Remembering the Greatness of the Lord
Moses again emphasized the relationship between love for God and obedience to God (11:1). Those who love God should demonstrate their love in obedience to God. John Maxwell comments, “The ultimate test of an Israelite’s love for God was his obedience to God (John 14:15).” Moses reminded the Israelites of the greatness of God by quickly reviewing God’s acts in the past.
First, Moses reminded the people of how God demonstrated His greatness in Egypt (11:2-3). Notice that Moses gives God all the credit for the mighty things that happened with the repeated use of the personal pronoun “He.”
Second, Moses reminded the people of how God demonstrated His greatness in the Exodus by completely destroying the pursuing Egyptian army (11:4).
Third, Moses reminded the people of how God demonstrated His greatness in the wilderness (11:5-8). The wilderness experience became a school in which the people were taught the importance of trusting God for all their needs (see Deuteronomy 8:2-5). God demonstrated His providential care for His people in the wilderness (11:5). God also demonstrated His displeasure with their rebellion in the wilderness (11:6 and read also Numbers 16 for further information on Korah’s rebellion and the role played by Dathan and Abiram).
Practical Consideration: God’s footprints are in the shape of greatness. Wherever God walks and works He leaves imprints of His greatness. An examination of God’s activity in our lives will reveal His greatness, His love and concern, and His providential care. We should make the time to take written photographs of God’s activity in our lives by recording His activity in a journal.
Moses prefaced this brief review by stating, “I am not speaking with your sons who have not known and who have not seen” (11:2) and ended by stating, “but your own eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord which He did” (11:7). Those who have seen and experienced the things which the Lord has done have a responsibility to share what they have learned with those who do not know and who have not seen. James Wolfendale notes, “Duty must be measured by privilege. The lessons of our life must be taught to others, and embodied in our character and conduct. If unfaithful and indifferent how great will be our punishment.”
Deuteronomy 11:8 and 9 outline the practical benefits of obedience to God.
First, power … “so that you may be strong” (11:8). We become spiritually strong through obedience to God.
Second, possession … “and go in and possess the land” (11:8). “Strength derived from obedience inspires with courage to gain new dominions. Those strong in the Lord are resistless, and drive before them nations greater and mightier than they” (James Wolfendale).
Third, prolonged life … “so that you may prolong your days on the land” (11:9).
Notice also that these verses emphasize that obedience, and not military skill, is the key to success in the land.
Obedience Results in a Bountiful Land
Moses informed the people that the land of Canaan was not like the land of Egypt. Moses told the people that the agricultural potential of Canaan was far greater than anything they had known in Egypt (11:10-12). He told the people that they could depend on God to send rain from heaven for their crops and cattle (11:14-15) as long as they remained obedient to Him and served Him (11:13). He cautioned them to watch themselves lest they be led spiritually astray and serve and worship other gods (11:16) thus incurring the wrath of God (11:17). God would not tolerate a divided loyalty from His people. Following after other gods would shut the rains from heaven and cause the people to quickly perish from the land (11:17).
Teach These Words to Your Children
These verses are similar to Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (refer to comments on page 16). They reemphasize the importance of comprehensively communicating the truths of God’s word to the next generation. Parents cannot effectively communicate the importance and truths of God’s word to the next generation apart from spending personal time with their children. Someone has noted that children spell love “T – i – m – e.” Moses urged parents to communicate with their children …
• Personally: The communication of God’s word must begin with the communicator. “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul … ” (11:18 and see also Deuteronomy 6:6). You cannot teach others what you do not know, nor can you convince others of the importance of what you do not observe.
• Privately: “talking of them when you sit in your house” (11:19). Parents should strive to create an atmosphere in the home that fosters open communication and questions about God and spiritual matters.
• Publicly: “and when you walk along the road” (11:19). Jesus taught many valuable lessons to His disciples while they walked along the road.
• Persistently: “and when you lie down and when you rise up” (11:19). Parents should verbally and non-verbally communicate the importance of loving and obeying God both day and night.
• Visually: “and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand … forehead” (1:18), “and you shall write them … ” (11:20). John Maxwell comments, “Experts in the field of communication say that our learning is 89 percent visual, 10 percent auditory, and 1 percent through other senses.”
Practical Consideration: We should remind ourselves to remember. John D.W. Watts’s comments, “Any people who want to ‘remember’ can find the means to be reminded. That which is closest to their motives, to their hearts in our sense of that word, will show itself in every phase of life.” Moses urged the people to employ various means to remember and communicate the importance of God’s word.
Moses reminded the people that the successful conquest of the land was not dependent on their military superiority but on their careful observance of God’s commandments (11:22-23). James Wolfendale comments, “Reliance in God is better than valiant soldiers and mighty ships.” If the Israelites were careful to observe God’s commandments, God promised to enlarge their boundaries in the land (11:24 and see also Joshua 1:3) and grant them success in battle (11:25). Isaiah 60:12 emphasizes the importance of nations relying upon God: “For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly ruined.”
The Choice Before Israel
Moses called upon the people to make a choice. Notice the following things concerning the choice set before Israel:
First, it was a plain choice — “I am setting before you … ” (11:26). There was sufficient information available for the people to make an intelligent choice. Moses had not kept anything from the people. He spoke openly and plainly with them about God’s requirements. The people knew what God expected of them.
Second it was an urgent choice — “today … ” (11:26). The people had to decide whether or not they were going to obey and be loyal to God alone. This was not a decision they could put off to some future day. Moses called upon the people to choose to follow God “today.” Moses made no allowance for indecision. Joshua would later say to the people, “choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Someone noted: “Defer not till tomorrow to be wise / Tomorrow’s sun to thee may never rise.”
Third, it was a serious choice — “a blessing and a curse” (11:26). Their choice would have an impact on them … either a blessing or a curse. The blessing was contingent upon obedience and complete loyalty to God (11:27) and the curse was the consequence of disobedience and “following other gods” (11:28). John Maxwell notes, “Choices may be made in a moment, but the fruit of those choices can be endless.”
Fourth, it was an inescapable choice — “and you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the judgments which I am setting before you today” (11:32).
Practical Consideration: Indecision is debilitating. The Israelites were at a crossroads. They were at the intersection between their past and their future. Moses called upon the people to choose a course of action that would determine the kind of future they would have. Indecision was not an option. Moses did not give the people the luxury of not deciding. Instead, he impressed upon them the urgency of making the right choice. Indecision keeps people from confidently pressing on toward the realization of God’s richest blessings. Indecision debilitates people. John Maxwell comments, “What we do at the major crossroads of life not only reveals who we are but has a great deal to do with who we will become.”