Deuteronomy 5-11

Deuteronomy 5‑11  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
EU 5-11{Mamma. In this chapter Moses tells them about the covenants of law that God made with them on Mount Sinai. And he said to them: This covenant was not made with your fathers only, who died in the wilderness, but with us who are alive to-day. Moses spoke to them as if the Ten Commandments, and all that we read of in the book of Exodus, had been said to them.
Sophy. Were they very little children when Moses went up the mountain, and when there was great thunder, and lightning, and God spoke, and the people heard a great voice?
M. Yes. The oldest of them was not twenty years old, and a great many were not born then. But God means every single person to listen to His words, as if they were all said to himself. So Moses repeated to them all that God had taught their fathers in the wilderness, and told them, if they wanted to be blessed, and to live long in the land, they were to keep all the commandments of the Lord. And when Moses told them about the Sabbath-day, the reason he gave was not because God rested on the Seventh day, but because God had brought them out of Egypt.
S. Why was that a reason for resting on the Sabbath-day?
M. Because now God has no rest in His people except by redemption. When He made everything at first He looked round on it all and said: It is all very good. But man sinned, and spoiled everything that God gave him. Even the beautiful earth was cursed for man's sake, so that it ran wild with thorns and briars. God could not rest in that creation. Then He said: I will choose a people for myself, and I will call them out from all the rest, and I will redeem them.
S. What does "redeem" mean?
M. It means to buy back. God bought a people with blood. That was the price He paid for them. Israel was redeemed out of Egypt by the blood of the lamb, which was a figure—a shadow of a much more precious thing, the blood of Jesus. And now, God was going to have no rest except in redemption. So He said: You must rest on the Sabbath-day, because I have redeemed you out of Egypt. And Moses said: The Lord spoke all the words of the law to every one of you, but the tablets of stone He gave to me, for I stood between the Lord and you that day.
S. Did God bless them when they obeyed His word?
M. Yes; all their blessings depended upon obedience—their life, their health, the fruit of their land, their flocks, and herds, and vineyards, and all that they had. And the Lord said they were to love Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might, and to keep all His words in their hearts, and to teach them to their children, and to talk of them, as we are now, when they were sitting in their houses, and when they walked about, when they lay down, and when they got up. They were to be as signs upon their hands to guide them what to do, and before their eyes to guide their thoughts and feelings. And they were to write them upon the posts of their doors, and on their gates, so that they could never go in or out without seeing God's laws on every side of them.
S. Did God wish them to be always thinking of Him?
M. Yes. He know that nothing else would make them so happy, or so blessed. And He said: Take care that when you get very rich, with fine cities, and houses, and vineyards, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you out of the place of bondage; for the Lord is a jealous God; and He commands you to fear Him for your good always, that He may preserve you alive. And if you obey Him it shall be your righteousness. They were not to make any covenant with the wicked nations, nor to allow their children to many any of their children; but they were to break down their idols and destroy them. And when they were tempted to feel afraid of the people of the land, they were to think of what the Lord did to Pharaoh, and to remember that He would do the same to any one who made them afraid. But God said He would not drive out all the people at once, for fear the wild beasts might get too many for them. This showed how God thought of every single thing.
And He said they must not bring anything belonging to an idol into their houses, but they were to hate it, because God hated it.
S. If they loved God with their whole hearts, they could not like idols. Could they, mamma?
M. No; truly. An idol is as something horrible to a heart that knows the living and true God; the God who knows us, and loves us, and speaks to us, and hears us, which an idol cannot do. And He told the children of Israel that they were to remember alt the way by which He had led them. For God had a reason for leading them about those forty years in the wilderness. God wanted to prove what was in their hearts, whether they would keep His commandments or not. And God let them get hungry, and then He fed them with a strange food, so that when they saw it they raid: What is it? And all that they might learn one great lesson which God gives to every child of His to learn.
S. What is that lesson?
M. That man does not live only by the bread that he eats, but he lives by every word that comes out of the mouth of the Lord. Just as bread feeds the body, and keeps it alive, so the word which God speaks gives life to the soul of man. The children of Israel proved this in the wilderness, for the word of God was all they had. If they wanted food, they had to wait till God spoke the word for it to come; if they wanted water, God spoke the word for it to flow out of the rock for them. There was nothing in the wilderness for them, not even a road to walk on. The word of the Lord made a way for them, for He said: Go this way, when the cloud moved, and He Himself went before them to find a place for them to rest at.
S. Oh, yes; and God made them well again when they were ill, and told them everything they were to do.
M. Yes; God had cared for them in every way. He even kept their clothes from wearing out all those forty years, and He told them to consider in their hearts that as a man teaches his son, and corrects him when he does wrong, so God had done to them, and for this reason they were to walk in His ways and to fear Him always, for all God's ways with them were to do them good in the end. But if they became disobedient, like the other nations, God would treat them as He treated those nations. For their God was a consuming fire for His people. If they walked, with Him, they would find how He destroyed their enemies; but if they were disobedient to Him, He was a consuming fire to destroy themselves.
S. Did Moses think of the burning bush when he said that?
M. Perhaps he did. God showed Himself first to Moses in a flame of fire, and He taught Moses what it was to stand on holy ground with God. Moses never forgot that. And it is very touching to see in his last words to the people how he intreats them to be obedient to God, and to remember how holy God is. And he said to them: Do not think that it is because you have been righteous, or faithful to God, that He gives you this good land, for you have been a very wicked and disobedient people; but it is because God chose to perform His word which He spoke to Abraham, and to Isaac, and to Jacob. And also, God chose to destroy the wicked nations who do not believe in Him. And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you? To fear Him, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, and to serve Him with all your heart, and with ah your soul—and it is for your own good. For you have seen what great and terrible things He has done for you; how your fathers were only seventy people when they went down into Egypt; and see now what a multitude you are, like the stars of heaven!
S. God promised Abraham they should be as many as the stars.
M. Yes. And now Moses was reminding them of all God's love to them, to encourage them to love Him, and to obey Him, and he raid: The land that you are going to is not like Egypt, where you had to work hard, and after you sowed your seed you had to water it; for there is no rain in Egypt, and it is very hot there; and even the large fields have to be watered just as we water our garden. Think what trouble that must have been! But Moses said: The land of Canaan is full of hills and valleys, and the ground drinks in the rain that comes from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for, for His eyes are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. And if you obey God, He will send the rain just at the right time to make your corn and your vines grow, and grass for your cattle, and every bit of the land where your feet tread upon shall be yours forever.
S. I should have walked over the whole land if I might have all that my feet trod on.
M. But they had to fight every step of the way; and if their feet trod on a rich field, or a vineyard, it was a proof that they had put out the enemy that used to live there And now Moses said: I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing if you obey, and a curse if you disobey. And in the land, on the other side of Jordan, there are two mountains: one is called Gerizim, and the other is called Ebal, and when you go into the land you shall put the blessing upon Mount Gerizim, and you shall put the curse upon Mount Ebal. And you shall go in and possess the land, and you shall dwell in it; and you shall do all that I have told you this day.