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Deuteronomy 1:16-17 (KJV) And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.  Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
Last Wednesday we started studying through the Book of Deuteronomy. The name “Deuteronomy” does not come from the Book itself (such as 1 & 2 Peter were written by Peter the Apostle) but from what it is. Deuteronomy means “second law”. The first giving of the Law to God’s Israel was when they left Egypt, and God wrote Exodus through Moses. The first generation of Israel broke the Law by refusing to obey God at the Jordan River, refusing to enter the Promised Land. Their failure caused God to condemn the first generation to wander for forty years in the land until that generation passed. Deuteronomy was written to the second generation of Israel as a second giving of the Law. Deuteronomy repeats many of the Laws of Exodus as well as the Ten Commandments, but also adds a running commentary on the Law and on Israel’s sin.
Why Study Deuteronomy?
First, because it’s part of the Bible, and God wants us to study it. The Bible refers to the first generation of Israel in the New Testament, saying:
1 Corinthians 10:1 (KJV) Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
1 Corinthians 10:4-6 (KJV) And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.  Now THESE THINGS WERE OUR EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
God gave us the Old Testament as an example of what to do, and what NOT to do. Deuteronomy was given to the second generation of Israel AND the Church so that neither group of believers would fall into the same traps and same sins that caused others to lose the Promised Land.
As the Bible says “(Romans 15:4) For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
God wants His Children, whether the Old Covenant Israel or the New Covenant Church to walk victoriously in this present world. We are to be VICTORS NOT VICTIMS.
A second reason we study this Book is because our Lord Jesus quoted more from Deuteronomy and Psalms than any other Biblical text. Jesus wanted the precepts in this Book applied to His Church.
In Deuteronomy chapter 1 Moses recounts the failures of the first generation of Israel. He basically summarizes what happened in Numbers 13-14 which was a shameful blot on Israel’s history. But before Moses summarizes what the first generation of Israel did he talks about organizing the people under leaders and judges. Moses then gives the people a mandate to follow. He said:
Deuteronomy 1:16-17 (KJV) And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.  Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; YE SHALL NOT BE AFRAID OF THE FACE OF MAN; FOR THE JUDGMENT IS GOD’S
The leaders and judges were supposed to be totally impartial and totally just. They were not to be driven with fear of man. Moses told them …
For The Judgment Is God’s
The Righteous Are Bond Servants Of God
When Israel was enslaved to Egypt, the people of God in a pagan land, they had to obey what their masters told them to do. There was no choice in the matter. The master was in effect their Lord. If they failed to do as the master said as slaves they would be cruelly punished. The judgment was the master’s. What the master said was true regardless as to what you thought. You had to live according to his will.
When God saved Israel from Egyptian slavery the nation then belonged to Him. God told Pharaoh:
Exodus 7:16 (KJV) … Let my people go, that they may SERVE ME in the wilderness …
Exodus 8:1 (KJV) … Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may SERVE ME.
God did not free a nation of slaves just to allow them to be bound to another master. God freed Israel so that in their freedom they would lovingly and willingly serve God.
God has a very simple parameter for either Israelite or Christian. We are saved to serve HIM.
We are freed from slavery to sin to serve the Master.
Beloved, if you are a Christian you are saved to serve the Lord. You are called to be a willing slave to God. I know is a radical thought, but it is nonetheless true. The crowd pleasing Christianity preached from many pulpits today does not accurately present what God has called us to do. We are to serve God. We are to be His bondservants. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 10:20:
Matthew 4:10 (KJV) … Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him ONLY shalt thou SERVE.
And the Bible says: Colossians 3:23-24 (KJV) And whatsoever ye do, DO IT HEARTILY, AS TO THE LORD, and not unto men;… FOR YE SERVE THE LORD CHRIST.
1 Corinthians 6:20 (KJV) For ye are BOUGHT with a price: therefore glorify God in YOUR BODY, AND IN YOUR SPIRIT, WHICH ARE GOD’S.
1 Corinthians 7:23 (KJV) Ye are BOUGHT with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
Just as Israel no longer belonged to Egypt, you, dear Christian, no longer belong to this world. You belong to God! You are His, bought and paid for.
Romans 12:10-11 (KJV) Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; SERVING THE LORD;
Romans 6:20-22 (KJV) For when ye were the SERVANTS of sin, ye were free from righteousness.  What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.  But now being made free from sin, and BECOME SERVANTS TO GOD, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
The Christian as well as the Israelite was saved from Egypt
(i.e. sin & the world) to serve the Living God!
Hebrews 9:14 (KJV) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to SERVE THE LIVING GOD?
We are His servants. We are His slaves. We are to obey God, and do as He wills. We were not freed from Egypt to become anarchists or free agents. We are called to be His bondslaves.
1 Corinthians 7:22 (KJV) For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.
As bondservants together we are to work together for the glory of God.
2 Timothy 2:24 (KJV) And the SERVANT OF THE LORD must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient …
As bondservants we reject other masters. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. YE CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON” (Matthew 6:24).
The benefits of being God’s servant or slave is that He owns me, and must take care of me. As long as I follow His directives I will pass through challenges – just as Israel passed through the Red Sea – unharmed. But what happens when we cease to serve God, and begin to serve ourselves?
The Danger Of Not Serving God
Deuteronomy 1:19-21 (KJV) And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.  And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.  Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
“Horeb” is Mount Sinai, where Israel received the Law of Exodus. God told Israel:
Deuteronomy 1:8 (KJV) Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
The land was given to Israel. God told Israel “go in and possess the land”. God tells Israel this over 50 times in Deuteronomy. The land was theirs already. The Lord brought Israel out of Egypt with a mighty hand, destroying their enemies, and transporting them safely through the Red Sea. When Israel arrived at the boundary that passed into Canaan it was marked with a mountain. Moses said:
Deuteronomy 1:20 (KJV) … Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
The Amorites were highland mountaineers who were the descenants of Canaan, the son of Ham. Ham looked on his father Noah’s nakedness and because of this God cursed the Amorites as well as the other Canaanites. God said:
Genesis 9:25-26 (KJV) … Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.  And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
The Canaanites occupied the land of Promise, but they were a God cursed people. The land was given to Abraham, the Father of the Faithful. It was given to Abraham’s Israel. The land belonged to Israel and all they had to do was go in and possess it. Bible scholar Warren Wiersbe said:
“faith is not believing in spite of evidence—that’s superstition—but obeying in spite of circumstances and consequences.”
God told Israel to enter the land.
If you belong to God, you should enter the land.
God told Abraham & his descendants to be circumcised.
God told Christians to be baptized.
If you belong to God you do as HE says without murmuring or complaint.
God told His people to fear not, neither be discouraged. Just trust the Lord and do as He says. But then the people begin to stray. We are told:
Deuteronomy 1:22-23 (KJV) And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.  And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:
Now this was not God’s idea, but the people’s idea. God merely told Israel to enter the land and possess it. A delegation from the people came from Israel and said in effect “Let’s not go directly into the land. Let’s send twelve spies who can tell us …
Deuteronomy 1:22 (KJV) … what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come …
God had told them which way to go. He had told them to take ALL the land. The spies were going to be advisors to God. Our Heavenly Father is longsuffering:
Exodus 34:6 (KJV) “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, …”
I am so glad God is longsuffering, patient with His Children. Moses heard the proposal then agreed to it himself. Even great leaders like Moses and King David can make bad decisions! It was not Moses’ place to be God to these people. He was to lead them, to love them, and to obey His Lord and Master. The Bible tells us:
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Galatians 5:9)
In my life I can tell you, the less there is of me and the more of God the better my life works out. There was a song out a few years ago called Slow Fade. The song said:
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white are turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away, People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade…
It is never a good idea to put yourself in the place of God. The spies went into the land, and wandered throughout it for 40 days. When they came back their report was not encouraging, but discouraging.
Deuteronomy 1:25-27 (KJV) And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.  Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:  And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
God loved Israel, just as He loves every one of His Children by the Blood. The spies looked at the inhabitants of the land rather than at the God Who saved them. They said …
Deuteronomy 1:28 (KJV) … The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
Beloved, our God is bigger than any obstacle this life can throw against us. Our God is able to do immeasurably greater than we can even imagine. The Judges in Israel were told to render a fair judgment to each person, to not show respect of persons. What is happening here? Israel is judging God as unable to keep His Word. They are even judging God as Someone Who hates them! They are claiming that God saved them from Egypt just to have them executed by the Amorites. That is utter hogwash! Moses tries to reason with the people.
Deuteronomy 1:29-33 (KJV) … Dread not, neither be afraid of them.  The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;  And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.  Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,  Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
God was visibly protecting His people. Beloved, can you think back to a time in your lives when God blessed you? Can you not remember the day you met the Crucified Christ at the altar of repentance? Do you not remember how grievous and evil your sins were, and yet the Father forgave you for His dear Son’s sake? Do you not remember the times God intervened in your life, lovingly saving you and blessing you? I can. I can remember numerous answers to prayer, especially the prayer I prayed on the day that Christ Jesus became my Savior and Lord. God bore you as a man would bear a son. He carried you when you could not walk. God did not save you from Egypt and escort you through the deserts in order to kill you at the end. No, God is not like that. God is good, loving, and kind. But God is also just, and holy. And GOD! So the Lord told them:
Deuteronomy 1:35-36, 38 (KJV) Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,  Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD. …  But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
The first generation of Israel lost the blessings of the Promised Land. God allowed Joshua and Caleb – the two spies who stood with Him – to go into the land. But all the other adults lost out. Why? Because of unbelief and disobedience. Beloved, God is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3). God’s Word is true. Let us who are His strive to obey Him in everything, to heed His Word, to follow our Lord where ever He leads. God is able. And God will bless if we will obey Him in all things.
May God touch your hearts with His Word.