Our reading today begins with yet another reminder to obey all of God’s commandments (8:1). We have see this reminder before, and we will see it again. In verse 3, we have one of the verses Jesus quotes during His wilderness temptations. In context, this is not so much speaking about being nourished by the Word of God, as it is speaking about obedience to the Word of God. God will provide for those that live according to His Word. This is again a reminder that worship of God is to be central in the lives of His people. Verses 11-20 are an appropriate reminder not just for Israel, but for Christians of the western world in 2022. Idolatry comes in many forms…
Chapter 9 begins with another promise that God will be the one to fight for Israel and take the land (9:3). He is sovereign in power. Then in verses 4-6, God reminds Israel that there is nothing special about them as compared to the rest of the nations – there was nothing they did to earn God’s favor. He chose them. He is sovereign in salvation. Then Moses reminds Israel of their rebellion against God. In verse 9 we see that provision of God, and His centrality in our lives. What Moses needed most in that time* was not physical sustenance. He needed God. The same is true for us.
Beginning in verse 13, Moses recalls specifically the details of Israel’s violation of the second commandment. In verse 14 we have a picture of God’s judgment for sin. In verse 17, we have a picture of man’s unregenerate heart. The breaking of the stone tablets points us to the literal breaking of God’s commands by those with a heart of stone. We see in verses 18-20 the mediatorial ministry of Moses that prefigures the mediatorial ministry of Christ. We see in verse 21 the removal of sin from among God’s people, which we are commanded to do. The chapter ends with a recounting of some of Israel’s other rebellions and God’s mercy based on that mediatorial ministry of Moses.
Chapter 10 begins with the recounting of the making of the second pair of tablets of the Law. Note here that Moses says God specifically commands the Ark to be made in order to hold these two tablets (10:1-2). In verses 3-5. Moses says he made the Ark and placed the tablets in them. This is an interesting addition to the story as presented back in the book of Exodus. In Exodus 25, God commands the Ark to be made. In Exodus 32, Moses breaks the original tablets. In Exodus 34, Moses makes the second set of tablets. In Exodus 37 the Ark is made. In Exodus 40, the tablets are put in the Ark. Moses’ summary of these events in three verses add the theological import of the story of the tablets and the Ark. In contrast to the tablets that were broken like the sinner breaks the commands of God, the second set of tablets – which contained the same law – God placed them within the Ark through a mediator. As we know, the Ark represents Christ, our mediator, in whom the law goes unbroken. And we see how God prepared the Ark, like He prepared the human body of Christ in which the law would be kept (see Heb 10:4-7).
In verses 12-22 we have another exhortation to obedience (vv. 12-13), a reminder of the greatest and most important commandment (v. 12), another assertion that the law is for the good of God’s people (v. 13) , a reminder that God sovereignly chooses His people (vv. 14-15) and that He is the just judge (vv. 17-18), another allowance for the inclusion of non-physical Israelites in the covenant (v. 19), and a reminder of what He has already done according to His promise to Abraham (vv. 21-22). But right in the middle of all of this, we see the injunction for God’s people to circumcise their hearts (v. 16). In contrast to the heart of stone that breaks God’s commandments, God is referring to a heart of flesh (implied by the circumcision – see Eze 36:26) required for keeping the Law. And this is done only in the heart within which Christ (the true Ark that keeps the law) dwells.
Chapter 11 begins with yet another exhortation to always remember what God has already done – both His salvation and His righteous judgments. Again, this is because Israel needs to keep the commands of God (11:8). And we again see obedience tied in with God’s provision (vv. 8-15). But we also see God’s warning (promise) of judgment for disobedience. In verses 18-20, we see again the centrality of worship in all aspects of life for God’s people. God instructs Israel that once they are in the land, they will repeat these blessing and curses from Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal (which we will see they do). But notice that when they do this – when they are presented the choice between obedience and disobedience – God will have already, by His grace, given them what He promised them (vv. 30-32).
We see in these commands, reminders, exhortations, and warnings the necessity for obedience to the Law. On this side of the cross, we know that this is only done through faith in Christ. When the Holy Spirit takes our disobedient heart of stone, and grants us a heart of flesh. When in our heart lives the only One Who kept the Law, and keeps it in us.
*The idea of “forty days and forty nights” in the Bible is not meant to be a literal period of time lasting forty days. It is a Hebrew idiom for an extended period of days.