The last chapter closed with Moses describing some of the great works that the Lord had done for His people of Israel, and here he continued to mention some more of them. “Because God has made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude” (as the preceding chapter concludes), “therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God” (thus this chapter begins). Those whom God has built up into families – whose beginning was small, but whose latter end has greatly increased – should use that as a persuasion with themselves why they should serve the Lord. And the mercies that we have seen in our younger days ought to be still remembered by us in later life. Moses particularly reminded the Israelites of God’s justice that had been executed upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians who had enslaved them – first, by a series of grievous plagues that laid the country waste; and ultimately, by the drowning of the whole host of Egyptian warriors in the Red Sea. Mention was also made of God’s judgment that fell upon the heads of Dathan and Abiram for their rebellion in the wilderness. They defied the authority of Moses and spearheaded a dangerous rebellion against God Himself, and this would have ended in the destruction of the whole nation of Israel if Divine power had not quickly crushed the revolt by burying the rebels alive.
Moses told the Israelites that if they wished to enter into eternal life, and if they wished to enter into Canaan (which was a picture and foreshadow of that life); then they must obey the Lord’s commandments, and love Him and serve Him with all their heart. This was the only way to get and keep possession of the Promised Land; for it would equip them with the Lord’s strength to fight their battles there, and it would tend to prolong their days there after they had taken possession. Sin shortens the days of people’s earthly lives and the days of a nation’s prosperity, but obedience generally tends to be a lengthening of their peace and safety.
God promised to certainly bless His people with an abundance of all good things if they would love and serve Him (verses 13-15). “I will give you the rain of your land in due season,” He said. Thus they would neither lack it when the ground called for it, nor have it in excess; rather, they would have the “former rain” which fell at seed-time, and the “latter rain” which fell before the harvest. This represented all the seasonable blessings which God would bestow upon them – especially spiritual comforts, which would come like the latter and former rain (Hos. 6:3). But when the land of Canaan is considered as a picture of heaven, it is even more delightful to think about it! The earthly land of Canaan had the eye of the Lord always upon it, but the inhabitants of the heavenly Promised Land enjoy the presence of the Lord forever. Jesus is there – His person, His love, His redemption, His relationships, His offices, and His character – and all are the same yesterday, today, and forever!
In verses 18-25, Moses repeated the directions for the guidance and assistance of the people in their obedience, which he had previously given in chapter 6:6-9. It would be good for all people to be directed by the three guidelines which He gave Israel. First, let our hearts be filled with the Word of God. “Lay up these words in your heart and in your soul.” The heart must be the treasury or storehouse in which the Word of God must be laid up, so that it may be used on all occasions. We cannot expect good practices in our lives unless there are good thoughts, good affections, and good principles in our hearts. Second, let our eyes be fixed upon the Word of God. “Bind these words for a sign upon your hand” (which is always in view), and “as frontlets between your eyes” (things which you cannot avoid the sight of). In other words, let them be as ready and familiar to us, and let our eyes be as constantly upon them, as if they were written upon our doorposts and could not be overlooked when we go out or come in. Third, let our tongues be filled with the Word of God. Let it be the subject of our family discourse, wherever we are! Our sons and daughters must be taught the service of God as the “one thing needful,” above all other rules or guidelines by which they will live in this world. Great care must be tak-en to acquaint children early in their lives with the Word of God. Nothing will contribute more to the prosperity and permanency of religion in a nation than this education of children in the ways of the Lord; for if the next generation is holy, it will have a good effect upon the whole land in general.
Moses summed up all the reasons for obedience in two words: the blessing and the curse. He charged the people to choose which one they would have. He then appointed a public and solemn proclamation of this blessing and this curse to be made upon the two mountains of Gerizim and Ebal, when the people entered the land of Canaan (Josh. 8). We have broken the law, and we are under its curse. But in God’s mercy, the Gospel again sets before us a blessing and a curse – a blessing if we obey the call to repentance, faith in Christ, and newness of heart and life through Him; but an awful curse if we neglect His salvation. Let us not harden our hearts! Rather, let us thankfully welcome these glad tidings of great joy, and hear the Lord’s voice as He invites us to His mercy-seat!
Lord, may Your Holy Spirit’s influence sweetly constrain our souls into patiently waiting for Jesus; for He is the sum and substance of all blessings, all mercies, and all goodness, and He is our Portion forever and ever! Amen.
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