Deuteronomy 11:1-4 The first part of this chapter calls Israel to love God and lists reasons why. Flowing from that love is the motivation Israel needed to obey God. We all need motivation in order to be able to be the holy people God has called us to be. In verses 2-7 Moses called this generation to remember what they had seen as they prepare to enter into battle to claim the land. They had witnessed what God did to bring them to where they now were. They saw God deliver them from Egypt and humble Pharaoh their heard hearted king. He exacted His judgment on Egypt’s army that sought to re-enslave Israel after they had been delivered through the plagues. Moses explains that the rout of Egypt was to execute his discipline on both the leaders of Egypt and their powerful army. He did so through the waters of the Red Sea as the Egyptian army were pursuing Israel and forty years later that victory continued to humble Egyptian pride. This generation had seen these events happen. In light of that Moses is telling them they were accountable to paying attention to God’s truth and obeying it fully.
Deuteronomy 11:5-7 Further evidence of God’s dealings with His people is presented here. Moses is reminding them of the consequences for rebelling against the Lord. God calls His children to be hot or cold, he despises lukewarm followers Rev. 3:15-16 “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. This generation saw what God did for them in the desert including his provision and discipline. They saw what God did to Dathan and Abiram as well as Korah who was the leader of the rebellion and their families. Numbers 16 records how those three men, along with 250 others, led the insurrection against Moses and Aaron. They argued that they were as qualified as Moses and Aaron to approach God in the tabernacle, and they demanded that they too be appointed to the priesthood. Korah was a Levite; but Dathan and Abiram were from the tribe of Reuben not part of the tribe set apart for the priesthood. It may be that the Reubenites were expressing an ongoing bitterness that their father and tribe were not accorded the status of first born and were trying to assert their leadership. God dealt severely with this rebellion when the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their families and goods. The point of this discipline was to demonstrate God’s choice of Moses and Aaron as their appointed leaders. The rebellion was against God as much as against Moses and Aaron. Similar to the premature demand by Israel to appoint a king when Samuel was aging, and his sons were unsuitable leaders. God’s people have a tendency to look to men rather than God, which was true then as it is today.
Deuteronomy 11:8 With the reminder of the revolt in the wilderness as a backdrop the word “therefore” is a transition to a warning to keep the commands of the Lord, both in His Law and through God’s anointed leader, Joshua. Failure to obey would compromise their ability to succeed in battle, which in fact happened in the fight with Ai, after their victory in Jericho. Similarly, In Rom. 9-11 Paul addresses God’s historical relationship with Israel that we would know God’s promises to us that He will never leave or forsake us. Paul uses God’s faithfulness to Israel despite their sin, rebellion and judgment as an exhortation to New Covenant Believers to surrender their lives to the Lord in Rom 12:1-2.
Deuteronomy 11:9-12 God wanted Israel to live long in the land that was far more blessed than the land of Egypt. Egypt enjoyed fertile land only along the banks of the Nile, while Israel was a land of mountains and valleys dependent on rain from heaven. Because of that dependence the eyes of the Lord were upon the land and its people.
Deuteronomy 11:13-15 Once again Moses calls Israel to obedience which will lead to blessings. Blessings to send rain in God’s appointed seasons, Fall and Spring. The autumn or early rains begin in late October through November and prepare the ground for planting. The spring or latter rains come in March and April and contribute to the harvest wine and olive oil. Both seasons of rain provide grass in the fields so that cattle may be fed. These rains are used to describe God’s blessings and provision for his people to eat and be satisfied.
Deuteronomy 11:16-17 There is the very real temptation to think that the blessings of God will continue unabated.
Moses warns Israel that if pride and self-confidence lead them away from the Lord to idolatry He would severely discipline them. Baal, Asherah, Astarte, and other gods and goddesses were believed to bring fertility to the land through their sexual activity. Their worship involved temple prostitutes and as such appealed to the flesh and had the illusion of being spiritual. The Lord will remove His blessings and begin His punishment on the land and the people. God’s people are called to daily seek and abide in Him rather than the world and its ways.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 – The way to avoid His discipline and judgment is to regularly be in His Word, obeying His commands and walk in His ways. These words echo the Shema in Deut 6:7-9. These words of God need to be brought to mind in the daily routines of life. Binding them on the hand and wearing them as frontals on the forehead was literally fulfilled in the donning of tephillim or phylacteries in morning prayer. Imprinting God’s word on the heart and mind involves both study and memory. They are also to be taught by parents to the next generation both in teaching and modeling a living relationship with the Lord. This is to be done as long as the heavens remain above the earth, so in perpetuity.
Deuteronomy 11:22-25 Moses closes this section (Deut. 5-11) with a summary of all that is contained in these seven chapters. If the people would observe these commands, they would conquer the land. The commands are summarized in three areas: affection, obedience, and loyalty. They must love the Lord… walk in all his ways and… cling to him personally. Though the nations occupying the land, were larger and stronger, they would fall before them. The land they would occupy would be based on their holy confidence. The land promised was extensive, running from the desert in the south to the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. This happened under Solomon, but because of his sin it all began to slip away in fulfillment of Moses’ words.
Deuteronomy 11:26-32 – The two options are a blessing and a curse which is given more detail in chapters 27-28. The curse and blessing emphasize that the covenant statutes were being given “this very day,” and were now binding. This points to the command to come and assemble at Shechem to formalize and ratify the covenant once they occupy the land. When the covenant was first made at Sinai there was a sacred ceremony in which the Lord and his people pledged faithfulness to each another (Exod 24:3-8). This was a standard part of covenants made in the land. This is a reaffirmation of that covenant with the new generation. The ceremony at Shechem, was at the base of the mountains Gerizim and Ebal (v. 29). Half the tribes would stand on one mountain and half on the other and responsd to the reading of the blessings and curses read by the Levites (Deut. 27:11-14; Josh 8:30-35). Shechem was the area where the Lord appeared to Abraham and Jacob (Gen 12:6-7; Gen 33:19), and where Joseph was buried (Josh 24:32). From those days onward Shechem was associated with making covenants, both legitimate and illegitimate (cf. Josh 24:1-28; Judg 9:1-21). Later it would be the place where the 10 Northern tribes would have their capital and build an idolatrous temple (1 Kings 12:25-29). Still later this was the site where the Samaritans continued their worship that is the source of theological discussion with Yeshua and the woman at the well (John 4:20-25). The covenant Moses was sharing with the people here would be ratified by Joshua (Josh 8:30-35).