Learning from Deuteronomy 1-5
With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, the older generation - including Moses - was not to enter the land (34-38). For the new generation, there was a challenge. There must be no more failures. One wasted generation was enough. This was the time for real commitment to the Lord. He loved them - He had ‘set the land before’ them. They were to rise up in faith and ‘take possession of the land’(8). We are called to go on with the Lord. ‘You have stayed long enough’ at a low level of Christian living. God is calling us on to maturity: ‘go in and take possession of the land; (6,8; Philippians 3:13-14). Do not hesitate to move forward with God: ‘do not fear... It is a good land which the Lord gives us’(21,25). Will we be the new generation, ‘a new creation in Christ’(2 Corinthians 5:17) ?
During their wilderness years, God’s people had many problems. God is greater than all the problems! Israel’s journey began in the land of ‘bondage’(Exodus 2:23-25). From there, He led them to the land of promise, ‘the land which the Lord our God gives to us’(29). This is ‘amazing grace’: ‘Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home’(Mission Praise, 31). In the giving and taking of the land, we see both grace and faith: ‘I have begun to give... this land over to you; begin to take possession...’(31). We are not saved by grace apart from faith. We are ‘saved by grace through faith’. We are not saved by faith without grace. We are ‘saved by grace through faith’. Saved by the Lord, let us press on to a life of ‘good works’(Ephesians 2:8-10).
The promised land was near. For Moses, it was ‘so near and yet so far’. He was excluded. Together with the sadness of Moses’ exclusion, there was the joy of the people’s entrance (27-28). When we consider Moses’ sadness and the people’s joy, we must remember this: Nobody deserved to go into the land! The land was God’s gift. Without His strength, the people of Israel would fail. With Him, they would be victorious: ‘You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you’(22). There is here a basic principle of Christian living: ‘not by might , nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’(Zechariah 4:6). ‘In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land. The battle belongs to the Lord. No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand. The battle belongs to the Lord’(Mission Praise, 639).
The people of Israel were involved in the work of the Lord. The work was based on God - not Moses. Moses would not be in the promised land. God would be there. Moses would ‘not go over the Jordan’. As God’s man. he was to prepare the people for their task: ‘you shall go over and take possession of that good land’(22). Privilege involves responsibility. Israel was a privileged people, redeemed by the Lord, delivered from bondage ‘by a mighty hand and outstretched arm’(34). Israel was a responsible people, called to obey the Lord: ‘Obey His laws and commands’(40). The Lord our God is ‘a merciful God’(31). He has saved us. We are to serve Him. Let Him reign in your heart. Let there be ‘no other besides Him’(35). Flee to Christ for refuge (42-43), and live each day with ‘the attitude of gratitude’.
Obedience is grounded in salvation. The Ten Commandments (7-21) are preceded by the divine declaration: ‘I am the Lord your God’ who brought you... out of the house of bondage’(6). He has redeemed us. We are to live for Him. The Word of God was spoken to Moses before it was spoken by him (27). We cannot begin to live for the Lord until we begin to listen to Him. The way of obedience is the way of blessing. Our obedience is to be offered in a spirit of gratitude to God for His gracious salvation. Never imagine it is because of our obedience that God loves us. His love for us is always prior to our love for Him. Remember what the Lord has done for you, and your love for Him will grow stronger. Forget, and you love will grow weaker. Loved by God, let us love Him - more!