Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Deuteronomy 1-11 - "Moses' Pep Talk"|
Introduction to Deuteronomy
The Context of these Studies.
Once we get into them, we will see that these chapters of Deuteronomy were the words spoken by Moses after the forty year wandering in the wilderness, just before Israel went into the Promised Land. In that sense they are Moses' ‘pep-talk' to Israel , getting them ready to be God's people in the Promised Land.
A Warning & Encouragement
We need a warning. Initially you will only study these chapters if you are serious about Bible Study! Why do we say that? Because at first sight they are merely recounting, in outline, Israel's history after leaving Egypt, and then pile upon pile of exhortations to follow and obey the Lord. However, as you do this study, verse by verse, you should find it coming alive to you as you pray and ask the Lord's help. By the time you reach the end, we hope you will agree with us that this has been a most rewarding exercise. If you want to be lazy, or simply to encourage yourself, jump to the end and scan the Summary and Conclusion sections and try and catch something of the wonder of these incredibly full chapters.
The Structure of these Chapters
In studying Deuteronomy you will find that the following is a reasonable breakdown:
Ch. 1-3 The Historical Context
Ch.4 – 7 Calls to Holiness
Ch.8 – 11 Maintaining a Right Perspective
Part 1 : “The Historical Context”
The opening chapters will show us who is speaking to whom, and where and when this is all taking place. We will see Moses setting the scene for Israel to receive his instructions for their life ahead.
Chapter: Deut 1
Passage: Deut 1:1-8
A. Find Out:
1. Where did Moses speak these words? v.1,5
2. When did he speak them? v.3
3. What had recently happened? v.4
4. What had the Lord said, when? v.6
5. Where had the Lord told them to go? v.7
6. What assurance did He give them? v.8
1. Summarise in your own words the historical context of this book.
2. Where did Moses start his account? Why was that important?
3. Observe all the geographical references. Why are they important?
The opening words give us the historical and geographical context of this book. This is important for us to understand because Israel 's history was so bound up in the land, and in their dealings with God. For Israel to move into the land now, they must understand their history, for it has much to teach them.
Forty years on from Sinai, on the edge of the Promised Land, Moses speaks to the people of Israel (v.1). We are reminded in passing, that from Sinai to the land is an eleven day journey (v.2) but forty years later (v.3) they are still only on the edge. There is a story here and the present people need reminding of it.
The story starts back at Sinai, or Horeb (v.6) where God had called them into being as a nation. After a while the Lord had instructed them to move on (v.7). Sinai, the place of highest encounter with God, was not their destiny, only a stepping stone to it. After encounter God reveals purpose. At Sinai they had had a unique encounter with the Lord. Their purpose now is to go and possess and enjoy the land (v.8). Having formed them into a nation under Him, the Lord's purpose was now for them to have a land where they could enjoy Him. Today, our purpose is not to have holy huddles but to go and possess the land in Jesus' name! We need an encounter, but we are called to go on from there.
1. Encounter: my first call is to know the Lord.
2. Activity: my second call is then to inherit His purposes for me.
Chapter: Deut 1
Passage: Deut 1:9-18
A. Find Out:
1. What prompted Moses to act? v.9,10
2. What did he see as his problem? v.12
3. What had he suggested as the solution? v.13
4. What did he instruct them to do? v.16
5. How was he still there for them? v.17
6. How were they being directed at that time? v.18
1. What had been Israel 's problem at that time?
2. What had been Moses' situation?
3. Yet what had remained Moses' role?
Moses now reminds them of how he had tried to spread the leadership responsibility in his caring for Israel (v.9-12). He had realised that there was no way that he could lead Israel on his own or preside over every dispute. His solution had been to suggest to Israel that they choose leaders from each of their tribes (v.13), men they consider to be wise, understanding and respected. When they chose them, Moses would then confirm and appoint them. There was no way that he could know everyone from such a multitude.
In each of these things, Moses shows his servant heartedness – he suggests, they choose, and then he appoints and instructs. In all that he does he is careful for the welfare of Israel.
These are the marks of a leader – humility, willingness to involve the people of God, gentleness of approach, wisdom, and authority to teach and appoint others.
The New Testament indicates that God gives gifts (Rom 12:6) and it is then for the people of God to recognise the gifting. When that happens, the outcome is order and care for the people of God. Note the gifts: wisdom and understanding, and then respect which is earned with experience.
2. Involvement also requires responsibility.
Chapter: Deut 1
Passage: Deut 1:19-31
A. Find Out:
1. Why had they set out? v.19
2. What happened when they reached Kadesh Barnea? v.20,21
3. Ho had the people responded? v.22
4. What was the initial report of the land? v.25
5. Yet how did they respond? v.26-28
6. How had Moses sought to encourage them? v.29-31
Past history can encourage us or warn us. This passage does both. Moses now recounts how they had left Sinai and arrived at the borders of the Promised Land where he had encouraged them to go in. The people asked for spies to go ahead, the Lord confirmed it (Num 13:1-3) and Moses instructed it. When the spies returned they confirmed that it was a land of plenty, but the people living there looked big and tough! Faith was needed to go in, a reliance upon the Lord – and they did not seem to have it!
Instead of reminding themselves of their history and God's hand upon them, instead of seeking God's help, they grumbled! Moses sought to encourage them by reminding them how God had been there for them over the past weeks and months. God had delivered them years ago from Egypt , and provided for them throughout their time in the desert. Would He not do the same in the Land? Yes, there were a people to be conquered but God was far bigger. How important it is to maintain a right perspective! Faith flows when we do that!
Why was Moses reminding them of all this? Because the time was fast approaching for a second expedition into the Land, and it is important that they learn from their past failure, so they will not repeat it now.
1. It is important to face past failures and own up to them.
2. Past failures allow us to learn to overcome in the present.
Chapter: Deut 1
Passage: Deut 1:32-46
A. Find Out:
1. How did the Lord respond to their unbelief? v.34-36
2. What also happened about Moses? v.37,38
3. What did the Lord say should happen? v.39,40
4. How had Israel responded to this? v.41
5. What did the Lord warn would happen? v.42
6. So what did they do and with what outcome? v.43-46
1. What 3 acts of unbelief are revealed in these verses?
2. What curbs did the Lord put on them?
3. Again, why do you think Moses is recounting this at this time?
First note three acts of unbelief. The first act had been their refusal to enter the Land when told to go. This was a clear failure to trust the Lord (v.32).
The second act was to ignore the Lord's directions to go back to the desert, and instead they determined to go in and take the land.
The third act was to ignore a warning not to fight because the Lord was not with them. In each of these ways they rejected the Lord's counsel.
Next observe the curbs the Lord put on them. The first curb was to refuse to let them enter the land because of their unbelief. Only their children would enter.
The second curb was to withdraw from them and refuse to fight for them. The Lord will not be manipulated. He will not change His declared will.
Why was Moses retelling this story forty years later? We're not told specifically but it surely must be to firm up the resolution of the people in preparation to enter the Land and to reinforce or enlarge their knowledge of the Lord. It is both an encouragement (to get up and go with God ) and a warning (not to fail as their parents had failed). God is there to help them and fight for them. History told them that and Moses reiterates it for now. This is now the time for entering the land. A reminder of the past should strengthen them in the present.
Chapter: Deut 2
Passage: Deut 2:1-23
A. Find Out:
1. Where had they travelled for many years? v.1,14
2. Where did the Lord then tell them to go? v.2,3,13
3. Whose descendants were they to leave in peace? v.4-6
4. What was Moses able to testify? v.7
5. Who else were they to leave in peace? v.9,18,19
1. How would you describe Israel 's 38 years of wanderings?
2. Why were they not to fight certain peoples?
3. How is land and history clearly tied together here?
There are passages of history that we might tend to write off, but we need to remember that “ALL Scripture is useful for teaching” (2 Tim 3:16). So what can we learn from this passage?
We see first of all God's plan and purpose for His people being worked out over a long period. We like ‘instant' but God is content to wait for ‘natural causes' to remove a complete unbelieving generation. In the meantime the under 20's generation is growing up and the older ones are now approaching 60! Why didn't God just wipe out that older generation straight away? We're not told but perhaps it was a) so that the older generation could be there looking after the younger one and, b) so that the younger one would have time to learn from the experience.
Now comes the time for them to enter the land, but it is not casual! It still has to be under the Lord's guidance. There are two groups of people they pass who are not to be touched: Esau's descendants and Lot's descendants. Both groups receive the Lord's protection even though they are not, apparently, the ‘Chosen People'. We see something here of the scope of God's purposes in respect of time and in respect of people. God does not forget, God sticks to His purpose and the passing of time does not diminish these. Not also God's grace: despite bringing ‘gentle judgement' on these Israelites, He still provides completely for them (v.7)!
1. Are we aware of being in the Lord's long-term plan?
2. Have we learnt from failures of previous generations?
Chapter: Deut 2
Passage: Deut 2:24-37
A. Find Out:
1. Where had they now been told to go? v.24
2. What did the Lord say He would then do? v.25
3. How did Moses approach Sihon? v.26-29
4. What response did he get and why? v.30
5. What encouragement had they received? v.31
6. What was the outcome? v.32-36
7. Yet what were they careful to do? v. 37
1. How had Sihon been given a choice?
2. Why do you think he made the choice he did?
3. In what ways does Moses believe in God's intervention?
Once they had come out of the desert and the Land was before them, they had been confronted by a variety of peoples. Some of these received the Lord's protection because of the past, others obviously rejected God and so incurred his judgement. That judgement comes in the form of the people of Israel.
The focus now moves to Sihon, king of the Amorites. God is going to deal with him and as a result, the fear of Israel will spread before them and weaken the resistance in the Land.
The approach to Sihon is gentle and diplomatic, offering peace, maintaining protection and security while they passed through, and offering trade for food etc. All of this was good, but Sihon refused it and instead came out to fight Israel.
Moses attributes Sihon's hard heart towards them, to the work of the Lord, as he does the subsequent defeat of him. Gradually, in all of this, the confidence of the new generation of Israel is being built. They are also learning to fight only as the Lord says. As they pass the Ammonites, they are careful not to get involved with them – just as the Lord had said. This is the Lord's campaign and they must now learn to follow His leading if they are to successfully take the Land.
1. Where we can, choose what battles we fight, and fight righteously.
A. Find Out:
1. Who next came against Israel? v.1
2. What did the Lord tell Moses? v.2
3. What was the outcome? v.3-7
4. What land was taken and given to whom? v.8,12,13
5. Yet what instructions did Moses give to this people? v.18-20
1. Look up a map of the land given to what tribes in this passage.
2. Why was the defeat of Og significant?
3. Why did Moses instruct the men of the 3 tribes as he did?
Having had to defeat Sihon, even though they had approached him peaceably, Israel now had a second king coming against them. There was no opportunity for diplomacy and the Lord told Israel that they would defeat Og. This they did!
This was very significant on two counts: first, the cities of Og were particularly well fortified, but they proved no match for Israel and the Lord. This would have increased Israel's confidence, as they prepare to go in and take the land. Second, it means that with this second victory, Israel have taken all the land to the east of the Jordan and can now colonise it, so that it becomes part of the Promised Land.
This area is given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. However, rather than let them all settle there, Moses instructs the fighting men of these three tribes to pass over the Jordan with the rest of Israel, to help them clear out the land. There had been no presumption that Israel could do it without these three, or each tribe on their own. If they had started doing this, then each tribe would have dropped out when they took the land allotted to them, leaving a decreasing number of men to clear the last parts of the Land. No, they were all to work together in taking the land. An important principle! Israel are to learn to act as a complete nation, not merely a number of separate, individual tribes. Unity is a characteristic of a nation.
1. The church is a body, with many members working together.
A. Find Out:
1. How did Moses encourage Joshua? v.21,22
2. How had Moses pleaded with God? v.23-25
3. What had been the Lord's response? v.26
4. What, at least, did the Lord allow Moses to do? v.27
5. What was Moses to do with Joshua? v.28
1. What had Moses yearned to do?
2. Read Num 20:1-13. Why was Moses not allowed to enter the Land?
3. How was Moses to encourage Joshua?
In this passage we see Moses revealing something of the ache of his heart. In Numbers 20 we find the account of Moses bringing water from the rock. He had known the Lord's presence in Egypt , in the travels in Sinai, and at Sinai, in most wonderful ways. Then for a moment in a crisis over water, he took the reins, and he had put himself forward as their saviour and demeaned the people, in his harsh words to them. In all else he faithfully represented the Lord, but on that one occasion he failed, and for that the Lord said He would take him home to heaven. Moses would not go into the Promised Land.
Perhaps the Lord knew that if he had gone in, pride would have arisen in him over that achievement. Instead Moses is to identify with the past generation. The only one to enter of that generation (who were over the age of 20 at the time of the first entry attempt) was Caleb ( 1:35 ,36). Joshua will now lead but (presumably) he had been under 20 then.
Joshua had been Moses' servant, one having the closest contact with the Lord at the Tent of Meeting (Ex 33:11). The implication is that the future leader's primary qualification to lead is that he is to be one who has had the closest walk with the Lord. Now, at the Lord's direction, Moses is to commission Joshua, and he will take the people in shortly.
1. The greater the knowledge of the Lord, the greater the responsibility.
2. The ultimate for the children of God is that we go to heaven.
RECAP - "The Historical Context" - Deut 1-3
In this first group of 8 studies we have seen Moses, east of the Jordan, reminding Israel (1:1-5) how:
- the Lord had moved them on from Sinai (1:6-8)
- he had appointed leaders for the people (1:9-18)
- spies had been sent into the Land ( 1:19 -25)
- Israel had refused to enter the land ( 1:26 -46)
- Israel had wandered in the desert (2:1-23)
- they had defeated Sihon the Amorite ( 2:24 -37)
- they had defeated Og of Bashan (3:1-11)
- 3 tribes were given the land east of the Jordan ( 3:12 -20)
- Moses was forbidden to enter ( 3:21 -27)
- Joshua was commissioned ( 3:28 ,29)
These three chapters are a combination of poignant reminder of past failure and encouragement for the future. The reminders of their past failure must act as warnings not to repeat these things. At the same time there are reminders of the protecting and keeping hand of the Lord over them who had guided them and then given them victory over two ungodly kings and their people. In such ways the new generation would be reminded of the nature and power of the Lord who was with them and directing them.
1. Our life's foundation is to be the Lord.
2. Within the church the Lord appoints leaders & ministries.
3. Past failure is to become a lesson for the future.
4. We serve the Lord within a team of ministries.
5. Greater knowledge of the Lord calls forth greater responsibility.
Ask the Lord to hold you close so that you will not wander.
PART 2 : "Instructions for Holiness"
In this next Part we move into the instructions given by the Lord to Israel requiring them to live as the people of God. That is the key – they are “the people of God”. Watch for it.