Deuteronomy Chapter Eleven
When a family goes on holidays and children are piled into the back seat you know that those children don’t really contribute to the security of the journey. They are not deciding where to go, or steering the car or deciding (usually) where to arrive. Their security is put in place with seat-belts, locked doors and an adult driver. But here is an important question: can they contribute to the joy of the journey?
The answer is ‘yes’ because a huge factor in a happy journey is the way children behave (or cope) in the back seat. They can make or break the journey’s joy. This is an important way to think about Deuteronomy because the covenant God is the security of His people on the journey but the behaviour of His people is very much the secret of joy (both to Him as we honour Him and to us as we obey Him). This is reinforced in John 15:11.
It would be a grave mistake to think that Deuteronomy is setting out obedience as the secret of eternal security any more than a parent would set out back-seat behaviour as the ‘make or break’ key to arriving alive. If the people of God disobey God in the Land, they may lose the Land but not necessarily their eternal souls. The Land is not the same as the Kingdom.
So, we come to Deuteronomy 11 and the final chapter in the ‘covenant’ chapters (5-11) where we have seen different aspects (‘facets’) of the beautiful bond that the Lord made with His people. The final (and seventh) facet is very like the first (which was ‘grace’) but we will call this one ‘generosity”. The Lord God has planned a generous provision for His people (see 11:12) – the sort of physical blessings you would hope for in a new Land.
Moses begins with the reminder that the children in front of him (11:2) were not born when the Exodus and Sinai events took place. So, the older people must take the lead and observe this Lord and His “commands” (11:8). The Land they are entering will be much better than Egypt where they had to work for water “by foot” (11:10 – either walking to get it or pedalling the irrigation). Now the water will fall in abundance (see 11:14)!
The warning however is that if the people turn to other gods the rain will dry up (11:16-17). So, he urges them again to teach this to their children and keep the Word close by (11:18-21). Their obedience will continue the blessings in the Land – provision and protection – just as obedience from children (travelling on the back-seat of a car) brings joy. As they enter the land, they will see two mountains (11:29) like gate-posts and they are to shout the blessings from one and the warnings from the other.
Once again, we must remind ourselves that no Israelite obeyed this teaching – till Jesus came. He alone kept the Word of God and then totally gave Himself for the ‘Word-breakers’ at the cross. He died for people of the past ((believers in Israel) and people of the present (believers today). And He is the “mediator of the new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15).
Heavenly Father, How thankful we are for the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep and from whose Hand no believer can be snatched. Stir our reborn hearts to be faithful to your Word for your glory and our joy – in Jesus’ Name, Amen.