Monday, September 27, 2010

Deuteronomy 13, 14, 15 Anticipating Life in the Promised Land

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy ...Image via Wikipedia

As Moses continued to instruct the generation of Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land, it is interesting to note that he addressed the nation as though conquest of the inhabited land was a forgone conclusion.  Earlier, Moses had assured Israel of God’s everlasting covenant with them and reminded them of God’s promise that He would go before them to dispossess the inhabitants. Having said that, Moses shifted Israel’s thought away from worrying and wondering about their imminent entry into Canaan; away from worrying about the anticipated battles and related stress.

By talking about how they were to relate to each other and to God once in the land of Canaan, Moses refocused the way the nation thought about the Promised Land. He had them visualizing themselves settled comfortably in cities and dealing with violations of the Law.  He talked to them about the food they were permitted to eat; about tithing of their prosperous crops; about taking on servants; about cancelling debts; about living in cities.  He talked about stability to people who spent their entire life wandering throughout the desert, packing up and moving as God directed them to do. 

Then, in Deuteronomy 12:11, Moses, for the first time, tells Israel

Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for His Name – there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord.  Deuteronomy 12:11

The second time a specific place of worship is mentioned is

            "... go to the place the Lord your God will choose ... Then you and your household shall eat   there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice." Deuteronomy 14: 25 - 26


So Moses not only had the people of Israel think about how they would live and interact in a normal, non-warring society, but also he introduced God’s plan for the tabernacle to  be permanently located in a city chosen by Him.  Neither the people nor their tabernacle would wander through the desert any more.  By stating that it was God’s desire for there to be a city for national worship in Canaan, Moses further underscored God’s covenant promise that the land of Canaan belonged to Israel and that He would go ahead of them to make certain that Israel could take possession of their land. Moses told Israel that they could  look forward to worshipping God joyfully, without worrying about being attacked. 

In Deuteronomy, Moses turned Israel's eyes to God, to His provision, and to His covenant promise. As Moses  communicated God's vision for the nation and God's committment to the people, he strove to imbed the idea that the nation's spiritual journey and destiny did not end with crossing the Jordan River.

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