Deuteronomy 10 – Recovering after a Fall
A. God’s plan of recovery for Israel after the rebellion at Mount Sinai.
1. (1-5) Israel had to get back to the Word of God, so God commanded the giving of the new tablets of the law.
At that time the LORD said to me, “Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain and make yourself an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke; and you shall put them in the ark.” So I made an ark of acacia wood, hewed two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain, having the two tablets in my hand. And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the LORD had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, just as the LORD commanded me.
a. Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first: Moses broke the tablets of the law, not only out of anger, but also as a powerful visual representation of Israel’s breaking of the law of God. Now God commanded that they restore the law by bringing forth two new tablets of the law.
b. He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing: God wanted His written word to be the starting point for Israel’s right walk with Him. Therefore, He restored the tablets, even writing on the second tablets with His own hand.
i. This is a powerful picture of the inspiration of God’s word; though God did not literally write the Scriptures with His own hand, He did perfectly guide the minds and hands of the writers, so that the Scriptures are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), that is, given by the inspiration of God.
c. And put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are: Getting right with God after a time of rebellion must always begin and center on God’s word. In the days of Josiah, King of Judah, repentance and revival came to the people of God when they focused on God’s word again (2 Kings 22:8-23:25).
2. (6-9) In order to deal with Israel’s sin problem, God established an enduring priesthood.
(Now the children of Israel journeyed from the wells of Bene Jaakan to Moserah, where Aaron died, and where he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his stead. From there they journeyed to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of rivers of water. At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, just as the LORD your God promised him.)
a. Where Aaron died, and where he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his stead: This parenthesis speaking about the priesthood demonstrated the need for priestly sacrifice and intercession in getting right with God after a time of rebellion. Israel needed the sacrifice, intercession, and blessing that the Levites would bring to the nation.
i. The need for a priesthood shouted to Israel: “You can’t do it on your own. You need to come to God through a mediator, who will atone for your sin, pray for you, and bless you. If you refuse your priestly mediator, and trust in your own ability to do these things, you will perish.”
b. To stand before the LORD to minister to Him and to bless in His name: Getting right with God after a time of rebellion must always have a focus on the priestly ministry of Jesus on our behalf. This work of Jesus is shown in His atonement for our sin at the cross, on His intercession for us in heaven, and on the blessing that He brings to us from heaven.
3. (10-11) Israel needed to move on towards the Promised Land, so God gave Moses the command to go forth.
As at the first time, I stayed in the mountain forty days and forty nights; the LORD also heard me at that time, and the LORD chose not to destroy you. Then the LORD said to me, “Arise, begin your journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”
a. Arise, begin your journey: Israel’s rebellion at Mount Sinai with the golden calf was significant; it was no small matter. Yet God was not done with them. After they came back to His word and came through His priesthood, it was time to move on. God had a place to take them and they had to get about the business of getting there.
b. That they may go in and possess the land: Getting right with God after a time of rebellion must always come to a place of progress again. It does no good to come back to the word, come through God’s priesthood in Jesus, and then remain stuck in the same place. God wants us to move on with Him, and when we are walking right with God again, we will go in and possess the land.
B. What God requires of Israel.
1. (12-13) What the LORD requires of His people.
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
a. Fear the LORD your God: God requires from us a reverential honor towards Him; not a fear that would make us shrink back, but a heart that so honors God that we would be hesitant to offend Him.
b. To walk in all His ways: God requires us to live our lives after the pattern He has set for us; to walk on His road not on our own.
c. To love Him: God requires us to love Him. This means the love He expects isn’t a love that just happens, but it is a love that comes from a decision to set our affection upon Him.
d. To serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul: God requires us to serve Him, to see all that we do as service unto Him, and to do all that we do as if doing it unto Him.
e. To keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes: God requires us to not only know His word, but to keep it – in the sense of possessing it in ourselves, and in the sense of protecting it.
f. For your good: every command of God is given for our good. They are never given so He can exercise His power, or so He can feel important. Every command He makes is with our best interest in mind, even if we cannot sense it or understand it.
2. (14-15) Why God requires this from Israel.
Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.
a. The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them: God requires this conduct from His people because they are His special possession. Though heaven and earth belong to God, He set His focus and attention on Israel beginning with their fathers.
b. You above all peoples, as it is this day: Being chosen – having the special attention of God focused upon you – is a place of great privilege, but also a place of great responsibility. Israel had a special responsibility to obedience.
3. (16) What it takes to fulfill what God requires.
Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.
a. Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart: All males among Israel had to be circumcised eight days after they were born. But this minor surgery was merely a symbol for the real work of cutting away the flesh that God desired; the work of taking our hearts inclined after the flesh and giving us hearts inclined after the spirit.
b. And be stiff-necked no longer: This theme would be repeated later in the prophets. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts (Jeremiah 4:4). To fulfill God’s law, it takes more than being given a command – it takes an inner transformation, a transformation that only God can bring.
i. God commanded them to do something that only He could do in them to show them the need to have the inner transformation, and to compel them to seek Him for this inner work.
ii. Israel is said to have uncircumcised hearts in Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 9:26, and Ezekiel 44:7 and 9.
4. (17-22) A call to obedience, reverence, and compassion.
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as the stars of heaven in multitude.
a. The LORD your God is God of gods and LORD of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome: The basis of this brief section of commands is set in the character of God.
b. The great God, mighty and awesome: When God requires us to show justice (no partiality nor takes a bribe), compassion (loves the stranger), and reverence (take oaths in His name), it is because these virtues answer to aspects in God’s own character.
c. Who has done for you these great and awesome things: The obedience God calls us to is always set in the context of what He did for us. Our service and obedience unto the LORD is based on what He has done for us and is to be the grateful response to His goodness. If there is a lack in obedience and reverence, there is almost always a lack of appreciation for what the LORD has done.
d. He is your praise: This is true in two senses. First, He is the object of our praise; second, He is also the One who makes us praiseworthy. Any wisdom, beauty, or skill we show is not to our praise – but He is your praise.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission