Moses’ history lesson: From the Ten Commandments to the spies; the wilderness; the nations avoided; the nations conquered; Joshua charged to be the next leader; the people compelled to heed God’s Word.


Nearly 41 years have passed since Moses led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. A journey of eleven days has taken over 38 years because of unbelief and disobedience. Now Moses speaks to a new generation preparing to enter a new land. The first three chapters are a history lesson: Remember what happened to your fathers!

Deuteronomy 1:6 begins the story. The Lord told Moses to leave Horeb (Mt. Sinai) and prepare to enter the land promised to their fathers. The commandments had been received; the Tabernacle had been built and the Lord was providing daily food. But during the eleven-day journey, the murmuring of the people causes Moses to say he cannot bear the people alone. Seventy wise and understanding men are chosen to be rulers. Judges of the people are to judge righteously with no respect of persons.

Soon, the children of Israel stand at the mountain of decision. The conflict is always the same: our will vs. Gods Word. Verses 20 and 21 give the promise of the Lord of the Universe. However, verse 26 is the response. Deuteronomy 1:27 through 2:3 is the sad result. No one from 20 years old and up will enter into the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb. The last of chapter 1 reminds us that the land of blessing and rest could only come from the Lord. Human strength and will, cannot gain what is lost by disobedience.

Chapter 2 verses 4 through 23 continue the journey through the land of three nations that the Lord will not allow the children of Israel to fight. Though these are later enemies of Israel, the Lord has promised these lands to Lot and Esau (vs. 5, 9, 19). In verse 7, Moses reminds the new generation that the Lord was blessing them even in the wilderness. But now, in verse 16, the old generation is gone; it is time to move forward.

The battles begin. As the children of Israel travel upward on the east side of the Dead Sea and the Jordan, two nations must be conquered. Sihon (warrior), the king of Heshbon (strongholds) is the first battle. The Lord gives the victory to the children of Israel as He promised. Likewise, II Corinthians 10:3-5 reminds us that the Lord gives victory in our spiritual battles against strongholds of the enemy.

The history lesson ends with the division of the conquered land and the charge to Joshua. Joshua is to remember the deliverance of the Lord and not fear as he leads the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses is told again that he cannot enter the land. With this, we are reminded that the Law (Moses) can never bring us into the land of blessing and rest; only Jesus (Joshua) can (John 1:17).

Chapter 4, verse 1, gives the reason for chapters 1-3. Hear and do. If the new generation will hear and follow, the Lord will give them life and a place to live. Don’t add to or take away from the Word of the Lord. Take heed and keep thy soul diligently. Teach your sons and grandsons.

The Lord reveals new insights of Himself in verses 14 through the end of the chapter. When the Ten Commandments were given, God did not reveal Himself visibly so no graven images could be made. We are to walk by faith not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7); “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Further warnings are given regarding worshipping any image, sun, moon or stars.

Compare verses 24 and 31. The Lord thy God is a consuming fire and a merciful God. God will bring judgment for evil, but is full of forgiveness.

And now the most miraculous revelation of all: God chose these people because of love. Verses 35 and 39 reveal that there is no other God beside the Lord, but right in the middle of these verses, God reveals that He loves people. Though Gods love for his people has been demonstrated from the very beginning of the Bible, this is the first time that God’s love is actually expressed to His children. In Deuteronomy, the love between God and His children is mentioned over 20 times. Moses closes his message to the new generation with the new message of God’s love.



As THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE Deut. 1:17 (II Timothy 4:8) As DELIVERER Deut. 1:30, 2:33, 3:3 (Romans 8:21; Galatians 1:4) As THE FAITHFUL ONE Deut. 2:9, 12, 19 (I Corinthians 10:13; II Thessalonians 3:3; I John 1:9) As TEACHER Deut. 4:14 (John 8:28) As THE ONE TRUE GOD Deut. 4:35, 39 (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Colossians 2:9) As THE LOVER OF MEN Deut. 4:37 (John 15:13; Titus 3:4, 5)