Moses exhorted parents, in chapter 6:7, to teach their sons and daughters the Word of God by frequent repetition of the same things over and over again; and here, he himself took the same method of instructing the Israelites, as his spiritual children. He was repeatedly inculcating the same precepts and cautions, with the same motives or arguments to enforce them, so that what they heard so often would abide with them. In this chapter, the charge that Moses gave the people was the same as that which he had given before: keep and do all of God’s commandments! True obedience is careful (“observe to do,” verse 1) and universal (“all the commandments,” verse 1), and it is done with a holy fear of the Lord (verse 6). In order to engage the people to this obedience, Moses directed them to look back upon their years in the wilderness that God had brought them through. It is good for us to remember all the ways – both of Providence and of grace – by which the Lord has led us through the wilderness of this world, so that we may cheerfully serve Him and trust in Him.
Moses encouraged the people of Israel to remember the difficulties that they had sometimes been brought into, which served two purposes. First, these difficulties mortified and humbled their pride; and second, they made it plain to see that God did not choose them because of any goodness that was in themselves. Moses also directed them to remember the miraculous supplies of food and clothing that the Lord had granted to them. This teaches us that none of God’s children ought to distrust their Father, nor take any sinful course for the supply of their necessities. Some way or another, God will provide for them in the way of duty and honest diligence, and they shall truly be fed. This may also be applied spiritually, for the Word of God is the food of our souls. The manna that the Israelites ate was a picture of Christ, the Bread of Life. He is the Word of God; by Him we live. The people were also to remember the Lord’s rebukes that they had often been under – and not without reason! They were forced to acknowledge that God had corrected them with Fatherly love, for which they must return to Him a loving reverence and compliance. He chastens us as a Father so that we will keep His commandments (verses 5, 6). This is the purpose of all our afflictions; by them, let us be quickened to our duty in love!
Moses also directed the people to look forward to Canaan, into which they were about to enter. This land was fertile and fruitful. It was compared to Eden, the garden of the Lord. The ground produced great abundance of good things; and even the earth underneath was full of riches, in the form of functional metals like iron and brass (for we do not read anywhere of the land of Canaan being full of metals that people all too often covet, like gold or silver). These things were mentioned so that the people would see the great obligations that they were under to keep God’s commandments, in gratitude for His favors to them. And they were also mentioned in order to show the difference and contrast between the wilderness through which God had led them, and the good land into which He was bringing them. But when we interpret these things in a Gospel-sense, what a beautiful picture we see! The law was only a shadow of good things to come. But the heavenly country to which Jesus brings His people is not merely a land of water-brooks, for there is a river proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb – the streams of which make glad the city of our God! This heavenly Canaan is watered with the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. It has the Bread of Life, which is Jesus. It has all the fruits of Jesus’ righteousness, which is represented by the delicious pomegranates and other fruits of Canaan. Heaven is the good land where nothing is lacking, and where there is fullness of joy!
Having mentioned the great plenty that the people would find in the land of Canaan, Moses found it necessary to caution them against misusing their prosperity. They were allowed to eat to fullness, without excess. But they were always to remember their Benefactor and the Founder of their feast. Whatever we enjoy the comfort of, God must enjoy the glory of. Our Savior has taught us to bless the Lord before we eat (Matt. 14:19, 20), and here we are also taught to bless Him after we eat. In everything, we must give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). From this, the Jews took up a praiseworthy custom of not only blessing God at their solemn meals, but also upon other occasions. For example, if they merely smelled a flower, they said, “Blessed be He Who made this flower sweet!” We would do well to imitate them in this.
The chapter concludes with Moses’ repetition of the fair warning that he had so often given them, concerning the fatal consequences of apostasy (verses 19, 20). This is the sin of forgetting God, and then worshiping other gods. What wickedness will people not fall into, when they banish thoughts of the Lord out of their minds? And as soon as the affections are displaced from God, they will soon be misplaced upon lying vanities. Let us bless the Lord that He has chosen us in Christ, and that He has not given us over to the wickedness of our own sinful hearts; or else we would fare no better than those who do not like to retain God in their knowledge, and are turned over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28).
Lord, keep us by Your grace from all spiritual pride and self-confidence. May we never be prompted to say or think that anything in us has contributed in the least to the obtaining of Your great salvation. Rather, may we always be ready to ascribe it all to the sovereignty and freedom of Your grace! Amen.
Join other families all around the globe! Receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day, and enjoy a FREE copy of my e-book A Call to Family Worship! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
photo by Inbetween | Lightstock.com