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Deuteronomy 10:1. That time. The order for the ark was given before the apostasy of the people, cf. Exodus 25:0, and the tables were put into it after the dedication of the tabernacle. But Moses connects events related to each other for his own purpose without strict chronological order. Hew, cut with an axe, to shape. Tables, blocks or tablets.
Deuteronomy 10:3. Shittim. Acacia tree, Exodus 25:5.
Deuteronomy 10:5. There they be. “Another minute but important circumstance, the public mention of which at the time attests the veracity of the sacred historian.”
Deuteronomy 10:6. Beeroth. Identical with Benejaakan of Numbers 33:31. Mosera and Moseroth (plu.), in the vicinity of mount Hor (Numbers 33:31); as Aaron died there, Eleazar ministered—was installed priest, Exodus 23:25; Exodus 28:1.
Deuteronomy 10:7. Gudgodah. Hor-hagidgad (mount of thunder, Numbers 33:32). Jotbath—Jotbathah of Numbers 33:33.
Deuteronomy 10:8. That time. Of encampment at Sinai thirty-eight years since. The tribe of Levi separated from other tribes. Stand. Exclusively the business of priests, Numbers 6:23. Non-priestly family of Kohath carried the ark, Numbers 4:15.
Deuteronomy 10:9. Cf. Numbers 18:20-24; Deuteronomy 18:1 -Ver. 2.
Deuteronomy 10:10. Moses resumes his address and sums up the results of his in ercession.
Deuteronomy 10:11. “This commandment and promise was a testimony that God now was reconciled unto them by the intercession of Moses” (Ainsworth).
Deuteronomy 10:12. Now, i.e., “Since all that thou hast is thus shown to be of mere grace, without desert of thine own.” Require, etc., i.e. understand the spiritual claims of these formal regulations. Fear. Filial fear, pious reverence, existing only with love. Walk. Accept truth, and follow the course prescribed, cf. Genesis 18:19; Psalms 25:4-5; Acts 18:25 -Ver. 26. Serve. The genuine fruit of love, John 14:15; Galatians 5:13; 1 John 3:18.
Deuteronomy 10:14. Heaven of heavens imports all included under the name of heaven. Jehovah is not a local God. His claims cannot be limited, of 1 Kings 8:27; Psalms 148:4.
Deuteronomy 10:15. He was not bound to elect Israel, yet did so of His own free will.
Deuteronomy 10:16. Circumcise, therefore be no longer stiffnecked; be not insensible to God’s love, persist no longer in obstinate resistance to God.
Deuteronomy 10:17. The demand for surrender is followed by a description of the nature and acts of Jehovah. He is not a local Deity, and though taking special interest in Israel—He is God of gods, i.e., the supreme God, the essence of all that is divine, of all power and might, Psalms 136:2. Lord of lords, supreme Ruler of heaven and earth, regardeth, not subject to prejudice, nor perverts justice as human judges, Leviticus 19:15; 2 Chronicles 19:7.
Deuteronomy 10:18-19. He is impartial and uncorruptible, executes, vindicates the rights of the defenceless (orphan and widow) and manifests loving care for the helpless and oppressed (stranger).
Deuteronomy 10:19. Love. AS they had been strangers in Egypt. and knew what it was to need help, they were to love the stranger as God loved him, and relieve his wants, James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:10; Deuteronomy 3:17.
Deuteronomy 10:20-22. Fear. Reverence is due to God in act and life on account of what He is and what He has done. He is the ground of confidence and joy (thy praise), inspiring fear and dread by terrible things done for them.
Deuteronomy 10:21 Amongst the mighty acts was one specially to be remembered.
Deuteronomy 10:22. Out of 70 persons, notwithstanding cruelty and oppression, had grown a mighty nation’ Genesis 46:26; Acts 7:14.
THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF PRAYER.—Deuteronomy 10:1-11
Through the intercession of Moses God not only spared Israel, but gave them further pledges of His love.
I. The law was renewed. “He wrote on the tables, according to the first writing.” (Deuteronomy 10:4.) God refused not a second transcript of his will, but in mercy renewed his covenant with them.
1. The law written with the finger of God. At first a supernatural “voice” was heard, now a supernatural hand writes and repeats the ten words.
2. The law unaltered. The second edition was “like unto the first.” It needed no correction, no amendment. What God wrote differed not from what he spoke. The written word is from God and unchangeable, as the spoken word.
3. The law kept in the ark. “Put the tables in the ark.” (Deuteronomy 10:5.) Thus was it perpetuated and transmitted to us. Unto us are “committed the oracles of God.” Let us understand, keep, and spread them.
II. The priesthood was established. The institution was forty years old, but provision was made for a standing order, perpetual succession, and settled maintenance.
1. The high priesthood in the person of Eleazar. Aaron died, but his son succeeded him. God will never want men to carry on His work. The robes of office will never soil. “Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son.”
2. The ordinary priesthood in the tribe of Levi. This tribe was specially chosen for the service of the sanctuary. A settled ministry is the gift of God to the Church. (Ephesians 4:11.) The continuation of this ministry and the preservation of religious ordinances, betoken God’s favour. God can remove the candlestick (Revelation 2:4) and punish sin. Hence need of prayer for ministers. “Brethren, pray for us.”
III. The command to advance was given. Permission to march was gained by prayer. Moses the intercessor must be the leader (Deuteronomy 10:11.) Those are only fit to lead who preserve from ruin. God gives a full and unconditional promise of his presence. There can be no guidance and advance in life without Him. He can stop progress at any time and in any department of life. Hence “prayer hinders no journey.” “I forgot to pray this morning,” says Philip Henry, “and the chariot wheels drove heavily along.” The most prayerful ministers and people are the most prosperous and progressive. Unexpected and marvellous things may be witnessed through prayer. “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE.—Deuteronomy 10:8-9
Moses mentions as a special favour that when Aaron died the high priesthood was renewed in the person of Eleazar, and that the Levites were separated to minister in the tabernacle and perpetuate the ordinary priesthood.
I. The Ministry appointed. The tribe of Levi were most zealous for the honour of the Lord when the golden calf was worshipped at Sinai (Exodus 32:26-29). Moses then charged them to consecrate themselves (lit. to fill their hands) to the Lord (Exodus 10:29). Independent of the fact that Moses and Aaron belonged to this tribe, there was, therefore, special reason for its selection.
1. It is honourable service. If it be deemed a preferment to minister to an earthly sovereign, how much more to be servant of “the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” “Happy are these Thy servants, which stand continually before Thee.” (2 Chronicles 9:7.)
2. It is holy service, separated and consecrated to the Lord. They had to do with “the most holy things,” and had to be washed, cleansed, and offered for an offering. (Numbers 8:15.) Holy and pure life must be seen in the service of God.
3. It is responsible service. They had to “minister.” Priests are servants; not “Lords over God’s heritage.” (1 Peter 5:3.) No toil so responsible and noble as this. Christ himself came “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
4. It is joyful service. “To bless His name.” Levites sang and played on instruments. God’s service is not irksome but joyous, free, and delightful.
II. The introduction to this ministry. Under the Gospel all believers are called into holy service, and raised to the dignity of “sons,” “kings,” and “priests.” But for the Christian ministry there must be:
1. Divine call. “The Lord separated,” the Lord spake, not to sanction some human plan, but to reveal his own. “No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as Aaron was.”
2. Divine direction. The office is not only created, but its duties minutely specified. To bear the ark, to stand and minister, and to bless the Lord and the people.
3. Divine qualification. Suitable gifts, inward persuasion by the Holy Spirit, and commission to draw nigh. None are meet for holy ministry, but by the grace of God and the sanctification of the Holy Ghost (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:16; Galatians 1:15.)
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 10:1-3. Tables. First uttered in fire, written on stone, renewed in mercy, and preserved and portable in the ark. Like the first. “Which Moses had broken; to show how we in our nature had broken the law, and could not be saved by the keeping of it. This Christ, our true Moses, repairs again, writing the law not in tables of stone, but in the hearts of believers, and enabling them in some good measure to keep it (John 1:17), walking, as Luther phraseth it, in the heaven of the promise, but in the earth of the law; that in respect of believing, this of obeying.—Trapp.
Deuteronomy 10:6. The relation between the ordinances of religion and temporal blessings. “The earlier commentators observed the inward connection between the continuation of the high-priesthood and the water brooks. J. Gerhard, for example, observes: “God generally associates material blessings with spiritual; as long as the ministry of the Word and the observance of Divine worship flourish among us, God will also provide for our temporal necessities.”—Keil.
Aaron’s death and Eleazar’s succession. I. The common destiny of men. “It is appointed unto all men once to die.” II. The providence of God in the arrangement of this destiny. All life depends upon God. Aaron died according to a Divine purpose “into Mount Hor at the commandment of the Lord, and died there.” (Numbers 33:38. III. The mercy of God in appointing successors to the office of the dead. Eleazar immediately, authoritatively, and securely took the place of Aaron. This, an evidence of reconciliation, encouraging to faith and humbling to pride. IV. The pledge of perpetuity to the cause of God. God’s servants die, but the work goes on and ever will do. Aaron’s death.
1. An indication of Divine displeasure.
2. A manifestation of mercy. He was not put to death as a transgressor by fire or plague from heaven; but dies in ease and honour.
3. A significant type. Aaron did not enter Canaan. The Levitical priesthood made nothing perfect. Christ brings in a better hope and an eternal priesthood. (Hebrews 7:23-25.) Priest’s office. Invested with awful solemnity, Divine authority, and heavenly sanctity. Must not be undertaken lightly, unworthily, but in the fear, and for the glory of God, and the interests of men.
Deuteronomy 10:8. Minister service. I. The service of God demands all Levites Every Christian should be a priest, ever ministering in the temple.
1. Burden-bearing. How often Christians murmur about their burdens, as though they were not honoured in being permitted to bear anything for God.
2. Singing. The Levites sang and played on instruments. Sing the song of gratitude and contentment.
3. Studying the law. “Search the Scriptures.”
4. Attendance on the ordinances of the sanctuary. There is a special blessing for those who worship in God’s house. II. God demands this service in our prime; “from twenty and five years old.” We must give God the best we have. III. He demands this service when it can be most easily rendered. God did not ask of the Levites, nor does of us, impossibilities. The very young and the old were exempt from the bearing of the heavier burdens. God suits the burden to the back. All He asks is, that we shall do what we can.—R. A. Griffin.
Deuteronomy 10:9. Levi’s inheritance and glory. Not material wealth, such as houses and land. They were not permitted to engage in secular pursuits, but had to employ themselves wholly to God’s service. God has their inheritance in the riches of his grace and the resources of his providence. “I am their inheritance, and ye shall give them no possession in Israel. I am their possession.” (Ezekiel 44:28.)
Deuteronomy 10:11. Arise.
1. God has prepared an inheritance for his people. Joy, fruitfulness and power on earth, through faith; rest and heaven hereafter.
2. God’s people should earnestly strive to attain this inheritance. The command to arise supposes neglect, weakness and prostration.
3. God will help His people when they strive to obey Him. He will provide a leader. “Take thy journey before the people.” He will pledge his word to give success; “possess the land, which sware I unto their fathers to give unto them.”
HUMAN OBLIGATION TO DIVINE GOODNESS.—Deuteronomy 10:12-22
God having expressed His love and care towards them in their selection, having pardoned their apostasy, preserved their priesthood and privileges, He seeks to persuade them to love Him in return. “And now Israel” (“now that thou hast everything without dessert or worthiness, purely from forgiving grace,” Keil). “What doth the Lord require?” Under what obligation art thou put, but to fear and obey him? We give the sketch of the remaining chapter.
I. Divine Requirements. God’s commands are just and reasonable. Mercies received require some return. “What shall I render?” (Psalms 116:12.)
1. To fear and obey God. Be humble, thankful, and no longer refractory. Cherish reverence for the name and will of God. This fear must awaken love, and this love must prompt to active service.
2. To purify the heart and life (Deuteronomy 10:16). Circumcision was a symbol of purity and consecration to God. Be not insensible, but holy in heart and life. The heart and will must be renewed, and we must “abstain from fleshly lusts.”
3. To love strangers and practise hospitality (Deuteronomy 10:19). We must defend the weak, be kind to strangers, impartial to all, and compassionate to all.
II. The motives to enforce these Requirements. This duty is enforced from many considerations.
1. Personal advantage should prompt it. “For thy good,” (Deuteronomy 10:13). Rewards of obedience are abundant in the present life. Our ease, comfort, and happiness are concerned; “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
2. The divine nature claims it. Jehovah cannot tolerate pride and stiff neckedness towards Himself or towards other persons. In his nature and moral government we find abundant reasons for loving Him. (a) God is supreme (Deuteronomy 10:14). His authority is not local nor circumscribed. He fills heaven and earth. (b) God is rich in mercy (Deuteronomy 10:15). He chose Israel, not for what He saw in them; of His own free will He delighted in their fathers, and in sovereign mercy He made them “above all people.” (c) God is all powerful (Deuteronomy 10:17). Men fear powerful monarchs. God’s omnipotence is always exerted to deliver from danger and do good. Hence, reverence due to His great name. (d) God is no respecter of persons. He is just and upright in nature, impartial and incorruptible in His dealings. Appearances deceive Him not; nor does He regard forms, professions and privileges without reality. “God accepteth no man’s person” (Galatians 2:6).
3. Divine goodness deserves it. Constant benefits require constant thanks. Partial gratitude and services are worthless. We must have “respect to all the commandments.” “An honest soul would not conceal any debt he was to God,” says Gurnall, “but calls upon itself to give an account for all his benefits. The skipping over one note in a lesson may spoil the grace of the music. Unthankfulness for one mercy disparageth our thanks for the rest.” Reverence is due to God. (a) For His gracious acts for His people (Deuteronomy 10:21). Terrible deeds were done for Israel, and great things have been shown to us. “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things He hath done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24). (b) For abundant prosperity unto His people (Deuteronomy 10:22). Israel’s history and increase had been marvellous. From few, they had become many; from a weak, they had become a mighty nation. They were multiplied as the stars of heaven and blessed beyond degree! What then did they owe to God? Why be obstinate and disobedient?
“O! to grace how great a debtor,
Daily I’m constrained to be.”
GOD’S CLAIMS UPON OUR SERVICE.—Deuteronomy 10:12-16
The intercession of Moses secured new blessings. New obedience should therefore be given to God, who bestowed them. The service which God claims is specified in its nature, breadth, and activity.
I The nature of the service claimed. It is summed up and touchingly enforced in few words. “What doth the Lord require?”
1. Willing service. “What require?” The word signifies to ask or request. God in the law of Moses commanded many observances and enforced obedience when required; but love and veneration must be voluntary. God does not rule men like suns and stars, nor like brutes; but appeals to reason and conscience—solicits and requests our service. “Who then is willing this day?” etc. “Will ye be my disciples?” What an attitude for the Omnipotent and Eternal God to assume towards man! How lovingly and beseechingly does he request our obedience. “But to Israel He saith, all day long (i.e., with unwearied patience) I have stretched forth My hands (like a mother calling back her child, in gracious, earnest entreaty) unto a disobedient and gainsaying (refractory, or stubborn) people.” (Romans 10:21.)
2. Practical service. Genuine religion is always practical, not mere feeling and form. It is fear, obedience, and love. (a) To fear the Lord, not with slavish fear—a fear which hath torment, and is opposed to love (1 John 4:18) but a filial reverence. (b) To love Him. Love and fear go together. Reverence in a child begets true affection. When our feelings, our hearts are right we naturally yield to God our profoundest reverence. (c) To serve him. When love fills our hearts, it will express itself in life. We shall instinctively cleave to God and “walk in all His ways.” We shall fear to offend Him and dread separation from Him. We shall serve God with heart and soul. Our religion will not be in word but in deed. We may suspect our religion, suspect our interest in Christ, if we have no delight in His service, no love for His person. The law must be written in our hearts, as a permanent principle and conserving force of life (Psalms 37:31.) Our service must be spiritual; our obedience free and hearty; and our love fervent and sincere.
Not by the terrors of a slave
Do they perform his will;
But with the noblest powers they have,
His sweet commands fulfil.
II. The ground on which the claim is urged. The appeal for future loyalty is made on several grounds. Let us suggest three.
1. It is rational. “What doth the Lord require; anything unreasonable, impossible, or inconsistent? Can God ask less than what is due to him? He does not “bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne.” “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
2. It is enforced by covenant. “The Lord thy God.” Israel was ever reminded of this relationship and the duties which spring from it. Whatever God was in Himself He was to them; all His perfections were enlisted on their behalf. In the covenant with Christ God regards His people as specially His own and bestows upon them greater blessings. As creatures, as property, God has a right to claim us. But if His children, bought with blood, we should love Him with all our heart. If He has made solemn compacts, pledged Himself and all His resources to help, we should make no reserve whatever, but devote ourselves, body, soul and spirit unto Him.
3. It is due from constant mercies. He brought us into being; dignified us with understanding; sustained and redeemed our life from destruction. For us He has given His word, sent His son and opened heaven. Some return is due and should be rendered to Him. Mercies have been great, constant, and multiplied. Special favours demand special service, as those who keep the largest farms pay the most rent. “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God (in providence and grace) that ye present your bodies (i.e. your whole selves) a living sacrifice (in contrast to dead beasts offered under law) holy, acceptable (well pleasing) to God, which is your reasonable (rational) service; i.e. a service befitting a rational being” (Romans 12:1).
III. The needful qualification to render the service. “Circumcise the foreskin of your heart” (Deuteronomy 10:16).
1. We are naturally sinful. Circumcision teaches that we are impure, and unfit for God and His service. We must mortify our members which are upon earth (Colossians 3:5); crucify the affections and lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:24); renounce act of all sin and selfwill and sever ourselves from sensuality. Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter” (Romans 2:28-29).
2. The needed qualification is a circumcised heart. True obedience can only spring from a renewed loving heart. When enmity is subdued and affection planted within us, then God gives filial fear, or the spirit of adoption; then service is not task work. Slavery and selfishness pass away, and duty becomes hearty and enthusiastic. When love reigns in the heart, the whole man will be brought under sway. All our powers will be employed in doing the will, and promoting the glory of God. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 10:12-13. Study the clauses of this requirement. God’s exactions, if we be Christians, are our own free will offerings. What God demands is what thankful hearts should gladly give. First of all to fear Him. Not to be terrified, that is the natural man’s religion. Unless taught of God men look upon Him with terror and alarm. Hence religion is a sepulchral and gloomy thing to them. To the Christian all is reverse. He has no alarm; he courts God’s presence and feels that presence to be the inspiration of hope and joy. Next to walk in all his ways. All the ways proceed from one source and terminate in the same again. There are varieties of expression, but one religion. A way of righteousness a way of truth, a way of peace, and a way of pleasantness. All are different paths which God has prescribed for His people; and they that are His people are found walking in them. Walk, not to stand still, in His ways—not your own. Then “to love Him.” If the fear enjoined were terror, it would be impossible to love. Love is the germ in the heart that blossoms and bursts into all the fragrant fruits demanded by God’s holy law. The law, like the imperious taskmaster, says, “Give me fruit,” and you cannot; but love softly, progressively, originates and develops all the fruits of the Spirit. The absence of this love is the absence of Christianity. This love, lost in the fall, regained by the cross, is the result of seeing God’s love for us. The measure and extent is “all your hearts.” Not more than human strength, not less than will fill the heart is required. Think of the equity of the law, and of its greatness. Not cold, calculating preference; but warm, cordial attachment—attachment not blind and unintelligible, but with all the soul. Also to serve him, service in the sense of worship. The word liturgy strictly means service; here service means adore, pray, and praise; worship outwardly, publicly, and privately with all the heart. We learn the essence of all true acceptable worship before God. Not material glory, ritual splendour; but depth of sincerity, intensity of love, the supremacy of God in the heart What is the end of all this? First, God asks this, not for His benefit, but for our good. Is there no benefit in meeting together in the house of God, in unloading the thankful heart in praise? When you give the greatest glory, worship, and homage to God, the reaction of it is showers of blessings, mercies, and privileges upon yourselves. God requires this in His word, in seasons of affliction and prosperity. He requires it that holy effects may be seen, and that men may feel that religion purifies. It is also good for the world. The best evidence that you are Christians is in what you feel, suffer, sacrifice, and do; not as servants obeying for reward, but as sons serving God out of affection.—Dr. Cumming.
Deuteronomy 10:13. Keep (shamar) signifies to keep diligently, carefully, faithfully; as watchmen keep the city, soldiers their garrisons, or jailors their prisoners (1 Kings 20:39; Job 12:12). God would have His people thus to keep His commandments and statutes, and to do this on account of those high acts of favour and grace that He had shewed them; and what is this but to be a holy people, yea, a very holy people unto the Lord.—Brooks.
Our duty towards God. Consider—I. That we have a duty to perform towards God. A duty of—
1. Holy fear.
2. Perfect obedience.
4. Willing service. II. That this duty is enforced by many considerations.
1. Obedience to God’s commands will be to our own advantage.
2. We have been especially favoured by God; gratitude should impel us to serve Him.
3. The consequences of enmity to Him are fearful in the highest degree.—E. Lockwood.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13; Deuteronomy 10:19. The sum of human duty. Its nature, basis, and motives. cf. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8).
The reasonableness of God’s law. Many think it stern and severe, and impossible for man to obey. If God required more than man can give, this would be opposed to His word, indicate tyranny in His government, and would free man from blame. But God asks for service, not from angelic powers, but service of a nature adapted to our own. His requirements are clear as noonday, and equal as they can be, and the plea cannot be sustained. “O, house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?” etc. (Ezekiel 18:29-30).—A. Barnes.
GOD NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS.—Deuteronomy 10:17
In this sublime description of God we have a brief phrase indicating the impartial, incorruptible, and righteous method of His government. “He regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.” He shows no favour, nor is he bribed in judging men. “There is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11).
I. In the laws of Moral Government.—Natural laws make no discrimination, no distinction in their nature, purpose, and penalties. Nature accepts no bribes and regards no tears in her retributive dealings. There is “natural law in the spiritual world,” the same kind of procedure as in the natural world. The Jew has no advantage over the Gentile. Though His chosen people, God will not tolerate sin in them any more than in other nations. Men everywhere have the same wants, are subject to the same diseases, and doomed to the same grave. “The small and the great are there, and the servant is free as his master.” Spiritually “there is no difference (in their relation to God’s righteous government), for all have sinned and come short (failed to attain) the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23).
II. In the method of Salvation.—If men are equally guilty, none are deserving, and none are saved by their own good works. He “accepteth not the person of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor; for they all are the work of His hands” (Job 34:19). If saved at all, they are saved “freely by His grace.” Peter could not believe that the gospel must be offered to the Gentiles, and that they stood on the same basis of acceptance as the favoured people. “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).
III. In the accounts of the Judgment Day.—This day will vindicate the righteousness of God in the rewards of the just and the punishment of the unjust. Then will the eternal principles of the Divine government be fully asserted and vindicated. There will be one impartial award, the righteous Judge “will render to every one according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6-11). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 6:10).
LOVE TO THE STRANGER.—Deuteronomy 10:19
Strangers were in danger of being treated as foreigners and aliens among the Israelites. But many humane laws were enacted and repeated for their benefit. They were not merely to be tolerated, but to be respected, regarded as members of the Commonwealth—to be put on perfect equality with the Israelites. There are two reasons given for consideration to strangers.
I. God loves the stranger. Though great and terrible, yet He is kind and affectionate towards the helpless and oppressed. The more defenceless the greater the claim upon His compassion. “A father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows is God, in His holy habitation.” Kindness to the stranger has been considered such a favourite virtue that the gods have been said to disguise themselves to test human hospitality. The Bible and tradition seem to agree on this matter. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Zeus, “the stranger’s god,” suggests another title for Jehovah. “The poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.” Psalms 10:14; Psalms 10:17-18; cf. Jeremiah 49:11; Hosea 14:3.
II. Israelites themselves have been strangers. “For ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Legislation has protected the orphan and the widow, but not always strangers. They have been considered outcasts and foreigners. Israel had been afflicted and distressed. They knew the bitter experience of persecution, and should therefore sympathise with others in the same condition. Our experience should teach us to regard tenderly all reduced to slavery and treated with inhumanity. “Thou shalt not oppress a stranger; for ye know the heart (the soul, the feeling) of a stranger (by personal experience), seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). If Cicero could say whatever concerned humanity was not foreign to himself, what should be our feelings, when we think of the Divine Nature, the pathetic appeals of the Word, and the incarnation of Jesus Christ? “The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).
Jove’s special care
Are strangers, poor and friendless.—Odyss.
A NATION’S HONOUR.—Deuteronomy 10:20-21
Moses returns to his main subject, and again exhorts to reverence and obedience. God had honoured them, and deserved to be honoured by them. He was worthy in Himself, and worthy on account of what He had done. “He is thy praise and He is thy God—a nation’s honour consists in God’s blessing upon its past history and its present condition.
I. God in its past history. God is in history at all times, over-ruling all events for the accomplishment of His purpose. But few nations were blessed as Israel.
1. In its constant prosperity (Deuteronomy 10:22.) Mighty had been the increase of the people. In number, position, and dignity they were like the stars as heaven.
2. In its continual defence. In their deliverance and history “great and terrible things” had been done for them. England should remember her deliverances and defence in the destruction of the Invincible Armada, the defeat of Popish plots, and the establishment of the Protestant religion. “What one nation in the earth is like Thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to Himself, and to make Him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for Thy land, before Thy people, which Thou redeemedst to Thee from Egypt, from the nations and their Gods?” (2 Samuel 7:23.)
II. God in its present condition. He must still be our God, as well as our father’s God. He must never be forgotten nor forsaken, but abide with us for ever.
1. As the object of worship. “He is thy praise,” the object of praise, and regard. We must not worship our great men, nor bow down to our own nets (Hebrews 1:1-6). If God be not recognised in public act and private life, our glory will depart.
2. As the ground of dependence. We must put no confidence in the wisdom of our policy, the extent of our empire, the splendour of our arms, and the abundance of our wealth. “Righteousness exalteth a nation.”
3. As the source of prosperity. Our own skill and wisdom are vain. We can never do without God. He gives increase and success in families, churches, and nations (Acts 5:38-39). To God we owe everything, and should dedicate everything. “Well may we think our substance due where we owe ourselves” (Bp. Hall). Let us cleave to God, our shield in the past and our hope for the future. “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things He hath done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).
“Without the help of God
All is decay, delusion all,
On which mankind rely:
The firmament itself would fall,
And even Nature die
Beneath annihilation’s nod,
Without the help of God.”—W. Hayley.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 10:19. Love the stranger.
1. An expression of God’s nature. God is love.
2. An evidence of superior legislation in Israel.
3. A duty enjoined upon us. It is love; not mere pity, but practical benevolence. “Never anything can be amiss, when simpleness and duty tender it” (Shakespeare). “A kind action is never lost.”
Deuteronomy 10:20. Four aspects of obedience. Fear, serve, cleave, and swear. Our allegiance must be public, constant and firm. If we own God as our own God He will ever defend us. “Every one that sweareth by Him shall glory.”
Deuteronomy 10:21. Thy praise. Thy praised one (Psalms 18:3), or thy praiseworthy one. He is also thy chief glory and praise among all nations, who shall admire thy happiness in such a God (Trapp). The friendship of God a personal honour—a constant necessity and an eternal sufficiency. Why be ashamed or afraid of Him? Why not fear Him who can increase or diminish (Deuteronomy 10:22), exalt or humble by His infinite power? “Your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings” (Daniel 2:47).
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 10
Deuteronomy 10:1-5. Tables. God wrote the laws upon stone, and these stones were laid up in the ark of the testimony. But this law He writes now upon the hearts of His people; and God’s will, engraved upon the sensitive and susceptible heart of a Christian, will outlast the Pyramids of Egypt, outlive the stones that came down from Mount Sinai in the hand of Moses, and endure for ever. It is a nobler thing to write the law upon human hearts, and more miraculous, than to write it with His own finger upon the dead and perishing stone.—Dr. Cumming.
Deuteronomy 10:6-8. Ministered. A pious lady once amongst a party of gentlemen, by whom the worldly circumstances of ministers were made the topic of conversation, remarks were thrown out of which she could not approve. For some time silent, at last, with a dignified air and a decided tone, she put them all to silence with the words, “Well, you may say what you please concerning the situation of ministers, but let me tell you that a minister of the Gospel holds a more honourable office than a minister of state.”—Whitecross.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13. Love. The centripetal force which keeps all the celestial bodies in harmonious motion, each in its appointed orbit. What would ensue could we imagine the force to be withdrawn?—Bowes.
Deuteronomy 10:14-17. A great God. Simonides, the philosopher, being requested to describe God, asked a week to think of it, after that a month, and then a year; but, being still unprepared, he declined the task, declaring that the more he thought of such a Being the less he was able to describe Him. It is said that Sir I. Newton and Dr. S. Clarke never mentioned the name of God without solemn pause. “God has two thrones—one in the highest heavens, the other in the lowest hearts” (Isaiah 57:15).
Deuteronomy 10:19. Love the stranger. Mercy hath but its name for misery, and is no other thing than to lay another’s misery to heart (Binning). In aspiring to the throne of power, the angels transgressed and fell; in presuming to come within the oracle of knowledge, man transgressed and fell; but in the pursuit towards the similitude of God’s goodness and love neither man nor spirit ever transgressed or shall transgress (Bacon). How unsuitable is it for us, who live only by kindness (Titus 3:4-7), to be unkind.—Edwards.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19