Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11: What’s on God’s heart is to be on ours

Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) said several times during the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, “You’ve heard it said …, but I tell you ….” Many of the corrections He provided to what God originally intended were similar to the lengthy explanation of the Ten Commandments by Moshe (Moses) in Deuteronomy.

This week’s Torah reading, ואתחנן Va’etchanan (“and I pleaded,” Deut. 3:23-7:11), includes the beginning of Moshe’s elucidation.

This section of Deuteronomy is a reputation of the law, not word for word but the concept behind the law. It expounds on each of the 10 commandments.

Most Americans live out the book of Deuteronomy not perfectly, but closely. Most of our law is based on Deuteronomy.

This section in particular focuses on how to love God, what is idolatry and how to avoid idolatry. Why is Moses going through all this? Because he knows he is going to die. This entire book is Moses’ farewell to the people.

He has seen the people backslide over and over again for the past 40 years and he knows human nature enough that this pattern is not going to end.

He knows they will do things they should not do, because they are humans and they do what humans do.

““I also pleaded with the LORD at that time,” (Deuteronomy 3:23 NASB)

When does Moses give up on Israel? Never. He is not a quitter. Regardless of what God says, never give up pleading and asking Him. Messiah encouraged us to ask God for what we want over and over again. He encouraged us to “pester” God and to never give up.

““But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and the LORD said to me, ‘Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter. ‘Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. ‘But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.’” (Deuteronomy 3:26–28 NASB)

Everything in Torah points to Messiah, even this passage. Moses is playing a Messianic role. His entire life, at least from the burning bush on, was about saving the people Israel from Egypt. He showed them how to live a Godly life, how to live separately from the nations.

Moses is teaching them how to toss out the baggage of Egypt and to truly become a separate nation called Israel. But there’s a limit to what Moses could do. In my opinion, God never intended for Moses to actually step foot into the Promised Land.

There are two gifts God gives all His children:

  • salvation
  • eternal life

Eternal life is not experienced by flesh and blood. Eternal life is living in the Kingdom of God.

God cares about our words, not just our actions.

Messiah came once, about 2,000 years ago. He brought salvation. He paid the price for our sins and taught us God’s law and how to trust God.

Are we currently living an eternal life? No. Are we living in God’s kingdom now? No. This world has a lot of misery but Yeshua taught us that God is not going to allow this misery to continue forever. He told us that the Kingdom of God is coming. Yeshua is going bring about God’s kingdom when and where God’s rules will be the law of the land.

When the Spirit came upon the people at Pentecost in Acts 2, He is preparing us to enter the Land, even though we aren’t there yet.

Entering God’s kingdom will not be easy. There will be a lot of hard work, even war. Joshua’s deliverance was a bloody one.

Yeshua’s second coming will be very different from His first coming. They are two distinct events. Many were upset when Yeshua died on the cross because He didn’t deliver the people from the Romans and usher in the Kingdom of God in their time.

As Joshua followed God’s instruction, Yeshua will read the scroll and perform the duty God gives Him.

““Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1–2 NASB)

I have one pet peeve, which bugs me yet I find comical. I have nothing against any other person, their beliefs, philosophies, etc. Look at this command not to add or subtract.

Yeshua was particularly upset about how the Rabbis added all sorts of laws and regulations on top of the Torah.

But what about the subtract part? We don’t see it much in Yeshua’s day but we see all sorts of subtraction of Torah in the past 200 years or so in many parts of the Christian church.

God is not happy with either of them. He doesn’t want people to add lots of laws to the Torah but He also doesn’t want us to remove rules from the Torah. It’s not for us to play with.

The rabbis are still adding to Torah and the Christian leaders are still subtracting from Torah. The atheists just chuck it all out, which is a separate issue.

““But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you.” (Deuteronomy 4:4 NASB)

How do we cling to the Lord? Is it like baby opossums clinging to their mother? How does He want us to cling to Him? We cling to Him when we love Him with all of ourselves.

Everywhere you go and what you do, you are continually loving Him.

God is not just a God of emotions, He is also a God of actions, words and deeds.

Children show love with simple gifts, actions, and their animation. Their obedience shows their love.

Our soul is that which animates us, and we can chose whether to glorify God, ourselves or the demonic world. The soul is life, like blood. The blood is what animates us on a physical level. Without blood, all we have is a body.

Our spirit shows who owns us. When God gives you a part of His Holy Spirit to you, He has marked you as His own. When you have His Spirit, He has ownership of your soul. If you don’t accept His Holy Spirit, then your soul is susceptible to being controlled by the spirits. The Spirit is like water, we can’t live long without Him.

“And you shall keep and do them, because this is your wisdom and discernment before all the nations, as many as might hear all these statutes, and they will say, “Look, this great nation is a wise and understanding people!”” (Deuteronomy 4:6 NETS)

Any wisdom and discernment we have is based on Torah. We don’t have wisdom and discernment in and of ourselves. Wisdom doesn’t come from age. We are all dumb sheep without the wisdom that God gives us.

Wisdom and discernment is living out God’s laws and decrees. Our human instinct is tit-for-tat and cycles of revenge, vengeance and karma. That is not how stable communities and societies are built. That is how societies and communities are destroyed. Societies built on revenge and tit-for-tat are unstable societies.

In American culture, we brag about the fact we learn from our own mistakes, but life moves more smoothly, with much less drama and trauma if we learn from someone’s mistakes instead.

That’s how God works. He gave us the Bible so we can read about the mistakes of others and the consequences such as the ups and owns of David and his family. The stories are all recorded in Scripture for a reason.

I do not need to be hit by a train to know it will hurt me. I can learn from others mistakes instead. Falling off a cliff will not end well for me.

“Take heed to yourself, and guard your soul closely, lest you forget all the things that your eyes have seen, and let them not be far from your heart all the days of your life, and you shall direct your sons and your sons’ sons” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NETS)

We are to not supposed to forget the commandments, but we are also supposed to check ourselves. We are supposed to discard our bad behavior and replace our bad behaviors with Torah.

“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11 NASB)

Moses is recalling certain events to the memory of the second generation. Most of this generation were not alive when they crossed the Red Sea. Mt. Sinai would have been more memorable to this generation.

Moses tells them repeatedly don’t forget Horeb. That is when they heard God’s voice. That was at Shavuot.

Contrast that when God tells them not to forget the Passover. Horeb is not a part of Passover.

Passover is a holy day in which we retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. God tells us to go over the story every year.

God tells them repeatedly to recall the Passover. Moses tells them not to forget Horeb and Shavuot.

Most of Christianity remembers Pentecost because as the “Birthday of the Church” and when the Holy Spirit came down on people, giving those who were scared to death the power to give His message to the world.

In Judaism, Jews, even those who don’t really believe in God, will keep the Passover, while Sukkot and Shavuot are usually ignored.

The Passover is about salvation, but not about how to walk. Shavout teaches us how to walk.

“When you become the father of children and children’s children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. “The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you. “There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.” (Deuteronomy 4:25–28 NASB)

We as humans recognize things that move, ignore those that don’t. We ignore rocks but pay attention to bears. When the stars move, we pay attention to them. They aren’t alive, but we still notice the movement. Fables and religious rituals were created to explain their movement. We worship things we thing move.

Man was made from dirt. When God says to let the land rest every seven years, humans are also told to rest ever seven days, every seven years and every seven of seven years. If you let the land rest, then you are resting.

Humans also appreciate beauty. The stars, sun, trees are all beautiful and we put more into them than is really there.

We still do that in our own way. We worship our stuff, the works of men, such as the government. Government is a pure creation of human beings. The government doesn’t eat food, it eats up our money, our freedom.

God established government so He is not anti-government but He placed heavy limits on government and their responsibility. It’s no different then a rock that you carved eyeballs into and present it as a deity to worship.

If we give honor to the government, we are not giving it to God. We honor the government because we created it. We are to submit to the government, but we aren’t to honor it. What belongs to Caesar is submission, not honor.

We create a lot of things, most of them don’t honor to God.

““The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. “The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today. “The LORD spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire, while I was standing between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain.” (Deuteronomy 5:2–5 NASB)

God makes a covenant with you, not your ancestors. Each of us is responsible for our actions. We can’t blame our great-great-great-grandparents for our failures or our successes. If you follow God, He makes this deal with each of you.

God is the God of the living, not the dead. The living are those who can walk in God’s instructions. The dead can’t do that.

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:15 NASB)

When God took us out of Egypt, He did it with a “high hand” which means He did it with strength, power and violence. The fire and the cloud were visible examples of God’s “high hand.”

He purchased the children of Israel with the blood of the first born of Egypt. As a result, God is our master. The servant obeys the master.

That is why God tells them to keep the Sabbath holy.

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5 NASB)

Love requires action but only the person and God knows whether an action is motivated by love or fear. Our actions alone aren’t enough to show of we love God or not.

You can do the same act from fear or love, only your inside will know.

Love is an action word, and there are ways God showed us love. His first act of love was to create Adam and Eve. Love is learned with practice and understanding.

Adam and Eve made a mistake, they disobeyed God and that mistake resulted in death. They received a punishment but they did not receive death, at least not right away. An animal received that death instead.

God knew immediately they had made a mistake. Adam and Eve realized they had made a mistake and blamed others for it. God gave them mercy they didn’t deserve.

Is mercy any good if the recipient doesn’t understand they made a mistake? It’s worthless. It’s a sign of softness and weakness if you extend mercy to someone who doesn’t acknowledge they deserve punishment and receive mercy instead.

Adam and Eve never saw death before. This process of killing the animal and extending mercy to Adam and Eve taught them how much God loves them. They experienced death vicariously through the death of that animal. Yet, they knew God was on their side.

They did still have to bear repercussions for their actions. They were kicked out of the garden.

When we realize God is on our side, we will cling to Him and love Him.

“It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:25 NASB)

Torah teaches righteousness. God gives righteousness.

“Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (Romans 3:27–31 NASB)

We are justified by faith. Righteousness is being right, straight. Justified is when something that is crooked is made straight. When you are justified, you become righteous. You are now useful, beneficial.

The process of justification is what practice righteousness. How does one stay righteous? Practice Torah.

Our actions follow our trust, our faith. Being righteous doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes. A righteous person accepts correction.

Photo Credit: Heart in my Hands by Tysoe. Creative Commons License.

Summary: Tammy

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