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The section of Deu 10:1-9 of this chapter is an intermediate line, because in Deu 10:10 we see Moses again as intercessor, which connects directly to what precedes in Deuteronomy 9.
First a retrospective: In Deuteronomy 5 we have the covenant between God and His people and the mediator. In Deuteronomy 6 we hear the question for the people’s answer to His love (Deu 6:4-5). In Deuteronomy 7 it is added that the answer of love must be accompanied by separation from evil, which means: the extermination of the enemy. In Deuteronomy 8 we learn that evil is present in the first place in their own hearts. God is disciplining us so that we may learn that.
Deuteronomy 9 shows what is present in the heart of the people. It is a wicked and rebellious people. According to the first revelation of God in the two tablets, the people can never enter the land. They have trampled on the covenant. Moses rightly broke them. If he had brought them to the camp, the whole people would have died. The tablets of the law can no longer form the basis on which they can enter the land. If the curse of the law had hit the people, no one could ever enter the land.
Moses intervened. He appealed to the promises of God to the fathers and to what the nations would say. It is an appeal to God’s glory and God’s truth. Then God came back on His decision. In the second forty days, Moses served as the true mediator and God granted Moses all he asked.
The New Stone Tablets
The first stone tablets were not cut out by Moses. They came from God, He has written His words on them, and He has given them to Moses. But they did not enter the camp, for Moses shattered them at the bottom of the mountain before he entered the camp (Exo 32:19). If they had come in the camp, the people would have been judged by it. The first stone tablets point to the Lord Jesus. He is the perfect display on earth of all that is God. Just as the first tablets at the foot of the mountain were broken, so Christ was put to death at His coming on earth.
There had to be new stone tablets, this time cut out by Moses. There is nothing else written on this second edition than what was written on the first one. No review is needed. There is also nothing else written on it than what He has spoken. God’s spoken and written Word are equal to one another.
What’s new, is that a place of storage is designated for the new stone tablets. For Israel, the second pair of tablets and the storage place are a reference to the new covenant, in which the law is written in their hearts (Jer 31:33; Eze 36:26). Israel will fulfil the law in the millennial realm of peace, when the new covenant will be fulfilled.
The second stone tablets also have an application for us, who are connected with Christ in glory, but still live on earth. We are a letter of Christ (2Cor 3:2-3). What is written on Him is written on us. With Him according to the flesh we can have no connection. God wants not only a people who stand on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ, but also a people in which He can read what is in His Son.
We are a heavenly people. “Our citizenship is in heaven” and not on earth (Phil 3:20; Eph 2:6; Col 3:3). Our norm is Christ, not the law. We are brought to the obedience of Jesus Christ (1Pet 1:2), which means that the obedience that characterizes Him, also characterizes the believer. The law is not for heavenly people. When we are obedient as Christ, “the requirement of the Law” will be fulfilled in us (Rom 8:4).
Moses had to cut them out. In it he is a type of the Lord Jesus. We are cut out of the rock, like Peter, whose name means ‘a piece of the rock’, is cut out of ‘Petra,’ which means ‘rock’ (Mt 16:18). The Lord Jesus is the Rock (1Cor 10:4). We are “living stones” (1Pet 2:5). A piece of stone, roughly cut out, is not suitable for writing on it. It must be polished to write on.
Thus is the true Moses busy with us, so that God can write on us what is written on the Lord Jesus. That is according to God’s pleasure, because He has predestined us to be sons for Himself. He wants us to be sons of pleasure in whom He can recognize the true Son (Rom 8:29). God is not satisfied that this will only be in heaven. He disciplines us, that all that is not according to His pleasure may already be cut away.
The first stone tablets are perfectly written; so they came forth from God’s hand. The Lord Jesus did not need any discipline. We must become conformed to the image of God’s Son. In Proverbs 8 we read about the delight of God (Pro 8:30). In the next verse we read about the delight of the Lord Jesus in men (Pro 8:31). The Lord Jesus is the Executor. His delight is with the children of men. He calls Himself ‘master workman’, a word that can also mean ‘artist’, but also can mean ‘favorite child’ or ‘sweetheart’. That One is the Artist, Designer and Master Builder of both the first and second creation (Jn 1:3; Rom 11:36a).
He had to do a lot for that. The only place where we can be found is in the ark: a picture of the Lord Jesus, carried by the priests. Here the emphasis is on the fact that the ark is made of wood, which points to the Humanity of the Lord Jesus. Only by becoming Man has He been able to connect us with Himself. That is the side of grace, after the side of our responsibility to behave like sons has been highlighted.
God sees us in Christ, made pleasant in the Beloved. In Him we are kept safe through the wilderness. We see herein God’s care in the midst of all experiences. The observation that the tablets are still there and that “as the LORD commanded me” (Deu 10:5b), represents God’s counsel, untouchable to any power of the enemy. His counsel is as unshakeable as He Himself. The tablets are still in the ark at the end of the journey. God carries out His plan on the basis of faithfulness to His own Word.
Aaron Dies, Eleazar Becomes Priest
After the new stone tablets, we also meet a new priest here. At the inauguration of the new tablets it would still take another thirty-eight years before Aaron was replaced by Eleazar, but God mentions the replacement here because Aaron was the high priest for the wilderness journey. Eleazar is the high priest of the entry into the land. Moses leaps ahead here to the end of the journey. In Deu 10:8 he again goes back to the sin of the people. Here there is no chronological order, but the events are ordered to emphasize their interrelated connection. Unbelief is blind to this fact.
God wants to recognize in us the picture of His Son. This is possible because the Son has become our life. By this we can show the Son, for what is true in Him is also true in us (1Jn 2:8). There is no other way. He is the new life in us and it is impossible that it will reveal itself in us in any other way apart from Him. Eternal life is in us, the life of the Father’s house, that is the blessing of the land. Eleazar is the high priest who has to do with the conquests of the land. He is a picture of the Lord Jesus in the resurrection. Joshua and Eleazar bring the people into the land.
There is something new about it: a land of water brooks, “the springs of the sons of Jaakan”, which is the meaning of “Beeroth Bene-jaakan”. “Gudgodah” means “spring with lots of water”. At the end of the wilderness journey we have gained experiences of who we are ourselves. That determines the value and meaning of the priesthood. There is also the abundant refreshment of the Word of God, of which water is often a picture. We learn to live in the wilderness by all the word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The Word of God and the priesthood of the Lord Jesus are the great aids on our journey through the wilderness (Heb 4:11-16).
The experience of the bronze serpent is due to the wickedness of their flesh. That is why they have become humbled. The people there, in picture, have learned that self-judgment is necessary to enjoy the blessings of the land. It is about nothing but a total judgment of the old man. This can only be learned at the cross. There the door is opened for the blessing of the land, the eternal life. Then the water streams start flowing. One of the characteristics of the land is that there is an abundance of water. In the wilderness we can already get a taste of the spiritual realities we can enjoy. This is done by the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus speaks about this in the Gospel to John (Jn 4:13-14; Jn 7:37-39).
The Tribe of Levi Set Apart
The fourth element is the setting apart of the tribe of Levi. Even greater than the inheritance we have received, greater than the gift of eternal life is the Giver. The Lord Jesus is the Gift of God (2Cor 9:15). To understand this, we must spiritually belong to the tribe of Levi, of whom it is said that the LORD is his inheritance (Jos 13:33).
This tribe did not participate in the sin of the golden calf. They have not spared their brethren in exercising the judgment of that sin, filled as they have been with the holiness of the LORD (Exo 32:25-29). Three tasks of the Levites are mentioned: to carry the ark, to serve the LORD, and to bless in His Name. Knowing our blessings is one thing, but bearing those blessings on our hands through the wilderness is another.
The ark carries us, that is a mighty privilege; but we also carry the ark to protect it against the attacks of the enemy. If God brings enemies on our way, can we then defend the full truth – the ark represents the truth about the Lord Jesus and His work – because we know that truth with our heart? Every believer must be able to say “it is written” and is called above all to be concerned with Christian truth.
The second task is to stand before the LORD to serve Him. We must not only know the truth, but serve the Lord with it. The goal is to worship Him for the truths He has revealed. We will then enter the sanctuary with knowledge and insight and honor God in priestly worship for what He has given us in blessings. We see these blessings in the sanctuary represented in the candlestick, the table of showbread and the altar of incense.
The third task is to bless in His Name. When we have been into the sanctuary, we can proceed out to bless. It is a blessing for our environment, which concerns both our brothers and sisters and the world, when we show the virtues of God. Today it is the privilege of every Christian in a spiritual sense to belong to the tribe of Levi. The privilege is only enjoyed if we put it into practice.
The LORD Listened to Moses’ Intercession
The first occasion of intercession on the mountain is disclosed in Deuteronomy 9 (Deu 9:9). Of the second occasion, we also read in Deuteronomy 9 (Deu 9:18; 25). On each occasion, Moses’ intercession has been heard. He has been commanded to proceed ahead of the people to bring them into the land. He who is intercessor and mediator for the people, can also be the guide of those people. Moses is faithful to God and faithful to the people. In his person and service, he points to Christ, the perfect Intercessor and Mediator with God, Who also governs everything on earth for God’s glory.
To Love and Serve the LORD
After responding with grace to the mediator’s intercession, follows “now” the fitting answer to that great grace given. It is a summary of what is put forward in more detail in the following verses. The God-fearing believer asks: “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?” (Psa 116:12). If it has become clear to us from the foregoing that God has judged old man and what new things He has given instead of that, what can He expect from us? Is it not that we shall fear Him, walk in His ways, love and serve Him?
It goes further here than in Deuteronomy 6 where the exhortation to love Him also is present (Deu 6:5). Following on from Deuteronomy 6 we have heard and learned more about ourselves and God. This increases our desire to live to His honor. “His commandments are not burdensome” (1Jn 5:3), for we have the new nature, the new life, that is the Lord Jesus. Just as it has been a joy for Him to fulfil the Father’s commandments on earth (Jn 4:34; Jn 8:29; Jn 15:10), so it is for the new life that every child of God possesses. The Holy Spirit is the power of the new life, He works in the new life so that it manifests itself. If we live by the Spirit, we will prosper.
Here and in the verses that directly follow, everything resonates with love. Deu 10:12 speaks of our love for God and Deu 10:15 of God’s love for us. In Deu 10:18-19 the love of the stranger is also addressed.
What the LORD Expects from His People
The LORD is presented in His supremacy and exaltation. He is above creation; He is not a part of it. In the universe, He connected Himself only with the offspring of Abraham. The first reason for Israel to love God is therefore that God first loved them and chose them in this special relationship with Him. The apostle John writes about this: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins” and: “We love, because He first loved us” (1Jn 4:10; 19; Rom 5:8).
The reaction of the people should be to circumcise their heart. An uncircumcised heart means a heart that is self-willing and harbors rebellion against God (Lev 26:41; Eze 44:7; 9). In the Old Testament, too, faith understands that an exclusively outward circumcision cannot have any value to God. The external separation from the nations around them, of which the physical circumcision is the sign, must be accompanied by the circumcision of the heart (Deu 30:6; Jer 4:4; Jer 9:25-26). For the believers of the New Testament it is not an external circumcision, but an internal circumcision, that of the heart (Rom 2:28-29).
Without circumcision of the heart, no true fear – which means respect for, or true love of God is possible. To confirm this exhortation, Moses points to the Being and acting of God. To penetratingly represent the infinite greatness and power of God, Moses describes Him as “God of gods and the Lord of Lords”. As the God of the gods, He transcends all power and might. As the Lord of Lords, He has unlimited authority over all government and authority in heaven and on earth. He is above all that affects people and their decisions. He gives justice to those who are without protection, and He is full of love for those who are in distress.
The proof that we possess the Divine nature is provided by keeping God’s commandments and showing love. These two characteristics are mentioned in the first letter of John again and again. God loves the stranger, and that also applies to us now. All the love we produce according to the will of God is modelled on the love of God’s own heart.
God’s love has been poured out within our hearts. That love we are therefore able to prove to others. Those who have been in trouble themselves, and have found mercy with God, must have a deep sympathy with those who are also in trouble. They must also be willing to prove their love. God does not see the person of man. He acts out of His own perfect love toward everyone who needs His help, while people tend toward exploitation of the helpless.
Fear or awe, respect for God, is expressed in Deu 10:20 in three ways:
1. to serve Him which is shown through deed;
2. clinging to Him, as purposed in the heart (Deu 4:4);
3. swearing by His name, expressed by the mouth (Deu 6:13).
The God to whom they are so intimately connected is their praise. He is worthy of praise. The reason for Israel to do that is given in Deu 10:22, where Moses points out that God has fulfilled His promise (Gen 15:5; 13-21).
That God is our praise; He is the object and the content of our priestly service. To this end we are also called: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb 13:15). He gives every reason to do so. From our side there is nothing impressive, everything is very meagre. What we have become comes all from God. The reflection of God’s glory will be seen in numerous “stars” (Dan 12:3; 2Thes 1:10; Mt 13:43). This will be reason to praise Him eternally.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Deuteronomy 10". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26