(The final installment covers 21-25 of the ‘best’ things in Deuteronomy.)
21) NOT EVERY ABLE-BODIED MALE IS ALLOWED INTO BATTLE. (Chapter 20)
“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you….” (20:1) “Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them….” (20:3)
Fear is contagious.
One of the oddest aspects about Israel’s armies is that certain people were exempt from conscription.
–A man with a new house that has not been dedicated may stay home (20:5)
–A farmer with a new vineyard from which he has not eaten may stay home (20:6).
–A groom who has not finalized his marriage may stay home (20:7).
–And then, there is this one: “What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his home, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart” (20:8). If you’re afraid, you may leave.
(Following are 16-20 of “the best things in Deuteronomy.” To see the earlier ones, go to www.joemckeever.com and scroll back a few days.)
16) THE LORD IS YOUR INHERITANCE. YOUR PORTION. (10:9 and 18:1-2).
“The Levites will not be getting a portion or inheritance in Canaan; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God promised him” (10:9).
In Numbers 18:20, the Lord told Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land (i.e., Canaan), nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.”
Members of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 18:2), Aaron’s descendants were the priests for all future generations. All the other tribes of Israel received territorial allotments when Joshua led them to conquer Canaan. But not the Levites. The priests were to scatter throughout the countryside, live among the other tribes, and receive their living from the tithes and offerings. (Sound familiar, preachers?)
Israel’s songwriters liked the concept of the Lord being our portion, and worked it into three psalms (Ps. 73:26; 119:57; 142:5).
(The earlier 10 “best things” can be found on our blog, www.joemckeever.com, by scrolling back a few days. Permission is given to use any of this in any Christ-honoring way you please.)
11) BLESSING AND CURSE SET BEFORE YOU. YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE.
You get to choose; you have to choose. Every generation lines up and repeats the process.
“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse; the blessing, if you obey…and the curse, if you do not obey….” (Deuteronomy 11:26ff.)
When Israel came into the Promised Land, they drew near to Jacob’s Well and parked for a religious ritual. One group of priests walked over to Mount Ebal while others walked over to nearby Mount Gerizim. The mass of citizens stood around in the middle, close enough to hear both groups. And the priests did a reading.
(Points 6-10 of the best things in Deuteronomy follow a short digression. Feel free to skip the first part.)
Since Deuteronomy will be taught in Southern Baptist churches across the land this winter, this is a good time to talk about effective teaching…..
First: Get your people to read Deuteronomy.
I imagine the most common error of Bible teachers and pastors is to teach something no one has read.
(The first five of “the best things in Deuteronomy”)
The first 5 books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch, are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These are called the books of Moses, since they claim him as their author.
What sets Deuteronomy apart from the first four is that it is actually a recap of the earlier ones. (The name literally means a second giving of the law.)
Moses is about done. The people who exodus’d out of Egypt have mostly died off now and a new generation is on the scene, the children of those ex-slaves. Only Joshua and Caleb, faithful spies from the Kadesh-Barnea days, will have traveled the entire road and will settle in Canaan (see Numbers 14:30). Even Moses will die before entering, the result of his own failure to obey the Lord (see Numbers 20).
The new generation needs to know everything. Everything is now on their shoulders. They need to be taught their history, their scriptures, the Laws, their relationship with the Lord, what God has promised and what He is up to at this moment, and what will be expected of them.
We’re always only one generation away from paganism.