Deuteronomy 11 - Rewards for Obedience and the Choice
A. How to be blessed.
1. (1-7) Remember the ways God has already blessed.
Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the Lord your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm; His signs and His acts which He did in the midst of Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to all his land; what He did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and their chariots: how He made the waters of the Red Sea overflow them as they pursued you, and how the Lord has destroyed them to this day; what He did for you in the wilderness until you came to this place; and what He did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, their households, their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel; but your eyes have seen every great act of the Lord which He did.
a. Therefore you shall love the Lord your God: God commanded Israel to love Him. Love is not a matter left entirely up to our impulse or our feelings. We choose to love the Lord or not.
i. Additionally, this reminds us of what the Lord really wants from us - our love. We could give Him a hundred other things, but none of it really matters unless we give Him our love. As Jesus said to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:4: Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. If we lose love, we lose all.
b. And keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments: Love for God never goes against His word. Some people think their so-called love for Jesus allows them to disregard His commands, but this isn’t real love at all.
i. As Jesus said in John 14:15: If you love Me, keep My commandments. Real love for Jesus always translates into obedience.
c. Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen: Moses addressed the generation which saw the works of God among Israel, both in blessing and chastening. He spoke to the generation that should know and remember.
d. Dathan and Abiram: These were the two key associates - perhaps the instigators - in the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16), where God vindicated His servant Moses and leader over Israel, when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram challenged Moses’ leadership.
e. Which He did . . . what He did . . . how He made . . . how the Lord destroyed them . . . what He did for you . . . what He did . . . every great act of the Lord which He did: Moses called Israel to remember what God did in their history.
i. Most of history - both official and personal - is simply concerned with what man has done. But God wants us to look at history and see what He did. We learn far more, and are far more benefited, by looking at what God has done, rather than looking at what man has done.
2. (8-15) Blessings in the new land.
Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, to them and their descendants, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year. “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.”
a. Therefore you shall keep every commandment: Remembering what God did in history should lead Israel to greater obedience, and enable them to take the Promised Land.
b. A land flowing with milk and honey: The sacrifices in obedience were well worth it for Israel. They had the promise of a land which was far superior to Egypt, which did not need to be artificially irrigated, but was watered by rains which God would send upon the obedient nation.
i. In calling Egypt a place where they watered by foot, it refers to the system of artificial irrigation, using foot-driven pumps to lift water from the Nile to nearby fields. Canaan was so rich it did not need this kind of irrigation.
c. If you earnestly obey My commandments: God simply promised to provide for Israel if chose to obey Him and put Him first. As Jesus said: seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
i. The promise of the blessing of rain was important, because one of the attractive of the Canaanite gods was Baal - the god who was said to control the weather and rain. Perhaps the Israelites would be tempted to think, “well, we are in Canaan, and if we want rain, we should worship the Canaanite god of rain.” But the Lord makes it clear that if they would worship and obey Him, He would supply abundant rain.
d. The early raid and the latter rain: The early rain fell in October and November, and was important to help soften the ground for plowing and preparing the soil for the seed. The latter rain fell about April, and helped the crops come to final harvest.
e. A land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year: God declared His special care for the land of Israel, both then and now.
3. (16-17) The danger of blessing: Turning from God in times of prosperity.
Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.
a. Lest your heart be deceived: God had to warn Israel against the deceptions of prosperity. The person who turns from God in prosperity is simply deceived. They believe they are somehow responsible for the blessings received, and become proud and self-reliant.
b. He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain: Just such a judgment came upon Israel in the days of Ahab, the wicked king over Israel in the time Elijah was a prophet (1 Kings 17:1).
i. The constant need for rain kept Israel in constant dependence on the Lord. It is good for us to have things that keep us in constant dependence on the Lord. We should never despise those things and long for the day when we will no longer need to depend on God as much.
4. (18-21) Blessing is gained by keeping the Word of God always before you.
Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.
a. Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul: God called Israel to not only read the Word of God and to know the Word of God, but to treasure it. In the same way, we should love God’s word and miss it when we are separated from the Word of God. We should call it to mind with longing, having laid it up in our heart and soul.
b. Speaking of them: God’s Word was to be the topic of their conversation. We can fairly measure our love for God’s word by how much we will talk about it with others. God doesn’t want us to have a secret love relationship with His word.
B. The Choice.
1. (22-25) The promise of blessing.
For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him; then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.
a. To love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him: All the commandments are summarized in these three phrases. Each of these speaks of more than a bare, compelled obedience; they speak of a real relationship of love between God and His people, with obedience flowing naturally from that relationship.
b. The Lord will drive out . . . and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations: God promised to fight the battles for an obedient Israel. Many desire God to fight their battles, but have little interest in obeying Him - or cultivating the deep relationship of love which obedience grows from.
c. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads: God repeated this promise to Joshua, just when Israel was about to cross over the Jordan River into Canaan (Joshua 1:3).
d. No man shall be able to stand against you: When Israel walked in love with the Lord and was obedient to Him, they were unbeatable. No man could defeat them. Greater was God who was with them than he who was in the world! (1 John 4:4)
2. (26-28) The choice: Blessing or cursing?
Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.
a. Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: The three great elements to the Old Covenant were the law, the sacrifice, and the choice. Israel had a choice - to obey and be blessed, or to disobey and be cursed. It was a cause and effect relationship with God.
i. It is important to recognize that we, in Jesus Christ, do not have an Old Covenant relationship with God. We expect to be blessed, not because of our obedience, but because of our position in Jesus. The curse we deserved was laid upon Him (Galatians 3:10-14). Though there may be an inherent curse of consequences in our disobedience or even in the correcting hand of God, under the New Covenant, He does not punish us or curse us - because all that we deserved, past, present, and future, was poured out upon Jesus.
b. I set before you today: It was up to Israel. If they wanted to be blessed, then they should walk in obedience (as they were in the days of David and Solomon), but if they disobeyed, they would be cursed (as they were in most of the days of the later kings)
i. A choice was required. There was no neutral ground. God wouldn’t just “leave them alone.” It would either be blessing or cursing.
c. To go after other gods which you have not known: Inherent in Israel’s disobedience was idolatry. Whenever we walk in disobedience, we exalt ourselves against God - and declaring that our rules, our standards, our desires, are all more important than His. This is idolatry in its most base - and common - form.
3. (29-32) Making the choice known unto the people.
Now it shall be, when the Lord your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, toward the setting sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the plain opposite Gilgal, beside the terebinth trees of Moreh? For you will cross over the Jordan and go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you will possess it and dwell in it. And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.
a. You shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal: The recitation of the blessings on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal will be detailed in later chapters. Yet it is plain that God wanted the word to get to the entire nation, because the entire nation was part of this covenant with Him.
b. Mount Gerizim . . . Mount Ebal: The name Gerizim is supposed to be associated with fruitful harvests, and the name Ebal is supposed to be associated with barrenness.
©2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission.