Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25: Stay with the One Who brought you this far

We are seeing the heart of God in the book of Deuteronomy. He makes promises and follows through with them. There are those who believe that the foundation of the modern state of Israel has nothing to do with God, because the current state of Israel is largely a secular state. But what does it mean about the LORD’s promises if He were to turn them off like a light switch? What would that mean for another great promise from the LORD, the grace given us through Yeshua the Mashiakh (Jesus the Christ)?

As Moses recounts the history of the Israelites to the second generation, he reminds them of how often he had to intercede with God on their behalf to keep God from destroying them and starting over. One could say that on the surface that Moses was more forgiving and patient than the LORD. Moses stepped in on many occasions and asked God to forgive all the people.

God sustained the people through all their rebellion. Their shoes and clothes didn’t wear out, they received food from heaven six days a week.

We should never say that God lacks patience the way that we do. Even when Moses lost his patience, he had a heart of patience and forgiveness.

Continuing with the explanation of the First Commandment (Deuteronomy 6:1–11:32), the instructions in the Torah reading עקב Ekev or Eikev (“consequence,” Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) covers these topics:

  • Follow the LORD rather than the nations 
(Deuteronomy 7:1–26)
  • Do not forget the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 8:1–20)
  • Do not boast in your own righteousness 
(Deuteronomy 9:1–10:11)
  • Fear the LORD (Deuteronomy 10:12–22)
  • Keep the commands of the LORD (Deuteronomy 11:1–32)

Truth and consequences

““Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.” (Deuteronomy 7:12 NASB)

The “but” comes later. God tells them not to keep everything in the land. God tells them there are certain things that are in the land that must be destroyed and burned with fire.

“The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. “You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned.” (Deuteronomy 7:25–26 NASB)

When the children of Israel went into Jericho, they burned everything down, except for Achan and his “souvenirs.”  Chopped-down Ashtoreth poles were not to be recycled as posts in one’s home or recycled as skis. They were to be utterly and completely destroyed.

This command is paraphrased and repeated in the book of Acts:

“Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:19–21 NASB)

God’s people are not to benefit in any way from idolatry, even the gold and silver dedicated to idolatry. They were not to become wealthy from idolatry. We don’t mark up and sell the fruits of idolatry on eBay or obtain any material benefit whatsoever from it.

The Greek and Roman paganism incorporated the practices of every nation they conquered or traded with. They not only worshiped their own deities but also the deities of nations such as Egypt, Persia, etc.

The new believers in Yeshua had to be conscious of what they were bringing with them and carefully examining themselves to make sure that they did not carry even one shred of their old life and former styles of worship into their worship of God.

For the first generation of Israel leaving Egypt, they refused to let go of their old man. They didn’t want to be a new man, so God had to let the first generation die in the desert. They weren’t ready to be a new nation, they wanted to be Egyptian. God couldn’t let “Egyptians” into His land.

This is a photo of one of ‘Buddhist Caves’, which have been carved into a set of cliffs on the north side of the Kabul river in Afghanistan. These caves were part of a Buddhist monastery complex.
Modern Afghans who live in the area know virtually nothing about the pre-Islamic history of the country. (Photo by Todd Huffman used via creative commons license)

Should we be happy that the Taliban blew up the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan? One thing to remember is that we are not living under a theocracy. U.S. laws are not Torah. If we used the U.S. military to enforce the Torah, how much of the U.S. would be left? Not much. It is not our call.

Should we be happy those statues were blown up? We would not want to bring such things into our homes. The territory we have control over — our own homes, our own minds, our own actions — is where we can apply these Torah ordinances. Beyond that, we should be very careful.

That’s one of the things Messiah fought with the Pharisees in the Gospels. He fought against the “fence-keepers” in Jewish society. Those fences were built by people who had their own view of what those fences should be and conflicted with Torah itself. The “fences” became walls keeping people out.  We do not have the right to enforce Torah on others.

When the LORD lifts people up and grafts them in, they are not a separate people anymore (Acts 10–11). They are just as a part of the commonwealth of Israel as the native-born (Romans 9–11; Ephesians 2:11–22).

‘Dance with the one that brought you’

As we continue on, I was thinking of how to help people understand Deuteronomy 8, and the importance of loyalty. As Shania Twain sang1:

You got to dance with the one that brought you
Stay with the one that want’s you
The one who’s gonna love you when all of the others go home
Don’t let the green grass fool you
Don’t let the moon get to you
Dance with the one that brought you and you can’t go wrong

It’s not loyalty for loyalty’s sake but being wise and true rather than being distracted by trendiness, foolishness, and falsehood.

The aphorism “dance with the one who brung ya” is commonly used to stress loyalty for loyalty’s sake. But what this whimsical tune and Deuteronomy 8 stresses is loyalty to what is wise and true over what is foolish and false.

“The grass is greener on the other side” is what convinces you it’s better than what you have. “The moon” is what entrances you by emotion to abandon what what you have.

God is telling us that some things are not worth recycling. It’s not always good to be thrifty. What the pagans do might look fun and energetic but you don’t know what kind of door you are opening if you let that in.

When you read archaeology reviews in the land of Israel, they have found many examples of people making little statutes of YHVH “and His Ashtoreth.” That happened because the children of Israel were not diligent in obeying God’s judgement to utterly destroy all marks of the Canaanite religion from the entire land.

Both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien wrote beautiful books with rich Christian illustration, but they wrapped them in mythology to “create a bridge.” But those who already have a Christian mindset can see all the Christian imagery, and those who are not Christian don’t see it. At the end, those allegorical books are not speaking more truth than myth about Christ.

We need to be careful how we teach God’s word. We need to teach our children the bible from the bible, not cover it in allegory and mythology.

We don’t plant a seed for an hour or a day. When we plant seeds, we have to make sure they will be watered, fertilized and grow due to their connection to the Creator.

God repeatedly encourages us to love our first love. But we can’t love Him if we don’t love the one person who we made a vow to love, honor and cherish for our entire lives.

“Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth.” (Proverbs 5:18 NASB)

“ ‘For the LORD has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,’ says your God.” (Isaiah 54:6 NASB)

The faithlessness of those who were supposed to be the most faithful brought the nations of Israel and Judah down.

“ ‘This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce,’ says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘and him who covers his garment with wrong,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.’” (Malachi 2:13–16 NASB)

Malachi is speaking to the priests here. They were a little microcosm of why the Lord was not listening to them. They were treating their wives terribly and they were asking God to treat them with more mercy than they were treating their own wives and families.

In a sense, the primary job of the priests and the sanctuary was to bring the people close to God. Those who were given the responsibility of bring the common people close to God themselves were not living close to God and they were disregarding their closest most important relationships.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30 NASB)

Beauty can fade, but what lasts is one’s legacy. The words of the Lord are the greatest legacy we can give the next generation. The medium changes, but the message doesn’t.

The secularists have a problem with the fact that information points back to a creator.2 One of the hallmarks of information is the message can move between sender and receiver in many ways, independent of the medium. One can transmit the Shema (Deut. 6:4–5) by:

  • Writing it in sand on a beach.
  • Writing it on a piece paper.
  • Recording it.
  • Singing it.
  • Putting it in braille.
  • Tooting it in Morse code with a shofar.

The great legacy we can have is the wisdom of the LORD. This message is so precious, we have to be careful not to corrupt it but it is easy to corrupt it. When passing the baton, we have to do it faithfully.

Why was Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years?

“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” (Deut. 8:2–6 NASB)

God put them through the wilderness to humble them. What does it mean in Hebrew to be humbled? The word humble in Hebrew is עָנָה ʿanah (Strong’s lexicon No. H6031a) which means to oppress, humiliate; to be afflicted. This word is used in the Bible with fasting as a spiritual discipline for remembering where the source of strength comes from.

On Yom Kippurim (Day of Atonement), when we humble ourselves, we abstain from food and water, which tells our flesh it’s not in control.

If you desire to do something in excess, or you don’t have a filter between your mind and your tongue, you can steer yourself into all sorts of disasters.

We need to pay attention to those that come across our eyes, or that tempts us and guard against pursuing them.

God put them in places where they’d be thirsty for a while or where they’d be without food for a while to test them on how they would react to the stress in their lives.

When we get very hungry, we have a word for it: “hangry.” Our bodies also have natural reactions to low blood sugar. We get grumpy, develop headaches, etc. How we respond to these natural impulses is how God tests us and strengthens us. We have to tell our bodies who is in control.

We are to look past our discomfort and irritation and remember that He has brought us this far and will continue to help us complete our journey.

Our temporary irritations are there to teach us to trust Him and follow Him, rather than following our carnal desires.

Fasting is not about getting one’s ticket punched. Fasting is about humbling oneself and when we fast on Yom Kippur, the fast was a way for the people to acknowledge the heavy burden the High Priest was carrying for them on that solemn day.

When Moses came down from the mountain, he might have been very “hangry.” He spent 40 days humbling himself, and preparing to receive the 10 Commandments and he comes down to witness a state of pagan debauchery.

He went up a second time for 40 days with more fasting and humility to receive them again. Moses taught us about devotion to one’s God-given mission. He interceded for his people repeatedly.

As someone said, “In Hollywood, they take out their garbage and put it on TV.” We aren’t only to avoid bringing literal idols into our houses, but we also have to be careful about what we let enter our eyes, ears and brains.

Don’t forget how the LORD has fed you

One way to help us control our appetites is to bless the LORD after every meal (Deuteronomy 8:10).

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.” (Deut. 8:10 NASB)

Pharisaical tradition that has become Christian tradition, because Yeshua is recorded to have done so, is to bless God briefly at the beginning of the meal. Jewish tradition has preserved this as a short blessing at the beginning and a longer blessing afterward.

It’s very difficult to do. It’s tough to be thankful sometimes. It’s tough to remember how far God has brought us.

We are to be thankful for what we have and not forget how God has blessed us.

Holier than …

Don’t get haughty about being God’s chosen.

“not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land. … not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess” (Deut. 9:5–6 NASB)

We can’t think that we are in the place we are because we earned it.

Some have said that the return of Jews to the Land has nothing to do with prophecy, because many of the modern founders were atheists and Yeshua-deniers. But, the biblical point of returning the people to the state of Israel was not that they finally became “worthy.” Rather, God had a promise to keep, and He determined to keep it.

We trust the one who takes us to the place we need to go, to the new beginning to the new person we are going to become. It’s God’s greatness, not ours, that makes us better people now than we were before we met Him.

The people repeatedly complained about their adversities and never thanked Him for His provisions. They complained about their hunger than complained about the food God gave them. That’s why God couldn’t let them go into the Promised Land and they had to die in the wilderness.

God wanted you to let Him circumcise your heart. Cut off those things that do you no good, those things that will only harm you. He calls us to, “Stiffen your neck no longer.”

“If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me — I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies — or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.” (Lev. 26:40–42 NASB)

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD And remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire And burn with none to quench it, Because of the evil of your deeds.’ ” (Jer. 4:3–4 NASB)

Anything that makes us arrogant needs to be cut off.

Restoration of Israel foretold

The Haftarat Ekev passage (Isa. 49:14-51:3) and a prophecy of the restoration of Israel in the latter days points to a restoration that’s more about God’s faithfulness than Israel’s. We are to be different people, better people than where we started. Isaiah repeats the same themes we read in Deuteronomy. He is speaking to the generation that is going into exile.

God’s promises to gather in those who seek righteousness and declare the people not guilty, but they have to acknowledge the sorry state they’re in and their only solution for redemption.

We need to be as faithful to God as He is to us. The Apostle Paul knew that God had a plan to gather those who were scattered and anyone who wants to be grafted into the people of Israel.

Are we listening to God’s warnings? Are we looking for His return? It will happen, but on His timetable, not ours.

Some say that “God is done with the Jews” or “the modern state of Israel” has nothing to do with God’s promises for restoration because there are so many atheists and those who reject God’s Salvation. But the LORD’s testimony through Yeshiyahu (Isaiah) and other prophets speaks to faithfulness.

What’s your legacy?

This Antebellum era (pre-civil war) family Bible dating to 1859 is a classic example of an old family bible in which the births and deaths within a family were recorded. For genealogists, these are a goldmine of family historical information. (Photo by David Ball under creative commons license.)

In prior generations, people had a “family Bible” that was passed down the family. These family Bibles make for fascinating reading, because you can see how our elders engaged with God’s word, through the passages they highlighted, where they placed their bookmarks and how the pressed their mementos of daily life, such as flowers, locks of hair, or a newspaper clipping, in between the pages. Many old bibles also included printed pages that one could record the births and deaths of extended family in its pages.

We are also told to love strangers, fear and cleave to God and swear only by the Name. Also among the 613 instructions in the Torah are these four in Ekev:

  • Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19).
  • Fear God (Deuteronomy 10:20).
  • Cleave to God (Deuteronomy 10:20).
  • Swear only by the Name (Deuteronomy 10:20).

Summary: Tammy.

Banner Photo: Two children holding hands by Elizabeth Collette posted to Flickr via Creative Commons license. 

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  1. Sam Hogin and Gretchen Peters, “Dance With The One That Brought You,” Shania Twain, Polygram/Mercury, Nashville, 1993. 
  2. Werner Gitt, Ph.D., In the Beginning Was Information, Master Books, 2005. 

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