Saturday Nov 14, 2020

Deuteronomy 1:1-18

     In Deuteronomy 1:1-18 Moses addressed the second generation of Israelites who were camping east of the Jordan River (Deut 1:1-5 - see map), recounting the events forty years earlier when God entered into a contract relationship with their parents at Mount Horeb/Sinai (Deut 1:6-8), after which Moses appointed military and judicial leaders to help bear the burden of leadership (Deut 1:9-18). After the exodus, God had offered the chosen land to His chosen people, Israel, which was theirs by divine right (Deut 1:1-8), for the Owner of the land promised it to them as part of the Abrahamic contract (Gen 12:1-3; 15:18; 17:7-8; 26:3-4; 28:13-14). Moses also mentions how he could not bear the responsibility of leadership alone (Deut 1:9; cf. Ex 18:13-26). If the exodus generation had walked by faith and obeyed the Lord, they would have entered the land forty years earlier; however, they forfeited their inheritance through disobedience (See Num 14:1-12; 20-24; 14:34). Now, Moses speaks to the second generation and offers them the land of Canaan which their parents had forfeited; thus, what he expounded was a covenant renewal. Moses saw how the Lord had blessed His people by making them numerous (Deut 1:10-11), and twice recognized his human inability to lead them by himself (Deut 1:9, 12). Realizing he needed the help of others, Moses said, “Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads” (Deut 1:13). The Israelites agreed with his wise request (Deut 1:14), and he took the heads of their tribes, “wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over” them to rule (Deut 1:15a). The leadership consisted of military commanders (Deut 1:15b) and judges (Deut 1:16a). He charged Israel’s judges, saying, “Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s”. (Deut 1:16b-17a). The judges were to hear each case on its own merits and not be influenced to partiality by the social standing of those who stood before them, whether small or great. Recognizing “the judgment is God’s” meant each judge was himself being judged by “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25). This shows that judgment among God’s people is both a legal and theological matter. God is the ultimate Judge of all matters, and the judges in Israel were accountable to Him. The legal cases that were too difficult, Moses would personally handle (Deut 1:17b). Moses wanted them to be involved in the outcome of their future, so he “commanded” concerning all they “should do” (Deut 1:18). This recounting of historical events revealed, in part, God’s leading His chosen people to the chosen land He’d promised to their fathers. After the exodus from Egypt and the covenant at Mount Horeb, God worked through Moses to establish leadership among the people who would help guide them into the land.

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