Deuteronomy 10:1-2 In response to the prayer of Moses, God told him to cut again two tablets of stone like the ones that were broken. He is told to bring them up to the Lord on Mt. Sinai. He was also told to make an ark of wood. This is referring to the ark of the covenant that was housed in the Holy of Holies. God is telling Moses here that He is reaffirming the original covenant by rewriting the ten commandments, which is a summation of the Mosaic covenant.
Deuteronomy 10:3-5 The ark Moses constructed was refined by Bezalel (Exod. 37:1), but evidently Moses crafted the box itself out of acacia wood so he could fulfill the Lord’s command to deposit the tablets there. Contrary to Israel’s disobedience, Moses was careful to do exactly what God said. Moses chiseled out of stone tablets that were exactly like the first ones, and then went up on the mountain ready to receive God’s writing on them.
Deuteronomy 10:4-5. The Lord did as he had promised and wrote on the tablets what he had written before. Although the entire covenant included much of the last half of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and a good portion of Numbers, it could all be summarized in these ten statements. The ten, in turn, were later summarized by Jesus in even briefer fashion: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37-40). The tablets kept in the Ark served as a testimony of God’s grace, mercy, and faithfulness, and as a witness against Israel’s rebellious behavior.
Deuteronomy 10:6-7 In addition to rewriting the Ten Commandments and renewing the covenant. He also made provision for the renewal of the Aaronic priesthood following Aaron’s death. Eleazar his son succeeded him as high priest in his place. The death of Aaron and all succeeding high priests demonstrated the weakness of human priests as the book of Hebrews teaches. God raised up a sinless priest after a new order “one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:16-17).
Deuteronomy 10:8-9 Moses is referring here to the time of the golden calf when Phineas (Heb. Pinchas) led the Levites in the execution of their sinning kinsmen (Num. 25:6-13). They had been chosen for their role in worship earlier (Num. 3:5-4:49; 8:6-22; 18:1-7), but Pinchas and his fellow Levites action at Mt Sinai demonstrated why they were chosen by the Lord. By their action they showed they were properly set apart to carry out the ministry of intercession for Israel in their work in the Tabernacle and later the Temple. Their role was to serve as the Lord’s priests as this new generation is about to go into battle and then occupy the Land. Even though Aaron was unfaithful God remained faithful and continued His provision for Israel’s sin and reconciliation through the Tabernacle, priesthood and sacrificial system. Part of the priesthood included their having no share or inheritance in the land. Instead of material goods and property, the Lord would be their inheritance. By making their reward their fellowship with God he was declaring that knowing and serving Him was greater than material wealth. The Lord’s greatest blessings comes when his people learn that knowledge and service to God and His people bring greater treasure. The priests were the Lord’s heavenly servants, and this is why priests could not be kings and kings could not be priests. The Maccabees went against this when they led Israel to victory over the Syrians in the events celebrated by Hanukkah in 164 BC. With that victory they began to serve as rulers. Approximately one hundred years later they evolved into the Sadducees. They had become corrupt rulers making deals with Herod and Rome and distorting and defiling worship in the Temple.
Deuteronomy 10:10-11 Moses ends this section by referring again to his communion with the Lord on Mt. Sinai. Commenting on God’s covenant faithfulness he shared with the people that “it was not his will to destroy you” (v. 10) in spite of his threats to do so (Exod 32:7-10). Moses came to learn that God would keep His Word despite His people’s unfaithfulness. Psalm 106:19-23 credits Moses, for his intercession discussing how his prayers turned away God’s wrath that would have destroyed them. This reminds us of the importance of prayer as James reminds us that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 Moses asks a question to discuss what is to be Israel’s response to His covenant now renewed with this new generation. He asks what does God require of Israel? This is the heart of the covenant or as Yeshua put it what follows here are “the more important matters of the law” (Matt. 23:23). Since God had provided for Israel’s every need, what was expected by God in return? The Lord was asking Israel to place him at the center of their lives. They should fear him and walk in all his ways. Loving him and serving him with an undivided heart keeping his commands. He was asking them for their hearts. What made this easier to do was the motivation that these commands were designed for their good. God does is not asking his people to act contrary to their best interests. Even when we are called to surrender our lives it comes with the promise that while we are giving up temporal blessings, we will be receiving in exchange an eternity of blessing.
Deuteronomy 10:14-15 In calling Israel to keep the commands of the Lord he reminds Israel of God’s dominion over His creation (Col. 1:16-17). He is Lord of heaven and earth and has the authority to elect whom he chooses to salvation and service. It is important to remember God’s election in order to be motivated to respond in thankfulness and obedience. He could have chosen anyone, yet he chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob an unlikely trio of patriarchs as is displayed in Scripture. His choice of Israel is a theme that is often repeated and summed up in Exod 19:5-6 “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” and confirmed in Deut 7:6-8, where this new generation is reminded that they had nothing that commended them to be chosen and yet God did.
Deuteronomy 10:16 When we know and understand God’s grace, love and election our response should be thankfulness and humility rather than pride and arrogance. Especially today in light of God’s grace in sending atonement through His Son. We are called to circumcise our hearts and resist being stiff-necked. This is a picture of an ox that refuses to respond to the yoke and turn as instructed by the farmer. Throughout Scripture “stiff-necked” is a metaphor for stubbornness (Job 9:4; 2 Chr 30:8; 36:13; Neh 9:16-17, 29; Jer 7:26; 17:23; 19:15).
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 Once again Moses points to the awesome power and character of the Lord of the covenant. Such a spirit of indifference is incomprehensible in light of who God is, the “God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome.” He is totally different than the gods of the nations who in their thinking can be bribed and manipulated. He is a just God and calls His people to be like Him. He cares especially for the needy and defenseless and calls us to be as well. Moses reminds them of their history as strangers and aliens from Abraham to their time in Egypt so that they will be treated in a way reflecting the God that they serve. This of course is referring to after they remove the nations that are under God’s judgment. Their attitude to the aliens among them is outlined in God’s Law. Lev 19:34: “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself.” Jesus reinforced that command when asked what was the greatest of the commandments (Matt 19:19). Jesus attached this command to one’s love for the Lord (Deut 6:5).
Deuteronomy 10:20-22 The conclusion of this section is the command to hold fast to him consists of covenant obedience but even more depending and abiding in Him. He desires us to look to Him for all our needs and cast our cares on Him (Ps. 55:22). Part of the covenant is to take oaths and swear by him exclusively. Israel is exhorted to be directed to the Lord and not looking to the gods of the nations nor serving or bowing down to them. Rather, God’s people must direct their exclusive devotion to him. The word “Judah” from Jew is derived means literally “praise Yahweh”. In the light of all that He has and continues to do for His people He is to be their praise. It was their God who redeemed them and delivered them by “awesome wonders”, the plagues and other demonstrations of his presence and power. Then added to all that was God’s blessing on the people by multiplying them from seventy when they came to Egypt (Gen 46:27) to a multitude compared to the to the stars in the sky in fulfillment of His promise to their fathers (Gen 15:5; 22:17). Israel’s motive and ours is his amazing love, care, blessings, and provision as Paul writes 2 Cor. 5:14 “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;”