Day 72 (March 13): Moses banned from Promised Land, but gets a good look, Moses reminds Israel to obey, God’s love of Israel, cities of refuge, Ten Commandments

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Deuteronomy 3:21-5:33

Questions & Observations

Q. (Deuteronomy 3:21): This is such a powerful scene.  I picture Moses on a hill or cliff looking over to Canaan seeing all the cities.  What fear these inhabitants must have had after Israel started conquering them.  Has any movies been made of this that you know of?

A.  About this section of the story?  No.  I know portions of the story are told in classics like The Ten Commandments, and the more recent animated Prince of Egypt (I think both of them are really good).  But I don’t know of any movies about Moses not entering the Promised Land or Joshua’s conquest of it.  Anyone else out there?

Q. (3:23-29): Again, God is amazing.  Moses wanted to see this land that he has been leading a huge group of Israelites to and proclaiming how wonderful it is.  I really want Moses to see it.  God has a wonderful solution for Moses, while still holding up his punishment that Moses would not cross into it.  To whom is Moses referring when he says, “the Lord was angry with me because of you, and he would not listen to me?”

A. You might be happy to know that, in a way, there is a happy ending to this story for Moses.  Moses will enter the Promised Land…in the Gospel of Matthew 17.  When Jesus is transfigured, the story tells us that He is joined by…Moses! … and Elijah.  For at least a short period of time, Moses, in some form or another, sets foot upon the land of Israel.  He, like all of us, is redeemed by the work of Jesus, and the fulfillment of this redemption is one of the sweetest moments that we can glimpse in Jesus’ redemptive work to me.  Cool huh?

As to whom Moses is referring to, this entire speech is delivered to the crowd of the nation.  It is the people who were bitterly complaining that caused Moses to get angry, which in turn caused God to be angry with him.

Q. (4:2): Why do some denominations have their own rules.  Here it says to obey God’s rules and do not add or subtract from any of them.  What would you say to those churches that push more rules than are in the Bible?

A. I would be willing to bet you that any church that has such “extra” rules as you claim would say they have taken them from scripture.  Usually, such rules are adapted from various scriptural and church traditions.  At this moment in time (don’t forget that part- we are dealing with God’s relationship with a particular people at a particular time), God has given the people PLENTY of rules, as we have discussed, and there would appear to be no reason to add to them.  As to whether a church can have “too many” rules, I would have two responses.  1) Rules are not what a relationship with God is about because of what Christ has done: He set us free from the need for such legalistic regulations (Galatians 5:1).  But having said that, 2) we would have to look at particular rules to be able to judge whether they are “too many” or go “too far”.  Many rules that churches (or similar groups) have set in place are for good reason.  In the monastic tradition of monks and nuns, the convent or monastery lived by a Rule, a series of regulations, that sometimes numbered in the hundreds.  You can read about two of them here (they are fascinating to me): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Benedict and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_St_Basil

Q. (4:24): I don’t recall if we have explored the meaning of jealous when God says he is a jealous god.  I googled “jealous God” and came up with this, which I missed when we read it.

From Bible.org: The Manifestation of God’s Jealousy

He Is Jealous for His Holy Name. It wasn’t long after God first spoke of His jealousy that He had occasion to demonstrate it. Moses had come down from the mount with the two tablets of the law in his hands only to find the people of Israel carousing in idolatrous worship before the golden image of a calf. He dashed the tablets to the earth, burned the calf and ground it to powder, then commanded the Levites to discipline the people. It was a vivid expression of God’s jealousy operating through His servant Moses.

When the crisis was past, God invited Moses back to the mount for a fresh encounter with Himself. That was when He revealed His glory to Moses as no one had ever seen it before. Moses saw Him as a compassionate, gracious, long-suffering God who abounds in mercy and truth (Exodus 34:6).

Rob, do you agree with this?

A. I think this is an excellent description of what we should have in mind with the second commandment, which of course forbids idolatry.  One note for us today, however: just because we no longer make gods out of rocks or wood does not mean that we do not struggle with idolatry today.  If we put our trust into anything over our trust of God — be it possessions, money, relationships, career — we have made an idol out of that thing.  And while, as we have discussed, we are not under the Law, it would be very wise for us to know when it is we have made an idol out of anything, so that we can properly cast it aside in order to walk in right relationship with God.  I feel this is one of those areas where we can get a false sense of security by saying, “I’ve never made a golden calf, what do I have to worry about idolatry?” and not have a full understanding of the heart of the commandment.

O. (4:28-31, 39-40): I love these verses.  It shows God’s hope for man.  Ones that have been cast aside and many of their loved ones are gone, have hope, if they search with their heart and soul.

O. (4:39-40): I like the next two also, especially, “The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other.”

O. (5:7-21): Let’s list the Ten Commandments as we go through them:

1) Worship no other god but the Lord.

2) Make no false idols.

3) Don’t misuse the name of the Lord

4) Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy

5) Honor your father and mother

6) Do not murder

7) Do not commit adultery

8) Do not steal

9) Do not testify falsely against your neighbor

10) Do not covet

To see how the old covenant should be viewed after God gives us the new covenant in the New Testament, see the first and second question and answer on Day 37 (Feb. 6).  Just click on the Index tab to find that day’s reading.

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