Deuteronomy 3-4
(Teach Your Children Well)
February 22nd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;

Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.

- Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (KJV)

Summary of Chapters

In these two chapters, Moses concludes his recital of the early history of Israel and distinguishes between the benefits of following God and the consequences of following other gods. He begins chapter 3 by relating the story of one of the first military victories by Israel - which had been recorded in Numbers 21. Moses also describes the early distribution of land to several tribes who had requested specific areas of land but had also committed to helping the other tribes acquire their land. This chapter concludes with Moses explaining that he would not be allowed to join the people as they cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. He says the reason is that “because of you the LORD was angry with me (3:26 - italics added for emphasis).” We had read the more complete explanation in Numbers 20, which described how the people had been impatiently crying for water, so the LORD told Moses to speak to a rock to get water. Moses struck the rock to get water instead of speaking to it and sealed his fate:

In chapter 4, Moses explains why the laws from God are important. They are important because the creator of the laws is the creator of the universe and can wipe away armies or create food out of dirt. False idols can’t do this. Moses advised the people to teach their children and their children’s children about the stories and lessons they have learned:

If the Israelites don’t follow the laws, then they will be scattered to other nations - and indeed this is what happens, in an event referred to as the Exile, which is recorded in later books of the Old Testament. But the Exile would not be the end:

But if the people keep the commandments that Moses is about to review, then they will live long and prosper:

Reflection and Application

The stories and lessons from Moses were passed down to the next generation, and then to their children, and so on, in a perpetual chain that reaches us today. The oral and written guidance has survived for 3,000 years, in accordance with the instructions from Moses in chapter 4, verse 9. Let us make sure that we are not the weak link in the chain. We have the choice of whether or not we tell the story. But if we believe in God and wish to honor him, then we could find no better way to demonstrate our worship then by re-telling these ancient stories. The concept of the passing of wisdom from one generation to the next is artfully depicted in a set of lyrics written by the British musician Graham Nash:

These lyrics are part of a popular late 20th century song performed by the musical group, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (with Jerry Garcia on the pedal steel guitar in the original recording). One interpretation of the song is that children can learn from their parent’s mistakes as well as from their wisdom and dreams. The children teach their parents by learning from them and raising the bar for their own generation. The children of the Exodus generation achieved this goal by having the faith to follow God into the Promised Land.

The first leader of the United States of America shared Moses' belief regarding the importance of passing religious knowledge to the next generation. In his farewell speech on September 17th, 1796, George Washington made the following statements:

The final summary thought on this section is that God will punish us if we take the road that bypasses his code, but will offer mercy if we make a U-turn and seek him. Future generations of Israelites learned that lesson the hard way. So have many of us in the current generation.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Who is your favorite historical figure?
    2. What is the most important thing you learned from your parents?
    3. What is the most important lesson that you would like the next generation to know?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, please help us to teach our children well.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) "George Washington's Farewell Address To the People of the United States,” Archiving Early America, 2/20/11
    Click the link below for a complete text of this address:
    “Washington's Farewell"

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Deuteronomy 5-8 (All Your Heart, Soul, and Strength)

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