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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 3-4

The address to Israel that Moses began in Deuteronomy 1 continued in today’s Scripture reading. It is good to pause our studies and remember that Moses was 120 years old. He stood before a new generation, most of whom were born in the wilderness during that nation’s forty-year sojourn.

Four-hundred years of Egyptian slavery was a historical fact but not something the second generation had experienced. Also, many were not living when their fathers rebelled and refused to enter Canaan. Nevertheless, the consequences of their forefather’s faithlessness and rebellion had befallen them. Therefore, that generation needed to know their history as a people, the character of their God, and the nation’s covenant relationship with Him.

Deuteronomy 3 – God is Gracious, but Choices Have Consequences

The Defeat of Og, King of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:1-11)

With the urgency of a man who knows death is imminent, Moses reviewed the LORD’s care and compassion for Israel. He reminded the people how God had delivered Og, Bashan’s king, into their hands. With the LORD on their side, Israel conquered sixty walled cities (3:4-5) and utterly destroyed the “men, women, and children, of every city” (3:6). The LORD had enriched His people and given them “all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities” (3:7).

The Boundaries and Distribution of the Land on the East Side of Jordan (Deuteronomy 3:12-20)

Moses reviewed that the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had requested the lands on the east side of the Jordan River (3:12-20). However, the men of those tribes were reminded and charged with their pledge to go to war with the other tribes on the west side of the Jordan River (3:18-20).

An Exhortation to Joshua (Deuteronomy 3:21-22)

Moses reminded the nation that the LORD had chosen Joshua as his successor (3:21a). He encouraged the people to remember God’s promise to “fight” for Israel and drive out the inhabitants in Canaan (3:21-22). As He had defeated the two kings on the east side (Sihon, the Amorite, 2:24-36, and Og, the king of Bashan, 3:1-11), He would do the same to the Canaanite kings.

God Denied Moses’ Request to Enter Canaan (Deuteronomy 3:23-27)

For a second time in the Book of Deuteronomy (1:37), Moses recalled how He had fervently asked the LORD to permit him to enter Canaan. The LORD, provoked by Moses’ request, cautioned him, saying, “Speak no more unto me of this matter” (3:26). Because he violated the LORD’s command, Moses would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. Nevertheless, in His grace, Moses was promised he would have an opportunity to gaze upon Canaan from the top of Pisgah (3:27; 34:1-5).

Deuteronomy 4 – Moses’ Charge to Israel

Keep the Commandments of God (Deuteronomy 4:1-2)

Unlike other nations, Israel was chosen by the LORD and privileged to know Him personally (4:1-6). By His statutes and judgments, the LORD revealed His person and character to Israel and warned the nation, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (4:2).

An Exhortation to Keep and Teach God’s Law (Deuteronomy 4:3-9)

Moses reminded the people how he taught them the “statutes and judgments” of the LORD and that they were to “Keep…and do them” (4:6). Like no other nation, Israel knew the LORD and were the custodians of His Laws and Commandments (4:7-14). Therefore, it was their covenant responsibility to not only “heed… [and] keep” the statutes and judgment of the LORD, but they were also to “teach them [unto] thy sons, and thy sons’ sons” (4:8-9).

A Reminder Concerning God’s Covenant and Commandments (Deuteronomy 4:10-40)

Moses continued and reminded the people of Israel’s unique covenant relationship with the LORD. The new generation was told how their forefathers had gathered at Mount Horeb, and out of the “midst of the fire,” they had heard the LORD’s commandments and accepted His covenant with them as a nation (4:10-13; Exodus 20:1-23:33). Moses then warned them to abstain from all forms of idolatry (4:14-40), and not to worship objects of God’s creation, as was the way of the heathen (4:16-19).

Remembering God is sovereign, Moses retold how Israel was delivered from Egypt when that nation was the most powerful in its day (4:20). He recalled that he disobeyed the LORD when he struck the rock in anger, and the LORD declared he “must die in this land, and not go over Jordan” (4:22; 1:37). Yet, following his death, the nation would “go over, and possess” Canaan (4:22).

A Threat of Dispersion and A Conditional Promise of Blessings (Deuteronomy 4:23-43)

Moses then warned the people that the LORD is a righteous Judge and jealous God (4:23-24). He called upon heaven and earth to be his witness and warned: Should they corrupt themselves and turn to idols, many would perish (4:25-26), and the nation would be dispersed and scattered among the heathen and serve them (4:27-28). Nevertheless, should Israel keep His statutes and commandments, the LORD promised it would “go well” for that generation and their children (4:29-40).

Today’s devotion concludes with the cities of refuge being appointed, three on the east and three on the west side of the Jordan River (4:41-43).

Closing thoughts: Who is the God of the Scriptures?

He is the Creator and the God of heaven (4:21). He is God alone, and “there is none else beside Him” (4:35).  He is the Sovereign of heaven and earth (4:39). He is just, and His blessings are conditioned upon His people keeping “His statutes, and His commandments” (4:40).

Friend, the God who revealed His law and commandments to Israel is your Creator (John 1:3). Have you acknowledged Him as your God? You can know Him by the revelation of His Law, Commandments, and His Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:14).

Questions to consider:

1) What did the LORD promise that gave Israel confidence when they battled against Og, the king of Bashan? (3:2)

2) What were the names of the three tribes requesting land on the Jordan River’s east side? (3:12-13)

3) What promise did Moses give Joshua to encourage him as Israel’s new leader? (3:21-22)

4) What did Moses warn would become of Israel if the people worshipped idols and committed “evil in the sight of the LORD”? (4:25-28)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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