thirty-nine years earlier.]
          1. It took one year to travel from Egypt to Canaan the first time.
          2. They spent thirty-nine more years in the wilderness.
          3. In one month the forty years would be over.
          4. Moses knew that he would die very soon.
    2. Moses' leadership brought this people through an enormous crisis.
      1. Through God's appointment and guidance, Moses was their leader.
        1. Moses led them in the confrontation with Pharaoh.
        2. Moses led them out of Egypt and slavery.
        3. Moses led them across the Red Sea to freedom.
        4. Moses led them to Mount Sinai to receive God's law and organization.
        5. Moses led them to the border Canaan the first and second time.
        6. Moses led them in the wilderness for forty years.
      2. Moses literally saved Israel from destruction on several occasions.
        1. When the people had Aaron build the golden calf so they could turn to idolatry, it was Moses who pled with God not to destroy the nation (Exodus 32:9-11).
        2. When the ten of the twelve spies destroyed the confidence and faith of the nation, it was Moses who pled with God not to destroy the nation (Numbers 14:11,12).
    3. With all his being, Moses wanted to enter Canaan; he even pleaded with God to let him go with the nation into the land (Deuteronomy 3:23-29).
      1. God responded by saying, "No! And do not ask me again!"
      2. "Prepare Joshua to lead the people into Canaan."
      3. Moses was enabled to view Canaan from the top of Mount Pisgah, but he never entered Canaan.
    4. Much of Deuteronomy is Moses' last opportunity to share with Israel.
      1. For forty years he has been their leader in the worst of conditions.
      2. By the power of God, he led them out of slavery.
      3. By the power of God, he led them across the Red Sea to total freedom from the Egyptians.
      4. By the power of God, he led them in the desert for forty years.
      5. By the power of God, he fed and watered them.
      6. And he watched as every adult [but two] who left Egypt died in that wilderness.
      7. And he had a relationship with God unsurpassed by anyone but Jesus.
      8. And he had to say good bye, to give the leadership to Joshua.

  2. What did Moses say to Israel in his final message?
    1. I want us to focus on Moses' message for about four weeks.
      1. I predict many of you will be amazed.
      2. I urge you to bring your Bibles and see for yourself.
    2. Why do you think many of us will be amazed?
      1. Let me use your own concepts to illustrate why.
      2. If you characterized the book of Deuteronomy, how would you describe it?
        1. "It is a book of laws."
        2. "God gave these laws to the nation of Israel, and Israel was to obey them."
      3. What kind of obedience were they to give God?
        1. "I did not know that obedience came in 'kinds'."
        2. "They were just supposed to do what God said do."
        3. "If they did it, they obeyed; and that is what mattered."
      4. If you think Deuteronomy is just a book of laws that God gave Israel, and all Israel needed to do was what God said do, you will be amazed.

  3. The first four chapters of Deuteronomy are an introduction and foundation to what Moses said in the rest of the book.
    1. This was their physical situation: they were camped near the Jordan River ready to cross into the territory that God promised them.
    2. Moses reminded them of their past.
      1. "You remember when I reorganized our method for addressing problems" (1:9-18).
        1. At first, every man in the nation who needed a judge to resolve a conflict between himself and other man came to Moses.
        2. Moses organized a system for judgments to resolve problems within each tribe.
      2. "You remember that we traveled from Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai) to the border of Canaan" (1:19-40).
        1. We sent twelve spies into Canaan (it was to be a "how do we go about it" mission, not an "is it possible" mission).
        2. Ten of the spies discouraged your fathers, and your fathers refused to enter Canaan.
        3. Their refusal angered God, and He declared that your fathers would die before the nation entered Canaan.
      3. Then your fathers realized their refusal was a huge mistake (1:41-46).
        1. Against God's instructions, they decided to attack, and they suffered a great defeat.
        2. They wept before God, but God was not moved by their tears (there is a huge difference between the tears of regret and the tears of repentance).
      4. The nation then spent forty years wandering in the wilderness, and God provided their physical needs (2:1-7).
      5. Then the account focused on Israel's conquest of the territory east of the Jordan River that became the land belonging to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh.
        1. Principle one of that conquest: Israel could not take any of the land that belonged to the nations who descended directly from Abraham (God promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations in Genesis 17:5).
          1. Several nations came from Abraham.
          2. God gave each of those nations their country just as God gave Israel Canaan.
          3. Israel was not to take what God gave those nations.
        2. Principle two of the conquest: they could take the land of the nations who did not descend directly from Abraham.
      6. The men who inherited the territory east of the Jordan River were given the responsibility to help conquer the territory west of the Jordan River (3:18-22).
      7. God told Moses, "Do not ask Me again for permission to enter Canaan! You will not go into Canaan" (3:23-29).
      8. I would characterized 4:1-14 as, "Listen, remember, and obey."
      9. I would characterized 4:15-31 as, "Carefully do two things: avoid idolatry and keep your agreement with God."
      10. I would characterize 4:32-40 as, "Think about God's nature and remember why God blessed you."
    3. There are two points I want you to consider carefully.
      1. Point one: "God occupied the primary role in everything that happened to bring you to this moment."
        1. "Your choices determined God's responses."
        2. "But God always occupied the primary role."
        3. "You are not here because of your power; you are here because of God's power."
      2. Point two: "God is unique; nothing is like God."
        1. "No nation has the righteous laws you have" [other nation's laws were based on their concept of justice, but not on fairness] (3:8).
        2. "No nation has been helped by God like you have been helped" (4:32).
        3. "No people has heard God's voice and survived, but you have" (4:33).
        4. "No nation has been formed inside another nation through trials, miracles, war, and God's mighty hand as you have been" (4:34).
        5. "God did these things in these ways for a reason."
          1. Reason one: "That you might know He is God and there is no other."
          2. Reason two: "He loved your forefathers and chose their descendants hundreds of years before you were born."
      3. "Therefore, never exaggerate your importance."
        1. "God personally brought you out of Egypt with His power" (4:37).
        2. "God removed stronger, bigger nations so that you could have their land."
    4. That is why you should follow and obey God.

Four powerful truths were affirmed to Israel that need to register with us as powerfully as they did with Israel.

  1. One: you are because God is.

  2. Two: you always have been totally dependent on God; God has never been dependent on you.

  3. You are blessed because of God's love for people who were more faith filled than you.

  4. Never diminish God's significance; never exaggerate your own significance.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 1 October 2000
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