• Leaders Chosen to Assist Moses | Deuteronomy 1:6-18
Moses’ first message to the people begins in Deuteronomy 1:6 and ends in Deuteronomy 4:43. Moses was concerned that the people learn from their history lest they repeat it. Encamped on the plains of Moab, Moses reviewed the leadership of God from Horeb to the plains of Moab. Notice the three stages of that journey. First, the journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea (1:6-46). Second, the journey from Kadesh-barnea to Heshbon (2:1-37). Third, the journey from Heshbon to their encampment “in the valley opposite Beth-peor” (3:1-29). This historical review formed the background for Moses’ exhortation to the people. In light of the evidence of God’s goodness to His people, Moses exhorted them to respond to God with gratitude, obedience, and devotion (4:1-43).
Looking back can give us the confidence to move forward. | Moses’ first message to the people was filled with historical references to the acts of God on behalf of the Israelites. Moses reviewed the history of the Israelites in the hope that they would not repeat the errors of the past or forget the faithful way in which God had dealt with them. A review of the past faithfulness of God should result in gratitude, devotion, and obedience to Him in the present. Those who remember the faithfulness of God can face the future with confidence.
1:6-8 | Moses reviewed God’s command to leave Horeb (where the people had received the law) and possess the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (1:6-8). Verse 6 accentuates God’s initiative: “You have stayed long enough at this mountain” (see also 2:3). Verse 7 describes the vast scope of the land promised by God. Verse 8 recalls the promise of God to the patriarchs.
Comfort is the enemy of progress. | God spoke to the Israelites at Horeb saying, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set your journey, and go…” (1:6). God did not deliver the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage in order for them to comfortably settle at Horeb. His plan was for His people to boldly advance towards the Promised Land to conquer and occupy it. In the same way, those who aspire to spiritual maturity must adopt Paul’s attitude, “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12). Comfort and complacency are the enemies of progress and growth in the Christian life.
1:9-18 | Read Exodus 18:13-27 for background information on these verses. Moses reminded the people of how the burden of leadership (1:9) over the growing population (1:10-11) was shared by appointing “wise and discerning and experienced men” from among the people (1:12-14) to serve as officers and judges (1:15). These leaders were charged with the responsibility of dispensing fair justice to all men, Israelite and non-Israelite alike (1:16-18). A system of community government to oversee the administration and preservation of law and order was imperative during the wilderness wanderings. The need for responsible government and a fair judicial system would be no less urgent in the Promised Land.