Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Ten Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
He Is Our Praise
Verses 1-2: "At that time the Lord said to me, 'Cut out for yourself two tablets of stone like the former ones, and come up to Me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood for yourself.2 I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered, and you shall put them in the ark.'" The timing of these verses is critical—two great events were about to occur: 1) The people were poised to obey God's command and enter the land of promise, called "Canaan," and 2) Moses, their leader, was going to die, a fact known to him and rumored among the people he had led to this moment. He is speaking out loud to the nation, reciting events also seen in Exodus 34, when they committed the sin of idolatry even as God was revealing His will to the nation and to the world. The original tablets of the Law were destroyed, broken by their sins, reflected in the action of Moses who smashed the original tablets. He prepared a wooden ark to hold heavy new stones, and was about to climb Mount Sinai once more. God revealed His intentions to Moses in advance, directing him to make his way upward with those precious objects clutched in his arms. The events in this chapter are much like what is seen in Exodus 34. The order of events slightly differs but the events themselves are the same. Note that the Holy Spirit will "bring to your remembrance all things that I (the Lord) said..." as seen in places like John 14:26, but He will allow those words and events to be presented to the world through our frail humanity. Moses LISTENED to God like we all should, but He was still Moses. The same is true for all believers. God fills our hearts and lives and yet we are allowed to be who and what we are.
Verse 3: "So I made an ark of acacia wood and cut out two tablets of stone like the former ones, and went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hand." Most of us have a lot of questions we would like to ask. "Why am I here?" is a popular question asked by perhaps all of us at some time or another. "Why did He make me this way?" And so on. Notice that Moses started out like that, in places like Exodus 3—he had lots of questions. But time and the hand of God will change us, and here we find a changed Moses, who simply made the ark out of wood, cut the tablets of stone out of solid rock, and went back up the mountain as the Lord directed him. When it's time to prepare a Bible study based on a Book such as Deuteronomy, I just do it, whereas before I would have "muddied the waters" with many questions. Sooner or later we all begin to simply act as God leads us, understanding that He who lives in the past, present, future and in eternity, knows perfectly well what today and tomorrow have in store for you and me.
Verses 4-5: "He wrote on the tablets, like the former writing, the Ten Commandments which the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them to me.5 Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the Lord commanded me." The words of these verses were written approximately 1,400 years before the Advent of Jesus Christ. You are reading the remembrances of a man who reluctantly led a nation from obscure slavery into international notoriety—almost everyone on earth has met or has heard about a Hebrew, a Jew, an Israelite at some time or other. This was a nation created by God out of a man and a woman, Abraham and Sarah, people from what is now Iraq. God made and established a religion central to that nation, based on the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, along with other laws, prophesies, songs (Psalms), wisdom literature and letters included in the Bible, God's Word, His gift to us all. What is called the Ten Commandments were given by the Touch of the Lord Himself during the second 40-days an astonished and worshipful Moses was on Mount Sinai in the Presence of God. Afterwards, this stunned man walked back down the same way he had come up, clutching the Commandments and the ark which held them. He had learned to perform just as we should do all things: "as the Lord commanded..."
Verses 6-9: "(Now the sons of Israel set out from Beeroth Bene-jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died and there he was buried and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his place. 7 From there they set out to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of brooks of water. 8 At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day. 9 Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God spoke to him.)" The places, the travels of ancient Israel during the preceding 40-years were images flashing through the mind of Moses as he spoke to the nation at the moment of these verses. The man no doubt paused the speech for a brief instant as he remembered his older brother, Aaron, who became the high priest. But Aaron was also the one who led Israel into rebellious idolatry at the time Moses met with the Lord on Mount Sinai. God is merciful and He forgives. The office of high priest continued within Aaron's family, resting, at the moment, upon Eleazar, Aaron's son. Included here is mention of the tribe of Levi, which would not inherit a territory within Canaan or the surrounding area like the other tribes. And if you have not received in life all that you feel might or should be your inheritance, your blesing from the Lord, consider the Levites, and find your joy in this: "The Lord is (your) inheritance."
Verses 10-11: "I, moreover, stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights like the first time, and the Lord listened to me that time also; the Lord was not willing to destroy you.11 Then the Lord said to me, 'Arise, proceed on your journey ahead of the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.’" Moses did indeed stay on Mount Sinai for an additional 40-days after the people lapsed into idolatry, and note the words of these verses carefully: The Lord, our Judge, the One who is holy, just and true beyond our ability to understand, pronounced final Judgment on Israel. He was prepared to destroy all of them and start a new nation through Moses. But our Judge, the Lord Himself, did something extraordinary: He appointed faithful Moses to intercede, to pray for them. Moses did pray, the Lord heard his prayer and set aside the Judgment of death. Israel would continue to exist and they were about to enter the land of God's will for the nation. God has pronounced a sentence of death on all humanity; yet the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are interceding, praying for you and me right now (Romans 8:26,34).
Verses 12-13: "Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,13 and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?" What does God want from us? Obviously, in these verses, the Lord is to be respected, obeyed and loved. And why not? He is our Creator. We would not exist, except He made it so; and He has designed us for eternity, to be with Him forever. Should we obey Him by keeping His commandments? Of course we should. We, collectively and individually, know a little—He knows everything. We fear what tomorrow might bring—He knows what tomorrow holds because He is already there. And why shouldn't we fall head over heels in love with the Infinite Being who forgives through the Cross and loves without measure? To respond to Him in praise and worship is utterly reasonable. And note Moses' words about the commandments—they are "for your good."
Verse 14: "Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it." To
consider the vastness of this universe is to be struck with wonder. Astronomers continue to discover vast new galaxies, unthinkable distances away. Beyond the fringe of what was thought to be the extent of the universe, still more yet-to-be discovered stars, systems, galaxies and other wonders wait to be found. And as Genesis 1 reveals, God SPOKE and all of it simply—existed in a complete form. Faithful David observed in Psalm 19:1, "The heavens declare the glory of God"—and they do.
Verses 15-16: "Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day.16 So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer." Israel was chosen by God to become His people, His nation, which is not only a simple fact of history, but it is also an example that He loves humanity and chooses those He wills to be His people, His sons and daughters. He proves His love by the example of Israel and the giving of His Son: "He died for all, that those who love should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:15). We belong to Him who created us and chose us to be His. Circumcision was an outward ritual that reflects a much deeper reality—you are being fundamentally changed by the Lord for the good: in "your heart," the center of who you really are (Romans 2:28-29).
Verses 17-20: "For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. 18 He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. 19 So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.20 You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name." There are no "gods" except the One revealed throughout God's Holy Word, the Bible. He is wonderfully greater than anyone or anything. We cannot buy His favor for He will not be bribed. He is the God who watches over and delivers the poor, the needy and the outcasts of this world—which we all are in one way or another. In our gratitude for all He has done, we pass on His love to those around us. We love Him, trust in Him and do everything in His Holy Name, all of our lives and—forever.
Verses 21-22: "He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven." To praise God is to recognize who He is and love Him. We honor Him who has drawn us out of the sins of this world, washed us in the Blood of the Lamb and saved us for all eternity. He took "seventy persons" that had resettled into Egypt and made them a mighty nation. And the Lord took a dozen ordinary people like you and me, turning them, turning us into "kings and priests to His Father" (Revelation 1:6). He IS our praise and He IS our wonderful God.
Father, thank You for choosing us. You are worthy, You are wonderful, our Creator and our God. Thank You for all You have done for us. Thank You, Lord, for dying to set us free. We praise Your Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.