The Bible Experiment Deuteronomy
The Bible Experiment is the series wherein I have been reading each book of the Bible and just trying to wrap my brain around the weird, strange, harsh, fun, crazy bits and make sense of it all from the perspective that it is just one big long Love Letter directed straight at you from the creator of the universe. If you’d like to follow along from the beginning you can do so here.
Deuteronomy Summary: Deuteronomy is basically a rewind and a fast forward all in one go. In the fifth book of the Bible Moses basically returns and walks us back through everything that had happened in book 1 – 4 all over again… but this time, Moses (31:9,24) is preparing the children of Israel for the eventual entrance into the promised land. It seems to be Moses’ mission to convince the Jews that they are to live correctly, to keep the covenant they made with God, and to most of all not to worship any gods but the one true God.
Setting: Let me set this picture for you. God is worried about His people caught in exile in Egypt, so he sends Moses in to get them out. He eventually succeeds, but [pullquote]within just a couple days after seeing the waters parted they begin grumbling. Seriously, look it up yourself. Its DAYS later that the people are pissing and moaning about the situation that they are now finding themselves in.[/pullquote] Never mind the fact that God had just stacked the waters for their escape and protected every single individual from the Egyptian army by God’s personal hand. Even so, the Israelites find themselves without water and grumbling. Even so, the Israelites find themselves without food and grumbling. Even so, the Israelites find themselves without meat and grumbling. Its amazing really. The grumble to the point of wishing that they were back in Egypt of all places, where Pharaoh made them back bricks without straw.
In Deuteronomy Moses jumps out of the narrative and reviews for the Israelites what God has done for them. And he reminds them that they have two options. The first option is to obey the commandments that God has given them. The second option is to disobey.
Goodness leads to reward.
Disobedience leads to punishment.
It’s a pretty simple cut and dry equation. As we head towards the end of Deuteronomy we see Moses remind them not to take on the customs or the gods of the people they are displacing. We see Moses remind the people to be loyal to the God that has continued to provide.
In considering the entire tone and meter of this book it makes more sense to me than the past couple. Leviticus and Numbers were lost on me specifically seeing as though they dealt with specific details (mainly) that aren’t relevant today. (Methods for sacrificing, the Levitical priesthood details, definitions of cleanliness and uncleanliness, etc.) But Deuteronomy seems like the farewell love letter of Moses to his people and reminders on how to stay close to the God that loves them and who is seeking their heart.
I wonder somedays if I haven’t listened to Moses. That even though I’ve been granted the promised land I still look at the customs and methods of the inhabitants and decide that I’d like to do it their way instead. But I come away thinking, externally it all doesn’t matter… what does it seem like I am doing? Who cares. But rather, what AM I doing. We are who we are when we are alone first and foremost. Reminds me of Second Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
My ambition. Did you catch that? My AMBITION. My driver. My goal. My motivation in life… should be to be pleasing to Him. Have I sold out in heart? Have I bought in to the culture and to its gods? Have I tried to medicate away the pain and the wrongness of life by drugs, cars, games, movies, a bigger house? We see Moses going above and beyond to encourage the people to be loyal to God and to avoid the idols of the Canaanites. “No idols” could almost be the motto of this whole book. Seriously though, if we step back and look at the overview of the entire book the one overarching main theme is that as the children of Israel enter the Promised Land, they must not adopt the customs of the people they are displacing.
At the end of the book God lets Moses know he’s not going to enter into the Promise Land. He’s going to leave that to some schmuck named Joshua? Amazing. Everyone dies out and the last three chapters of the book is Moses extolling them on. To not turn away. To follow the one true God. To not take on idols. And he reminds them of all the amazing things that God has already done on their behalf. And with that, we are out of the Pentateuch! Blam. How’d you like them apples?