As we began reading chapter 5 many of you thought hmmmmm, I believe we have read this before. And you would be right. But here are some thoughts about this. First off, Moses reminds the Israelites that the covenant at Mount Sinai was made with them, not their fathers. He emphasizes the privileged position of this present generation as they prepared to enter the promised land. And the Lord spoke to them face to face out of the fire on the mountain, again a reminder of the special relationship these people had with the Lord. Moses reminded the people that he had stood between them and the Lord as a mediator of the covenant. As we look at the commandments again here are a couple of things to remember. God promised to discipline the sinner, up to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him. But He will show love and mercy to a thousand generations of those who love Him AND keep His commands. This is a proportionate measure of God's mercy vs. His wrath.
The sabbath day is a big deal and God's people are the only ones who observe this day. Every other culture worked seven days a week. The sabbath was Saturday, the seventh day of the week but Christians worship on Sunday because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead. The benefits of respecting parents came with a long life and blessings. The Ten Commandments were written on stone tablets, front and back. Each tablet contained all Ten Commandments, five on each side. Normally two copies were made in middle eastern treaties and such and each party kept a copy as witnesses to the agreements. But here we see both copies of the ten commandments were placed before the Lord. Not only did the Lord make a covenant with the people but He also witnessed the agreement. The Israelites were frightened of the Lord and kept their distance when Moses spoke with the Lord. Their fear was necessary because the people needed to remember that the Lord was powerful and sovereign.
The commands in chapter six speak directly to us today, perhaps louder than they have in years. This is all about how we teach the next generation. And Moses is very specific. We teach about the Lord every chance we get...when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. In other words, what we teach the next generation about the Lord should begin early and keep going. We live in a world where so very many do not know the Lord. And people will not know unless we teach them. It starts at home. And it takes a village. A village of parents, grandparents, pastors, Sunday school teachers and VBX helpers. The first word in 6:4 can be translated as LISTEN! We need to get this one right. This is a Jewish confession of faith in these verses and it is recited every morning and evening by devout Jews all over the world affirming that the Lord is one. Not only is it a confession but a reminder that there is only one true God. There is a sense of worship here. To love God and serve Him is the highest privilege we can have. So, when the Lord commands us to love, He is inviting us to do that which is best. But our love for God must involve the totality of our inner person...all out heart, soul, and strength.
When we hear the Word of God and receive it into our hearts then the Holy Spirit can use the truth to transform us from the inside out. God writes His Word on our heart and we become living epistles...letters...that others may then read. How we live is important because it backs up what we might say about the Lord. Moses admonished parents to discuss God's Word in their homes among the children. That way God's Word could begin to guide their actions and their lives early on. But there was more. The word was also in a mezuzah, a small container of scripture attached to the front door frame. Each time they would pass through the door they would reverently touch the mezuzah as a reminder of this passage in Deuteronomy. The mezuzah was a sign for others that the house was to be a sanctuary for the Lord and a place where the Word was lived, taught, and obeyed.
Moses was equipping the new generation to enter and claim the promised land. He knew Canaan would be a place of temptation as well as a place of triumph. There would be two major temptations. The first would be money. They would inherit vast quantities of wealth with the plunder they would receive from winning battles and they would be tempted to forget the Lord who made the victories possible. The second temptation would be worshiping foreign gods. Both God and Moses were fearful that God's chosen people would be led to compromise their worship of the Lord with pagan worship. God had delivered His people from hardship in Egypt, but He had also led them through the wilderness to teach them to trust Him. Time and again we will see Moses caution God's people against pagan worship and against disobedience. They would need to be reminded...again and again.
Finally, chapter seven is a continuation of the warnings against disobedience. The Israelites are to destroy any evidence of pagan worship...anything that would tempt the Israelites to move away from the Lord. And we see another reference to the hornet. This may mean the actual insect in a swarm. It could be a dramatic act of the Lord such as a violent storm or plague of insects. It may also refer to a campaign of other armies that weakened the Canaanites before Israel arrived in the promised land. The Canaanites were a superstitious people who saw omens in every unusual thing that occurred. They may have seen the announcement of the hornet as an announcement of defeat. In scripture insects are sometimes used as metaphors for nations. Whatever the hornet is, Moses makes it very clear that God will go before His people and open the path to victory. And He can use anything, even small insects to accomplish His purposes.
In His Grip,
Pastor Matt W.