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Deuteronomy Chapter 1


  • Deuteronomy 1:1 These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab. 
  • 2 (There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadeshbarnea.) 
  • 3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them; 
  • 4 After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei: 
  • 5 On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying, 

This isn't the law of Moses but the law of God. It was the law that showed us the difference between evil and good. It showed us that this same law had the power to condemn our souls to an eternity in hell because all mankind except for innocent infants would have broken this law in one point or another. It shows us also that it was impossible to keep and we needed a savior, we needed mercy from a loving God and we needed the power to overcome the sin that was separating us from God. This law was the schoolmaster to bring us to a savior provided by God at the right time and the right place. 

Notice that God first brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt. Egypt was a country filled with idolatry and false religion that could never save anyone from sin or reconcile anyone back to God. Egypt represents sin and separation from God. By a mighty hand of God, Israel and any who would believe and go with them, escaped Egypt and dwelled for a season in the wilderness. 

Now they needed to know how to live. They were delivered in the flesh but they needed to be saved from sin. 

As believers in Christ once we come to Christ for forgiveness of sins and we are cleansed from the sin that was separating us from God, but now we need to know how to live. We need some direction. That is why God provided us with faithful apostles, teachers and the written word to guide us so that we can mature in Christ and bring the gospel to the entire world. 

Israel needed to know God's commandments and how to live once they escaped bondage. They had lived among idolatry and evil so long that they needed direction. God was going to provide them a savior from that sin and bondage but first He had to give them the law so that they would understand how much they would need a savior who had to be a perfect person that could keep the law in all points yet without sin. 

  • John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 

Christ is the only one to not only keep the law perfectly without sin but also fulfill the law so that one can repent of sin and come to Him for salvation. Once we believe and come to Christ, He gives us the living water which is the Holy Spirit. This gift from God is a teacher, comforter, and helps us have the boldness to share the gospel all over the world. Also He helps us overcome sin and much more. Through faith in Christ, we now can inherit the eternal life that God intended all of us to have from the day He created us. We have the free will to choose whether or not to turn from sin and believe in the savior He provided but it is God's will that all will be saved and delivered from our lost condition. 

In order for us to understand fully what Jesus did for us, we need to study the law and see how serious sin was and why Jesus had to pay the price for our breaking the law. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:6 The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: 

They had to wait for God's timing the same as we do today. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:7 Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates. 
  • 8 Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them. 

This land was already theirs. It was promised to Abraham first and then to his descendants. They didn't possess the land but had to wait and believe in the hope that their descendants would possess it. 

No one in this modern age, whether it is European nations or the United States has any right to take that promise away from Israel. God gave the land to them and only God can take it away which He did temporarily in 70 AD after they rejected Christ but they regained part of it in 1948. They still do not have all the land promised to them. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:9 And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: 
  • 10 The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. 
  • 11 (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) 
  • 12 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? 
  • 13 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. 
  • 14 And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. 

We see from this that they had to set up rulers and wise men, not to lord over and control but to lead. This is not a hierarchy with titles and such to exalt one person over another but it was a service, a duty and a way to keep out trouble and lead the people in the right direction. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:15 So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. 

Not all of us are gifted for leadership. A leader cannot be a proud self-righteous dictator, but one who sees his own weakness and has to rely on God to guide him. He cannot be afraid to stand up for what is right against troublemakers but he must be humble in the sight of God and realize that without His strength he is nothing. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. 

Even today we need judges who are fair, honest, do not take bribes and will not be swayed by someone's standing in society or his wealth. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. 

If a judge does this, he is a good judge indeed. Respect of persons is one thing God hates. In the book of James, he mentions this also for Christians. 

  • James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 
  • 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 
  • 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 
  • 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 
  • 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
  • 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 
  • 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 
  • 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 

God does not respect persons. The above scriptures in the book of James are speaking of religious leadership but it can also apply to the secular, the judges, the leaders of government.

  • 1Peter 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

God will judge the rich the same as the poor. Male the same as female. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:18 And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do. 
  • 19 And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea. 
  • 20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us. 
  • 21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. 

God waited until the evil of the Amorites had gotten to a point of no return. Just like in the days of Noah's flood the evil had gotten so bad, total destruction was the only way to stop it. 

Now is the day of grace. God has given us the gospel to turn men from sin and back to God. We live in a day when people are rejecting the gospel and turning back to their sins. Some try to claim Christ and keep sin but that does not work. The day of grace my soon be coming to an end. We must not trample upon God's grace and try to use it as a license to sin. Grace comes to us to bring us out of sin not forgive us in our sin. Sin separates from God. We need to be saved from sin. That is why Jesus came the first time. The second time is to deliver His people that believed in Him and then bring judgment, and finally to set up His everlasting kingdom and usher in everlasting righteousness. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come. 
  • 23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe: 
  • 24 And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out. 
  • 25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us. 

God knows what He was doing in that He gave them a good land that would produce food and provide for His people. They were given a commandment to cast out the evil ones that dwelt in that land. The reason is that they had sinned to the point where they could not repent. 

Unless some of the readers would find fault with God here we must understand what people did that turned the heart of God against them:

  1. Sexual immorality which is against nature
  2. Sexual exploitation of innocent children. 
  3. Cruel slavery with no mercy upon the slaves and no rest from their burdens.
  4. The sacrifice of innocent children to idols. 
  5. Torture and cruelty to the weak. 
  6. Idolatry which resulted in all the above. 
  7. Wickedness which we probably have not even thought of yet. 

Children were made to pass through the fire. Enemies where made slaves and treated cruelly. False gods were used to cause people to fear and kept them into bondage with no hope of salvation. This would have continued and gotten worse if God had not allowed Israel to stop them. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: 

They lost their faith. They forgot the deliverance from Egypt. They forgot the crossing of the Red Sea, they forgot the manna in the wilderness and went into unbelief even desiring to return to Egypt as slaves. 

Some today desire to keep their sins and be in bondage to sin rather than be free to walk in the newness of life provided for by true faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is the key to keeping on and not quitting. Only two of the spies trusted God and were allowed to enter into the promised land. The other ten went into unbelief and caused the whole tribe of Israel to have to wait 40 years so that the older ones could died off except Joshua and Caleb. God could have destroyed them all but He let them live in the wilderness until their natural death. Unbelief leads to all the other sins that defile the flesh. Faith is important. It is faith that actually causes a soul to be saved or lost. Faith in Christ saves. The loss of that faith is dangerous and hinders the work of God in our midst. Unbelief caused a whole generation to miss the promise land. 

This shows us the difference between those that reject Christ which is usually a majority and those that receive Christ which is a small number compared to those that are lost. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 

Murmuring and complaining is one of the first signs of unbelief and backsliding away from God. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there. 

Israel could never have defeated those large giants on their own but with God they could have been defeated and only by the power of God could they overcome them. Just like today, we cannot overcome sin in our own strength and willpower. We need the power of God that is given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Sons of Anakims were very large powerful men.

  • Deuteronomy 1:29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. 
  • 30 The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; 
  • 31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. 
  • 32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, 
  • 33 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. 
  • 34 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, 
  • 35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, 
  • 36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD. 
  • 37 Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither. 
  • 38 But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. 
  • 39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it. 
  • 40 But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea. 

They missed out and lost the promised land because of unbelief. Yet when they realized what they had done, they quickly tried to fight in their own strength but could not. Once God departs from us, we cannot go it alone. We will fail every time. Just like Samson who didn't know he had lost his strength until it was too late, sometimes we can get away from the will of God and become lukewarm in our walk without realizing it. 

  • Deuteronomy 1:41 Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill. 
  • 42 And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies. 
  • 43 So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill. 
  • 44 And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah. 
  • 45 And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you. 
  • 46 So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there. 

This was not genuine repentance from the depth of their souls or God might have had mercy and allowed them to enter in. They went in presumptuously and without the God on their side. They lost the battle because God was not with them. Genuine repentance causes the heart to change and accept the will of God. Had they been genuine, they would not have gone to fight without a commandment from the Lord. They would have accepted His judgment. 

Repentance even today causes us to hear God. We want to know God and follow His commandments. True repentance will never cause us to do our own thing and still expect to make heaven our home after we have accept Christ as savior. I personally do not believe one can accept Christ as savior and not as Lord. Genuine repentance causes us to accept Him as Lord of our lives. True victory over sin comes when one repents or turns away from sin and turns his or her life over to Christ completely. This is not a halfway thing. We are either in or out, hot or cold. Lukewarmness does not cut it. The letter to the church in Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3 describes the danger of being lukewarm. I would compare a lukewarm Christian to the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness. It led to sin, rebellion and defeat. - Dorna Chambers

Deuteronomy 2