Deuteronomy daily devotional thought -  written by Trevor Williams

Deuteronomy 1

It is a good land v26

Read through this chapter and you will see the same old story that has dogged mankind from the beginning of time.  When Adam and Eve were in the garden they were told they could eat of every tree with the exception of one.  It was a good land in which they lived, and abundance of everything they wanted but they wanted what they could not have.

God gave the Hebrews freedom but they complained and what should have taken a few weeks became a journey of 40 years.  Now when they knew without a doubt that the Promised Land was fruitful they became afraid to take the extra steps to claim their home territory even though it was a good land.

What else did they expect to receive from God?  Some sort of a desert where they would starve to death?  His grace has kept them alive for 40 years in the wilderness what was the point of having them live in a place that had no value or use.

There seemed to be a goodly amount of weeping among these wandering people because they wanted God on their terms instead of simply doing what was asked.  How often have we decided to do something and have not read the instructions or followed the map or listened to advice and the result has been the same as the Hebrews; disaster has bitten our heels.

We have a good land that the Lord our God has given us.  We have a good land now that can only be improved by being faithful to God.  How much money is wasted on police or military forces because of the stupidity of mankind?  How many wars are fought because of arrogance and pride?  When God rules every land can be blessed.

Yet there is another land to which we may travel; the best land of all.  We shall not have to go in and rid ourselves of giants or immorality for the Lord has prepared this place and there is a mansion for all who would follow Jesus.  The battle over sin has been fought and won and we are now invited to enter this good land that the Lord is giving to us.


Deuteronomy 2

Thirty eight years passed  v14

The clocks of heaven do not seem to tick as the clocks on earth.  We want what we want now.  To have to wait another five minutes in a queue is just too long.  We want to cross the world faster than we have done so before.  We hurry our children to be more skilled, more grown up than their peer group and we want to retire earlier than anyone else we know.  The only thing we don’t want to come quickly is the time of our death.  Even then by some social calculating we decide if it is too soon or even too late.

How many of us have cried God give me patience and give it to me now?  Everything has to be instant for us and we hate to wait.  Life’s successes cannot come fast enough, the problem is the race to any success must last long enough for it to be of value.  No pain equals no gain.

The Hebrews of old had to wait 38 years to start to move into the land they could start to call their own.  We wonder how many days the people must have grumbled about this.  Camping may be fun for a while but not for years on end.  Many fail to ask the question, why did all of this have to go on?   Let scripture answer itself.  The generation of fighting men that had left Egypt would not be entitled to see the Promised Land because of their unfaithfulness.  God was patient even if the Hebrews were not.

So what has this to do with us?  Do we leave unfaithfulness hanging around our necks so that we cannot attain our spiritual goals?  Many who have given their lives to Christ may still be held back by the foolishness of decades, even 38 years. Restoration, renewal must be grappled with to attain the fullness of new life, but the past can be a terrible pain, a heartache that brings us to tears.  But we have a choice to either maintain our grief letting it be forever new or cast it aside and march into the promised land of the blessings of God.  Even God motivated the Hebrews to go onwards.  What do we need to get us moving again?  The cross has had its sacrifice, what else is needed?


Deuteronomy 3

God himself will fight for you  v22

Reading through this chapter we discover the necessity for what we now call ethnic cleansing.  Nations were not only moved out but put to the sword by the Hebrews.  There may have been a dozen reasons why this was necessary but we are not told.  It was necessary though because God himself said that he would fight for his people.

In one way theses battles are fascinating as the promises of God were waiting to be fulfilled;  He had to triumph in a very physical way.  So what are these ancient battles to do with us today?  Perhaps little other than we know we are fighting battles every day.

All around us are pagan sights of our present culture.  It seems easier to believe in anything else other than the Bible and anyone else other than Jesus.  We have all we need but not all we want.  We can have education, health, food and a pleasant life but we are still fighting battles of self-doubt, self-hate and selfishness.  Who is going to fight alongside us if it is not God Almighty?

How many times have we hardened our hearts to the tenderness of God?  How often have we made ourselves into a castle and pulled up the draw bridge so that no one may enter?  Those who want to love us we have refused and those who stand for nothing we have admired.  Time after time we have allowed our minds to become cess pits of hopelessness.  May God forgive us.

The battle for our lives is still being fought but we need someone with real strength to help us. No nation or individual can do it; God alone must or we have total failure.

We need our God to fight against those evil forces that will stand against him.  We need him for those forces that stand against our spiritual needs.  Then we need to get out of the way.  Rather than hold him back let us allow God to get on with the fighting and so ensure our eternal redemption.

Fight for us even today O Lord.


Deuteronomy 4

 ..and brought you out of the iron smelting furnace. V20

Nation after nation has gone through times of being in an iron smelting furnace of fear, destitution and death.  Cruelty knows neither boundary nor the will of man any limits.  The Hebrews had gone through times of beating and punishment but now they had freedom they could enter their own promised land.   Some people have individually also had to go through times of unnecessary torment and agony.  The mind can play roughly with our thinking so that all we want to do is crawl on the ground.  Our bodies can cause us so much pain that we cry out for relief.  Those around us can break our hearts when they make us feel excluded.  Family and friends can be a curse instead of a blessing.  Life can be horrible.  When we realise these things we want to break free but freedom itself brings responsibilities.

The Hebrew people had gone through times of agony, their children had been murdered, the people devastated.  God now gave freedom releasing them from their prison but many were now destroyed in that freedom.  They longed for different gods, complained about anything and everything.  They wanted something other than their Saviour but in so doing their new found freedom became a new prison cell.

Freedom has a reason, read v5-8.  That purpose of it all was given in the hope that other nations might see the goodness of the one true God.  The Hebrew people were to become a missionary nation showing the wisdom of their laws and the graciousness of their God.  So many nations had put their trust in the images of animals or the traditions of the peoples.  Now here was an appeal, an invitation to come and see what God had done.  Nothing has changed; the Christian church is now the Nation of God and in it freedom is granted to all who will follow Jesus.  Let us be true to our call of seeing freedom for all and release from the iron smelting furnace.


Deuteronomy 5

The Lord….made this covenant with us  v3

It is sad, but often religion is pushed aside without consideration. It is regarded as old fashioned; out dated and has nothing for mankind to consider.   Yet there are so many things that go on from one generation to another, children are born and grow up, people fall in love, we then have to face aging and death.  Nothing stops this going on because it is the way and substance of life.  It is during this life time that everyone has to come to some sort of a conclusion about God.  Is he real?   If so do I want to make a commitment to him?  What does God want with me?  So many people want a fairy tale religion in which life will go on after death, that families can be reunited for eternity, that everything will be good and happy and all without God.  This is nothing short of a fantasy of the mind and a rejection of faith.

The Lord made a covenant with the Hebrews long ago and with it went the guide lines for that covenant.  Today that same Lord makes a covenant with the whole of mankind but on an individual basis.  Therefore God makes a covenant with me personally.  The guide lines were written long ago, carefully recorded and easily read.  Available in our New Testaments the story of Jesus draws us to him, his life encourages us and his death breaks our hearts.  His teachings are there to follow and his blessings there to be received.

God can be pushed away but if we do that we can expect nothing from him.  He can be acknowledged but without a relationship with him we still have nothing.  Only when we have a relationship of love can he fully share himself with us, only then can we fully receive him.

Life goes on whether we like it or not and every generation has to decide its own thinking.  May we have the courage of our convictions and be proud of the covenant we have which God created and blesses.


Deuteronomy 6

..that will be our righteousness.  V25

Those of us who have walked with the Lord a long time have an increased realisation of our own unworthiness.  We have learned too much, it seems, of how easily our failings appear, we try but fail to do what we want to do for God.  It is all very frustrating yet we find in verses such as this one that our God is very gracious.  If we are careful to obey God’s law as he has commanded then that law will be our righteousness.  We are to do what we are asked says the Bible.

The theory is all well and good; easy to understand but so very difficult to perform.  It almost seems as if various parts of our bodies and minds work quite independently to our own will.  We may be content with many things but suddenly our eyes see something we cannot have.  A smell, a sound, a touch can somehow set aside all our good intentions and we fail.  Confusion reigns and we seem as if we have to go back to square one in our faith all over again as we plead the grace that comes through the blood of Jesus.

So where is our righteousness now?  It seems as if it floats down the river of life as if it were never ours in the first place.  Now is the time to start all over again and many of us have already done that a hundred if not a thousand times already. The very fact that we go again to this restart in faith is proof of our righteousness through Jesus.  He is the strength and re-newer of our energies.  Because we know God’s laws we understand them appreciating their wisdom.  One thing is sure when we think we are righteous in our own minds we most certainly are not.  Here is the righteousness of God, his energy re-starts, re-motivates, re- thrills us.  Our righteousness is not important but God’s divine righteousness is.  When we know this we have real righteousness within us.


Deuteronomy 7

Little by little v22

So many of us refuse to make goals in our lives and end up struggling for years to get to some sort of point or destination.  Going little by little does not seem very interesting; we want what we want now, not tomorrow.

Anything instant is usually not very good.  We can buy meals from a supermarket but are they as good as those prepared with care and attention by the individual?  We can, fortunately, fly to the other side of the world in a day but in the rush of going we fail to see all the places that we fly over.

Each of us has some sort of a goal, losing weight, saving money, playing an instrument, being an athlete or passing an exam.  The list goes on and changes as we mature.  A goal and working toward that goal can bring us so many more benefits than we originally thought.  The chance of meeting new people or going somewhere different or even readjusting our goal to make it clearer can be beneficial.

This chapter records that the land was to be gained little by little lest it be taken over by wild animals. Whatever we think of the destruction that went on it is immaterial to the detail.  God was to drive out the nations before the Hebrews, little by little.  The battle was up to God.  The people needed to follow and be faithful then success was assured, but it still had to be done little by little.

As we advance to our own promised land we move there one day at a time.  We need to cultivate the journey we travel by being in an ever improving relationship with Jesus who is preparing a place for us.  We journey on little by little making sure the wild animals of sin and spiritual neglect are set aside, so making our pathway clear and our goal safely attained.


Deuteronomy 8

Do not forget v11

Our memories play tricks with us.  We make a list to go shopping only to leave that list at home.  We have diaries and calendars only to forget friends’ birthdays or anniversaries.  We intend to do all sorts of things, visit the sick, send an encouraging card but then it slips our minds.  We fail again to do the things we wanted to do.

Memories also play tricks with other people.  How often has someone said that they remember you doing or saying something you cannot bring to mind?  Sometimes this may be something nice but you are sure that you would have never done or said it just the way you are being told.  Of course what is worse is when someone tells you about an event that was not very flattering and it is told in a condescending or unforgiving way and you are sure it has nothing to do with you.

If we cannot remember the good or even the bad we have done how much more difficult is it to remember to develop our spiritual life.  We have a God that we never seen or heard and who never seems to answer our prayers in the language of every day conversation.  Is it possible to develop a faith in the crucified Jesus and then forget him?  For some it seems a possibility.

To help our minds along it takes more than memory to remember, it has to be a way of life.  The Christian does not have to ask, “Do we go to church on Sunday?”  It is an automatic activity that any other task should be fitted around.  The Hebrews needed to rid themselves of all other gods; when we do the same we only have one god left, making it easier for us.  We can so easily create gods for ourselves, our careers, our families, our own self-importance, a sport that we excel in.  When we make these our gods then we forget The Living God and fail to see his blessings around us.  We do not need to make a list to remember this great blessing.


Deuteronomy 9

Anakites! V2

The Anakites were big and strong, the sort of people you did not want to upset.  This nation was a stumbling block and brought terror in the hearts of the Hebrews.  Verse 3 gives a boost of encouragement saying that God would go ahead of the people like a devouring fire to destroy this mighty force.

From the time when we are young and toddling around we may have met our own Anakites, the bully, the teaser, the one who belittles us, the one who tells lies.  Throughout life we meet someone who is bigger and stronger than ourselves.  Then when we grow older the Anakites are younger, more powerful and do not understand us or care.  Anakites never seem to go away.

When we are at our weakest we are invariably at our loneliest.  Unable to express ourselves and having no strength or words to make others understand our situation.  It is then that hate may creep in, frustrations grow and the light of life becomes dim.  The ancient Hebrews thought the same way but they had God on their side and the command was given that when God stepped in they were to follow quickly to finish off the job.

Sometimes we do stand alone in life.  It seems that no one understands, no one cares and we can no longer stand tall to defend our cause.  It is then that we must remember that the cleansing fire of God has gone before us and he is still able to defend his people.  But we must also respond.  Where God walks we must follow in his footsteps.  So many people are slow to go with God.  Why should we not take advantage of God when he has offered us that chance?  When Anakites are around it only means that God will be at work so we can follow him to victory.

You will see those Anakites daily; know them for what they are.  They may be in our community or even masquerading in the church. Pray for them so that God can march in and gain another victory for his honour.


Deuteronomy 10

What does the Lord your God ask of you?  v12

So many have cheapened the call of Christ with calls of “only believe” or “just obey” but there is far more to it than an only or a just.  In v12&13 it almost seems as if that same over simplified call is given but when we read it carefully fine directions are given.  Fear God, walk in his ways, love him, serve him and observe the commands and decrees.  This is total commitment but we must realise who is receiving the best part of the arrangement and it is of course ourselves.

On one hand God is offering the Hebrews a land filled with springs of water and even greater still his own divine love.  What was on offer far exceeded anything the people could give back to God. But the blessings still came at a cost.  The cost of living a holy life which did away with the plagues and diseases caused through immorality and degredation.  It provided a work ethic to which everyone was entitled to, land, protection, food and mutual encouragement.  Here was religious observance that could be nurtured and enjoyed building up the people rather than tearing them down as so many of the so called gods would do.

Now we have to ask what of ourselves in the nation that we have come from or in which we now live.  What does our God ask of us?  Jesus calls all people to himself, not this time with the promise of fields but of a mansion in Heaven; not with streams of water to nourish the land but streams of living water from Heaven even the Holy Spirit.  Not one blessing can be missed out because every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ Jesus.  This still needs that absolute level of commitment, fearing, walking, loving, serving and observing.  But now Jesus, our Jesus, comes to live in us and we may live in Him.  Here is absolute security, here is nourishment and here we are with our God.


Deuteronomy 11

Your own eyes that saw all.  V7

To see is to know, to understand and be a part of.  No one but those specific people who ate the Passover meal on the night of freedom could tell the story the same.  To everyone else it was history but to those who saw it reality.

When someone moves to a new country their children hear of how things were in the precious place but they cannot experience the same as their parents.  The events of the past are to others a story and not a reality.  Life moves on quickly, children grow, people fall in love, we lose our loved ones but some events are so World changing, so huge and important to future generations but  still fail to catch the imagination because they were not there themselves.

Those who saw Jesus and heard his voice were the great pioneers of faith.  They knew Jesus intimately but we do not.  The mists of time have rolled by.  Christianity is a faith from a shore far away and a time long ago.  But we read Jesus does not change, he is the same yesterday today and tomorrow.  The blessings of faith are ours even more because we have not seen like those who did see.  We believe because of who Jesus is and what he promises.  Though we long to see him, hear him and touch him we must wait for that glorious day when Christ himself welcomes us into Heaven.

But we still do have our own story to tell.  Today is ours.  We have our own history, in our own place with our own people and this brings with it blessings and curses.  We see the heart break of men and women, we hear the cries of the hungry, the greed of the rich and the shame of nations in distress.  Now we bring to our world the love and hope of The Saviour whose arms are still open and whose voice still cries out, “Forgive them”.  Your eyes are Gods eyes in today’s world; let us look with kindness on our fellow mankind.


Deuteronomy 12

Do not add or take away v32

Religion could be so much easier if we had clear cut regulations, or would it?  Here in the days of the people settling into the land the ancient Hebrew nation were given law after law but they were certainly unable to keep them.  Traditions grew up trying to make clear the theological thinking only to become laws unto themselves but then these could not be kept.  In our New Testaments we see the simple teaching of Jesus developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as guides for the church and we find that we cannot keep them today.   Group after group throughout history have divided   and angered each other adding traditions and taking them away again.  Today we are disappointed and confused as we ask ourselves, how should we worship God?  We look for Jesus and he seems hidden away in the recesses of organisations.

It would be so good to see Jesus again, clearly, simply and understandable.  It is almost impossible to see him as we are pulled one way or another by one group or another.  Those who want tradition and ceremony pull one way and those who are anti-traditionalist pull the other.  We have to ask again “Is Christ divided?”

Those who seek Jesus must seek him face to face, hear his voice and feel his arms around them.  Then as he reaches out our very hearts are moved, our eyes are full with tears as we are drawn to the Saviour of the world.

We try to seek Jesus in the midst of others of similar faith praising, learning and serving together is a great source of encouragement and hope. But sometimes being in a group we do not always see Jesus.  We may rest assured though that when we sit down and grieve or even fall on the floor in distress Jesus is right there with us.  When we do not add or take away from Gods law nor from Jesus himself it is certain we shall see more clearly those things we long to see.


Deuteronomy 13

Enquire, probe and investigate v14

This is one of those chapters when it is easy to see the God of the Old Testament as vindictive when we read it; though when we read it again it may not be so awful.  False religion catches on very easily; it is so much easier to accept than the simple teachings of Scripture and that is why there was a necessity to obey.

It is quite amazing how false prophets can seemingly practise miracles and we may need to ask where do they get their power from?  It cannot be given by the Lord God and it is doubtful if it comes through personal abilities. Magicians can play tricks but the forces of evil can create wonders, we must be careful.  Throughout history people have been enraptured with the thrill of spectacular religion.  We want to believe, we want to be part of the supernatural but when it leaves the pathways of God there is trouble ahead.  If God is not first he has no place at all.  If Jesus is not number one in the life of a Christian he has no position at all.

Here is a test for us, is God glorified in what we see, do and hear? If not my soul needs to seek again the living Lord.  Family fealty can even make us go beyond what is written.   We must bring our love back lest our eternal soul be at stake.  There is no God but he who created Heaven and Earth.  There is no lord but he who died on Calvary’s cross.  We do have a glorious Lord for he now reigns in Heaven above; a living Lord who stands waiting to receive us. Then we have a loving Lord who offers salvation to all who would follow him.  There was no trickery or sleight of hand with the Man of Galilee and there is no need for us to follow anyone else.

Our God calls us to love him with all our heart and soul.  God may not always offer us the entertainment that we would like but he does offer a home in Heaven, blessings for today with constant care and attention for every one of us. Even today may we enquire, probe and investigate this wonderful God.


Deuteronomy 14

No allotment V29

No matter in which country we live there is always someone on the edge of a happy life, someone, some where is going to be marginalised.  Moses speaks of four groups in this section.  First of all the priests and sometimes it is the church minister who is marginalised by his own congregation. Perhaps there is nothing extra and certainly no bonus.  He must not earn more than the average church member and usually has to live below the average whilst still providing and open house and constant hospitality.  Secondly the alien must be cared for, the foreigner, the person who does not speak the same as ourselves and often has a different way of doing things.  Thirdly the fatherless, the orphan the child without parents, the one who is without a real guide in lie.  Last but by no means least the widow is mentioned.  In an age in which a girls role was to be a wife and mother without her husband she would have lost her social position as well as her carer.

These four groups of people were to be supported financially by the offerings that were to be made to God.  The tithe, 10% of an income was needed to be spent looking after the less fortunate.  Even Jesus said the poor you will always have with you and nothing could be more true.  Famine disease, displacement and heart break are the portion in life of so many.  They have no allotment of land or in kind therefore it does matter that society, namely the church should look after them.

We note that they were to be able to eat and be satisfied.  No mere hand out, no queuing up for a bowl of soup.  The God of the Hebrews wanted to give abundantly so that those who received could give generously to the poor and needy.  God was taking care of the neglected in this new land they were to enter.

The blessing of helping others is no less important today.  In a wealthy country there is still the foreigner, the fatherless, the widow and often the preacher to help out.  If we have an allotment in life let us be quick to help out.


Deuteronomy 15

Borrow from none v6

How much money do you owe?  Is it a burden to repay?  It usually is.  Living in an age of credit does few people any good except those who lend the money.  For some they will become poorer and some will become richer.  The ancient Hebrew was to be wise in his financial dealings.  He could lend money to a non-Hebrew and expect interest but not so with his fellow Hebrew.  No interest was the norm and for those going through a very difficult time the community was to help them.  The whole provided a nation that would never be in despair.

Borrowing money has almost become a necessity for homes, transport and education.  What can be seen on the horizon should be saved for in the present.  Conscientious saving of money be it ever so small can turn a life around.  When we are in debt we are a servant.  When we are in credit we are then the master.  There is little point in trying to live like Lords to impress others when we are left with a debt that hangs around our necks like a noose.

Lending to others must be expected.  A useful rule of thumb says that if you cannot give the money do not lend it.  If we can make a gift then the matter is ended, we feel good and the receiver is free.  To make a loan and expect repayment brings grieve when the money does not come back when expected.  Every penny that is paid in interest is money that could have been spent freely on something else.

The Christian is fortunate in having a salvation that is debt free.  The price has been paid for our salvation on Calvary’s cross what a wonderful Saviour who loves us so much.  But the life of a Christian is not free from financial responsibilities.  Our personal contributions for the work of the church are vital and should be given generously.  We do not have to tithe but dare we give less?  When we give we sow the seeds of selflessness and bless others.  In return we are blessed ourselves.  Borrow from none but give to whom you can.


Deuteronomy 16

Celebrate v1,10,13

It is a poor people who cannot celebrate the goodness of God..  Three times in this chapter the Hebrews were told to celebrate, at Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  Each time the people were to remember their past and by so doing could look to their future.  The people were to cel3ebratwe with joy; these were to be happy occasions.

The Christian should also learn to celebrate.  We have none of the great Jewish festivals to observe but we do have the Lord’s Supper; sadly though this has turned into a time of quietness and reflection.  I wonder if Jesus wanted it that way.  Perhaps we have to interpret this ourselves in light of what we have learned so far.  But if Jesus is present at His table it would be impossible to cease from smiling and singing his praises.  Surely the right time to celebrate is when we remember the Saviour who has given us new life with himself.

May the people of God learn to celebrate with new songs of joyand prayers filled with thanksgiving rather than requests.  Let our homes be noted for their welcome and our tables filled with good things we share in our celebrations.  We have much to celebrate, much to laugh about, and much to give thanks for.


Deuteronomy 17 

He is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law.

There is something very practical about the laws of God.  In this section teaching is given about the way future kings should behave.  They were not to be overly wealthy, nor overly haughty but a good man, morally and religiously.  The king was also to write out for himself a copy of the law of God and carry these around with him.

A good many Christians will have learned sections of the Bible and a good many Bibles are used as notebooks, underlines, coloured in or in some way marked.  This is very useful for any Bible student who wants to study to be a workman who does not need to be ashamed correctly handling the word of truth,  But how many of us have actually written out a copy of the Bible.  This would be a labour of love but it would also be a wonderful way to know intimately the sacred text.  How precious would it be then to us because we may not want to go through the whole process of writing it out again.

Perhaps the challenge for us may be to write out a chapter a day and see how far we can get.  No doubt the text would be larger than we could hold.  But consider how much more of the text we would commit to our hearts.  We need to know the words and all they convey so that we might feed and live on them.

As we encourage each other to know what God has written it is useful to use any method possible.  Listen to a recording of the text in our cars or in our homes.  May we read, hear and write out God’s sacred law so that it may be to us as honey in sweetness, light in darkness, joy in sorrow and peace in distress.


Deuteronomy 18

 Minister in the Lord’s name always v5

A minister is a servant, one who helps others and does not rule over other people.  The Levites were a priestly tribe though only the direct descendants of Aaron the first High Priest could actually be priests.  The tribe performed religious duties, were the teachers of the Law of Moses, judges and guides to the people.  They were in a privileged position but they were given no inheritance, no tribal land they could call their own.  Their support was to be provided by the people in tithes and offerings.  They were to have no more than others but they were also to have no less.

 To be a minister of the gospel is to be a servant to the church.  They must not claim any greater position but a lowlier one.  They should be on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week.  This is not a job but a vocation that requires the sharing of home and family as well as self.

The church has a duty to its ministers, they should have a high regard for those whose lives are given over to the work of the church.  They should be cared for and nourished by those they teach.  A generous preacher should lead to a generous people.  The one in full time ministry has to rely on others sharing what they have received.

In the environment of the church though we must also realise that we have no separate priesthood for all are holy priests for our God.  This sanctified priesthood must now minister in the Lord’s name always.  Certainly we need dedicated people to help lead and guide but we also need priests to minister.  All Christians are ministers and all must labour in the Lord’s name.  We are Christ’s by calling, by renewal, by cleansing and the work we do is peculiarly ours.  No one else can do it.  Let us minister with joy and always in the name of The Lord.


Deuteronomy 19

Do not

We have reached a significant chapter in this ancient text, the second giving of the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments right alongside other laws for a righteous life.  When reading the text only the first three verses and the last verse are positive in style, thus we read “be holy” and “Keep my decrees”.  The rest is very much in the negative, “Do not”.

It is human nature to go beyond thinking about what is good.  The first Adam inclined himself to eat of forbidden fruit, even though he knew he should not.  We praise God for the second Adam whose life giving sacrifice has brought about salvation.  But sin came into the world through disobedience and mankind has had to live with the consequences ever since.  We look down into the darkness of failure rather than look up into the sunshine of success.  Walking with God is not easy for anyone.  When we think that we have resolved one difficulty another, often worse than the first shows its ugly head.  Then we end up like puppets on a string dancing to a tune we have allowed ourselves to play.

The moral laws particularly stand against us in this chapter of “Do Not’s”.  We must decide how far we want to go in our wilful behaviour.  A quick thrill, be it large or small that goes against our loving God is a failure on our part.  We may feel foolish or even angry with ourselves when we fail but it is Christ alone who can forgive.  The Christian must work at righteousness; it is just not natural for us to do what is right.  We grow up in size and age but often not in being right with God.

Grant us strength O Lord to walk in the ways of truth and holiness.  Make our hearts supple to consider your goodness and your forgiveness.


Deuteronomy 20

 Are the trees people that you should besiege them v19

This time of conquest was a sad and a happy time for the Hebrews. Not yet fully a nation they were to do things unknown to them before.  In fighting they were untrained and God allows those who were unhappy or had home responsibilities to leave the forces.  This new army on the battlefield was however to curb its anger and have some common sense.  They were allowed to cut down non fruiting trees for siege works but the fruit bearing plants were to be left untouched.

Every one of us has to fight some sort of a battle in our lives.  Something somewhere will go wrong with everyone.  How shall we deal with these times?  For more of us a sharp attack of anger will be our initial attack into the discussions.  We may well become over heated and even ready to physically fight, all of which will do no good and may lead to permanent damage.

Is there advice for the Christian?  Scripture tells us that a gentle answer turns away wrath. At the outset try to be calm in any difficulty.  Secondly understand the problem from everyone’s point of view.  Ask yourself are you part of the problem.  But when it seems nothing else can be done and you are under siege, still take care.  You are an ambassador of Christ and joint heir with him.  Do not go so far away from Christ that you cut down the fruit bearing trees around you.  Total destruction of God’s Spirit within you is the greatest disaster of all and one in which you would be the greatest loser. Let the fruit of The Spirit bring you strength.


Deuteronomy 21  

 Do not desecrate the land   V23

This chapter of mixed laws discusses the finding of dead bodies, marrying captive women, rights of the first-born and unruly children. The Law of Moses dealt with every walk in life, but why we may ask ourselves?  The answer is so that the land would not be desecrated.  Israel was a holy nation and the very ground itself was to be sacred.  It was to be a beautiful land.

When we now travel to cities of any size we see the scars of mankind everywhere.  There are great roads crossing the landscape, cities with millions of people, vast buildings and traffic.  Mountains of rubbish, graffiti, air fouled by pollution.  Yet in those same vast cities are the great seats of learning developing skills for the whole of mankind.  Here are the great hospitals saving thousands of people.

We live in a complex and complicated world where money and power seem to reign supreme.  There may be little we can do to change things but there are some things we can try.  Firstly let us remember that even the great cities of the world belong to our God.  Here are fields ready for the harvest of the gospel.  The healing power of a loving Jesus can also be known in the most desolate of places.  Our bodies and minds can be clean and holy for our God.  Our homes and gardens can be bright and cheerful.  A smile can be like a field of flowers; a word kindly said can be like sunshine.  We may not be the greatest in the land but it is still possible to create a holy land around us.  May we do our part in never desecrating our land.


Deuteronomy 22  

         Do not ignore it. V3

It may have been said that ignorance is bliss but when we start to ignore any matter we are on the road to disaster.  According to Mosaic Law the care of other people’s property was a responsibility for everyone.  The ordinary person was to take care of their own belongings but be in constant vigil to help their neighbour even if it costs them something.

  Ignorance of being people blind is a sad reproach for the Christian.  For example we must ask ourselves when we enter the church assembly who we are looking for.  The leaders and our special friends deserve our respect and greeting but not before the visitors, those we do not know well or those who look as if they are carrying a burden, we must speak to these first of all, we must not ignore them.  The church is not a social club to meet old friends but an opportunity for the gospel in action to be shown.

Do not ignore anything that we can put right, be it a difficulty in our own house, a dripping tap or even a loose cable should be fixed quickly before it becomes a problem.

How much more then should our souls be looked after.  The praise of God will be sweeter, the stench of sin less noticeable. It is our responsibility to put ourselves right.  But then it is also our duty to look out for the difficulties of our loved ones. We must open our eyes to others.  Duty demands it, do not ignore it.


Deuteronomy 23 

 Turned the curse into a blessing.    V5

There is not a person alive who does not feel they are under some sort of a curse at some time in their lives and feels dreadful during those times.  Here the Hebrews were under a curse, but the text tells us that God turned the curse into a blessing for the nation, because the Lord God loves His people.

It is unfortunate when life’s problems come along that we have to feel cursed.  Is it caused by our own self-doubt or perhaps doubting God?  It is better that we realise that at some time or other life is going to be so hard that it could destroy us.  If we know that difficulties may come about we  prepare ourselves for tomorrow.  Each of us should do our best to try to have a healthy body.  A healthy mind comes next, empty out those thoughts which belittle ourselves or other people.  Then let us develop healthy relationships, when we open ourselves to others we can give nothing greater, even when that is not always given back to us.

All these are good to develop but before we do anything we must develop a healthy relationship with Jesus, know without doubt He is our Savour.  Our God wants to turn curses into blessings, sorrows into joys because He loves His people.  When illness, sorrow and doubt trap us and hurt us, our God is already prepared to help.  May we be prepared today to receive that help.


Deuteronomy 24  

 Remember that you were slaves   v22

There is an excitement that runs through these verses.  The foreigner, the fatherless and the widow were to be blessed at harvest time.  The farmer was not allowed to go over his land a second time, but those who were in need were allowed to reap what was left.  The farmer was to do this to remember that his forebears were slaves and helpless.

Once again we see the wisdom of God working in a practical way.  Those in need were allowed to gather but if they wanted the blessing they also had a responsibility to go out and gather in.  There was work to be done.  Free food still had to be brought home.

The Christian also has a responsibility like the farmer.  The lives we live are to produce a harvest both physical and spiritual then as these blessings develop we provide a harvest for ourselves as well as for others.  If we have more than we need let us share with those who have less.  If we have little of this life’s goods let us still do our best to gather in.  May we work hard and be happy.

In Christ we all have to remember that we were slaves to sin and the seeds of the fruit of the Holy Spirit were planted into our lives at the time of our surrender to Jesus.  Those seeds must bear fruit and that fruit is to be a blessing to other people both in Christ and out.  Whether we are rich or poor our harvest of loving Jesus is for ourselves but what we give away will produce an even larger harvest.


Deuteronomy 25 

 Do not muzzle and ox when it is treading the grain     v4

This whole chapter is about doing what is fair.  In this case being fair with weights and balances and in disputes.  This verse reminds us that God is even concerned with the dinner of an ox while it is working; fairness in every way.  In times of economic difficulties we may well find ourselves becoming ungenerous, petty minded and what goes on from that is a change of attitude relying on our own selves rather that the blessings of God.

When the people of God find themselves in this sort of tough position, two things will happen; we will either make things worse and loose what little we have,  or we praise God for what we have and hopefully see an increase.  Those who share a little will find that others will share with them.  Those who share nothing will never have enough.  Seeds sown in the ground will grow; those kept in a packet have no chance in life.

We may have little but if we can share a little with our brethren and friends we keep in contact and they will know we care.   The Christian also has a responsibility to those who work on behalf of the church.  A generous congregation helps its leader who is blessed and can bless others; what goes round, comes round; generosity produces generosity.


Deuteronomy 26 

 Praise, fame and honour   v19

Since the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries the western world has moved into larger places to live and has built larger and larger cities.  The sad thing about this is that we have lost our agricultural roots and the understanding about harvest and the sourcing of our food.

The Hebrews were to give a tithe; 10% of their harvest.  It was to go to the priests, but also to those who were less well off.  It was to be a blessing to others and one which the farmer could joyfully give.   10% was a useful figure; 10% would have been kept back for the future seed production, 10% was given away, 80% was for the use of the farmer.  A good rule of thumb for ourselves is to give 10%, save 10% for the future and live on 80%.  We will then be neither master nor servant to anyone.

God in His mercy also promises that the Hebrew nations would receive these three accolades; praise, fame and honour, because the nation would be a holy people to the Lord.  They would be praised by others for looking after those around them.  When a nation works together it should become prosperous in every way.  But if we bring this down to a smaller unit we still find many benefits.  Be it the church or even the family, when the group works together, good things have to come about.  Disaster comes when one section of the group/family pulls from the other.  Two people working together, pooling their resources and strengths can often do more than three people working by themselves.

Working together does take effort, it takes self-control but the energy doubles. When this happens both fame and the honour will result.  When we work together be it husbands and wives, Christian brothers and sisters or community and nations there will be success.  Then when God is our leader we will also receive the praise of Heaven itself.ow much more then should our souls be fine tuned to the praise of God


Deuteronomy 27 

 Coat them with plaster.  V 2 & 4

Across the world markers are set up honouring the dead or some war victory, but in this chapter we find that a new, special monument was to be inscribed with the living word of God.  We are not given the details of the size of this plinth but it marked a special place in the history of Israel.  The whole nation had to be assembled around the mountain peeks to hear the scriptures. They were to be shouted out loud and then the altar of stones was to be covered in plaster and the scriptures written on it.  If ever there was a unigue entrance point into the land it was this.

It seems strange that a plinth covered in plaster should be such an important feature, but for many years, anyone going by that place would have known the Law of God.    Strangers could have read the sacred text, they would have known the laws of the land.

We may not think of ourselves as a sacred monument but for many people the Christian is the only Bible some people will read.   We must ask ourselves if we have erased all rubbish from our lives because our God would have us as a clean slate.  Is the word of God evident in our speech?  Does the way we look at people and handle life show that the grace of God is written within us?  Indeed can we be identified as a Christian?  Do we look like the child of God or do people see no difference in us than in anyone else?

There may be old stones underneath our façade but we have been changed into something beautiful for Jesus.  We have been re-created in Christ and now we bear the word of God internally and externally.

 Help us O God to be the signpost of Heaven, to declare your will and praises to mankind.


Deuteronomy 28 

 If you fully obey   v1

This is a chapter of contrasts, of two unequal parts.  The first section; v1 – 14 describes the wonderful blessings God wants to share with his people.  The second section v15 – 64 describes the curses that God will have to impose on those who turn their backs on Him.  So many phrases in the first section are reversed in the second.  The first section is thrilling; the second leaves the reader cold and horrified.

The Christian is no longer under the Law of Moses but is under the grace of Christ.  We do have guide lines for our lives but we stand before God as an imperfect people with a perfect sacrifice as our plea.  None other than the precious blood of Jesus makes us clean before our God.  We cannot gain our salvation by good works or even a holy life; it is only because of Jesus.  We need to be doing good works, our lives need to be holy before God, but we cannot be perfect in our own efforts, only in those of the Saviour.

The blessings for the Hebrews were abundant, even their kitchen utensils were to be blessed.  If this was so for those who did not know Jesus, how much more will it be so for the children of God born through faith?  We are given every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3.)  We lack nothing when we receive the grace of God.  We have mercy for pardon and forgiveness.  We have healing balm for our sin scarred souls.  We drink of the water of life.  Nothing, absolutely nothing is lacking if we walk with our Jesus.

But we must still obey, fully obey.  By deepening our knowledge we deepen our love.  We become more finely tuned to sing the praises of Zion and to understand its language.  This is entirely up to us, though we decide how close we stand to Jesus and we decide how many blessings should be ours.

 May our open hearts and minds gladly receive them all.


Deuteronomy 29 

 Such a bitter poison   v18

This chapter is a magnificent piece of writing.  Here Moses sets out a legal document for the people.  There is no doubt they have a law code which blesses and can curse.  The people were witnesses to the blessings of the past, their clothes and sandals did not wear out and they were abundantly provided for.  They were victorious in battle and had the future in the palm of their hands but there was within the people the ability to produce bitter poison.

This poison was the worship of idolatrous gods.  Over and over again the first commandments are heralded before the people;   Our God is a jealous God, he will not tolerate his people putting him out of their lives.  This is no second place god nor will he be ranked with others.

How sweetly and tenderly does the Lord steer his people providing them with what they need.  The scriptures describe him as both Father and Husband, so intimately does his wish to have a relationship with his creation.  Yet over and over again the eyes of the people wandered and their ears were thrilled at the sound of false worship.  Idolatry was enticing and the people anxious to leave their first love, the clear lines of God’s law were shifted, the cleanness and holiness of our God set aside, the people wanted what pleased them, but the result was bitter poison.

God does not change.  The Christian has a Saviour through our Lord Jesus Christ and in Him there is only one way to God; Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can go into the presence of God unless it is through him.  We must all be careful that no cause of bitter poison is produced in ourselves.  No deviation, no going around to taste the fruits of idolatry.  Our God will have no mix and match religion and our hearts must remain true.

May our eyes never leave the Hill of Calvary and our ears never hear anything else but the cry of forgiveness for each one of us.


Deuteronomy 30 

The Lord is your life v 20

The Lord is life itself to the Hebrew and to the Christian.  The Lord gives life but that is not enough.  He provides for our life but that is insufficient.  He grants life eternal through the precious blood of Jesus but that is not the full account of it all.

The Lord IS life.

The Lord is our life.  He is not just a part of it.  He does not just fulfil the spiritual needs of our souls.  He is our very life.  He is the reason for being, the reason for continuing, the reason for our every breath and thought.  He is the strength that runs through every blood vessel; the power in every brain cell.  The mover and motivator of every muscle is stimulated and caused by God, for God, and with God because the Lord is our life.

God is not some optional extra an attachment to satisfy or change our being; he is the reason for being.

Who I am, can be, could be, is lost in the wonder that the Lord is my life.  What a privileged position we are in Heaven and all its glory is ours but even more so when we realise and acknowledge that the Lord is our life.

Death can bring no separation between us, life is for living, for creating that which is divine.  We are raised up, held up and lifted even higher because that is where God is because He is our life.

With all of this in mind how can we not rejoice in the Lord always?  We are a chosen people, we are the Lord’s family because the Lord is our life.


Deuteronomy 31

I will hide my face v 17

Over and over again Moses says to Joshua ‘Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid.’ What a wonderful directive for the Christian today.  Joshua was to lead the people into the promised land against hard fighting men, knowing that his own people were often rebellious and self-centred.  Perhaps even today we have our own battles to fight, in our personal relationships at work, our community or even with our own selves.  Perhaps we are entering a new place to live or work and we are frightened.  No one wants to be out of place with where they live or work but we have to do it all the time.  Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid.  Walk with the Lord, talk about the Lord, Let Him be your guide and strength.

However, the Lord knew that the Hebrews would not be strong in the faith and in the fullness of time would turn their backs on Him.  What a terrible situation.  God also knew that when things were really bad they would start to turn towards Him again, but this change of situation would bring no blessing, for God himself says that he would hide his face from the people.  Our God is not some pick up put down hobby.  The Lord is creator and sustainer and desperately wants a relationship with his people.  Day and night he wishes to be at our side.  He does not want to be forsaken; but a living, breathing Father, guiding and blessing his family.

We all have to live for today, it is up to the individual how we use the same 24 hours as everyone else.  Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid.


Deuteronomy 32

You will die and be gathered to your people  v 50

How long will you live?  Will it be mind, body or accident that sees the ending of our days here on earth?  Questions such as this may be of interest to statisticians but none of us want to really know when our last day will be, nor the cause that takes us to that day.  But Moses knew.  He had a last journey to make up the mountain and he knew he would not be back again.  Perhaps he was glad to go, Moses did not start his ministry until he was 80 years old and had been leading the nation for 40 years in a hostile environment.  At 120 years old his mind and body were in good working order but it was time to go.

One event in his life meant that he could not enter the Promised Land.  One day when he did not put God first and obey him, just one time when his anger got the better of him and he was excluded from seeing the land flowing with milk and honey.  He was assured though that he would be gathered to his people.  In ancient times the bones of dead family members would be gathered up and put into a box together with those of their relatives.  They were literally gathered to their people.

As Christians we have so much to be thankful for.  Our sins are remembered no more by God.  Because of the precious blood of Jesus we are completely forgiven even when we let God down – of course we should not do this.  Then when we die we shall be gathered to our people; not in family groups, but as the redeemed of God, those whose robes have been washed white in the blood of the lamb.

Let our passing be a blessed occasion to those we leave behind by placing our trust and our very lives into the hands of Jesus.


Deuteronomy 33

The one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. V12

In this chapter Moses blesses the tribes of Israel and this particular verse is part of the blessing on Benjamin.  This tribe had a special place in the history of the nation.  Benjamin was the only child of Jacob, also known as Israel, who was born in the Promised Land.

Note how the Lord loves those who are trying their best to live for him.  He picks them up and carries them between his shoulders.  Here is a shepherding theme; if the lamb was hurt or unwell the shepherd would lift the animal up and carry it on his back holding the four legs on his chest.  The lamb was safe, comfortable and protected.  Our Bibles are filled with such shepherding illustrations.  There was a special bond between shepherd and sheep, they were not a commodity but the family of the shepherd.

The Lord is now our shepherd and he is willing to carry us on his shoulders.  We are not just creatures to fend for ourselves we have a divine master looking after our needs.  We are carried along, lifted up and held safe on the shoulders of our God.  We are so often fragile in our thinking; we are hurt easily and tire so quickly.  Let God carry you for a while as you rest between his shoulders.

Oh Lord pick us up, carry our burdens, we are tired, frightened, unsure of so many things, we become confused, show us what to do.  Be our hope , our joy, our satisfaction.  Let us rest between your shoulders.


Deuteronomy 34

The Lord knew face to face  v10

We usually consider that all five books of the Torah were written by Moses, but this last chapter was written by an unknown person.  The language and style is beautiful and this obituary for Moses is one of triumph.  Moses climbs Mount Pisgah and sees before him the Promised Land as far as the eye could see.  His health was strong even though 120 years old and when he died the Lord buried him.  It was the Lord who brought life and death in Egypt and now at the time of his departure it was the Lord who even brought about the funeral of Moses.

The obituary continues stating that no prophet had risen in Israel like Moses whom the Lord knew face to face.  In faith the Christian believes that the grace of God is so far reaching that God sees us and knows us; He has written our names in the Lambs book of life and we are graven on his hand.  Such wonder.  Moses knew God even closer than this; the relationship was face to face.  God saw Moses and Moses saw God.  The thought is almost too frightening.  While we do not see God, his divine image is not in front of our eyes, his glory is dimmed, his radiance not realised, but if we could see him what a change would be in our lives.  We could not talk of anything else but seeing our Lord.  Our eyes would not appreciate any other sight, our hearts could not love any of the beauty. Moses saw God face to face, he was still a man, a servant but he knew God and the very muscles and fibre of his body radiated that glory.  May we see in faith the face of God, and may that joy fill our hearts and satisfy our needs until we like Moses say farewell to this world and rise into the arms of our eternal God.

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