Tag Archive for 'Deuteronomy'

What Did Moses Do So Wrong?

On that same day the Lord told Moses, “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 32:48-52

What did Moses do so wrong in the Desert of Zin that God wouldn’t let him go into the land of Canaan like the rest of the Israelites he was leading? For 40 years? And in the beginning of it all, God spent a chapter and a half convincing Moses to lead the people in the first place. (Exodus 3-4 — I’m no scholar, but a chapter and a half is like, a lot.) All I could find in plain sight is that he struck the rock when that isn’t what God explicitly stated.

The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Numbers 10:7-12

In his commentary on Deuteronomy, Daniel Block addresses this, with the help of another quote.

Aaron Wildavsky comments eloquently:

At Meribah Moses substitutes force for faith. In his hand the rod reduces a divinely ordered act to a trickster’s shenanigans. But the import runs deeper. If Moses’ strongest leadership quality has been his ability to identify with the people, then the lack of faith at Meribah is a double one. Moses not only distances himself from God by doubting the adequacy of his work but also distances himself from the people by assuming power that was God’s. Tired of the incessant murmurings, Moses taunts the people just before he strikes the rock: “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water from this rock?” (Num 20:10).

Instead of exhorting a stiffnecked people to greater faith, Moses condescends to their plea with an arrogant jeer. His words imply acceptance of the people’s evil (separating himself from it) rather than hope of overcoming it. “Ye rebels” assumes very much what Aaron had presumed in trying to rationalize fashioning the Golden Calf. At that point, Aaron had lamely pleaded for Moses’ sympathy: “thou knowest thy people, that they are set on mischief” (Exod. 32:22). Like Aaron’s defense then, Moses’ “Hear now, ye rebels” [Listen, you rebels] now becomes its own accusation. Similarly Moses taunts the people with rebelliousness, yet is himself rebelling when he smites the rock without authority—the authority God alone can provide. Perhaps, after all, Moses does have more authority than he, or any man, can handle.

Block also mentions that this can be a warning for leaders.

This is the type of thing that’s bothersome to us if we’re thinking soberly, but we can also believe by faith that God is good (Num 1:7) and a God of justice (Deut 32:4).

Deuteronomy

Also see:
Why I Love Deuteronomy | Monergism

Why Deuteronomy Is Important

Every book of the Bible is important. This is a post about some reasons why Deuteronomy is important.

I’ve recently been reading the commentary on Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary) by Daniel Block in a devotional sort of way. I’ve wanted to read a commentary on Deuteronomy for a long time because of it being theologically rich, along with having a lot of questions I wanted answered, one of which I’ll write about in another post. I found this one on sale in Kindle format for under $5 (along with the commentary on Job, which was excellent).

I came across a couple of quotes in the commentary on why it’s so foundational.

Although readers of the Old Testament often assume that expressions translated as “the law of the LORD” refer to the Pentateuch as a whole, the default view should rather be that “the Torah of Yahweh” and “the Torah of Moses” refer particularly to the book of Deuteronomy. This book is the heart of the Torah that the priests were to teach and model, in which psalmists delighted, to which the prophets appealed, by which faithful kings ruled, and by which righteous citizens lived (Ps. 1).

This was the book—long neglected—that Josiah’s officials found in the temple and which provided the theological impetus for his wide-ranging reforms (2 Kings 22–23); this was the book that Ezra read to the community of returned exiles on the occasion of the Festival of Booths (Neh. 8). And as the light of Old Testament prophecy was going out, this was the book to which Malachi called his people to return (Mal. 4:4). The book of Deuteronomy provides the theological base for virtually the entire Old (and New) Testament and is the paradigm for much of its literary style. Luke 16:19–31 and John 5:19–47 illustrate the enormous stature of Moses in the tradition of Judaism at the turn of the ages. In the Torah the Jews heard Moses’ prophetic voice, and in the Torah they read what he wrote.

Later on, Block writes:

At the theological level, the Song [of Moses–or of Yahweh, as Block would prefer to call it–Deut. 32] is unparalleled within the book of Deuteronomy, if not the entire Old Testament, for its concentrated but extraordinarily lofty theology.

The Shema (Deut. 6:4) is contained there, and the verse after it, which Jesus quotes as being the greatest commandment.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Deuteronomy

Also see:
Deuteronomy and the New Testament | Scripture Zealot blog

Quote of the Day: Deuteronomy-The Antidote

FOR MODERN READERS PLAGUED by a negative view of the Old Testament in general and Old Testament law in particular, the book of Deuteronomy offers a healthy antidote. Through the work of Christ not only is Israel’s relationship made possible, but also the church, the new Israel of God, is grafted into God’s covenant promises. As with Israel, access to these promises remains by grace alone, through faith alone. However, having been chosen, redeemed, and granted covenant relationship, Yahweh’s people will gladly and without reservation demonstrate their allegiance to him wholeheartedly and with full-bodied obedience (Rom. 12: 1– 12).

For Christians today Deuteronomy remains an invaluable resource for a biblical understanding (1) of God, especially his grace in redeeming those bound in sin; (2) of the appropriate response to God, entailing love for God and for our fellow human beings; and (3) of the sure destiny of the redeemed. More than any other book in the Old Testament (if not the Bible as a whole), Deuteronomy concretizes the life of faith in real life. In the New Testament Jesus Christ, the incarnate God of Israel’s redemption, summarizes the spiritual, moral, and ethical pronouncements of Deuteronomy with the Supreme Command: to demonstrate covenant commitment to God with one’s entire being (love) and covenant commitment to one’s fellow human beings (Matthew 22: 34–40). Christians who live by this “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) will have their feet firmly on the ground and will resist the temptation to retreat into interior and subjective understandings of the life of faith so common in Western Christianity.

–Daniel Block, Deuteronomy (NIV Application Commentary, The) (Kindle Locations 734-746). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (Hardcover Available)

Deuteronomy and the New Testament

I’ve been noticing a lot of parallels between Deuteronomy and passages in the New Testament like this one.

Deuteronomy 15:10 HCSB
Give to him, and don’t have a stingy heart when you give, and because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you do.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 HCSB
Each person should do as he has decided in his heart–not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

One thing I’ve been noticing is that when we give, then God provides us with what we need to do good. This doesn’t necessarily mean money. Many think that if we give (or “tithe” as some people still call it), it’s like karma and we get it back. Although some passages seem to intimate this, like Proverbs 3:9-10, that’s a proverb, a general bit of wisdom, not a promise we can ‘claim’ in every situation. Am I right? It’s more about being equipped to do good than to get our money back.