Deuteronomy 9-11
(Fear the LORD)
February 24th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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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

“Listen, people of Israel! Today you are about to cross the River Jordan and occupy the land belonging to nations greater and more powerful than you. Their cities are large, with walls that reach the sky. The people themselves are tall and strong; they are giants, and you have heard it said that no one can stand against them. But now you will see for yourselves that the LORD your God will go ahead of you like a raging fire. He will defeat them as you advance, so that you will drive them out and destroy them quickly, as he promised.

- Deuteronomy 9:1-3 (GNB)

Summary of Chapters

In these three chapters, Moses reminded Israel of their behavior in the desert, emphasized the importance of fearing the LORD, and described the choice between obedience to receive blessings versus disobedience to receive the curse of God.

In chapter 9, Moses assured the people that God will go ahead of them to defeat their enemy, but reminds them that God will do this because of the wickedness of the Canaanites - not because of the righteousness of the Israelites. For added emphasis, Moses explained how the people rebelled while waiting for him to return from meeting with God on Mount Sinai. Moses had been fasting and worshipping the one true God, who was explaining the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, the people of Israel were making false idols and preparing to worship their own creations.

In chapter 10, Moses explained some of the reasoning behind the concept of fearing the LORD. God made the entire universe, and can choose any people he wants, but he chose the descendants of Jacob, who now number over 2,000,000 people. He loves people from other nations and watches out for the helpless, but has chosen Israel, the sons and daughters of Jacob to be his light and to be his instrument for cleansing wickedness from the land:

    And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

    - Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NIV)

Moses gave the people a choice, as described in chapter 11: If you obey the LORD and love him with all your heart, then you will be blessed. But if you are enticed by the pagan nations and disobey the LORD, you will be cursed:

    I've brought you today to the crossroads of Blessing and Curse.

    The Blessing: if you listen obediently to the commandments of God, your God, which I command you today.

    The Curse: if you don't pay attention to the commandments of God, your God, but leave the road that I command you today, following other gods of which you know nothing.

    - Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (MSG)

Reflection and Application

A summary of what God expects of us can be found in today's scripture: “Fear the LORD, walk in his ways, love him, serve him with all our heart and soul and observe his commands (paraphrase of Deut 10:12, 13 - NIV).” We will find a similar verse in Micah 6:8 (NIV): "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

One difference found in this verse from Deuteronomy versus the one is Micah is that Moses addresses the following question: What does it mean to fear the LORD? Does it mean we should try to hide from God in the trees the way Adam and Eve did after sinning, as described in Genesis? No, because in that case they were hiding in shame, not fear. Should the fear of the LORD be the same fear that causes students to go down a different hallway to avoid the school bully? No, that would be an example of an unhealthy fear of a person who is mean-spirited and violent without cause.

To fear the LORD, in the context used by Moses, means to show reverence to him. This type of fear respects the power that the LORD has, but recognizes that he only uses it when justified. He could use it to bring down our enemies, or to bring us down, when warranted. He created the universe and our world, including the weather patterns, and could intercede in our world when he wants to. God created tiny frozen particles that are practically weightless by themselves, but can accumulate and cripple a modern city. He can keep the temperature cold so that the accumulation persists or heat up the atmosphere to melt it. He's in charge.

The author of Psalm 111 reminds us some of the aspects of fear, such as it's role as the beginning of wisdom:

    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

    - Psalm 111:10 (KJV)

When we fear God we recognize our position relative to him and therefore seek to understand his wisdom and give him credit for all our blessings. When we fear God we are humble and don’t try to assume credit for ourselves or define our rules. When we fear God we know better than to worship some other deity. When we fear God and then arrive at the crossroads we choose the path of blessings because we know he can provide it and we avoid the path of consequences because we know he can deliver it.

Moses emphasized fear but he balanced those points with examples of God's love and mercy. For example, Moses described how he interceded with God on behalf of Aaron and the people who had made false idols, and God responded by backing off on his anger, as described in chapter 9:

    Then I prostrated myself before God, just as I had at the beginning of the forty days and nights. I ate no food; I drank no water. I did this because of you, all your sins, sinning against God, doing what is evil in God's eyes and making him angry. I was terrified of God's furious anger, his blazing anger. I was sure he would destroy you. But once again God listened to me. And Aaron! How furious he was with Aaron—ready to destroy him. But I prayed also for Aaron at that same time.

    - Deuteronomy 9:18-20 (MSG)

We have also come across many other examples in the Old Testament where God was prepared to deliver a judgment, but he modified the sentence after the petition from a person of faith. With these stories in mind we should remember that we all have the power to offer intercessory prayer. Do you know someone who needs God's mercy? Pray for him or her.

"We Choose to Fear the LORD," performed by the Maranatha Singers

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What was one of your childhood fears?
    2. When was a time that you rebelled against God?
    3. What is one additional thing you could do to show greater reverence to God today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, please help us to fear and revere you and act accordingly.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Highway workers

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Deuteronomy 12-16 (Review - Holy Worship)

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