The Place of Blessing: Bible Talks on Deuteronomy

Table of Contents

1. God's Call to Obedience: Deuteronomy 1:1-3:20
2. Keeping God’s Word: Deuteronomy 3:21-4:9
3. A New and Undivided Heart: Deuteronomy 4:10-5:33
4. Walking in the Word: Deuteronomy 6:1-8
5. Blessings Earthly and Spiritual: Deuteronomy 6:9-7:16
6. God's Desire for Blessing: Deuteronomy 7:17-8:4
7. God's Grace and Loving Purposes: Deuteronomy 8:5-9:22
8. New Life and the Law: Deuteronomy 9:23-11:21
9. The True Ground of Blessing: Deuteronomy 11:22-12:11
10. The Ground of Gathering: Deuteronomy 12:11-32
11. Rejecting Deception: Deuteronomy 13:1-14
12. Care for Others: Deuteronomy 13:14-15:18
13. The Feasts in Type: Deuteronomy 15:19-16:21
14. God's Standards: Deuteronomy 16:22-17:16
15. Instructions for a King: Deuteronomy 17:17-18:9
16. God's Gracious Provision: Deuteronomy 18:9-19:13
17. Law and Grace: Deuteronomy 19:14-20:8
18. The Seriousness of Sin: Deuteronomy 20:8-21:21
19. Consideration for Others: Deuteronomy 21:21-22:5
20. Faithfulness in the Home: Deuteronomy 22:6-9
21. Unequal Yokes: Deuteronomy 22:9-10
22. Close Associations: Deuteronomy 22:11-23:8
23. Care One for Another: Deuteronomy 23:9-24:5
24. Faithfulness: Deuteronomy 24:6-25:10
25. Acceptable Offerings and Worship: Deuteronomy 25:11-26:19
26. God's Desire for Blessing: Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68
27. God's Grace and Blessing: Deuteronomy 29:1-29
28. The Reach of God’s Grace: Deuteronomy 30:1-20
29. Strength and Courage: Deuteronomy 31:1-14
30. Confidence in God: Deuteronomy 31:14-32:4
31. The Faithfulness of the Lord: Deuteronomy 32:5-10
32. The Everlasting Arms: Deuteronomy 32:10-14
33. Considering the Latter End: Deuteronomy 32:15-31
34. God's Government: Deuteronomy 32:32-47
35. Grace and Government: Deuteronomy 32:48-33:5
36. Reward for Faithfulness: Deuteronomy 33:6-11
37. God's Purposes for His People: Deuteronomy 33:12-26
38. The Lord Exalted: Deuteronomy 33:27-34:12

God's Call to Obedience: Deuteronomy 1:1-3:20

Deuteronomy 1:1-3:20
The book of Deuteronomy, which we begin today, is most interesting.
It gives us God’s call to Israel to walk in obedience, and a rehearsal of His faithfulness which should have given them every cause to want to obey. Sadly, it only revealed that they had no heart for God or His Word, and that they earned the curse pronounced for disobedience. There are many reminders of God’s mercy throughout the book, for He was ever ready to forgive and bless if they would only turn to Him, but, as we have remarked, they had no heart to walk in His ways. In spite of this, it is beautiful to turn to the end of the book and read of the promises of future blessing in that day when God gives them a new heart (Jeremiah 31:33-34), and blesses them according to His own purpose in grace, and not according to what they deserved at all.
God Overcoming Our Difficulties
The first chapter reminds the people of how they could have crossed the wilderness in eleven days and entered the land, but unbelief kept them out of it. They did not count on the power of God, but thought only of the difficulties which were too great for them. How often we look at difficulties in this way, and suffer, as Israel did, under the government of God for our unbelief, but if we would only turn to Him we would find Him greater than all our difficulties, and He would overcome them for us. When the children of Israel saw the position in which their unbelief put them, they sought ways of their own to get out of it, but all in vain. It is a blessed, yet serious, thing to have to do with the living God, and human prudence is useless in this path “which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: the lion’s whelps have not trodden it,” (Job 28:7-8). Truly man’s wisdom or strength could neither find it, nor walk in it.
The Advance Toward Jordan
After rehearsing their journeys, we come to the point where the people are about to start in their advance toward the river Jordan, which they had to cross in order to enter Canaan. They passed by the land of Esau, Moab, and the children of Ammon, buying food and water from them, but not entering into any conflict. It is wonderful to see in all this how God is the disposer of hearts and kept these hostile nations from harming them as they passed by. Let us remember that His Word says, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him,” (Proverbs 16:7). Sometimes we are asked, “What would you do if...?” but that is reasoning and not faith. God may never put us in such circumstances, and if He does, His Word will guide us, and His arm is able to protect us.
When they came to the country of Sihon, king of Heshbon, Moses sent messengers asking that they might pass through his land peaceably, but Sihon refused and came out against them to battle. As a result of this, God told the children of Israel to destroy them utterly, killing every man, woman, and child among them, and keeping only the cattle alive. They then took possession of their land for the two and a half tribes who settled on the wilderness side of Jordan. Og, king of Bashan, also came out against the children of Israel, and he and all his people were destroyed, as those of Heshbon had been. The children of Israel then took their land for a possession also. How foolish to oppose God or His people!
Further Meditations
1. What kept the people from crossing the wilderness in only eleven days?
2. Why can’t we count on human prudence to find our way through this world without dishonoring God? What makes it essential to obey the Lord in everything?
3. Obedience: The Saint’s Liberty is a short little booklet by J. N. Darby that covers the essential nature of obedience from a Christian and not a legal perspective.

Keeping God’s Word: Deuteronomy 3:21-4:9

Deuteronomy 3:21-4:9
When the children of Israel had conquered these nations, with their walled cities and gates and bars (and many of the men were giants too), then the nations across the Jordan in Canaan were afraid, for no matter what great boasts men may make of their power, there is always a fear and trembling underneath it all. God told the children of Israel not to fear their enemies, for it was He who was giving them the victory. When we are walking to please God, the world is far more afraid of us than we ever need to be of them. Let us always fear God, but not men! “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”
At this time Moses requested that he might go over and see the goodly land of Canaan which God had promised to His people, but God would not allow him to do so because of his failure in losing his patience with the people at Meribah. It is a serious thing to lose one’s patience with the people of God, no matter how much they try us. They are God’s people and He loves them. Moses was told, however, to encourage and strengthen the hands of Joshua who was to be used of the Lord to lead the people into the land, and this he did. It is sweet to find one who has come under the government of God for failure, not smarting under it, but submitting, and still seeking to encourage others in the path. This was truly an evidence of the grace of God in Moses’ heart.
Full Obedience to God’s Word
Once again the Lord reminded the people of the need of full obedience to Him and His Word. Moses told them that they were not to add to the Word God had commanded, nor to take away from it, for God had already shown His solemn judgment upon those who did so. Of course we know that this is law and not grace, but a similar message is given in Revelation 22:18-19, warning of the solemnity of adding to or taking away from God’s Word. I do not believe any real Christian would do this, but if we fail to obey it, or add our own thoughts to it, are we not doing much the same thing? This is very searching, is it not? And so here, the children of Israel were told to keep and do the commandments of God. He also told them that this would be their wisdom and understanding in the sight of the nations around, and it is indeed our wisdom to walk in obedience to the Word of God too. Even a child who walks in simple, unquestioning obedience to the Word of God is kept. He need not learn about all the evil things in the world in order to escape them, but by reading his Bible and just doing what God has said, he will be preserved.
How foolish the “prudence” of unbelief, for what is sweeter and more simple than to know that an all-wise Father, who loves us perfectly, has not left us to take one step according to our own wisdom. He who loved us enough to give His blessed Son to die in our guilty stead has not only provided for our eternal salvation through His shed blood, but has graciously marked out the pathway too.
God warned them of the different ways by which they might lose the Word which He had given them. They might add to it, or take from it, or they might willfully fail to walk in it. Then, too, they might forget it, or perhaps lose heart-interest in it. Moreover if they did not fail in these things themselves, they might neglect to teach them to their children and grandchildren. Alas how often this has been done!
Further Meditations
1. Why was Moses not allowed to enter the land of Canaan?
2. How do we escape the evil that is around us in the world?
3. Simple daily obedience is part of the secret to a happy Christian life. You can find more on the subject in The Secret to a Happy Fruitful Christian Life: Part 1 by B. Anstey.

A New and Undivided Heart: Deuteronomy 4:10-5:33

Deuteronomy 4:10-5:33
The children of Israel are here reminded of how, when God spoke to them at Mount Sinai, they did not see Him at all — only the fire, clouds and darkness, and therefore they must not make any similitude of Him to worship. The one true God who had spoken to them was not to be represented by works of men’s hands, nor were they to worship the sun, moon or stars — not anyone, or anything, but Him. God is a jealous God, and they were to have no other gods beside Him. He warned the children of Israel that if they went after other gods to worship them, He would soon have to drive them out of the wonderful land He was giving them. Then they would have their idols elsewhere, and suffer the sad results of their choice.
God’s Love and Grace
Nevertheless the Lord told them that even in the land of their captivity and scattering, if they turned to Him with all their heart, He would hear them. How gracious the Lord is! Even if it takes trouble to make us turn to Him, He will hear and bless when we do. As to Israel, He will never forget the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all will be fulfilled on the ground of sovereign grace in a future day. Israel, as well as the Gentiles, can only come into blessing on this one ground — sovereign grace! The Lord reminded His people here that they were the objects of His special favor, and that He had not done for any other nation on the face of the earth what He had done for them. Yes, Israel are God’s earthly people, and He tells them here that He chose them because He loved them — what a touching appeal! Many years later, in a time of their rebellion too, He reminded them that He loved them “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). What a day it will be for that nation when they have a new heart, capable of entering into and responding to that love!
When speaking of Israel’s place as God’s earthly people, it is interesting to contrast the “better thing” of Hebrews 11:40, which is ours. We, the Church, have been brought into a nearer place than Israel, for we are members of the body of Christ and will have the nearest place possible to Him as His bride for all eternity. What an appeal this should have to our hearts!
God told Moses that he was to appoint three cities of refuge on the wilderness side of Jordan for the man-slayer. We have already spoken of the meaning of this in previous papers, but will remark here that for us, Christ is the true “City of Refuge” from coming judgment. Reader, are you safe in Him?
The Law Repeated
In the fifth chapter we find the law — the ten commandments — repeated, for it was upon the ground of obedience to this that the people had entered into a covenant with God. Even when it was given, they were afraid, as Moses reminds them here, and did not want to hear the voice of God again. They failed utterly in keeping it too, and yet how strange to find many in Christendom today who still put themselves under law, and enter into a similar covenant to get blessing on that ground, although God has solemnly declared that “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20). Israel’s trial under law only proved that there was no good in man, and when they finally rejected and crucified Christ, the trial was over. Christ then bore the curse of the broken law in order forever to deliver from it those who trust in Him.
Further Meditations
1. What reason did God give for choosing Israel as His earthly people?
2. God’s faithfulness to His promises is essential to the blessing of His people. In addition to this portion in Deuteronomy where else in God’s Word is that principle shown?
3. A very refreshing little booklet on the subject of God’s faithfulness and delight to bless can be found in J. G. Bellett’s booklet God Exceeds His Promises.

Walking in the Word: Deuteronomy 6:1-8

Deuteronomy 6:1-8
God foreknew that the children of Israel could not get blessing through keeping the law, but now, since the Lord Jesus has borne its curse, He would have us enter into the full liberty of Christian position. We who are saved are not under law, but under grace—blessed deliverance! We now have a new life from God, through new birth, and this life, which is the very life of Christ, delights in obedience (Romans 7:22). The Lord Jesus said to His own, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). But here God demanded that the people love Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might — a thing they could not do unless they were born again. How impossible for the natural man to get blessing under law, but how lovely to be delivered from the principle of law altogether, and to know God revealed in Christ as “the God of all grace,” (1 Peter 5:10). We do, however, learn in these chapters that the path of obedience is always the path of blessing; only, as we have remarked, we need new birth to have the power to obey — or the heart to delight in it.
The Israelites were specially charged to have these words in their own hearts, and to teach them diligently to their children. Our children know where our hearts are, for they see where we really find our enjoyment, and so the example comes first, before our teaching. This is most important. We notice, too, that this teaching was not to be only one day a week, or in a place of meeting, but when sitting at home, when walking on the road or street, at bedtime, and in the morning. Don’t we often neglect this as parents, and fail to show our children that the Word of God not only tells us the way of salvation, but that it should govern our whole pathway, at home, at school, at work, and in everything we do?
Practical Instruction for Walking in the Word
Again the practical side of things is brought before us here, for the children of Israel were reminded, not only to teach the Word of God, but to walk in it. It was to be bound to their hands, so that they would not do anything contrary to it. It was to be as frontlets between their eyes, so that they would not look at things which God had forbidden. How careful we have to be about the pictures we have in our homes, as well as the magazines and other publications that come in, for too often these things put bad ideas into our minds, and our children’s, too — to say nothing of television and the movies with all of their demoralizing effects.
The Word of God was also to be written on the posts of the Israelite’s home. Using this passage, some have put texts outside their homes for others to see, and one can rejoice at their faithfulness in this. At least it is nice to have Scripture texts hanging on our walls for our own encouragement, and also so that others coming in can see them. However I think the important lesson for us is that we are to be known in the community as those who walk according to the Word. Even children can learn to play as Christians, always being fair in what they do, and considerate of others. The Bible says “be courteous,” (1 Peter 3:8), and yet sometimes this Christian grace is forgotten. Let us learn to speak to our friends about the Lord and not mix freely with those who do not want to hear of Him. Boys and girls who want to please the Lord have to be very careful who they have for companions—certainly it should not be those who use bad language or say wicked things.
Further Meditations
1. What are some of the practical instructions given to Israel to help them walk in the Word of God?
2. What are some practical ways that people in the community can know that we love the Lord Jesus? How can it be done with both words and actions?
3. One way of presenting truth to the world around is to spread the gospel. The Great Commission by C. H. Mackintosh is a real encouragement to any evangelist.

Blessings Earthly and Spiritual: Deuteronomy 6:9-7:16

Deuteronomy 6:9-7:16
The children of Israel were also to write the Word of God upon their gates. The gates are figurative in Scripture of the place where we meet the world, such as in business and other contacts. This instruction to the Israelites would have a message for us to be careful in these things. How often a Christian’s testimony has been marred by some questionable business deal or some long-unpaid debt. In all our business dealings we should be thoroughly upright, saying what we mean and meaning what we say. Our word should be as good as our bond. Even children can learn this uprightness when very young, and strict truthfulness is the first lesson needed.
The Lord’s Blessings in Canaan
At this point the children of Israel were told of the good things that awaited them in Canaan, and that when they came in and possessed them they should not forget that it was the Lord who gave these blessings to them. How easily any of us forget the Lord when we have plenty of good things, though in reality it is then that we should be most thankful to Him. Israel’s enjoyment, and continuance in the good land the Lord gave them, was made dependent upon their obedience. For us salvation is secure through Christ’s finished work, but even now our enjoyment of our blessings is dependent upon obedience.
The parents in Israel were to be prepared to explain to their children all about what God had done for them, and the meaning of His commandments. Oh that each Christian parent were prepared to do this today, and, as it says here, to tell our children these things, realizing that it is for our own good, as well as theirs.
The Lord told the children of Israel that when they came into the land they were not to make any covenants or agreements with the people dwelling there, but to utterly destroy them. Nor were they to make any marriages with them, for they would then be led astray by the idolatrous wife or husband, who had no heart for the true God of Israel. Surely all this is a warning for us, who are so prone to make compromises with the world, and for Christian young people who contemplate marriage.
The Lord reminded His people that He did not set His love upon them because they were a great or mighty people, for they were exceedingly few in number, but it was just His sovereign choice in love. Just as a husband is jealous of his wife’s affections, so the Lord is of His people. A husband may fail to prove himself worthy of his wife’s confident love, but the Lord, who told Israel He was their Husband (Isaiah 54:5), is always worthy. He has never failed in faithfulness to them.
Israel’s Blessings Earthly
We notice here that Israel’s promised blessings for obedience were all earthly blessings in their homes, fields, and flocks, as well as freedom from sickness. It is important to see that this is altogether different from the Christian’s blessings, for we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” (Ephesians 1:3). It is, of course, true that God cares for our needs as we pass through this world, but prosperity and the increase of earthly possessions are not always signs of the Lord’s blessing with a Christian, as it was with an Israelite. Nor are we promised healing for our bodies today, for though God is able, and His power has not changed, He does not manifest it in the same way now. Nevertheless let us turn to the Lord first in every time of need.
Further Meditations
1. How were the children of Israel to deal with the people already dwelling in the land?
2. What is the difference between the Lord’s blessings and His mercies? What are some of the things we are guaranteed are ours forever in Christ?
3. If you’ve been meditating on God’s blessings for the Christian you will likely enjoy Seven Present Blessings Through the Death of Christ by H. H. Snell.

God's Desire for Blessing: Deuteronomy 7:17-8:4

Deuteronomy 7:17-8:4
The children of Israel were told not to fear the mighty nations that were in Canaan, for the Lord said He would deliver them into their hands, and He assured them that He was, and is, mightier than all the power of the enemy. He told them, however, that He would not drive out their enemies all at once, for they would not be able to possess it all, but “little by little” as they needed it. So it is with us as Christians. We do not learn everything all at once, but as we learn a truth and walk in it, God gives us more. May our prayer be like that of Jabez who said, “Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested” (1 Chronicles 4:10).
Christ Taking Israel’s Place
As we read these chapters we cannot help but see that the longing desire of the heart of God was for the blessing of His people. He sought to do them good at their latter end, but they refused and rebelled. We see the same longing desire in that blessed One who came to tell out what was in the heart of God, as He wept over Jerusalem when they rejected Him. He would have brought them the promised blessings, had they received Him, but now, though rejected and cast out, He has accomplished that mighty work on Calvary whereby all God’s promises will yet be made good in a future day. He took Israel’s place (Isaiah 49:3) beginning their history, as it were, over again, coming out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15), triumphing over all the wiles of the enemy in the wilderness as the perfect obedient and dependent Man, and then bearing the curse of a broken law for them at the cross. He has now opened the way whereby God can righteously bless them, though they have forfeited every claim to it in themselves. Such is man, whether Jew or Gentile!
Lessons From the Wilderness Journey
Now to notice our chapter more particularly. We find the Lord reminding the people of the wilderness journey and its lessons of how they were humbled and proved by it. They found out what was really in their stubborn hearts, though they had not realized it before. And don’t we learn, too, how stubborn and rebellious our poor hearts are, by what we pass through day by day in this world? Peter is an example of this. He never thought he would deny his Lord, but when put to the test he did. Boys and girls, and even we who are older too, sometimes do not realize how bad our hearts really are, and then when exposed to temptation we see what they will do, for God would teach us all the need of dependence on Him for strength, each step of the way. Undoubtedly each one of us has to admit we have done things in life we never thought we would do; but if we really believed what God says about our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), we would not be surprised at anything we might do. Instead of trusting self, we would feel how very weak we are, and ask the Lord to keep us (Psalm 16:1).
But there is a bright side to this wilderness journey. The children of Israel not only learned in it what they were, but they also learned what God is, as the One who can meet every need of His people. He fed them and even kept their clothing from wearing out. For forty years their clothes never got old, nor did their feet swell in the long tramps over wilderness sands.
Further Meditations
1. What lessons were the people reminded of from the wilderness journey?
2. A little baby depends on its mother for food, shelter, warmth, love, in fact, everything. As teens or adults do we depend less on the Lord? How does Luke 4 hint at an answer?
3. Answers to Prayer by G. Muller is filled with faith-stirring descriptions of complete dependence on God. It would no doubt help to build your faith in the dependable One.

God's Grace and Loving Purposes: Deuteronomy 8:5-9:22

Deuteronomy 8:5-9:22
There were not only things to remember about the wilderness journey, but there were things to consider, too. There was a loving purpose in all God’s ways, for just as a parent has to punish his children (or should!), so the Lord had dealt with His people. In God’s dealings with us it is well to remember these things, for there are three ways we can look at the chastening God sends. We can despise it, or perhaps we might faint under it, but the right way is to be exercised by the trial, so that we learn the needed lessons through it (Hebrews 12:5-11).
After “remembering” and “considering” these things, it then says, “Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to fear Him” (verse 6). This is the proper result, but sometimes when reminded of what God says, and having even spent a little time considering it, we then fail to walk in it. May the Lord make the truth we know more practical in our lives!
All Comes From Him
These exhortations are all in view of the good things the Lord had in store for them in the land of Canaan. It was a place of plenty, where there was no lack of anything, for the land was good, and it was rich in minerals too. But even in this there was a danger, for they might begin to boast that it was their own wisdom and strength that made them wealthy, forgetting that they were once only slaves in Egypt when the Lord delivered them. Then, too, it was He who gave them the strength to work the land, and harvest the crops. All came from Him, so they had nothing to boast of in themselves. The chapter closes with a solemn warning that if they did not obey His voice, but went after other gods, He would cause them to lose the good land He gave them. Indeed this is what happened to Israel in God’s government.
In the ninth chapter the people are told that they should always remember that the Lord had not given them the land of Canaan because they were better and more righteous than those nations who were dwelling there, but because He had promised it to their fathers, and He is ever faithful to His Word. They did not need to be afraid of the power of their enemies, for even though there were giants in the land, God was going to give it to them.
Moses’ Intercession
Moses then, by God’s Word, reminds them that he had interceded for them when they had fallen into idolatry at the time the law was given. He had received the tables of stone on which the ten commandments were written, but when he found them worshipping a molten image, he had broken the tables at the foot of the mount. If he had brought them into the camp it would have meant certain judgment upon all because of their sin. He therefore interceded for the people for forty days, having neither meat nor drink, and God graciously came in on their behalf. In what could they boast then? Their very existence was a monument to God’s grace, for they had deserved only judgment. And as we look back over our own past, must we not say it has been grace all the way too? Must we not exclaim with the apostle Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), for His grace excludes all boasting on our part. God’s grace and love will be our endless theme in heaven, and Israel’s theme on earth, to the ages of ages.
Further Meditations
1. Why did the Lord give the land of Canaan to Israel?
2. Intercession for the Lord’s people is one of our great privileges as Christians. Where do we read of Christ’s intercession for us? Under what circumstances are we to intercede for other believers.
3. As you consider the subject of intercession you would no doubt be encouraged to listen to the Audio CD Christ’s Intercession as High Priest and as Advocate by R. Thonney.

New Life and the Law: Deuteronomy 9:23-11:21

Deuteronomy 9:23-11:21
The people are reminded here of how Moses interceded again for them at Kadesh-barnea, when they murmured at the report of the spies, and would not go into the land. There again God had come in and spared them, as at Sinai.
Moses told them of how he went up into the mount the second time, and of how God gave him the law again, but on this occasion it was put into the ark. This is a beautiful type of how the Lord Jesus (the true “Ark”) is the only One who could meet God’s holy requirements, and — blessed be His Name — He has done this, magnifying the law and making it honorable.
New Life Necessary for Fruit
Since God had been gracious to them and shown His patient love, the people are called upon to show their appreciation by walking in obedience. Moreover Moses told them that it would be for their own good to do so, for God could then bless them abundantly, as He desired to do. It was not just the outward form of circumcision that God wanted, but a heart that walked in His ways. This was what He required, but alas they could not give it, for the law could not give new life, and this is what was needed before there could be any fruit for God. Though the people were, of course, still under trial, it was being proven over and over again that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). All God’s pleadings and entreaties, so lovingly given to them in these chapters, did not produce the desired result.
The people had seen the works of God before their very eyes. It was not just something they had heard, but wonders they had seen themselves, so they had no excuse if they did not believe, for full testimony had been given.
Earthly Blessing
Once again we notice that the promised blessings were of a material nature. God promised rain when they needed it, grass for their cattle, and good crops. All this is in direct contrast with our blessings as Christians now, for we are not promised good crops and earthly prosperity, but only food and raiment (1 Timothy 6:8). We are, however, told that we are, even now, “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Some day soon, faith will be changed to sight, for we shall rise to meet the Lord in the air — to dwell forever in our heavenly home. Let us not look for earthly blessing, God may graciously grant it at times, but it is not our promised portion.
The charge for the children of Israel to teach their children the law is repeated here. We cannot overestimate its importance, especially in this present day, for as we look around we see so many Christian homes where the children have not walked in the ways of the Lord, but have wandered away into the world. May we not often trace it to a lack of faithfulness in the home? God wants our homes to be happy, as He promised Israel here that they might be “as the days of heaven upon the earth.” There is no sweeter spot on earth than a Christian home where there is God’s order, and as a result of God’s blessing. If, however, we try to arrange our homes according to our own thoughts, seeking the ease and comfort of the world, with position and high education for our children, we shall prove the foolishness of our choice. There will be sorrow instead of blessing. Let Christian parents be warned.
Further Meditations
1. What kind of material blessings were promised to Israel?
2. What are some of the proper attitudes that should be present in a Christian home? You might start your answer by looking at Ephesians 5.
3. Thinking about godly Christian homes is essential for any parent. Surprisingly enough you can find some excellent instruction in The Institution of Marriage and Related Subjects by P. Wilson.

The True Ground of Blessing: Deuteronomy 11:22-12:11

Deuteronomy 11:22-12:11
God then told the children of Israel the full extent of the land He was about to give them — all was to be theirs — and yet, in reality, only that upon which the soles of their feet would tread could they say they really possessed. And so with us; we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3), but we only possess, in reality, the truth in which we walk. This is important for us to remember, for although we are truly “rich” in Christ, we can walk through the world enjoying very little of our portion, to our own shame and loss. The children of Israel never really possessed all the territory God gave them — indeed they lost it altogether when God allowed them to be carried away captive for their disobedience. Nevertheless, God told them they need not fear their enemies, for He would make their enemies afraid of them, if they walked in His ways.
The Ground of Blessing
Once again we are reminded that the children of Israel were under law, and blessing was made conditional upon their obedience, with a curse for disobedience. Little wonder that they finally lost the land altogether, for if blessing is upon the ground of man’s faithfulness, all is hopeless. How good to turn to the Lord Jesus, and see His finished work on Calvary as the true ground of blessing. Through this Israel will possess the land again in a future day, and through it we also shall have our place in eternal glory. Salvation is all of grace.
The children of Israel were told that the first thing they were to do when they entered their land was to destroy all the altars and groves, and every trace of the idolatrous worship of the heathen. There was to be no mixture of things in their worship; it must be carried out as God had appointed, and not copied from the heathen. One feels this has a voice for us, for, what a mixture of things we see today in Christendom! We see pictures and images (under Christian names, of course) used quite commonly. Inquiry would show that these things, along with some so-called Christian feasts, had their origin in heathendom. If these things were forbidden to the children of Israel, undoubtedly they are not pleasing to the Lord today (Colossians 2:20).
The Place of God’s Choosing
We now find something very important and remarkable brought before the people. They were told that when they entered the land, the Lord would choose a place from among their tribes where they were to offer their sacrifices. No other place would do but the one God chose. They were not at liberty to choose a place themselves, or to build a center as they thought best—such a place could not be called the place the Lord had chosen. They must acknowledge God’s center and there only were they to offer their sacrifices to Him.
We believe that God has a center for His people today too. It is not a geographical one—not some particular city, as in Israel—but His Word tells us about it. The Lord Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them,” (Matthew 18:20). Any other way of gathering would be unscriptural, for God by His Spirit gathers His own to Christ-this is His center,
Further Meditations
1. What was the first thing the children of Israel were told to do when they entered the land?
2. Why weren’t the children of Israel permitted to worship wherever it was convenient to them?
3. How Should Christians Meet According to the Bible? by J. R. Gill and T. A. Roach provides an excellent and simple introduction to the question of where a Christian should meet with others.

The Ground of Gathering: Deuteronomy 12:11-32

Deuteronomy 12:11-32
This place which the Lord would “choose ... to put His Name,” is mentioned more than twenty times in Deuteronomy. This would show us how important a matter it is. Ought we not to be exercised about the scriptural ground of gathering today? A common expression in Christendom is very misleading. People are told, “Go to the church of your choice.” How contrary to the truth of God! The Church is not a building, or an organization of men, for the Word tells us Christ is “the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). The true Church is composed of all who are saved and indwelt by the Spirit of God (Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 12:13).
Knowing this, we are not of our own wills to choose where to go, but we are to be guided by the Word as in all things. Like the disciples, when the feast of remembrance was first instituted, we must ask the Lord, “Where wilt Thou that we prepare?” Many meeting places of Christendom are not founded upon the truth of God, but upon the thoughts of men. They are not gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus, but instead meet under man-made names and have leaders of their own choice and appointment. Such are like those spoken of in Colossians who were not “holding the Head” (Colossians 2:19).
Some persons think lightly of these things, but God’s Word is clear. If He charged Israel so definitely and often about that place, how can we consider it unimportant? Has He not exhorted us to be found “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3)? Let us be exercised before Him about these things! Are you gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus?
Although the Israelites might have a long distance to travel to the place the Lord had chosen, it still was the only place God acknowledged. We are not just to look for a place of gathering nearby, but for the place chosen of the Lord — in accordance with His Word.
A Separated People
The people are reminded here of the importance of not eating blood. It was to be poured out upon the ground, for in this way they acknowledged that life belongs to God.
They were also warned not to copy the nations around them. We sometimes want to do things just to be like others. Christian boys and girls, and we who are older too, are in danger of copying the world in our ways, of wanting to go places and do things they do, but we, like the children of Israel are to be a separated people unto the Lord. We are particularly warned, as they were, not to be “conformed to this world.” We read that the Lord Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). May the Lord give us grace to be “imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1, JND), instead of being imitators of this poor Christ-rejecting world!
There was to be no change made in what God had commanded. The people were told again, as they had been before, not to add to it, nor to take from it, for it was the Word of God. What a warning to any who would set aside any part of God’s Word, as well as to those who tell us of further revelations. Let us cling to the Bible.
Further Meditations
1. Why was it important for the Israelites not to eat blood?
2. What’s wrong with going to the church of my choice as long as there are real Christians there and they don’t deny the Trinity and key fundamentals of the gospel? What Scriptures can you give that show that we aren’t left to make the decision on our own?
3. Another excellent booklet that you might find helpful in considering the subject of the ground of gathering is Christ the Centre: Why Do We Meet in His Name Alone? by C. Stanley.

Rejecting Deception: Deuteronomy 13:1-14

Deuteronomy 13:1-14
The people were warned that evil men would rise up, pretending to be prophets with special revelations. They were not to listen to them, since they were trying to turn the hearts of the people from the true God to false gods. Even when the signs and wonders actually took place, they were not to be deceived by them. While admitting they were real signs, they were to recognize that it was Satan’s power used to turn their hearts after false gods. The Lord told them He allowed these things to prove them, whether they would serve Him and cleave to Him.
One feels this has a warning for us. People go in crowds wherever there are visible signs, and often forget the test, ‘Is this to turn people to the true God revealed in Christ?’ If the deity of Christ and His finished work are denied, let us reject the whole thing. In Israel the false prophet was to be put to death, but in Christianity “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). We are therefore to use “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17), and reject what is false. Let us never forget that Satan has power. God will soon allow him to display it very definitely — indeed we see some of it now. Men rejected God’s power revealed in Christ when He was here. The Lord Jesus said, “I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43). Since men would not have the blessed Son of God, God must give them over to a delusion. Today “the gospel of Christ  ...  is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), and those who reject it are exposed to the delusions of the day. Let us test everything by the Word of God.
The Rejection of a Deceiver
Even if the deceiver was one of a man’s own family circle in Israel — brother, son or daughter, or his own wife, or perhaps a near friend — he was to be rejected. They were not to consent to him in any of his wickedness, or even listen. They were not to feel sorry for him (or her) or act differently because of the close relationship. He was to be stoned to death, the near relative being the first to lift his hand against him. How often family ties hinder loyalty to Christ! Because of a near relationship people will keep quiet about the most frightful utterances and deeds. If my own boy goes wrong, I ought to be the first to take a stand against him, and not try to hush it up. These are solemn facts, but they are the truth of God and one feels they should be spoken forth. Many a testimony has been weakened by lack of faithfulness in these matters. It may seem hard to do it (and it is!) but not half so hard as the government of God which falls upon unfaithfulness.
Then there are instructions about reports. We are warned elsewhere not to spread false reports, but here we are told that any uncertain matter of evil was to be fully investigated. Inquiry and diligent searching were to be made as to the facts, for there was to be no indifference about evil. It is not enough to say such things are none of our business, but we are to act for the glory of God.
Further Meditations
1. How were the Israelites to treat a deceiver?
2. Honesty is incredibly important in Scripture. What did the Lord Jesus call Satan? What does the book of Proverbs have to say on the subject?
3. You can find a good little article on Honesty in the Concise Bible Dictionary which can be read at

Care for Others: Deuteronomy 13:14-15:18

Deuteronomy 13:14-15:18
Any matter that concerns the glory of God is to concern us too, not for gossip, of course, but for action according to God. And so here, when the facts were established, judgment was to be carried out upon all those who consented in the evil.
Any abuse of the body in mourning was forbidden of God. Believers are never to neglect their bodies for they are now the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Colossians 2:23).
We have remarked before, in our talks on Leviticus 11, about the clean and unclean foods mentioned here. They are figures for us, and have necessary and helpful lessons in a spiritual way as to our walk through this world.
Thoughtfulness to Others
It is beautiful, in the end of the chapter, to find the Lord making provision for those who had a long journey to travel to the place where He put His Name; also to see His care for those who served Him, and for the poor and needy of His people. How thoughtful divine love is, and what a lesson for us to be thoughtful of others. There is so much self-seeking on every hand that it is needful at times to remind our hearts to think of others, and to cultivate the spirit of kindness and consideration for them at all times. Let us not forget the simple acrostic for JOY,
Jesus First
Others Next
Yourself Last
Slaves Set Free
At the end of every seven years the children of Israel were to set their slaves free. They were also to release any of their brethren from debts, and the Lord told them that if they did these things He would bless them abundantly. He would give them plenty, so that they could lend, but would not have to borrow.
Moreover they were always to consider the need of a poor brother, and not refuse to help him. Even if it were near the year of release and they might never be repaid, they were to help their brother, if he were in need.
When they set their Hebrew servant free at the end of his six years of service, they were not to send him away empty-handed. They were to give to him generously of what they had at the time of his release. Moreover, they were not to let him go grudgingly. Sometimes if a man has served his employer well, the employer does not want to let him go to another job, or even promote him to another department, but here the Israelite was charged to consider the good of his help. How many labor troubles would be saved if these principles were carried out! Sadly, selfishness rules the world and all suffer for it.
If the servant (or slave) chose to remain with his master, instead of going out free, then his ear was to be bored through with an awl and he was to serve him forever. This is a wonderful type of the Lord Jesus, who perfectly served His Father as man here, and could have gone back to heaven alone, but He would not. He loved His Father, whose perfect will He always did, and He loved His own here too, so He went to the cross to put away our sins. Now He is serving us in glory as our Great High Priest and Advocate (Hebrews 4:15-16; 1 John 2:1).
Further Meditations
1. What principles were to be followed in setting a Hebrew servant or slave free?
2. How does selfishness stop true joy in our Christian lives? Describe how Absalom acted selfishly and the effect it had on his life.
3. You might enjoy thinking more on the subject of joy by reading the pamphlet Joy by D. F. Rule.

The Feasts in Type: Deuteronomy 15:19-16:21

Deuteronomy 15:19-16:21
The children of Israel were told to set apart the firstborn males of their herds and flocks for the Lord. If, however, the animal had a blemish, they were not to sacrifice it to the Lord, for they must only offer the best to Him. How important this is for us too, for we ought to give our best to the Lord, being constrained to do so by His matchless love.
Next we have the mention of some of the feasts of the Lord which the children of Israel were to observe. First of all there was the Passover. They were never to forget that they were once slaves in Egypt, and the cost of their deliverance. How needful it was for them, and for us too, to be reminded of what we were by nature, and of the grace that sheltered us from judgment. Moreover the Passover was to be killed in the place where the Lord put His Name. They were to eat it with the bread of affliction (unleavened bread), for this would be the constant reminder of the solemnity of the occasion, which God intended them to feel. They were to kill it in the evening, roast it, and eat it before the Lord, and then return to their tents in the morning. It was a solemn observance.
The Feast of Weeks
Then there was the feast of weeks. In this feast they were to rejoice in the blessings of the harvest, and to give their freewill offering to the Lord according to the way He had blessed them. This beautifully represents Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came down to bring us into the good of what is ours in Christ. In the measure in which we lay hold of this, praises return to the Lord. We are led to say like David of old, “Who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee” (1 Chronicles 29:14). Their sons and daughters and even their servants, and all in connection with the household were to rejoice too. May we who are saved be exercised that those in our family circles, and those with whom we come in contact should share in the joys we have found, that they may be saved and led into the path of the truth. The people were then exhorted to obedience, for we need to be careful not to allow things in our lives that hinder our joy in Christ.
The Feast of Tabernacles
Next there was the feast of tabernacles. It was the last feast of the year, and tells us of the fullness of the blessing, as they thought of all the Lord had done for them the whole year through. Thus the Spirit of God would lead us to enjoy the fact that we are even now, “blessed  ...  with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). He would have us know what is “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of our blessings even now, and the love of Christ that passeth knowledge, too. But there is a day coming above when we shall “know even as also we are known,” and then we shall be able to relax and enjoy all that is around us in fullness, without any hindrance. This is the day for which we wait, and when we apply the feast of tabernacles to ourselves, it looks on to that day — for Israel, to their future blessing on earth.
The people were to see to it that justice was maintained in all their cities, and thus blessing would come to them. They were also warned not to plant any grove of trees near an altar to the Lord, for this would be copying the heathen, and God warned them against these beginnings of idolatry.
Further Meditations
1. What was the Passover meant to remind Israel of?
2. We’ve learned that the feast of weeks foretold the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came to dwell in the church. What are some of the services that the Spirit of God performs for the believer?
3. You can get good, simple and in-depth teaching on the feasts mentioned in this chapter from the book The Seven Feasts of Jehovah by G. C. Willis.

God's Standards: Deuteronomy 16:22-17:16

Deuteronomy 16:22-17:16
If the children of Israel planted groves near their altars, this would lead to idolatry itself, and so they are warned against this as well. How careful we have to be to watch against the small beginnings of evil, for one thing leads to another. A grove of trees might not appear to be anything, but it was just copying the heathen, and God could not allow an imitation of idolatry to be mixed with worship to Him. This is a warning, surely, to Christendom with all its observances.
Again the children of Israel were told not to offer the lame and blemished animals to the Lord. These sacrifices figured Christ, and they must therefore be without blemish, for He is the holy, harmless, and undefiled Lamb of God. Then, too, it would not be fitting to offer blemished animals to the Lord, for He should have our best. It would be like men and women saying they want to enjoy the world while they have their health and strength, and then when they get old, after Satan has had their best, then they would like to be saved. It is indeed a sad decision.
Sin Measured by God’s Standards
The people are warned here against any among them who offered their sacrifices to the sun, the moon, or the stars. Any who did these things were to be put to death. Some people think very lightly about such things, but God measures sin by the standard of His own glory, and not by the thoughts of men. If a man were to murder someone, or steal, they would consider it an awful sin (and it is) but it is far worse to turn one’s back on God. You may be a respectable boy or girl, or man or woman, but remember this: if you are a Christ-rejecter, there is death and judgment before you, just as surely as death was the penalty for the one who forsook the true God in Israel. If there were any doubt of a man’s guilt, witnesses must be brought to prove it. There was to be no indifference to evil.
If a matter came up which was too hard for them to decide in one of their cities, they could take it to the place where the Lord’s name was to be placed, and then, when decided, they were to act upon the decision. This is an important consideration for us today, for the Lord has put authority in to the hands of those who are gathered to His precious name (Matthew 18:18) and we are responsible to recognize it even in a day of ruin. Authority does not mean infallibility — though needless to say no assembly has the authority to set aside the Word of God, but rather to act upon it. There is, however, the possibility of an assembly’s being mistaken in its judgment, and in this case we are to bow to their decision, while waiting upon God, as long as the truth of God is not given up.
Instructions for a King
Although the Lord Himself was Israel’s king, He knew beforehand that the people would want a man to be their king, so as to be like the nations around them. He therefore told them what the king was to do, and what he was not to do. He was not to have many horses. Horses were primarily used in battle in those days, and the nations were confident of victory if they had many horses, but God did not want His people to trust in horses, but in Him. These horses came from Egypt, and so we know there is much that comes from this world in which we might put our confidence, but the Lord would have us trust in Him. His Word says, “Some trust in chanots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).
Further Meditations
1. Why were the children of Israel not to offer lame or blemished animals to the Lord?
2. What did Solomon do with horses? How does this show what was happening in his heart and his trust in God?
3. You might be refreshed by reading the simple and encouraging poem The Peace of a Perfect Trust.

Instructions for a King: Deuteronomy 17:17-18:9

Deuteronomy 17:17-18:9
When the children of Israel had a king, he was not to have many wives, for they would turn his heart away from the Lord. Of course in Christian lands a man cannot have more than one wife, but still there is a warning for us here, for many a young man has been turned away from following the Lord by the pretty face of some girl. The Lord knows our weaknesses and warns us in His Word, for an unsaved wife can have a tremendous influence over her husband, and that is why Christians are warned not to marry unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). We would save ourselves many a sorrow by obeying the voice of God in His Word.
Nor was the king to multiply silver and gold. This is another cause of departure from the Lord, for His Word says, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). How many have been turned aside from following the Lord through the riches of this world. Young people often think that if they had all the money they wanted, then they would be perfectly happy, but nothing brings about a young person’s ruin any quicker than plenty of money, unless there is a real purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord, instead of using the money for self and popularity.
It is instructive, though sad, to notice how Solomon the king sought all those forbidden things, and the result was just as God warned—departure from Him.
Instructions to Copy and Read God’s Law
The king was also to write a copy of God’s law with his own hand. Moreover he was to have it with him and read in it every day of his life. How needful that we too read and write verses from God’s holy Word, the Bible. In those days there was no such thing as a printing press, and it had to be written by hand, but today we can secure a Bible very easily. Do we value it as we should? Do we read it every day? The instructions to read it were not given just to teach the king the law in his mind, but that he might walk in obedience to it. It was also to keep him from pride. We are naturally proud, and our poor hearts seek a place above others. God wants us to be humble. Even if He has given us more ability than some others, His Word would teach us not to boast, but rather to thank Him, using the ability He has given us to help those in need.
Provision for the Levites
The Lord did not give the priests — the Levites — any inheritance of their own, for they were to live off the offerings of the Lord. This is a beautiful picture of how the Lord provides for those who serve Him now. We are not to seek an inheritance here, for our true inheritance is above. God does, however, provide for all our needs as we pass through this world, and gives us to find our truest joys in serving Him. Let us remember His faithful promise to supply all our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19), and step out in faith at His call.
There was an ever present danger of the people copying the nations around them. They, like us, could see the evil and questionable things practiced around them and would be in danger of doing the same. How many boys and girls and older ones too, are caught in this snare. They say, “I want to do what Jimmy does. I want to have a television set like all the others on the street.” Let us learn to first say, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
Further Meditations
1. What was a king in Israel to do with God’s law?
2. How did Solomon get himself in trouble with his excess of money and luxury? Was it having a lot of money or his attitude toward it that caused the problems?
3. George Muller was a man who was wonderfully used of the Lord to spend money very wisely. His lessons in faith are an encouragement to read in The Autobiography of George Muller.

God's Gracious Provision: Deuteronomy 18:9-19:13

Deuteronomy 18:9-19:13
How easily we, like the children of Israel, are influenced by those around us, instead of quietly living for the glory of God our Father who has made us a peculiar people to Himself (1 Peter 2:9). Among the heathen there were many very attractive delusions of Satan, which God told His people, the children of Israel, He would not allow among them. May we be warned against the evils of our day too! We need to be watchful against the little things that would rob us of the love of Christ in our souls, for they creep in so easily and unnoticed.
The True Prophet
It is beautiful to find the promise of the true Prophet whom God would send — even the Lord Jesus Christ. God knew the people could never keep His holy law, and He always had before Him the One in whom He could, and would, find all His delight. That Prophet was coming, and they must not treat Him with indifference. God said He would require it of those who rejected Him. It was a serious thing to break God’s holy law, but it was, and is, far more solemn to reject the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, for God has no other Saviour but Him. To reject Him means eternal judgment.
If a prophet rose up and spoke in the name of the Lord, they could test and see if what he spoke came true. So God has given us “many infallible proofs” as to the Person and work of His beloved Son. To reject Him is to reject the truth, and those who reject Him are without excuse. Is this statement clear? Surely we do need to be afraid of evil teachings because they are a snare. “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).
Instructions for the Cities of Refuge
We now come to the instructions about the cities of refuge. They were to be conveniently located so that the slayer could flee to them. How gracious of God to provide cities of refuge for His erring people, but how much more wonderful that He has provided a shelter from coming judgment for all who flee for refuge to Christ (Hebrews 6:18). He is the true “City of Refuge” for all who put their trust in Him.
There is another point of interest of which we would like to take notice. These cities of refuge in Israel were only for a person who killed someone else unintentionally. There was no pardon under law for presumptuous sins, that is, for people who knew they were sinning and continued in it. Now the Lord Jesus was the One who was killed by His people Israel, and yet in order to provide refuge for them from the judgment they so justly deserved, He said, while hanging on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He called it a sin of ignorance, so that future blessing could be assured to them, instead of judgment. How wonderful His grace! These cities were within easy access of anyone who fled to them, but if someone claimed refuge in one of them, whose heart was full of hatred toward the one he killed, he would not be kept in it. He was to be put to death, for the city provided no refuge for such. And so those who continue to be willful rejecters of Christ will be cut off in judgment, and their portion will be eternal hell. An empty profession is no use, just as a man who pretended innocence could not hide in Israel’s cities of refuge.
Further Meditations
1. For what purpose were the cities of refuge?
2. How is the Lord Jesus a good picture of a city of refuge for a believer?
3. A search for “city of refuge” on will provide you with many excellent articles on the subject.

Law and Grace: Deuteronomy 19:14-20:8

Deuteronomy 19:14-20:8
The children of Israel were taught to respect the property of others, and not remove the neighbors’ landmarks. Boy and girls, and older ones too, can learn from this to be careful with what is not their own. We should always take special care of anything that is loaned to us, so that it does not get spoiled or broken. Nor should we spoil our neighbors’ lawns or gardens, since they do not belong to us. These are little things that boys and girls often forget about, and yet thoughtlessness in these very things often hinders one’s testimony to Christ a great deal.
If anyone was accused of doing wrong, one witness was not sufficient to prove it. There must be two or three witnesses before the man was charged with guilt, and they were also to be careful lest any of the witnesses were false witnesses. They were to make careful inquiry to be sure that the man was really guilty before he was punished. God is just, and He taught the people these things that they might be just in their dealings, too. How solemn it is, when we stop to think of it, that the very people who were given these laws once took the Lord of glory to prison to judge Him. He came in humiliation, sent by God His Father in love, and they hated Him without a cause (John 15:25). When they could not find anything against Him, they sought false witnesses (Matt. 26:59), and even their false witnesses did not agree among themselves — yet still they condemned Him to die. What injustice! And now, knowing that they treated our blessed Lord in this way, can we expect anything different ourselves? Let us not expect righteousness from this “present evil world,” and then we will not be disappointed.
The Difference Between Law and Grace
In the end of the nineteenth chapter we can plainly see the difference between law and grace. Under law it was “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” but grace has taught us to love our enemies. We, as Christians, are not to “pay back,” but to show the kindness of God even to those who wrong us (Matthew 5:38, Romans 12:19-20).
The children of Israel were an earthly people, looking for an inheritance on the earth. It was therefore right for them to fight for the possession of their land — the land of Canaan. Our conflict as Christians is a spiritual one. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are not to fear the spiritual enemies in the way, but to do as the children of Israel were told, and go boldly forward, counting on the Lord to undertake for us.
Moreover, the Lord did not want His people to go forward with faint or divided hearts. If they had their hearts set upon a home, a vineyard or a young lady whom they had promised to marry, they were not to go into the battle line. Or if they were afraid, and would discourage others by their faintheartedness, they were told to turn back before they faced the enemy. These instructions have a lesson for us, showing that God wants our whole-hearted service to Him. How often someone who is earthly-minded, or afraid to endure any hardships for Christ’s sake, has been the means of discouraging others, or causing them to turn back to earthly things, too.
Further Meditations
1. What was necessary before a man was charged with guilt?
2. Whole-hearted service for the Lord can be a real encouragement to others. Describe how Jonathan brought a great victory to Israel by his personal devotedness to the Lord’s cause.
3. Eric Smith in the Audio CD Lovest Thou Me More Than These? presents a very touching message to your heart. The aged missionary encourages you to follow Christ with a full heart.

The Seriousness of Sin: Deuteronomy 20:8-21:21

Deuteronomy 20:8-21:21
We learn here that there is no use seeking the help of those who are not whole-hearted in serving the Lord, for their very presence will only be a hindrance. Paul saw this in Acts 15:38 when he refused to take John Mark with them on a missionary tour because he had turned back previously. May we ever follow the wisdom of God’s Word in these things, for His glory as well as for our own good and blessing.
In warfare, when they came against a city, they were first to proclaim peace to it. Then if the inhabitants refused to make peace, they were to fight and capture the city, killing all the men in it. If it were one of the cities of the land which the Lord had given them, against which they were fighting, they were to utterly destroy it, lest they should learn some of the evil ways of the people, for if we keep just a little of the world near us, it will soon lead us astray. Let us be watchful about the little things!
They were not to destroy the fruit trees in their warfare, for God had given them for food. It is never right to be willfully destructive of what God has given.
No Passing Over Sin
If a person was found dead, and no one knew who did it, then the city which was nearest to the place of the crime was to be held responsible. The elders and judges of the city were to take a heifer which had never been under a yoke, and bring it to a rough valley. There they were to cut off the heifer’s neck, and then wash their hands over its dead body, while the priests, and Levites, looked on. They were to declare their innocence in the matter, and ask God to be merciful to them and forgive them. There was to be no passing over sin, or lightness about the seriousness of it.
These instructions remind us so forcibly of the One — the guiltless One — whom the Jews put to death. Then after they had done it, they tried to excuse themselves (Acts 5:28). But God cannot pass over sin — it must be judged. Either the guilty one must die or a substitute must die in his stead, and so the heifer died in the place of the guilty man here. What a picture of the Lord Jesus, the One who was never under the yoke of sin, but who died that we, the guilty ones, might go free! What a “rough valley” it was for Him, as He became our sin-bearer upon Calvary’s cross! In matchless grace He put down Israel’s sin as a sin of ignorance (Luke 23:34; Acts 3:17), and therefore all those who call out for mercy, as the elders did here, will be forgiven and brought into blessing. Have you called out for mercy? Are you under the shelter of the blood of the Substitute whom God has provided?
Relationship Between Parents and Children
In all the people’s dealings there was to be the fullest consideration for others, and no one was to be abused. They were not to show any favoritism as parents, but to give the right of the firstborn to the one whose it was.
If, however, a man had a stubborn and rebellious son who would not obey his father or his mother, even when punished, he was to be brought to the elders of the city. The parents were then to tell before them all about his naughtiness, and then all the men of the city were to stone him to death for his stubbornness. How awfully solemn this is! If there is anyone reading these lines who is showing a stubborn and rebellious attitude to his or her parents, is this not a warning to you?
Further Meditations
1. What were the children of Israel to do when they came against a city?
2. Describe how the Israelites refused to pass over sin in the case of Achan in Joshua 7.
3. The subject of holiness and dealing with sin is often misunderstood. You might gain a deeper understanding of it by reading Holiness and Communion by C. H. Mackintosh.

Consideration for Others: Deuteronomy 21:21-22:5

Deuteronomy 21:21-22:5
We were considering the stoning of the stubborn and rebellious son, and we need hardly remark that this was law and not grace. Yet it is surely true that sin is just as serious under grace as it was under law — indeed it is more serious because more light means greater responsibility. The grace of God, known in the soul, ought to give a new and powerful motive to live for the Lord’s glory. May the Lord cause any thoughtless, disobedient, young reader of this paper to consider his or her ways.
We are also told that if a man had committed a sin worthy of death, and they hanged him on a tree, they were not to leave his dead body on the tree all night, for he was “accursed of God.” Surely we have committed sins worthy of death — we were guilty — and all those under the law are cursed by it, too, since they have not kept it. But wonder of wonders, we do not have to bear the punishment, for God has provided a Substitute. The blessed Lord Jesus was made a curse for us on Calvary’s tree (Galatians 3:13), taking our guilty place and bearing our judgment that we might go free. Dear reader, have you claimed Him as your Saviour — your Substitute? If not, and you continue rejecting Him, then you must bear the judgment of God yourself, and that forever in the lake of fire. Do not reject God’s marvelous grace.
Thoughtfulness and Kindness
How wonderful to see that God would have His people, who were called by His Name, considerate of others. There is so little consideration of others today that it is well to take notice of what the Lord says here. Often our thoughtless ways bring dishonor upon the Lord, without us realizing it. We may be thoroughly upright in our dealings, and yet lack in that thoughtfulness and kindness which we ought to show to our neighbors. The Israelite was not even to pass by one of his neighbor’s cattle, which had fallen into a pit, without stopping to help it out, and he was to care for any of his neighbor’s cattle that might have wandered onto his farm until they could be returned to their owner. He was to show this same care with anything belonging to his neighbor. It is beautiful to see the Spirit of God giving instructions about all these “little things” in our lives, for it is well to remember that the Word of God not only tells us how to be saved, but also marks out the path for our feet step by step.
Distinction in Men and Women’s Clothing
The next verse shows us that there was to be a distinction in clothing between men and women. Men were not to wear women’s clothes, nor women those pertaining to men. One sees in this the wisdom of God in guarding us against the moral disorder to which our natural hearts are so prone. The awful corruptions that filled the heathen world (as recorded in Romans 1) were the result of men and women casting aside restraint, and living in their lusts. Men left the natural use of the women and filled the earth with corruption which brought down the judgment of God.
And don’t we see the same tendency today? Women dressing like men is but another step in this direction in these so-called Christian lands. Dear young Christian, let us be warned so that we walk circumspectly. Since God has told us that those who do these things are “abomination unto the Lord” it is our wisdom to hearken to the voice of God.
Further Meditations
1. What are some examples of the kindness an Israelite was to show to his neighbor?
2. How can we show tender thoughtfulness toward our neighbors? What is a necessary prerequisite for showing a meaningful kindness to a friend? How does this relate to the fruit of the Spirit?
3. The kindness of the Lord as the perfect example can be enjoyed simply and quickly in the refreshing leaflet The Loving-Kindness of the Lord taken from Footprints for Pilgrims.

Faithfulness in the Home: Deuteronomy 22:6-9

Deuteronomy 22:6-9
As we go through the chapter we shall see that some of the instructions have a figurative meaning, but we believe it is clear to all that those which are moral have a present application, for God’s moral character never changes.
We learn here that there was to be the tenderest consideration even for a bird. The Lord has given us meat for our food, but we are not to be heartless, and inflict unnecessary suffering upon any of His creatures.
Battlements on the Roof
There are some very important instructions which follow here, and they have needful lessons for us. First, if a man build a house he was to put a battlement, or protection, on the side of the roof, so that no one would be in danger of falling from it. In addition to the care for human life which was necessary, it would show us that we who are parents need to be careful what goes on in our homes. These are instructions about “new homes,” and would show us that it is important to start right. If the young people gather in our homes, let us remember that God holds us, as parents, responsible for what we allow them to do. Things in our homes should not be brought down to the level of the world in its foolishness and entertainment. How many a Christian gathering has become a hindrance rather than a help to our young people, and some have “fallen from thence.” Things were allowed that stumbled and turned them aside, and they have “fallen” into the world. They could not see by our conduct that we were above the level of the world (like the roof in our chapter), and without realizing it, they fell, and today they are living in the world. They have fallen from the position of heavenly men and women altogether.
Eli is a sad example of this. He corrected, but he did not restrain, the evil of his sons, and his whole household came under the judgment of God. Dear Christian, parents, let us not forget or shirk our responsibility in these things. The days are growing darker as the Lord’s coming draws nearer, and the enemy is doing all he can to wreck every Christian home. How much we need grace from above to set up our “battlements,” in these days of radio and television, with all the evil things they bring into so many homes.
Sowing in the Vineyard
After noticing the need of watchfulness as to what is allowed in our homes, we now come to the matter of serving the Lord as typified in the sowing of the vineyard. If our homes are not in order there will be a lack of power as to our service, and undoubtedly that is why the home comes first. Then the children of Israel were told not to sow their vineyard with a mixture of seed. God hates the mixing of things He has made to differ, and we need to watch against these mixtures in spiritual things. We are not left in doubt as to what kind of seed we are to sow for we read in 1 Peter 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” God uses this kind of seed and this only — His own Word — for the new birth of a soul. If we are going to work in His vineyard in a way that is acceptable to Him, let us be sure we do not use a “mixture of seeds.” Let us “preach the Word” 2 Timothy 4:2, and especially in a day like this. As we look around in Christendom we cannot help but feel keenly the sad mixture of seeds that is being used.
Further Meditations
1. What did Israelites need to build on their roofs, and why?
2. What does it mean to sow a mixture of seeds? Why does God hate the mixing of things He made different?
3. In the Audio book Living Wholly for God, J. G. Bellett sweetly presents the need to separate ourselves from every practice, principle and person contrary to Himself. You would find it a soul-searching extension to your study of this passage.

Unequal Yokes: Deuteronomy 22:9-10

Deuteronomy 22:9-10
A few more remarks as to not using “mixed seeds” in the Lord’s vineyard, seem to be necessary. We who seek to do our little service for the Lord, are prone to turn to others for wisdom in these matters, instead of to the Lord. Men have their philosophies and vain deceit, and all this sort of thing is very appealing to the flesh. The children in the Sunday school would like to see some of the religious entertainments of the day, and even older ones have a nature that responds to it, but it is all “after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Let us be much on our knees before the Lord, so that when we sow the good seed, it may be in the power of the Holy Spirit, and then the Lord will use it. He has promised that it will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:10-11), and we have only to sow it faithfully and count upon the Lord for results. The Israelite could not make one seed grow, but he could sow as the Lord instructed him, and so with us, for only God can give the increase.
Unequal Yokes
The children of Israel were also instructed against another “mixture.” They were not to have an unequal yoke in their work, such as plowing with an ox and an ass together. An ox, according to Mosaic law, was a clean animal, and the ass was unclean. In addition to this, the ass was fast and the ox slow, so they had nothing in common. What a warning this is, as we learn from 2 Corinthians 6:14, where Christians are told, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” For a believer to be linked up in marriage, in business partnership, or in any membership with the unconverted, is an unequal yoke. It is disobedience to God to enter such a “yoke,” and such willfulness is sure to bring down the government of God.
If the one who reads these lines should be thinking of joining some business partnership with one who is unsaved, our prayer is that you may heed this word of warning from the Lord. It will undoubtedly spare you taking a solemn step in disobedience, as well as many a sorrow. Moreover, if you are already in such a “yoke,” the word to you is “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The Lord’s coming is near, and His call is to you to come out, and He promises to be a Father to you, for He knows the step may cost you something, perhaps a great deal.
If, on the other hand, it is the marriage “yoke” you are considering, this is more solemn still. To have your whole life bound up with one who has no love for your blessed Savior is most serious. Indeed it is terrible! And, moreover, what is worst of all, this is a yoke that you cannot leave (1 Corinthians 7:10) or break according to God (Matthew 19:6). How careful we have to be, as young people especially, that we do not allow our heart’s affections to go out to anyone who does not love our Lord Jesus Christ. God has warned us of these things for our own good, for He only knows the sorrows that many have brought upon themselves through disobedience in this very thing.
There are also many other things we are asked to “join.” Let us be much before the Lord about these matters.
Further Meditations
1. Why did the Lord instruct the children of Israel against unequal yokes?
2. What is an unequal yoke and why is it so dangerous for a Christian?
3. The Unequal Yoke by C. H. Mackintosh provides a warm and personal exhortation on the need for a believer to avoid joining together with the unbeliever.

Close Associations: Deuteronomy 22:11-23:8

Deuteronomy 22:11-23:8
We have been speaking of our homes, our service to the Lord, our business, and the partnerships of life, and we now come a little closer to the very nearest associations, typified in the garments. The children of Israel must not wear a garment of woolen and linen. This came close enough to touch the very skin! There was to be no mixture of things here, and so we need to be pure in that which is nearest and dearest to us. In the very secret of our lives we are to watch against the little things that would rob of us of communion with God. The Scripture says, “Thou hast set  ...  our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance” (Psalm 90:8). Let us learn to walk before God in the secret of our lives, for as another has said, “If we judge the little things others do not see, we will not have to judge the greater things they can see.”
Heavenly People
The children of Israel were also to have a fringe, or ribbon of blue, upon their garments. Blue is the heavenly color, and this would remind us that wherever we go, between us and the earth there is to be the constant reminder that we are a heavenly people. In everything we do there is to be the character of God our Father manifested. It is just like the boys and girls wearing their school colors; they show they belong to the school, and so we who belong to the Lord are to wear our heavenly colors, and act like heavenly people.
Guarding Against Sin
We see how God guarded His people against slander and the spreading of false reports. It is a serious thing to raise a slanderous untrue report, or to pass it on when we hear it. The man who raised the evil report was to be publicly punished and fined for what he had done. Truly, “whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23). If, however, the thing he said was true, the punishment was to fall upon the evil doer. There is never to be indifference to evil among the people of God, but how wonderful the provisions of grace in Christianity, for all our failures and sins.
We find in the verses that follow the most solemn warnings against moral corruption; and the sanctity of the marriage tie is carefully guarded. There is so much lightness about marriage in these days, that we, as Christians, need to be warned against the spirit of the age in which we live. God’s Word says, “Fools make a mock at sin” (Proverbs 14:9). Let us be on guard against bad books, and not listen to evil jokes that are being told on every hand, for “when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin” (James 1:15). If we listen, we are sure to be defiled, and perhaps laugh, bringing dishonor upon our blessed Lord.
The people were to exercise care as to who was received into the congregation of the Lord, because the Lord dwelt among them. There were those whose background made their sincerity questionable, and there was to be no hurry in receiving such, until full proof was given of their uprightness. They were to make a difference between those who had continually opposed the people of God, and those from whom they had once received kindness. Moreover, they were not to abhor the children of Edom, for they were their brethren.
Further Meditations
1. How did God guard His people against slander and the spreading of false reports?
2. What are some of the dangers that come from listening to filthy jokes? How do Ephesians 5:4 and Romans 1:32 tell us more about this subject?
3. Search for “foolish talking” and you’ll find many articles that give more insight into this all too common practice.

Care One for Another: Deuteronomy 23:9-24:5

Deuteronomy 23:9-24:5
The people were to be watchful, even in the small things, and in their contact with the enemy on God’s behalf they were to be careful that they were not tempted and led away.
Their camp, too, was to be kept clean, for the Lord dwelt among them. A dirty home or meeting room is always a poor testimony before the world. When the heart has been made clean in the precious blood of Christ, we may well expect the person, the home, the clothes, and the meeting room to be clean too. There are times when we cannot help things getting dirty, but for it to become a habitual thing is not according to God, and even the world will frown upon carelessness in these things. God’s Word is to be our guide in all these matters, and how thankful we can be for its precious instruction.
Considering One Another’s Needs
While abhorring evil and corruption among their brethren, as God abhors it, they were to consider the needs of one another. They were to be specially kind to their brethren, not charging them interest on money or other things it was necessary for them to borrow. If they made promises they were to keep them. They did not have to make vows or promises if they did not wish to, but if they made them they were to keep them. It is a fine thing to cultivate the habit of being men and women who say what we mean and mean what we say.
When they went into their neighbor’s vineyard or fields, the neighbor was not to mind them eating what was growing there, but they were not to carry any away. How lovely these instructions! How they tend to create that happy feeling of a welcome and kindness, so often lacking in the world, and, alas, even among Christians today. May we profit by all this, for God’s glory!
God’s Mind As to Marriage
God allowed an Israelite to divorce his wife, not because He approved of it, but because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew 19:8). He showed His mind about these things in the beginning, when He made Adam, and gave him one wife with whom he was to stay. His Word says, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). This is His mind, and time does not change it, as this Scripture clearly shows. We know that God bore with many things in Israel, such as a man having more than one wife, and here, divorce, but such were not His mind (Acts 17:30). Let us remember that now, in Christianity, we are much more responsible than the Israelites were. The Spirit of God now dwells in Christendom as a Divine Person, as well as in the body of every true believer, and so Christendom has been enlightened (Hebrews 6:4). The believer, too, has the power to live to please the Lord, and even if he should have an unhappy marriage partnership, the Lord may use it to draw him or her closer to Himself, causing such to walk more dependently upon Him. The believer is not to break that which God has joined together.
Even such matters as the loneliness of a young wife, when first married, are brought before the people of God here, for the One who made the heart knows all about its inmost feelings and the loneliness that it feels at times. May He teach us the same care one for another!
Further Meditations
1. What were the instructions when going into a neighbor’s vineyard or fields?
2.What are some of the reasons that God created marriage?
3. If you are considering marriage or are already married you would find it helpful to read or reread Understanding, Love and Respect in Marriage by G. H. Hayhoe.

Faithfulness: Deuteronomy 24:6-25:10

Deuteronomy 24:6-25:10
Under the law no man was to be left without that which was necessary for his livelihood in order to settle a debt.
Anyone who practiced kidnapping was to be put to death. What wonders the grace of God can now do for the vilest! The people were also to be very careful to observe all the Lord had commanded as to leprosy, so that this dread sickness would not spread or cause defilement in the camp where the Lord dwelt.
There was also to be consideration for the needs of the poor, so that in their dealings one with another no one was to be put under hardship. A man’s wages were never to be withheld from him, especially if he were in need.
Moreover, a child was not to die for his father’s sins, nor a father for his sons. They were always to be just in their dealings.
There was to be special consideration given to the fatherless and the widow, and they were to leave gleanings in their fields and on their olive trees. God, in all His greatness, thinks of the needs of every one of His creatures, especially man, in spite of all his rebellion and sin. “How good is the God we adore!” Do you know Him as the One who has met the great need of your guilty soul, through the work of His Son on the cross? Are you redeemed by the precious blood of Christ? The needs of your body are not nearly as important as the need of your soul, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Whenever it was necessary to beat a man for his wrong doing, they were not to give him more than forty stripes, for if they kept on beating him it would be anger, and not justice he was receiving.
If an ox was put to work in a corn field, they were to allow the animal to eat all the corn it needed — they were not to muzzle it. The Apostle Paul mentions this in Corinthians, to show that this is applicable to those who labor for the Lord. Those of the Lord’s people, among whom they labor, are to care for their temporal needs (1 Corinthians 9:7-14).
The Faithfulness of a Brother
If a man died in Israel without having any children, then his brother was to marry his deceased brother’s wife and raise up seed to his brother. If he did not wish to do so, then in the presence of the elders of the city she was to loose off his shoe and spit in his face. Now, in a typical way, Israel was married to the law, but sadly there was no fruit for God from this “marriage,” for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and a broken law brought death. The Lord Jesus, the true Husband of Israel (Isaiah 54:5), came to restore that which He took not away (Psalm 69:4), but Israel would not have Him. He was faithful, as a brother was to be in Israel, but in spite of His faithfulness they rejected Him. They ought to have honored Him, for they were unfaithful and not He, but they robbed Him of the honor due to Him and spit in His blessed face. And yet, all this has not changed His love and faithfulness. He will not put them away (Isaiah 50:1), but will yet betroth them to Him in faithfulness, (Hosea 2:19-20). He will bless them and make them fruitful in the coming day when their seed shall be as the sand of the sea (Romans 9:27). What grace!
Further Meditations
1. What special consideration was given to the fatherless and the widow?
2. How has the Lord shown His faithfulness to His people Israel? to you?
3. If you’ve been thinking about the faithfulness of God you might be refreshed by the poem God’s Faithful Promises.

Acceptable Offerings and Worship: Deuteronomy 25:11-26:19

Deuteronomy 25:11-26:19
Any careless familiarity of a woman with a man is displeasing to the Lord, and was to be dealt with in Israel. Let us remember that the Lord has set “our secret sins in the light of His countenance” (Psalm 90:8). He knows all we do.
The people were instructed to give full weight and full measure in all their dealings. It is a very sad thing when those who bear the name of Christ are dishonest in their dealings. Sometimes we even hear people boast of how they “got by” in some questionable deal. But they only thought they did! God sees all we do. Let us remember that these things are “an abomination unto the Lord.”
The children of Israel were not to forget that Amalek was the continual enemy of Israel, nor were they to make peace with him. We too are to remember that “the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). It never changes, always lusting against the Spirit, so that there will always be conflict as long as we are in this scene. When we reach the glory, however, the old nature (of which Amalek is a type) will be gone forever.
The Firstfruits
After this they were instructed what to say when they brought their basket of firstfruits to the Lord. They were never to forget what they were by nature themselves. It is instructive at this point to notice that although God did not accept Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground, He did accept these things from the children of Israel. The reason for this is that they were a redeemed people. They had not, like Cain, refused to take shelter under the blood, when they were redeemed out of Egypt, and over and over again they showed in their sacrifices that approach to God was through the shed blood alone. And so with us, God accepts the “good works” we do for Him in obedience to His Word, but all our work, before we were saved were but “dead works” and “filthy rags.”
When the Israelite brought his basket of firstfruits he was to recall what the Lord had done for him. He was to say, “A Syrian ready to perish was my father,” and then to tell what the Lord had done for his nation — for it was the Lord’s goodness and grace that had blessed them so abundantly. May we, never forget what the Lord has done for us, but tell Him often, from thankful hearts, how we appreciate His wondrous grace to us.
Worship Acceptable to God
After this they were to tell how they had kept His commandments and done them, how they had not taken for themselves what belonged to the Lord and also how they had cared for the needy among them. While undoubtedly there was failure in carrying this out, it shows us that there is a suited state in which we should approach God as worshippers. He must have first place in our hearts and lives, and to try to look after all our own interests first and then the Lord, is most dishonoring to Him. Then, too, if we have wronged a brother, or neglected the need of some brother, there will be no liberty in worship, nor will our worship be acceptable to the Lord (Matthew 5:23-24). As we think of the many strained feelings and unkind things that have never been righted among the people of God, we know that many dear saints are losing the joy that might be theirs in the Lord’s presence. And the Lord is losing His portion too! May the Lord give us grace to settle these things to His glory before another Lord’s day.
Further Meditations
1. What was an Israelite supposed to do when he brought his basket of firstfruits to the Lord?
2. It is wonderful to have a clear conscience and be able to worship without hindrance. How did Nathan help David get to the point where he could worship again?
3. You might find the pamphlet Christian Worship by W. Kelly a help in distinguishing the Biblical definition of worship from the way the word often gets used.

God's Desire for Blessing: Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68

Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68
The children of Israel were told that when they went over the Jordan into the land, they were to put up large stones and plaster them. Then they were to write on them all the commandments which the Lord had given them, so that everyone could see and read them. They were also to make an altar on which to offer sacrifices. It was through the sacrifices alone that the Lord could go on with them, for they quickly earned the curses which are mentioned here instead of the blessings which the Lord would have delighted to bestow. Nevertheless, since they had entered into a covenant to keep God’s holy law, they had to suffer under His government for their disobedience. In spite of all this God has not forgotten to be gracious, and in a coming day they will have all the promised blessings because of the redemptive work of Christ on Calvary. This alone is the ground of all blessing.
When in the land, six of the tribes were to stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people for obedience, and the other six were to stand upon mount Ebal to curse the people for disobedience. The Levites then pronounced the curses for worshipping false gods, for despising parents, for infringing upon the rights of others, and for deeds of corruption and violence. As the people heard the curses they had to say “Amen.”
Earthly and Heavenly Blessing
God desired to bless them, and He told them of how abundantly He would do so if they would keep His commandments. Anyone who reads these verses can see that the blessings were earthly  — in their homes, their land, their cattle, and their business. They were promised that their enemies would flee before them, and that they would be the head and not the tail among the nations. God said if they were obedient they would be able to lend, and not borrow from them, too, because they would have more than they needed.
All this stands out in marked contrast with our blessings now as believers, for our blessings are heavenly (Ephesians 1:3). We have no promise of earthly blessing, though the Lord has promised to supply all our needs as we pass through the world on the way to our home above. How often, too, He exceeds His promises, giving us more than we need, for He is ever a free-giving God.
Curses for Disobedience
The fearful curses that follow here for disobedience are a solemn reminder of what sin is in the presence of the One who is “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Anyone who traces Israel’s history will know how these very things fell upon them for their disobedience to God, and what was worse still, for their rejection of Christ. God said He would make them a proverb and a by-word among all nations where they would be wanderers, and surely it is true even to this day. How refreshing to trace, also, the silver line of God’s grace through all their history, showing that all those who turned to Him in repentance received blessing from His hand. It was not, however, because they deserved it, but because of the work of the cross where God declared “His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25), as well as providing a mercy seat for all who come to Him now, for He is “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
Further Meditations
1. What curses did the Levites pronounce on the people?
2. What are some of the heavenly blessings that God promises to a believer in our day?
3. You would no doubt find refreshment for your soul in the poem Blessed With All Spiritual Blessings in the Heavenlies in Christ.

God's Grace and Blessing: Deuteronomy 29:1-29

Deuteronomy 29:1-29
We find in this chapter that there is a difference between the covenant made at Sinai, or Horeb, and that made here in the land of Moab. At Sinai it was pure law, which if they had remained under, God would have had to cut them off from being a nation. But since the sacrifices had been instituted, God could go on with His people, not according to the full purposes of His grace which will be made good in a coming day through the work of Christ, but, as it were, in government mingled with mercy. They are therefore reminded here of how the Lord had cared for them every step of their wilderness journey. Their clothes had not worn out, nor their shoes. They had not needed any stimulants, nor bread for food since God had fed them with manna from heaven. He had given them the victory over their enemies, too, when they came out against them. How wondrous His grace, but they did not have eyes to see, ears to hear, nor a heart to appreciate what the Lord had done for them. Surely it all shows that no external manifestation of God’s power or goodness will change the heart of man, for unless God by His Spirit works, there is nothing abiding.
An Appeal to Walk in Obedience
This touching appeal for them to walk in obedience was made before all the people, even with their little ones and their servants present. It was an individual thing that applied to all, even to those who were not there to hear it. How precious to think that we are never lost in the crowd to God. He knows us individually, and seeks our blessing according to His own purposes of love and grace. There is a solemn warning here to anyone who hardened his heart in the face of this lovely appeal, and thought he could do as he liked without hearkening to the voice of the Lord, Surely there are many such today who presume to go on in their sins and despise the grace of God. They will not, however, escape the judgment of God, as we find from our chapter. God’s judgment will be openly manifested before all some day, especially upon the fair lands of Christendom, just as it has already been upon Israel.
The Secret of Israel’s Blessing
How lovely to find, at the end of the chapter, that the Lord had better things in view for His people, but for the time they must remain a secret. The telling of the secret things which belonged to the Lord awaited the accomplishment of the work of Christ, and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Now, as we read the chapters that follow here, with their precious prophecies of Israel’s future blessings, we can rejoice in them, for the Spirit is here to guide us into all truth. If Israel had sought to “keep all the words of this law” they would have proved the blessings that are revealed here, but the richer and fuller blessings are still in store for them, though they will not know or enjoy them nationally until the Spirit is poured upon them from on high (Isaiah 32:15).
It is precious, at this point, to think of how we, the church, have been brought into a still more wonderful secret than that of Israel’s blessing. We have learned by the same Spirit the marvelous truth of the church as the bride of Christ. We are members of His body, to share with Him as His bride (in the nearest possible place), His headship over all things in that future day. What unbounded grace to us, who were Gentiles outside of all these covenants and promises.
Further Meditations
1. What are some of the practical ways in which God cared for Israel during their wilderness journey?
2. What are some of the scriptures that show what God has in store for His earthly people Israel? You can start your search in Isaiah 11 and begin writing a very long list.
3. Surprisingly enough Hopes of the Church by J. N. Darby provides a wonderful view of the future blessing of Israel that is both refreshing and encouraging to the soul.

The Reach of God’s Grace: Deuteronomy 30:1-20

Deuteronomy 30:1-20
The chapter now before us is most sweet and touching. God foreknew that His people would have to come under His government because of their disobedience, but this would not put them beyond the reach of His grace. No matter where they were, even though they were there on account of their sins, He would hear and bless them the moment they turned to Him. How lovely it is to find, after all the curses for their disobedience, that the Lord found a way whereby He could meet them, when their hearts turned to Him. They might be in the outmost parts of heaven — they could not be farther away! — but still He would hear them and bring them back into the land and bless them in it.
Surely all this has a message for both saint and, sinner today. If you are unsaved, we can tell you that no matter how far you have wandered in sin, you are not beyond the limits of God’s grace. If you will but turn to Him, He has pardon and salvation for you the moment you take your true place in repentance and believe His precious promise that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). If it should be a child of God who reads these lines there is blessing for you too, no matter how far you have gotten away. If you will only turn to the Lord with your whole heart, and own all to Him, you will find He delights in blessing, and will restore your soul to the sweet sense of His love and grace. It is all so simple, too, for it is not a Word afar off, “But the Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (verse 14).
Life and Death Set Before Them
The people are reminded that the way of life and the way of death had been set before them. If they kept the Lord’s commandments then they would have life — that is, life on the earth, and blessing in the land the Lord was giving to them. If they disobeyed, they would perish from the good land the Lord had promised to them. Moses then pleads with them to choose life, and receive all the promised blessing. After all this it is touching to find the mention at the very end of the chapter of those unconditional promises of blessing made to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, long before. How the heart of God delighted to look forward to the time when His people would be in the land, and blessed according to His own purposes of grace; but at the same time how He felt their willfulness and disobedience which hindered their blessing then.
Surely these things touch our hearts too, even today, for we can say in the words of a hymn, “Israel’s God is ours!” How often we, who have learned of the riches of His grace in such a marvelous way, choose to walk in paths of self will and rob ourselves of the joy that would be ours. The heart of God is still full of blessing, and He has now given us the power to walk in His ways. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). May we seek to put the flesh in the place of death and thus walk for His glory more and more as the Lord’s coming draws nearer. It is a happy path, and all those who have walked in it will surely join to say, “Her ways are way of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17).
Further Meditations
1. What would happen if the people chose the way of life set before them?
2. Obedience and thankfulness bring a real sense of our blessings while laziness and disobedience lead to real unhappiness. Show how these truths are taught in the book of Song of Solomon.
3. You will find clear, easy-to-read and practical teaching in Making Room for God’s Blessing in Your Life: The Right Way and the Wrong Way by B. Anstey.

Strength and Courage: Deuteronomy 31:1-14

Deuteronomy 31:1-14
Moses continued his exhortation to the people, for he fully realized the difficulties of the path. And yet he knew the strength of the One who had brought them out of Egypt to bring them in to Canaan. He spoke of his own great age and of how he could not lead them any longer, but he said, “the Lord thy God, He will go over before thee.” There may be those whom we have looked up to and are now gone, but their parting word is like that of Moses, as it were, “Look to the Lord.” He will never fail, for His “years are throughout all generations” (Psalm 102: 24). God did, however, in His goodness raise up another to lead His people. It was Joshua. They were, nevertheless, not to look at him as the one who would give them the land, but only as the instrument through whom the Lord would give it to them. It is lovely to see Moses at a time like this speaking so nicely of the one who was to take up this wonderful work of leading the people of God. There is so much envy and jealousy in our natural hearts that we are sometimes slow to acknowledge the service of others, but it is surely a precious fruit of grace to see those who rejoice to find others raised up of the Lord to carry on the work they are no longer able to do. May the Lord deliver those of us who serve Him, from any thought of our own importance and give us to realize it is the Lord’s work, and He can use whom He pleases. He can do without any of us, no matter how important our labor may seem to be!
Exhortations to Confidence in the Lord
The people are reminded of how the Lord had already given them the victory over Sihon and Og, and He was able to give them the victory in the land which He had promised to them. They are therefore exhorted, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go before thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” How much we need exhortations like this today! The power of the enemy seems to be increasing almost daily, and fresh difficulties are arising on every hand, but the Lord is faithful, and when our eyes are upon Him we can press on with courage and confidence, knowing He will never fail. Let us not lose heart, but always count upon God to undertake every step of the way.
Walking With God in Secret
After giving this word to the people Moses then called Joshua and exhorted him personally. If we are to go on in that quiet confidence which is so needful, we need to walk with God in secret. We need the daily reading of His Word and prayer in the privacy of our own rooms if we are to have power and courage before others. It is one thing to know the truth, and even to be able to expound it publicly, but it is quite another thing to be walking in it in the secret of our own souls. It is in the way that we keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21), and only in this way, that we can be able to be a help to others and point them to the Lord, as to One whom we have found to be our all in all.
The priests, the sons of Levi were then commanded to read the Word to the people at the feast of tabernacles. Men, women, and children were all to be present to hear the Word read. Let us not neglect the assembling of ourselves together, for if it was important for Israel, it is surely needful for us too.
Further Meditations
1. Who was to take up the work of leading the people of God after Moses?
2. The quiet, practical, private walk with God in our hearts is a real secret of spiritual power. What does God have to say in His Word about our thoughts, hearts and feelings? You can start your search into what He really values in Malachi 3.
3. Hudson Taylor was a man who in many ways lived a life of deep faith and piety. You can learn a lot from that inner walk with God in the book Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.

Confidence in God: Deuteronomy 31:14-32:4

Deuteronomy 31:14-32:4
Moses and Joshua were both called to stand before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the Lord appeared in a pillar of cloud which stood over the door. There He spoke to them, telling Moses of how the people would turn aside after his death and worship the idols of the heathen and break the covenant of the Lord. He told Moses, too, of how He would have to deal with them because of their sins, and then gave Moses a song to teach them which would be a reminder of why all the promised trouble came upon them. It is precious, however, to find at the end of the song the promise that, in spite of all, God would bring them into blessing when they turned to Him in repentance.
All Is Sure in Him
Because of this Joshua is again exhorted to “be strong and of a good courage.” Man’s course has always been one of departure from God, of willfulness and sin. Whether it be Israel or the church, what a record it has been of failure and departure from the Lord. The servant of the Lord is to be prepared for this. He is not to have any confidence in the flesh, for as surely as he does, he is bound to be disappointed. He is not, however, to be discouraged, but to labor on in the confidence that God is working in grace and will never fail. Whenever the eye is turned away from self and “man, whose breath is in his nostrils” (Isaiah 2:22), and fastened upon the Lord instead, we have courage and strength. How needful this is! We will never be able to go on steadily in our service to the Lord unless we realize this, for just as surely as we build our hopes upon some man, we will live to see the day when those hopes fail. If, however, we build only upon the Lord, there will be no disappointment and no deluded hopes. All is sure in Him. May the Lord encourage our hearts to go on faithfully in these days when all that is of man is beginning to break down completely.
The book of the law was then taken and put in the side of the ark. The ark, as we know, is a type of the Lord Jesus, and He alone lived in this dark scene for God’s glory every step of His blessed pathway. What a testimony against them it was, but good it is to know that we have been “reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). His life here before men only condemned us and showed how guilty we were.
God Is Light
The song which follows ascribes greatness to the Lord and tells of His justice and truth. This is most important. We find the power of God called in question today, and the holiness of His throne denied. On every hand we hear the denial of eternal punishment, and while much is said about “God is Love,” the solemn fact that “God is Light” is forgotten. Let us remember that God cannot pass over sin. He must judge it. If it were not for the marvelous fact that the Lord Jesus bore the judgment of God for sin at the cross, then we must bear our own sins in hell forever. And so we read in our chapter, “All His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He” (verse 4). God will never sacrifice the holiness of His own throne, but, blessed be His name, the One who bore sin’s judgment is now seated “on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). Divine justice has been fully satisfied.
Further Meditations
1. What did the Lord tell Moses and Joshua at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation?
2. How does the cross of Christ show that God can’t pass over sin to show love?
3. The booklet The Four Judgments by A. H. Burton gives a brief and helpful summary of four separate occasions when God has shown and will show His judgment of sin. Reading it will likely deepen your sense of both His holiness and grace.

The Faithfulness of the Lord: Deuteronomy 32:5-10

Deuteronomy 32:5-10
The children of Israel are reminded again of how good the Lord had been to them. He had brought them and established them, and yet they were perverse and crooked in their ways, and seemed to forget how He had been a Father to them. If they had not heard of His goodness, they could ask their fathers who would tell them of God’s wonderful works on their behalf. He then told them that when God divided to the nations their inheritance, when He gave to each their place to live, He set the boundaries of each according to the number of His people Israel. Israel is God’s earthly people, and His purpose is to make their land the center of earthly blessing in a coming day. Jerusalem is yet to be “the joy of the whole earth” (Psalm 48:2). Any person or nation who persecutes them comes under the judgment of God, for even though they themselves are now a scattered people because of their rejection of Christ, they are still “beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28). Their land, the land of Palestine, is called “the glorious land,” and the Lord has already begun to work in bringing them back, though as yet they are going back in unbelief. It is, however, a remarkable sign that “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8). When as a nation they turn to the Lord in repentance, God will bless them in their land, but before that time comes we, the church, will have been called to “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). The way unsaved men act, one would think the world belonged to them, but let us not forget what the Lord said to Nebuchadnezzar when he became occupied with his own importance and greatness. He told him “that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will” (Daniel 4:25). How foolish of the nations to leave God out of their plans!
The Lord’s Portion Is His People
How precious the words that follow. “The Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” They might forget what He had done for them, but He still loved His people, and the Lord will never rest until His own are fully blest. Yes, God Himself will find His eternal joy in the blessing of those who are the subjects of His grace, whether it be Israel on earth or ourselves in heaven. We often think of our joy, but His joy in blessing us is far deeper. And not only in the future, for just as He wanted His people Israel to walk in obedience then so that He might lead and bless them in all things, so He would have us walk in the enjoyment of His love now. The enemy will do all he can to rob us of this precious portion, as we all know. May we be kept looking to the Lord for strength to walk in His ways.
The Lord had proved His goodness to Israel. “He found him in a desert land  ...  He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye” (verse 10). And has He not done this for us, too? We think of how He found us wandering far from Him in all our guilt and sin. Like sheep we had gone astray, but the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd sought after us until He found us. Then He led us about. How many mistakes we would have made, how often we would have missed the path, if He had not graciously taken us by the hand and led us about. And yet, sadly, sometimes we have resisted His leading to our own loss. But He has always been faithful, always near at hand to hear our call.
Further Meditations
1. What must happen before God will bless Israel in their land?
2.The Lord’s joy and satisfaction can be our motive for doing something. In Revelation chapter 2 the Ephesian saints were reproved for just one thing, What was it?
3. A good atlas really helps in seeing the land that the children of Israel will possess one day. In fact it would be a big help in understanding many references throughout the Bible. One that is pretty thorough is The New Moody Atlas of Bible Lands by B. Beitzel.

The Everlasting Arms: Deuteronomy 32:10-14

Deuteronomy 32:10-14
We then read that He instructed His people. How much we need this for the difficulties of the way. There are so many problems in life, and we feel unable to make the right decision — in fact it is impossible of ourselves. But the Word of God gives us instruction for every step of our pathway, and if we read it diligently, giving the Holy Spirit of God His place as the teacher, He will teach us what to do. This is so needful, especially in youth, and that is why we are told, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). We would like to encourage our readers, young and old, to form the habit of seeking to follow the wisdom of God’s Word at all times.
Not only did the Lord tell His people that He had found them, led them, and instructed them, but He had also kept them as the apple of His eye. How tenderly this speaks to our souls! We are so easily led astray that it is precious to think of the One who keeps us with all the carefulness with which we would guard our very eyes. When we find ourselves in places of temptation and danger, we can just look up and say, “Lord, keep me.” If we are self-confident, He may have to allow us to have a fall, and then we learn the hard way, but when we cry to Him to keep us, we will soon find those mighty arms outstretched to keep us from falling. On one occasion Peter did not feel he needed the Lord’s keeping power, for he said, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I” (Mark 14:29), but when he had learned his lesson, how fully he proved the Lord’s restoring and keeping power in the days and years that followed. How important it is that we walk dependently, seeking grace to follow the perfect example of the One who said “Preserve Me, O God: for in Thee do I put My trust” (Psalm 16:1).
Borne on Eagle’s Wings
The Lord brought before His people here the illustration of the mother eagle who stirs up her nest when the time comes for the young eagles to leave it. It is soft and comfortable for them when they are small, but she does not want them to stay in the nest forever. When she knows they are old enough to fly, she stirs it up and forces them out. It ceases to be a comfortable resting place for them, and so they try to fly. She then gets under them when they begin to go down, and bears then up on her strong wings until they learn to fly alone. And so the children of Israel would have remained in Egypt, but the Lord did not want them to settle down there, and He allowed trouble to come so that they would want to leave. Then He bore them up when their hearts would have fainted, and was carrying them to the land where He would have them. And is it not often so with us? We would like to settle down in this world and make ourselves comfortable here, but this is not God’s purpose for us. He therefore brings trouble into our lives, stirring up our nest until we get out to fly toward heaven. Then, as we meet the difficulties of the way, He puts His everlasting arms under us and bears us up until we again look up and fly heavenward, where our eternal rest is.
The next verse brings in the rich and abundant blessings that awaited the people in the land of Canaan, far better than they had ever had in Egypt — and how much better still are the joys that await us in the Father’s home above!
Further Meditations
1. What does a mother eagle do to help her young learn to fly?
2. Genesis 22 provides a wonderful example of how the Lord stirred up Abraham’s nest and allowed God to be glorified by faith. Describe what the Lord did throughout the story to both test Abraham and strengthen him.
3. You can find real refreshment from the messages of comfort and encouragement found in Angels in White by R. Elliott.

Considering the Latter End: Deuteronomy 32:15-31

Deuteronomy 32:15-31
The Lord, having reminded the people of His goodness to them and the marvelous provision which awaited them in the land of Canaan, knew only too well the effect it would have upon them. He knew that in spite of it all, they would soon forget Him and even rebel against Him. Their forty years of wilderness life had clearly shown this, for they had sacrificed to devils and not to God, and had forgotten “the Rock that begat them.” They had followed their evil ways until the Lord had had to deal with them in His governmental judgment, and this, He warned, would come upon them again until they were scattered and given to the sword. Even then, however, the Lord said He would not allow the enemy to consume them, lest their enemies would say that it was their own strength that had done it. Oh how faithfully He warned them, for it grieved His heart to see them follow their own sinful ways. And so it is with us who so often choose paths of self-will, to our own sorrow and loss. May all these things be a warning to us, for God has caused them to be written down for our learning (Romans 15:4).
The Latter End
Again the Lord pleaded, “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” (verse 29). The children of Israel were living for the present only as so many are today, and here they are called upon to consider where the path ended. How important this is! Have you considered your latter end? Do you know where you are going to spend eternity? Remember that unless you have personally accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you are lost and on the road to eternal hell. Why go on carelessly one moment longer? Come to the Saviour today and be saved before it is forever too late.
The people were then told that in warfare it was not a question of the strength of their enemies, but of the Lord being with them. If He went with them, then one would chase a thousand, and two would put ten thousand to flight, but if not, they would be defeated no matter how great their armies. How little is thought of this today. The nations build their mighty armies and weapons but leave God out, and because of this, we know that a time of war and bloodshed, far worse than the world has ever seen before, is coming upon the favored lands of Christendom (Romans 11:22; Hebrews 10:28-29). Judgment fell upon Israel for their disobedience, and since Christendom has not continued in the goodness of God, judgment will fall upon them too.
The Rock
The next verse (verse 31) is very striking. “Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” Even the enemies of Israel knew that when the Lord fought for His people, they could never prevail against them. And so the world sees and knows that the Christian has something they do not have. Especially in the presence of death, the one who is truly saved has a “Rock” which will never give way, while the poor unbeliever learns that his crumbling “rock” is not like ours. His reason, his religion, or his good works will never give him peace when he finds himself face to face with death and eternity. Be sure, dear reader, that you can say,
“On Christ the solid Rock I stand.”
Further Meditations
1. On whom did Israel’s victories in warfare depend?
2. The Psalms have a lot in them about Christ as our Rock. What are some of the references and how do they show Christ in contrast to the confidences of the world.
3. If you are thinking on the lovely subject of Christ as our rock you would probably enjoy the story behind the beautiful hymn Rock of Ages by Augustus Toplady.

God's Government: Deuteronomy 32:32-47

Deuteronomy 32:32-47
What a mighty “Rock” the children of Israel had, but, sadly, they forsook Him. They chose to live in ways of sin and willfulness, and to trust in their own wisdom and strength. They wanted their own pleasures and fun apart from God, even though Moses told them that their “grapes were grapes of gall, their clusters were bitter.” And indeed how many today make a similar choice. They want to have their fling in the world, well knowing that the path they are treading can only end in sorrow and bitterness, for the Scripture says that the pleasures of sin are only for a season (Hebrews 11:25). What sorrow and remorse these sins bring, even in this world, as well as eternal loss.
Going on in Sinful Ways
The Lord warned His people that He Himself would deal with them if they went on in sinful ways. Sometimes when trouble comes we would like to blame others, but let us always seek grace to see the Lord’s hand in all that takes place in our lives. No one can say an unkind word about us unless the Lord allows it (2 Samuel 16:10) nor can war break out unless God allows it (Psalm 106:41-42), and even sickness comes from His hand (Deuteronomy 28:59) — always to do us good at our “latter end.” This we can learn from Job in all he passed through. And so here the Lord told them that after they had come to the end of themselves, owned the folly of their own ways, and turned to Him, then He would come in and deliver them. He said He would deal with their enemies and deliver His people, causing their hearts to rejoice again in His goodness.
How often the Lord deals with us in His government, for we are so foolish and willful at times. One feels this especially for those who are young (though we all need it!) for the enemy makes a special attack upon the young, knowing that if he can get them in sinful paths, he can ruin their lives. Sometimes in an unwatchful moment he may lead them to take a false step which will ruin their lives for years to come. That verse is so very important, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). We do not have the wisdom in ourselves to choose a right and safe path for our own feet, but if we turn humbly and dependently to the Lord, He will guide us, for He has promised, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6). How good to have such an unfailing guide! May we never try to take a step without Him!
Christ Our Life
Moses then, with Joshua, exhorted the people again to walk in the ways of the Lord for, he said, “It is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life.” Alas, how often the Word of God is repeated and hymns are sung in a vain and thoughtless way. Those who read or sing in this way do it only to salve their consciences, or because they enjoy singing, without meaning it at all. Think of singing,
“Saviour, we long to follow Thee,
Daily Thy cross to bear,”
and then walking out of the meeting to go on in a worldly way with worldly friends, worldly dress, a worldly home, and everything else that savors of seeking after the things of earth. Surely it ought to be, as it says here, our very life, for what else do we have that is worth living for but Christ (Philippians 1:21)?
Further Meditations
1. Why did Moses and Joshua exhort the people to walk in the ways of the Lord?
2. What are some of the dangers of continuing doing a right thing with a wrong motive? How is this problem illustrated in Malachi 1?
3. This chapter refers to worldliness. You can get quite a bit more help from the pamphlet Worldliness: What Does it Mean? taken from the magazine Help and Food.

Grace and Government: Deuteronomy 32:48-33:5

Deuteronomy 32:48-33:5
After this Moses told them that his work was done. The Lord told him to go up to the top of Mt. Nebo, and from there he could see the goodly land of Palestine which the Lord was going to give to His people. He could not, however, go over the Jordan and enter it with them, because he had lost his patience with the people at Meribah-Kadesh. It is a solemn thing to lose one’s patience with the people of God, no matter how much they have failed or tried our spirits. Moses was a wonderful man of God, but being the law giver and representing it typically, one sin was enough to keep him out of the land. It is good to be able to turn to Luke 9:30-31 and find him in the land on the mount of transfiguration, speaking of the only ground of blessing, Christ’s work upon the cross. We learn from Hebrews 11:26 that eternal blessing will be his, “by faith.”
The Grace of God and the Government of God
We now come to a very interesting and instructive chapter, telling us of the blessing which Moses pronounced upon each of the twelve tribes. Something of their true character and future is seen in Genesis 49 when Jacob gathered his sons around him before he died, but what a difference here when we see what grace has done, and will do for them because God is faithful. Nevertheless, we find mingled with these blessings the government of God, for even though Israel were the people of God and loved by Him, they must come under His government. In fact, as believers, these two things follow us all through our lives — the grace of God and the government of God. Blessing is made sure to us through grace alone, but there is, nevertheless, God’s dealing with us as His children, which we cannot escape, just as Israel could not escape it.
God had given His people the law and He could not deny His own character in holiness, but He loved the people to whom He gave it, as indeed He had promised them blessing according to His own faithfulness, long before giving the law (Galatians 3:17-18). And not only does God love His people, but they are in His hand. What a safe place to be! How precious the promise of John 10, where the Lord Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” There we are eternally secure because we are eternally held by those mighty hands.
Empty Professions of No Avail
They all received His Word, though sadly with some, it was not “mixed with faith” (Hebrews 4:2), and they were not saved. If you have heard but never believed the precious Word of God, may your heart be opened to receive Christ today. God has told us that many will come in that day of judgment saying, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works?” only to receive His solemn answer, “I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). Their empty profession will be of no avail, any more than Israel’s boasting of having the law of God, and yet not walking in obedience to it. God must have reality. May we who are saved, too, remember the words “It is your life,” and walk in the truth God has made known to us.
Further Meditations
1. What is mingled with the blessing Moses pronounced on the twelve tribes?
2. How did God work with David in both pure grace and faithful government?
3. There’s a very nice little booklet God’s Grace and God’s Government by P. Wilson that will extend your study of this important topic.

Reward for Faithfulness: Deuteronomy 33:6-11

Deuteronomy 33:6-11
Special blessings came upon Levi and Joseph because of their faithfulness, for God never forgets anything done for Him. We may do something for the Lord as Joseph did, and even get into a great deal of trouble for it at the time, yet the Lord who searches the heart values it, and His reward will surprise us. He will never be our debtor. Let us be willing to suffer and endure hardness for Christ! If we think of what He endured for us, our fainting hearts will be encouraged and we will find that “the end of the Lord” is blessing unbounded.
The Blessings of the Tribes
The blessing of Reuben, “Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few,” makes us think of the grace that saved is when we were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). We deserved to die, but instead of this we “live through Him” (the Son of God, 1 John 4:9). This is the grand starting point of all blessing with us, as it was with Israel, and there will not be “few” but “many sons” brought home to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
We might notice as to Judah, who comes next in our chapter, that the expression, “bring him unto his people” and “be Thou a help to him from his enemies,” looks on to a future day when God will bring back the Jews (those of Judah) to their land, and bless them there. They are a despised people today, having many enemies, but the Lord will deliver them and rule the world in and through them. It is also precious to apply this passage to ourselves. After we have been given life instead of the death we deserved, the Lord brings us to His people. We become “fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
The Faithfulness of Levi
Next comes the tribe of Levi who had proved themselves faithful at a time when Israel worshipped the golden calf. They had thought more of the Lord’s glory than even father or mother. They were obedient to the Word of God, and stood on the Lord’s side regardless of what others were doing, and this is most important. We must be faithful if we are to be used of the Lord on His behalf, for “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Because of this faithfulness, the tribe of Levi was chosen to be the priestly tribe, and Moses requests that the Thummim and Urim, which mean lights and perfections, might always be with them. This is so needed for all who serve the Lord. Moses (who was of the tribe of Levi) had failed when tested at the waters of Meribah, for there is nothing that tries the patience of the servant like the strivings of the people of God, especially when it is our heart’s desire to help and built them up. But God allows these testings so that we might turn to Him and count upon Him, even in the darkest days. When there is an interceding for the people of God, and a counting upon God, there is sure to be blessing as a result, but let us remember that the trials in the path of serving the Lord make manifest if we are really walking with Him or not. No strength of natural character will keep us when difficulties arise, but let us never forget these three words, “God is faithful,” and count upon Him. His love to His people never falters, and if we are to act on His behalf let us “walk in love” always.
Further Meditations
1. Why were the tribes of Levi and Joseph blessed in a special way?
2. Why does God allow us to be tested? Why doesn’t he just make it “easy” to obey? Besides Levi who else faced some difficult tests in the book of Deuteronomy?
3. You might find real encouragement from the clearly written pamphlet, Discipleship — Its Terms, Tests and Rewards: Seven Things That Characterize a Disciple Indeed by B. Anstey.

God's Purposes for His People: Deuteronomy 33:12-26

Deuteronomy 33:12-26
Sweet and comforting words were spoken about Benjamin, and they have been a cheer to many, even to this day. How marvelous to know that we, like Benjamin, are “beloved of the Lord.” We know our love is weak and feeble, but we are beloved of Him, and always safe when by His side. Then too, we are covered over by His love and kept by His strength “all the day long.” What confidence this gives!
“Why should I ever careful be,
Since such a God is mine?
He watches o’er me night and day,
And tells me, “Thou art Mine.”
The enemy would seek to occupy us with ourselves, reminding us how weak our love is, but happy confidence in our souls is the result of a sense of His love, which never changes.
Joseph comes next. He is a beautiful figure of Christ, for He was rejected by his brethren, as Joseph was. “He came unto his own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11), but just as rich and abundant blessings, and the enjoyment of them, are promised to the tribe of Joseph, so those who share Christ’s rejection now shall enjoy in communion the precious fruits of His redemptive work even now, as well as reigning with Him in a future day. Let us bear in mind that when we shun the cross we are shunning the enjoyment of our blessings.
The Blessings of the Tribes
The blessings of the other tribes speak to us of God’s purposes for Israel; blessings they would have realized then in their land had they walked in obedience, but they forfeited them through disobedience. They will, however, dwell safely in the full extent of their land, and be blessed in their going out. They will also rule the nations in their coming day of blessing and enjoy the abundance of the treasures of the earth and sea in a manner that has never been known before (Psalm 45:8-9). They will have many happy children in that day (Psalm 127:3-5).
Walking in Communion
It is particularly instructive to note the blessing of the tribe of Asher, and if we, like them, would dip our foot in oil — walking in the power of the Spirit — we would enjoy our spiritual blessings in a fuller measure here and now. The iron speaks of strength, and the brass (from which their shoes were made) tells us of self-judgment. These two things go along with walk in communion with God. Sometimes we would like to appropriate these blessings to ourselves, that is, we would like to prove the daily strength the Lord gives, but without self-judgment and communion. Surely God is faithful, but if we are to walk in the good of His promise, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be,” let us be sure that we do not become careless in our walk. Let us allow the Spirit of God to speak to us through His Word. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:22).
How the Lord delighted to bless people. He was above all for Israel, as well as for us, riding upon the heaven for their help; and now we know Christ is risen and is “head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23). This is what gives confidence — not our great numbers for we are few indeed, but “Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).
Further Meditations
1. In what way is Joseph a figure of Christ?
2. The value of communion or common thoughts with God is hard to overestimate. It’s very fragile and extremely important. How does the Lord Jesus’ life show His daily communion with His Father?
3. You would no doubt enjoy the meditations found in the short booklet Communion With God: What Is It? by C. H. Mackintosh.

The Lord Exalted: Deuteronomy 33:27-34:12

Deuteronomy 33:27-34:12
What marvelous words, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” We may feel very low at times, as indeed we often have, but we can never get lower than those everlasting arms which are always underneath. When as a nation Israel comes to realize this and turns to the Lord, then the promised blessings will come upon them in all their fullness in that millennial day. Their land will then yield its increase, and the heavens will drop down dew. Then it will truly be said, as it is prophesied here, “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord.” All will be fulfilled according to God’s faithful promise, founded upon the work of Christ on Calvary.
Moses Views the Land
After telling of these blessings, Moses then went up to the top of Mt. Nebo at the command of God and viewed the land. As we have noticed before, he could not enter the land, for he had failed to maintain the glory of the Lord before the people, thinking instead of his own position. When we become weary and angry because of the failure of the people of God, we place ourselves above them, when we are not really above them at all. In fact, we only find fault in order to shelter ourselves from the evil we cannot rise above, for if we were really above it, according to God, we would never weary, but seek the blessing of His people according to His mind. This honors and exalts the Lord, who will ever maintain His own glory — by us if we are faithful, or in spite of us if we are not.
The Death of Moses
Moses did not have any ordinary funeral, for he was the only man of whom we read in Scripture that was buried by the Lord. Perhaps the people would have made a great deal of his sepulcher had they known where it was, but the Lord did not allow them to find out, preventing this snare.
It is surely strange how men — even true Christians — will often resist the truth of God ministered by His servants, but when they are gone they will make a great deal of them. How our hearts are always prone to exalt man, but God would teach us to exalt Christ alone! If the truth of God is ministered, let us rejoice, esteeming the servant highly in love for his work’s sake (1 Thessalonians 5:13), but let us not give to any man, either living or having gone before, the place which belongs alone to Christ. Moses was the greatest prophet whom God ever raised up in Israel, but the time came when his service was ended, and then the Lord raised up Joshua in his place. There is only One who never failed, and who lives for evermore above. May we ever look to Him, and to Him alone!
“Jesus, Thou alone art worthy,
Ceaseless praises to receive.”
It is precious at the close of this interesting book to look back and trace the pleadings of the Lord with His people, and how often He exhorted them to walk in His ways. Even though He knew of their weakness and of the sad failure that would mark their history as a nation, He spoke often of their future blessing, which He in His faithfulness would bring in. May we who read these things be stirred up to walk more devotedly for the Lord, always counting upon His unchanging grace and love!
Further Meditations
1. Why might the Lord have buried Moses Himself?
2. Moses did enter the land of Israel but only after his death. When did he do it and what does the incident tell us about God and His faithfulness.
3. There’s an encouraging booklet on the burial of Moses by J. G. Bellett entitled God Exceeds His Promises.