Moses Receives the Commandments Again
Moses summarized the events surrounding the rewriting of the Ten Commandments. This event is recorded in fuller detail in Exodus 34. This recounting was intended to remind the people that God graciously renewed the covenant with them even though they were a stiff-necked and rebellious people. The things written on the second set of stone tablets were “the words that were on the former tablets” shattered by Moses (10:2). According to God’s instructions (10:1), Moses constructed an ark of wood (10:3) in which He placed the placed the new tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments (10:4-5).
After the death of Aaron, Eleazar his son served as priest in his place (10:6) and the tribe of Levi was set apart for priestly service (10:8). The tribe of Levi was assigned three functions (10:8): First, they were assigned the task of carrying the ark of the covenant, which housed the covenant documents. The Levites were responsible for the care of the ark. Second, they were “to stand before the Lord to serve Him.” John D.W. Watts notes that this “probably included duties of sacrifice as well as serving as mediators of divine oracles. Third, they were to bless in the name of the Lord. In addition, the tribe of Levi was not to have an inheritance in the Promised Land (10:9). The Lord was to be the inheritance of the tribe of Levi (10:9). They were “privileged to receive their living from offerings brought to the Lord” (Watts).
These verses summarize the results of Moses’ intercession on behalf of Israel. Had it not been for the intercession of Moses the Israelites would not be on the banks of the Jordan, poised to enter the Promised Land.
The Lord’s Requirements
An effective relationship is based, in large measure, on a proper understanding between individuals. It is important in any relationship that both parties understand what is required or expected from one another. Moses outlined for the Israelites what God required (asked or requested) of them. This understanding was meant to help the Israelites enjoy an effective and meaningful relationship with God and their fellow man. Understanding God’s requirements alone however, was not enough to insure an effective relationship. The Israelites would have to commit themselves to meeting those requirements. (See also Micah 6:8). God’s requirements are as follows:
First, “to fear the Lord your God” (10:12). The fear of the Lord is an inward attitude of respect and reverence for God. The Israelites were to respond to God’s faithfulness with an attitude of reverence and respect.
Second, “to walk in all His ways” (10:12). An inward attitude of reverence and respect for the Lord should manifest itself outwardly in a godly walk.
Third, to “love Him”(10:12). Read Deuteronomy 6:5 and refer to the comments on page 15 of these notes. James Wolfendale comments, “Moses commanded many observances and enforced obedience when required; but love and veneration must be voluntary.”
Fourth, “to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (10:12). Service is a demonstration of our love for God. John D.W. Watts notes that the word “serve” refers to acts of worship. James Wolfendale comments, “We may suspect our religion, suspect our interest in Christ, if we have no delight in His service, no love for His person. … Our service must be spiritual; our obedience free and hearty; and our love fervent and sincere.”
Fifth, “to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes” (10:13). Obedience is a demonstration of our love for God. 1 John 5:3 states, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” One commentator notes that the word “keep signifies to keep diligently, carefully, faithfully; as watchmen keep the city, soldiers their garrisons, or jailors their prisoners.”
Practical Consideration: What God demands is what thankful hearts should gladly give. Someone has rightly observed, “What God demands is what thankful hearts should give.” There is nothing unreasonable about what God requires of His people, especially in light of His constant demonstrations of love and mercy. Hearts filled with gratitude to God should overflow in love and service to Him.
God merits the obedience of His people because of His greatness and because of His love. Moses defined the greatness of God and the love of God in terms the Israelites could understand.
First, God is the creator, owner, and sustainer of the cosmos (10:14), “yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them” (10:15). The proper response to the love and greatness of God is submission and obedience to His will. This would happen when the people circumcised their hearts (or cut away all hindrances) and ended their stubbornness. Regarding circumcision of the heart, Samuel J. Schultz comments, “All things that might restrict, interfere with, or negate a total devotion to God were to be cut away (circumcised). Nothing should mar this vertical relationship established in the covenant.”
Second, the great and awesome God is concerned about those who are weak, defenseless, hungry, and homeless (10:17-18). James Wolfendale writes, “Though great and terrible, yet He is kind and affectionate towards the helpless and oppressed. The more defenseless the greater the claim upon His compassion.” The proper response to an understanding of the sympathy of God for the weak is to follow His example. The Israelites were commanded to show “love for the alien” because they too, were once aliens in Egypt (10:19). They knew what it was like to be treated harshly and unjustly by personal experience.
Practical Consideration: Past personal trials should make us more sympathetic to others. Our past personal trials should make us more understanding and sympathetic to others. It is only the person who remembers the pain of past trials and hardships that can truly sympathize and respond with a helping hand to others undergoing trials and hardships.
Third, God is personal and powerful. He enabled the seventy persons who went to Egypt to multiply into a nation of people in less than two hundred and fifty years (10:22). God’s faithfulness to His people should inspire them to obey and serve Him willingly and cheerfully.