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Thursday, September 28th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 10

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-11

The Ground of Israel’s Acceptance by God (9:1-10:11)

The sins of the spirit are subtle but devastating. In the preceding section Israel was warned against proud self-sufficiency and here against self-righteousness. These walk hand in hand, and either will destroy the person or nation.

Success is pleasant but perilous. It leads often to the "see-what-I-have-done" attitude or to the smug feeling that the Deity loves me because of my lovableness. When Israel comes into possession of the good land, she is to remember that this land is God’s unmerited gift.

In the assertion that salvation is the unmerited gift of God, the Deuteronomic theologians stand on common ground with New Testament writers. Acceptance before God cannot be earned, for all are sinners and cannot make themselves acceptable. Acceptance is God’s act alone and rests purely on his gracious forgiveness. The bulk of chapter 9 aims to prove that Israel’s acceptance and favored position have nothing to do with inherent righteousness. It was said before that God’s love is to be explained by no characteristics or qualities of the object (7:7).

Proof of Israel’s stubborn rebelliousness is offered aplenty. The greatest attention is given to the incident of the golden calf (vss. 8-21), with minor attention to other incidents (vss. 22-23). Moses summarizes his experience with Israel by saying flatly, "You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you" (vs. 24).

Moses’ role as an intercessor stands out sharply here, as it does in other strata of the tradition about him (Exodus 32:11-14; Exodus 32:31-32; Exodus 33:12-16; Exodus 34:9; Numbers 14:13-19). His work in the life of Israel was many-sided. He was a political and military leader, a prophet of God, a priestly mediator, and a vicarious sufferer. In him God found the kind of obedience he desired from Israel as a whole. The Bible offers many illustrations of the truth that "the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (James 5:16; compare Genesis 18:23-32; 1 Kings 18:36-39; Acts 4:23-31). Had it not been for Moses’ selfless intercession and God’s merciful forbearance, the nation would have been destroyed.

In 10:1-5 the completeness of God’s forgiveness is emphasized. The sinful nation is restored without qualification to God’s favor. The Ten Commandments are rewritten and deposited in the Ark of the Covenant as Israel’s permanent possession. The forgiveness the Bible talks about is radical and absolute. Since God removes our transgressions from us "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalms 103:12), we ought to forgive absolutely those who transgress against us (Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4).

Verses 12-32

Summary of Israel’s Obligations (10:12-11:32)

The warmhearted Deuteronomic preacher now attempts to summarize his appeal to the national conscience and move his readers to action. In view of God’s gracious deeds in the national history, what should be Israel’s response?

The summation of God’s requirements in 10:12-13 is worthy to stand alongside that in Micah 6:8. Both contain high expressions of Israel’s majestic faith. To "fear" God is to reverence him, to have high regard for what he is, what he has done for men, and what he requires of them. It suggests the kind of veneration and respect that issues in obedience to his will. To "love" God involves more than sentimental response to him. It means to serve him with all one’s heart and soul (vs. 12), to offer one’s total self to him in exclusive loyalty. The proper issue of fear and love is obedient service, a service which itself issues in wellbeing (vs. 13).

To circumcise the foreskin of the heart (vs. 16) means to open the self to God’s word and direction, as the expression, "be no longer stubborn," immediately following implies. Uncircumcised ears are closed ears (Jeremiah 6:10; see margin); uncircumcised lips open and speak only with difficulty (Exodus 6:12; Exodus 6:30). God’s openhearted love to Israel should evoke openhearted love to him. This will mean loving what he loves: justice for the fatherless and the widow and mercy toward the sojourner (vss. 18-19). God’s concern for the weak and the oppressed is a strong note in Deuteronomy.

Chapter 11 summarizes emphases of the preceding ten chapters: the mighty deeds of the Lord in Egypt and in the wilderness; the promise of the land and God’s guaranteed assistance in its conquest and cultivation; warning against idolatry and its fearful consequences; the injunction to meditate on God’s laws and to teach them to the children. The summary concludes with a final appeal to consequences. Obedience will lead to "a blessing"; disobedience will bring "a curse" (vs. 26), a subject given full treatment later (chs. 27-28).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Deuteronomy 10". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/deuteronomy-10.html.
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