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soldier at war memorial wall March 14 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Deuteronomy 1, 2, 3

Remembrance and Restoration

It is not quite Memorial Day in America, but the idea of it suits today's theme. On Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day), we especially remember our fallen soldiers and the supreme sacrifices they made for the United States. Hopefully, we will also remember some of the lessons of war; what we did right and what we did wrong. Deuteronomy is a book of remembrance. In fact, the name of the book in Latin means “second law”; which was for the Israelites a reminder of their laws and ordinances. It was also a reminder of the trials and victories they experienced.

In going from the book of Numbers to the book of Deuteronomy, we move from the first generation of Israelites who were delivered from Egyptian slavery to the second generation of Israelites, many of whom have not experienced it personally. The first generation rebelled against God at the southern border of Canaan (the Promised Land) at Kadesh Barnea. Because they were fearful of the inhabitants, they would not go into the land and conquer it. For this revolt they died wandering in the wilderness. Now their children and grandchildren are given an opportunity to enter the Promised Land. They wait by the Jordan River to go in and conquer it. While not perfect, they have repented and are learning to trust God. If we want to be spiritually restored we must do the same (more...).

The structure of Deuteronomy is significant. It's format is a treaty similar to a near eastern treaty of the day, called the Suzerain Treaty. The Suzerain Treaty is a formal agreement between a king (the Suzerain) and a vassal nation (more…). God makes this renewed covenant between the Israelites and Himself because it has been nearly forty years since the first one was instituted (Deuteronomy 2:14). Perhaps the family leaders and priests were too rebellious or lazy to pass on God's laws and statutes to their children. It is important to share God's Word, the Bible, with each generation of children so they may know what God requires of them - obedience and faith.

Though written in the form of a treaty, the book of Deuteronomy is also a collection of Moses' sermons just before his death (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p. 260). It is necessary for him to admonish the Israelites to keep the laws of God with their stipulations so they will be successful in the Promised Land of Canaan. Here is a principle we can apply to our lives: if we desire spiritual restoration and favor, we need to remember how good things were before we got into trouble and what got us into trouble. Then, we need to repent and commit ourselves anew in conformance to whatever behavior God expects of us. This is also the purpose of Deuteronomy.

Another feature of the book of Deuteronomy is the change of relationship between God and the Israelites. In the book of Exodus God says, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD [from the Hebrew word translated, ‘Yahweh’] I did not make myself known to them” (Exodus 6:1, NIV). “Yahweh” means He is the ever present, covenant keeping God. The covenants were promised to the patriarchs but were unfulfilled. The Israelites did not experience God as LORD until after they had been in Egyptian bondage for 400 years. Moses' initial announcement that God was indeed present and concerned about them was a great comfort to them. Through many plagues on the Egyptians and in the face of their “gods,” which were supposed to protect them, Yahweh personally delivered the Israelites out of bondage and brought them to the Promised Land.

From “Yahweh” in Exodus and Numbers we move to the book of Deuteronomy, where personal pronouns are connected to God over 443 times. Why? First of all, God is the Suzerain (king) of the covenant. Second, and more practically, Moses wants the second generation to own a relationship with God, and so he speaks of Him as their LORD. The Israelites need to own their relationship with the true God of heaven because they are going into a land that serves many false gods. Moses wants their loyalty to be with the one true God, who personally delivered them from bondage. Is our relationship with God personal? Is He our God, our LORD and our Savior? We need the confidence of a personal relationship with God to fight spiritual battles in our lives. A personal relationship with God is possible through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2; John 14:6; 20:17; Romans 8:15; 1Corinthians 1:3). Jesus is the only one who can provide spiritual healing and restoration (more...).

Before the people enter the land of Canaan, God gives Israel two significant military victories. The purpose of these victories according to Deuteronomy 2:25 and 3:21-22,24 is to strike fear into the hearts of other nations. Suddenly this huge nation, this sleeping giant, this strange, downtrodden, horde of shepherds wandering aimlessly in the wilderness for almost forty years, awakes and wins two great military victories! The victories give courage to the people of Israel that their God will help them win. Those of us who want spiritual restoration also need the encouragement of some victories. Nothing changes our attitudes like winning. To win we must learn to trust God, be obedient, and act in faith.

After the final military victories in the Promised Land, God will give the land east of the Jordan River to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half of the tribe of Manasseh as Moses promised. They must keep their agreement to fight for the liberation of the Promised land, however, before they settle permanently on their own property. After it is conquered, they can go home and enjoy their inheritance (Deuteronomy 3:18). To win we must also keep our promises.

Lessons to live by:

  • If we want to be spiritually restored we must truly repent and start learning to trust God.
  • If we desire spiritual restoration and favor, we need to remember how good things were before we got into trouble and what got us into trouble. Then, we need to repent and commit ourselves anew in conformance to whatever behavior God expects of us.
  • A personal relationship with God is possible through Jesus Christ (more...). Ultimately, Jesus is the only one who can help people become restored.
  • Those of us who want spiritual restoration need the encouragement of some victories. Nothing changes our attitudes like winning. To win we must learn to trust God, be obedient, and act in faith.
  • To win we must keep our promises.

Today's Bible memory verse:

Deuteronomy 1:30 “The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes,” (NIV).

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