Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 31, 2009

Deuteronomy 4:44 – 5:5

• Introduction to Moses’ Second Message | Deuteronomy 4:44-49

4:44-49 | These verses form an introduction to Moses’ second message to Israel prior to their entry into the Promised Land. Note the similarities between this introduction and the one recorded in 1:3-5. The time and place of Moses’ second message (which begins in 5:1 and ends in 26:19) are set forth in this second introduction. The people were no longer at the foot of Sinai, they were now on the slopes of Pisgah (4:49). They stood on the brink of entry into the Promised Land having already tasted the first-fruits of victory in battle (4:46-47). The “law which Moses set before the sons of Israel” (4:44) is described as consisting of “the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances” (4:45). Their success and happiness in the Promised Land would be directly dependant of their observance of God’s law.

• A Summons to Obey the Law | Deuteronomy 5:1-5

5:1-5 | Before recapitulating the law given forty years earlier, Moses reminded the people of the circumstances surrounding the giving of the law at Horeb and of their covenant with God. Moses summoned “all Israel,” a reference to an official gathering of the twelve tribes, to “hear … learn … and observe” God’s word (5:1). The order of these words is important.

First, the people were to “hear” God’s word. The word “hear” is used over thirty times in Deuteronomy. They were to give attentive consideration to God’s word with a view toward obeying it. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe it” (Luke 11:28).

Second, they were to “learn” God’s word. The word “learn” is used seven times in Deuteronomy. They were to study and understand God’s word. Ezra 7:10 states, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

Third, they were to “observe” God’s word. The word “observe” is used almost one hundred times in Deuteronomy. They were to put into practice the things they heard and understood. James said, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).

Moses reminded the people that they had entered into a covenant with God at Sinai. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. This covenant was made with the people gathered before Moses, even though they were not present at Sinai (5:2-3). God spoke to the people (5:4) through Moses (5:5) and gave them standards of conduct (the Decalogue or Ten Commandments) to govern their behavior and by which they could demonstrate their respect for the covenant.

The Ten Commandments are referred to in Deuteronomy and Exodus as the ten words, rather than our English designation ten commandments. This designation comes from the Septuagint translation of Deuteronomy 10:4 which states, “And He wrote on the tablets, like the former writing, the [deka logous] which the Lord had spoken… “ The term “deka logous” means ten words.

Victory is about more than winning a battle. | Deuteronomy records that prior to entering the Promised Land, Moses summoned all Israel and set the law before them. Moses did not call a meeting of military strategists. He did not call the people to inventory their weapons. He set the law before the people. Moses wanted for the people to understand that victory in Canaan was more than a matter of military superiority over their enemies. Their victory, prosperity, and longevity in the Promised Land were directly dependant on their attitude toward God’s word and their willingness to honor their covenant relationship with God.


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