BIBLE STUDY SERIES #500, 501 and 502

24 June, 2001

DEUTERONOMY 11: WARNINGS - PART XI

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies on the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is steadily drawing His Creation towards the perfection of His Kingdom reveals that this plan centres upon the formation of one selected line of people chronicled in The Scriptural Record, which descends through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thence through the whole history of the nation of Israel, and therein to provide, in the person of Jesus Christ, the focal point of His mighty purpose. This series has brought us from the call of Abram in Genesis 12, and the formation of a national entity through which it has pleased Almighty God to work in accomplishing that task, down to Deuteronomy 10, and the prospect of The Promised Land upon the borders of which Israel now stood. The aged Prophet, Moses, is, in this chapter, carrying forward his last great oration to the Tribes of Israel prior to their crossing of the Jordan River and their military entry into their Promised Land.

In the previous Study, we read Moses' review of how he had interceded, pleading that the wrath of The LORD would not be applied to Israel of the former generation for their great sin at the foot of Mount Sinai. That last Study took us through to the last three verses of chapter 10; verses 20-22: which stated.

20. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
21. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
22. Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.

I believe that there are possibly only a few thousand stars readily visible and distinguishable to the normal unaided eye, and Moses is doubtless using such a concept in making this statement. The promises which had been made by The Almighty God to their fathers, however, could actually extend to a far greater number than would be visible to the Israelites of that long-ago time, even in a middle-eastern night without the hindrances of modern lighting to obscure what the heavens might reveal.

We are now approaching Deuteronomy, chapter 11, the first verse of which indicates by use of the introductory word "Therefore" that it flows forward from those verses which we have just read. Let us continue reading, therefore, the first 12 verses of chapter 11, as they contain a more or less unitary thrust, and then have a look at the Commentaries.

1. Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
2. And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,
3. And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land;
4. And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD hath destroyed them unto this day;
5. And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place;
6. And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel:
7. But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did.
8. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
9. And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
10. For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
11. But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:
12. A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.

There were those present within hearing of Moses' words who could recall and testify to the truth of that which he is stating. At this point, we ought to consult our Commentaries and various references to learn more about the background of those words which Moses continues to speak to the assembled younger generation of the Tribes of Israel.

At verse 1, The Companion Bible notes that "the LORD our God is, in the original, "Jehovah" our "Elohim." The verse mentions several categories of God's directives. They are "His charge", and joined to this, "His statutes", which had been explained in a note back at chapter 4:1 as "ordinances: Godward" and "His Judgments", (which were in some cases formed as "case law", which arose out of the practical questions that had demanded further rulings to flesh out the details of God's righteous injunctions), which all fell into the category "duties and punishments, manward." and all these were joined to the basic statement of His Commandments. At verse 3, The Companion Bible notes that God's "acts" (visible to all) were distinguished from His "ways" shown only to Moses. At verse 10, attention is drawn to the wording "not as the land of Egypt", because the land of Egypt required Nile irrigation waters, which would have been channelled by use of the foot, whereas the Promised Land would have more water for crops from direct rainfall.

The New Bible Commentary deals with the whole passage from verse 1 to 25 in a single succession of comments, under the sub-heading "Motives to love and obedience (xi. 1-25)" but let us see what it says concerning the passage which we have just read. "Moses now addresses particularly the older men (2). His threefold 'therefore' (1, 8, 18) offers reasons for their obedience: first, God's own greatness (x. 17-22); secondly, His signs and wonders (xi. 1-7); and thirdly, because blessing depends on obedience (xi. 8-17)." that Commentary continues: "His charge (1). The word implies watchful guardianship, as over a treasure. It is used only this once in Deuteronomy, but frequently in the previous books in reference to the charge of the tabernacle (e.g. Lv. viii. 35). His stretched out arm (2). See iv. 34; Ex. vi. 6. A picturesque description of God's protecting care. His miracles, and his acts (3) 'His signs, and his works' (RV). God reveals Himself though 'signs', and 'works' as well as by words. Cf. Mt. xi. 4; ..." (which concerns the many miracles which formed Jesus' reply to the disciples whom John the Baptist had sent to inquire concerning His ministry) ... ", Jn. ii. 11" ... (which was the conversion by Christ of water to wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee). "The miraculous deliverance from Egypt is confirmed in the New Testament (Acts vii. 36; Heb. xi. 27-29). Dathan and Abiram (6). God's miracles of judgment are also object lessons (Nu. xvi;" ... [which describes the earthquake which ended Korah's rebellion] ... "Jude 5" ... [a reference to those unbelievers destroyed from among the Israelites in The Exodus]). Dathan and Abiram called Egypt a land of 'milk and honey' (Nu. xvi. 13, 14), which may have suggested to Moses the thoughts expressed in verses 9-12." We shall return to that Commentary after consulting other references.

Turning now to Keil and Delitzsch, we find them introducing thoughts on these same 12 verses. they state "In vers. 1-12 the other feature in the divine requirements (chap. x. 12), viz. love to the Lord their God, is still more fully developed. Love was to show itself in the distinct perception of what had to be observed towards Jehovah (to 'keep His charge,' see at Lev. viii. 3), i.e. in the perpetual observance of His commandments and rights. The words, 'and His statutes,' etc., serve to explain the general notion, 'His charge.' 'All days,' as in chap. iv. 10. - Vers. 2 sqq. To awaken this love they were now to know, i.e. to ponder and lay to heart, the discipline of the Lord their God. The words from 'for (I speak) not' to 'have not seen' are a parenthetical clause, by which Moses would impress his words most strongly upon the hearts of the older generation, which had witnessed the acts of the Lord. The clause is without any verb or predicate, but this can easily be supplied from the sense. The best suggestion is ... 'for it is not with your children that I have to do,' not to them that this admonition applies. Moses refers to the children who had been born in the desert, as distinguished from those who, though not twenty years old when the Israelites came out of Egypt, had nevertheless seen with their own eyes the plagues inflicted upon Egypt, and who were now of mature age, viz. between forty and sixty years old, and formed, as the older and more experienced generation the stock and kernel of the congregation assembled round him now. To the words, 'which have not known and have not seen,' it is easy to supply from this context, 'what ye have known and seen.'"

Keil and Delitzsch then clarify the fact that the reference to "chastisement of the Lord" has in view the mighty acts of the Lord to Egypt and to Israel in the desert. "The object of them all was to educate Israel in the fear and love of God. In this sense Moses calls them ... not punishment only, but education by the manifestation of love as well as punishment."

"By the acts of God in the desert (ver. 5) we are not to understand the chastening in Num. xi.-xv, either solely or pre-eminently, but all the manifestations of the omnipotence of God in the guidance of Israel, proofs of love as well as the penal wonders. Of the latter, the miraculous destruction of the company of Korah is specially mentioned in ver. 6 ... . Here Moses only mentions Dathan and Abiram, the followers of Korah, and not Korah himself, probably from regard to his sons, who were not swallowed up by the earth along with their father, but had lived to perpetuate the family of Korah.

With this, we shall conclude today's Bible Study.

1 July, 2001

DEUTERONOMY 11: WARNINGS - PART XII

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies on the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is steadily drawing His Creation towards the perfection of His Kingdom reveals that this plan centres upon the formation of one selected line of people chronicled in The Scriptural Record, which descends through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thence through the whole history of the nation of Israel, and therein to provide, in the person of Jesus Christ, the focal point of His mighty purpose. This series has brought us from the call of Abram in Genesis 12, and the formation of a national entity through which it has pleased Almighty God to work in accomplishing that task, down to Deuteronomy 11, and the prospect of The Promised Land upon the borders of which Israel now stood. The aged Prophet, Moses, is, in this chapter, carrying forward his last great oration to the Tribes of Israel prior to their crossing of the Jordan River and their military entry into their Promised Land.

In the previous Study, we read Moses' review of how all had thus far been accomplished, from their existence in the land of Egypt, through The Exodus, their own failure to enter The Promised Land, and subsequent existence and experiences in the arid wilderness, from which they of this younger generation are now to go in and to possess that Land; an achievement which their parents had failed to do.

Moses, in describing the Promised Land to which Israel was being led, had contrasted it with that rather drier countryside of Egypt, wherein "irrigation is ever the dominant problem", as The New Bible Commentary puts it. In Egypt irrigation water has to be made to flow through the prepared channels. In Canaan fertilization is accomplished without labour or anxiety by God's gracious gift of the autumn rains which fall at the time of sowing and promote the growth of the seed, and the spring rains which fructify the corn and barley which are gathered in May and June (14; cf. Jas. v. 7). Everything reminds of God's providential care, and affords a parable of the life of the Christian, to whom God gives that for which the world labours. After we read our Scripture passage, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, we shall have a further look at our commentaries, but I might just mention one thing about the fertility and fruitfulness of the Promised Land which Moses is here describing. The picture we may receive today is that certain portions would appear to lack the fertility which our Scripture would put before us. Today, much of this ground may appear as a somewhat stony and agriculturally handicapped soil. We ought never to forget that the land of Canaan must have held a much greater agricultural promise in the time of Moses. History has raked that troubled territory time and again by invasions, and armies therein were often on a mission to destroy the land itself. Trees would have been cut down, and bare soil, untilled, might frequently have been subject to erosion. Today's picture could be of a less than ideal agricultural land without denying the glowing statements of Moses when contrasting it in his day with the wilderness through which the previous generation had been led and caused to pitch their tents.

13. And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
14. That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
15. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
16. Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
17. And then the LORD'S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.
18. Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
21. That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

The Companion Bible, at verse 14, explains of the rain that "first rain" = "early rain". Falling middle of October to January, preparing the ground for seeds. First occurrence of these rains.. Of "Latter rain", it states "Falling in March and April, bringing on the harvest." Of "wine" it explains "new wine." I might add concerning the mention of that rain that it would seem that the precise term "first rain" actually only appears once in the entire Bible if the Hermeneutika is consulted, while the term "former rain" shows up in only three Biblical references. The Companion Bible, at the phrase "shut up" in verse 17, explains that "The power of the Creator thus manifested", while "land" = ground, Heb. 'adamah. That word meaning "land:" or "ground" ties to the name of "Adam", who was created, according to Genesis 2:7, of the dust of the earth. The same word-root holds a connection to Hebrew "dam", meaning "blood", and to "Edom", meaning "red." Strong's Concordance will provide some of the links for any who would like to research the matter further.

If we pick up The New Bible Commentary notes on this passage, we find a comment at verse 18. The children of Israel are to lay up the words which Moses is speaking to them in their heart. "Moses again appeals to the heart. With the heart the Lord must be sought (iv. 29), loved (vi. 5) and served (x. 12). The heart must be circumcised (x. 16), for there wicked thoughts arise (ix. 4, xv. 9. Cf. Mt. xv. 18), ..." (which says "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.") "... and there the Lord's word resides (xxx. 14)."

Passing on to verse 18, at the expression "frontlets", that Commentary refers the reader back to Deuteronomy 6:8, where the devout reader is told that the word of God shall be taught to their children, be a subject for discussion in the house and when on the way, when retiring and when rising, and kept at hand, and constantly in one's sight, written upon the doorposts and the gates! By the measure of our failure to keep that injunction our own society has failed to abide by God's Commandments. In times of history when such a failure existed in the past, our people were exposed to punishment. How, then should we fear today, in realising that our official failure to encourage one another, and to keep these words of The Almighty is possibly even worse than ever before. It is, of course, in large part the failure of our spiritual and national leadership to comprehend and to teach the identity of our people as descendants of those Israelites who were listening to Moses so long ago.

We, of the British-Israel-World Federation continually offer our evidences of that identity, and of the absolute necessity of our Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples to heed the warning here given. Recently the whole world has realised how suddenly, and without the slightest warning, catastrophe can come. Let us take care that we do not stumble into such a fate through our careless neglect of God's holy word. Here, again, Moses is repeating the same theme, using those words, "Ye shall teach them your children" in verse 19. "Moses does not directly address the children, but always bears them in mind and the responsibility of the parents for teaching them the Word of God." Again, at verse 20 the door posts and gates are mentioned. A frequent Orthodox Jewish practice is to have a mazuza, a small box containing a copy of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in the porch, "in continuance of the ancient custom."

At verse 21, the words "As the days of heaven upon the earth" bring the note "'The heavens' (RV) are the symbol of exaltation and freedom from earthly care and sin."

We have about run out of time for the examination of this portion of Deuteronomy 11, and it will, perhaps, be suitable to save some observations by Keil and Delitzsch on what has thus-far been addressed, and to proceed to the remainder of the chapter for our next Bible Study. Let me leave with you a few thoughts which can be used as a basis for our meditation through the coming week. We are just as responsible to hear and to implement these words of Moses, which we have been reading and studying today as were the Israelites of the day in which Moses first spoke the words of this oration to them. God's will is for all His people to obey Him for their own well-being and blessing.

8 July, 2001

DEUTERONOMY 11: WARNINGS - PART XIII

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies on the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is steadily drawing His Creation towards the perfection of His Kingdom reveals that this plan centres upon the formation of one selected line of people chronicled in The Scriptural Record, which descends through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thence through the whole history of the nation of Israel, and therein to provide, in the person of Jesus Christ, the focal point of His mighty purpose. This series has brought us from the call of Abram in Genesis 12, and the formation of a national entity through which it has pleased Almighty God to work in accomplishing that task, down to Deuteronomy 11, and the prospect of The Promised Land upon the borders of which Israel now stood. The aged Prophet, Moses, is, in this chapter, carrying forward his last great oration to the Tribes of Israel prior to their crossing of the Jordan River and their military entry into their Promised Land.

In the previous Study, we read Moses' review of how all had thus far been accomplished, from their existence in the land of Egypt, through The Exodus, their own failure to enter The Promised Land, and subsequent existence and experiences in the arid wilderness, from which they of this younger generation are now to go in and to possess that Land; an achievement which their parents had failed to do.

We had come, on the last Bible Study, to the end of Deuteronomy 11:21 and today we shall be picking up the account of Moses' great oration at verse 22 as that great Prophet drives home the responsibilities of this younger generation of Israel who must even now be preparing to enter and occupy the land which was presently inhabited by the Canaanites.

Before we do that, I think that there are some rather perceptive words relating to the previous Scripture passage which we could not include on our last Study.

Last time, I had mentioned as we drew to the end of the Study that it would be suitable to save some observations by Keil and Delitzsch on what has thus-far been addressed, before moving to the remainder of the chapter for today's Bible Study.

Keil and Delitzsch make certain observations on the words of the earlier portion of Deuteronomy 11. Moses had drawn the minds of the listening Israelites to the manner by which The Almighty God had dealt with the rebellion led by Korah, and then moved to explain the educational purposes in God's mighty acts which the elders had seen and known in their own memory. The knowledge of these developments and the reminders which Moses is here imparting to them are designed "to impel them to keep the law, that they might be strong, i.e. spiritually strong ..., and not only go into the promised land, but also live long therein... . In vers. 10-12 Moses adduces a fresh motive for his admonition to keep the law with fidelity, founded upon the peculiar nature of the land.

Canaan was a land the fertility of which was not dependent, like that of Egypt, upon its being watered by the hand of man, but was kept up by the rain of heaven which was sent down by God the Lord, so that it depended entirely upon the Lord how long its inhabitants should live therein. Egypt is described by Moses as a land which Israel sowed with seed, and watered with its foot like a garden of herbs. In Egypt there is hardly any rain at all ... . The watering of the land, which produces its fertility, is dependent upon the annual overflowing of the Nile, and, as this only lasts for about 100 days, upon the way in which this is made available for the whole year, namely, by the construction of canals and ponds throughout the land, to which the water is conducted from the Nile by forcing machines, or by actually carrying it in vessels up to the fields and plantations. The expression, 'with thy foot,' probably refers to the large pumping wheels still in use there, which are worked by the feet, and over which a long endless rope passes with pails attached, for drawing up the water ... ." Their Commentary continues "The Egyptians, as genuine heathen, were so thoroughly conscious of this peculiar characteristic of their land, which made its fertility far more dependent upon the labour of human hands than upon the rain of heaven or divine providence, that Herodotus (ii. 13) represents them as saying, 'The Greeks, with their dependence upon the gods, might be disappointed in their brightest hopes and suffer dreadfully from famine.' The land of Canaan yielded no support to such godless self-exaltation, for it was 'a land of mountains and valleys, and drank water of the rain of heaven' ...it received its watering, the main condition of all fertility, from the rain, by the way of the rain, and therefore through the providential care of God. - Ver. 12. It was a land which Jehovah inquired after, i.e. for which He cared ...; His eyes were always directed towards it from the beginning of the year to the end: a land therefore, which was dependent upon God, and in this dependence upon God, peculiarly adapted to Israel, which was to live entirely to its God, and upon His grace alone."

Taking up verses 13-32, they comment: "This peculiarity in the land of Canaan led Moses to close the first part of his discourse on the law, his exhortation to fear and love the Lord, with a reference to the blessing that would follow the faithful fulfilment of the law, and a threat of the curse which would attend apostasy to idolatry. - Vers. 13-15. If Israel would serve its God in love and faithfulness, He would give the land early and latter rain in its season, and therewith a plentiful supply of food for man and beast ... But if, on the other hand, their heart was foolish to turn away from the Lord and serve other gods, the wrath of the Lord would burn against them, and God would shut up the heaven, that no rain should fall and the earth should yield no produce, and they would speedily perish. ... Let them therefore impress the words now set before them very deeply upon themselves and their children (vers. 18-21, in which there is in part a verbal repetition of chap. vi. 6-9)."

Of the words "as the days of the heaven above the earth,", they explain "i.e. as long as the heaven continues above the earth, - in other words, to all eternity ... - belong to the main sentence, 'that your days may be multiplied,' etc. (ver. 21)." They continue: "The promise to give the land to Israel for ever was not made unconditionally: an unconditional promise is precluded by the words, 'that your days may be multiplied'".

Let us now read some verses of the Scripture passage in Deuteronomy 11 starting at verse 22:

22. For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;
23. Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
24. Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.
25. There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary notes here "if they adhered faithfully to the Lord, He would drive out before them all the nations that dwelt in the land, and would give them the land upon which they trod in all its length and breadth, and so fill the Canaanites with fear and terror before them, that no one should be able to stand against them. ... The words, 'every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours,' are defined more precisely, and restricted to the land of Canaan on both sides of the Jordan by the boundaries which follow: from the desert (of Arabia on the south), and Lebanon (on the north), and from the river Euphrates (on the east) to the hinder sea' (the Mediterranean on the west ... ).

At this point, I think it will suffice us to simply read the remainder of the chapter at this time, which will provide some further basis for our week's meditations, but we will leave the commentaries, with one small exception, for the next Bible Study.

26. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
27. A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:
28. And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
29. And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.
30. Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh?
31. For ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein.
32. And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.

The Companion Bible notes, at verse 24, that the word translated "river" is not Hebrew "nahal", a Wady, but "nahar", a flood, while "coast" = "border.". May your week, and your spiritual advancement be helped by what we have discussed today.

We shall examine further of these matters on our next programme.

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