christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

deuteronomy 10:12-12:32, love and gratitude

Read Deuteronomy 10:12-12:32 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 11:26-12:32, do not serve God in like manner

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions and chiastic structures. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic. The paragraph divisions reveal the chiastic structures: narratives which zero in on the main point of the narrative at its center, like a bull’s eye at the center of a target. The main point is revealed, because the narrative elements before the main point (or central axis) are repeated after the central axis, in reverse order, while the central axis itself is not repeated.)

The entire section from Deu 10:12-12:32 is teaching an overarching theme or topic, even though the first half of this passage is explaining the first commandment, Worship YHVH only, while the second half is explaining the second commandment, Do not make idols. These are the Hebrew paragraph divisions:

Deu 10:12-11:9 {s} Fear, love and obey YHVH always for our good
Deu 11:10-12 {s} The goodness of the Land
Deu 11:13-21 {s} Listen, pay heed, observe, and teach YHVH’s commandments
Deu 11:22-25 {s} Carefully keep His commandments that Israel may possess the Land
Deu 11:26-28 {s} Blessing for obedience + curse for disobedience
Deu 11:29-12:19 {s} Israel shall worship YHVH in the way He commands
Deu 12:20-28 {s} Ditto, even when you must travel some distance to His place
Deu 12:29-32 {p} Israel shall not serve YHVH in the manner of the nations

I have been puzzling over the overarching theme or topic, and puzzling over the two commandments, and how and why they are connected this way. Usually a strong paragraph forms its own chiastic structure from beginning to end, and this one might still. I am not yet wise enough to see it. But I have discovered that the first half which explains the first commandment forms its own structure, and the second half which explains the second commandment forms its own structure:

Deu 10:12-11:25 s+s+s+s (first commandment)
1a) Deu 10:12-14, Fear + love God + walk in His ways + keep His commandments, for He possesses heaven and earth:
– 1) Deu 10:12-13, Fear God + walk in His ways + love Him + serve Him/ whole heart + keep His commandments for your good;
– 2) Deu 10:14, The LORD possesses the heaven + heaven of heavens + the earth and all in it;
1b) Deu 10:15, The LORD loved the fathers + chose their seed after them;
1c) Deu 10:16, Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked;
1d) Deu 10:17-11:9 s, The LORD is God + He executes judgment + if you keep His commandments you will prolong your days:
– 1) Deu 10:17, The LORD is God of gods and Lord of lords;
– 2) Deu 10:18-11:7, He executes judgment;
– 3) Deu 11:8-9, Keep His commandments to prolong your days in the land the LORD swore to give to you.
1e) Deu 11:10-12 s, The LORD God cares for this good land which drinks water from heaven;
central axis) Deu 11:13, If you diligently pay heed to My commandments: to love the LORD + serve Him with a whole heart;
2e) Deu 11:14-15, I will give you rain in his due season, that you may eat and be full;
2d) Deu 11:16-17, Do not turn aside to other gods + lest His wrath is kindled + and you perish quickly:
– 1) Deu 11:16, Do not turn aside to serve or worship other gods;
– 2) Deu 11:17a, Then the LORD’s wrath would be kindled;
– 3) Deu 11:17b, Lest you perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD gives you;
2c) Deu 11:18-20, Lay up My words in your heart/ bind them on hand + forehead/ teach to your children: speak + write them.
2b) Deu 11:21 s, That the chosen seed may be multiplied in the land the LORD swore to give to the fathers;
2a) Deu 11:22-25 s, If you diligently keep His commandments + love Him + walk in His ways, you shall possess your possession:
– 1) Deu 11:22, If you diligently keep all these commandments/ do them + love the LORD + walk in all His ways + cleave to Him;
– 2) Deu 11:23-25, The LORD shall cause you to possess greater + mightier nations than yourselves.

Deu 11:26-12:32 s+s+s+p (second commandment)
1a) Deu 11:26-28 s, Blessing if you obey, curse if you do not;
1b) Deu 11:29-12:1, Be careful to observe the statutes and judgments;
1c) Deu 12:2-4, Destroy idols + places + names + Do not worship YHVH in like manner;
1d) Deu 12:5-14, Worship YHVH in the place of His name + offer your offerings there;
1e) Deu 12:15-16, You may eat meat within your gates + you shall not eat the blood;
1f) Deu 12:17, You may not eat the tithe, firstborn, or offerings within your gates;
central axis) Deu 12:18, Eat them before YHVH in the place of His name and rejoice in His blessing;
2f) Deu 12:19 s, Do not forsake the Levite (his portion is from the tithe, firstborn, offerings);
2e) Deu 12:20-25, You may eat meat within your gates + you shall not eat the blood;
2d) Deu 12:26-28 s, Offer your offerings in the place of YHVH’s name;
2c) Deu 12:29-31, Do not worship YHVH like the nations, after their idols are destroyed;
2b) Deu 12:32a, Be careful to observe what I command;
2a) Deu 12:32b p, Do not add to His commandments or take away from them.

Puzzle, puzzle puzzle! The one who worships God alone, having no other gods before Him, is not going to make or worship idols. But we must guard our hearts. This Scripture is speaking to God’s own people who are in covenant relationship with Him. The unbelievers and idolaters have perished from the congregation in the course of wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses is preaching to the choir, in other words, and yet over and over again, we have the admonition to beware, take heed, pay attention, be careful. We must guard our hearts or we too could fall away!

I believe the two central axes reveal strategy which is at the root of guarding our hearts, and of unbelief, rebellion, and falling away.

Deu 11:13, If you diligently pay heed to My commandments: to love the LORD + serve Him with a whole heart;
Deu 12:18, Eat them before YHVH in the place of His name and rejoice in His blessing;

And the key is, love, and gratitude. No where is this more clearly seen than in the twelve spies incident in Num 14. God had just delivered His people from slavery in Egypt by mighty miracles, brought them safely through the wilderness, and they were on the border of their marvelous promise: the land of their forefathers, flowing with milk and honey. Now watch what happens:

So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” Num 14:1-3

Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?” Num 14:11

Then the Lord said: “I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord—because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.” Num 14:20-23

And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me.” Num 14:26-27

On one hand, there was the land of milk and honey, the blessing and the promise, and on the other hand, there were giants to be defeated. But the Lord had promised His help with the giants, but still they were there. The people chose to focus on the giants – what was wrong – instead of on the land of milk and honey – what was right. They focused on the problems, not on the promise. They focused on the bother and not on the blessing.

God’s blessing is always with us, and manifests itself in myriad ways throughout each and every day, even in the middle of trials and problems. If we look for His blessing and rejoice in it, we guard ourselves in love for the Lord with a whole heart. We guard ourselves from the snare of unbelief and idolatry, and its biggest open door of complaint.

Jesus said it this way:

“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Joh 16:33

We will always always always have tribulation as long as we are in the world. But we will always always always have a reason to be of good cheer. We must look for it until we find it, and then rejoice in God’s blessing over us!

Continued: deuteronomy 13:1-14:21, distinct and unique


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