Deuteronomy 10-12

Sunday Evening Bible Study

August 12, 2001


The name Deuteronomy means “second law”. It is Moses’ final address to the people. It covers the last 1½ months of Moses’ life.  He’s 120 years old.

The idea behind Deuteronomy is to prepare the people for the Promised Land.  In this book we see principles about how we can enter into the things God has for us.

Moses has been reminding the Israelites about their history of being “stiffnecked”.  In particular, he’s focused on the episode when he had been on Mount Sinai for forty days and Aaron built the golden calf.  When Moses came down from the mountain, he broke the stone tablets that God had given him that contained the Ten Commandments.

Deuteronomy 10

:1  make thee an ark of wood.

ark – a box of wood.  Noah’s ark was a big floating box full of animals. Moses’ ark was a wooden box, covered with gold, that would be the storage container for the two stone tablets, the covenant.  Hence this was known as the “Ark of the Covenant”.

:4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing

Second chances.  God’s patience.

They had more than one chance.

:5 there they be

At the time that Moses was talking to the people, the two tablets of stone were still in the Ark.

:8 At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.

The tribe of Levi was the greater tribal family that Aaron and his brother Moses belonged too.  The priests were to be descendants of Aaron, but the rest of the helpers in the Tabernacle and the Temple were the Levites, the rest of the relatives.

Here is where God took the Levites and set them aside to be the special ones to handle the things of worship.

Actually, God made a deal with the nation.  Technically, God had purchased the firstborn of all the families on the day of Passover.  So God swapped His right to the firstborn with the entire tribe of Levi.  They now belonged to God.

The sons of Aaron were also Levites, so the Levites were the “priestly” tribe, though not all Levites were priests.


Pattern for ministry.

You are called to ministry when God separates you out from the rest and says, “You’re mine!”
You have several responsibilities in ministry:
1)  Bear the ark – the ark contained the Ten Commandments, the Word of God.  You’ve got to be the one carrying the Word if you’re serving the Lord.
2)  Stand before the Lord – ministry is done with a sense of God’s presence.  If you have no sense of God’s presence in your life, perhaps you’ve run out too far ahead of the Lord.
3)  To minister unto Him – when you are in ministry, your first ministry is to worship God.
4)  Bless in His name – those in ministry are responsible to “bless” others in God’s name.  You are to encourage them, build them up.

:9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.

When the Israelites entered into the land, the Levites did not receive a huge section of land like the other tribes did.  Instead, the main portion of their inheritance would simply be the Lord.

In practicality, this meant that the monies that were brought as offerings to the Lord would be used to support the priests and the Levites.

Also, the Levites would receive cities and farmlands to live on, scattered among each of the other tribes.

:10  the LORD would not destroy thee

Moses learned as a leader to pray for “difficult people”. His prayer was not, “Okay God, wipe them out!”  But instead, Moses learned to pray for mercy for the people that had been so troublesome to him.

:11take thy journey before the people, that they may go in

(Deu 10:11 NLT)  But the LORD said to me, 'Get up and lead the people into the land I swore to give their ancestors, so they may take possession of it.'


Lead people to God’s promises

If you are a leader over people, I think that God wants to use you to show those you lead about the promises that God has for them.
The people you lead don’t need the things that you give them, they need the things that God gives them.

:12  to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,

The Law wasn’t intended to just be a cold bunch of rules for the people to obey.

It was always intended to be a matter of the heart.  It was intended to be a matter of loving God and proving it by keeping His commandments.

:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

This isn’t a literal circumcision, but a spiritual one.  Circumcision represented a cutting away of the flesh, a ritual which meant that you were choosing to raise your son, or live your life, in a manner after the Spirit and not after the flesh.

We can tend to look at the Old Testament as being a life of rigid, cold obedience to God’s laws.  But God always intended a warm, loving, spiritual relationship with His people.

Paul wrote,

(Rom 2:28-29 KJV)  For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: {29} But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Paul wasn’t making up some new doctrine, but simply explaining what God had already said, even in the very Law of Moses itself!

:17  a great God, a mighty, and a terrible,

Yahweh (the LORD) was not some local deity as the other “gods” were.  He is the God of the universe.

terrible – this doesn’t mean that God does a bad job at His “God-job”.

yare' – to fear; to revere; to frighten; NAS – “awesome”

When you realize that God holds your very breath in His hand and can let you stop breathing at any moment, it’s a little “terrifying”.  When you think even further and realize that the very atoms which make up your physical body are held together by Him, that if He wanted to, He could let go and you’d explode, it’s a little fearful.  When you realize that He is totally pure and holy, and we are totally unfit for His presence, yet He puts up with us anyway, even loving us, it’s incredible!

:17  which regardeth not persons,

God isn’t impressed with “important” people.



The Pope had just finished a tour of the East Coast and was taking a limousine to the airport. Having never driven a limo, he asked the chauffeur if he could drive for a while. Well, the chauffeur didn’t have much of a choice, so the chauffeur climbs in the back of the limo and the Pope takes the wheel. The Pope proceeds to hop on Route 95 and starts accelerating to see what the limo could do. Well he gets to about 90 miles per hour and, WHAM!, there are the blue lights of our friendly State Police in his mirror. He pulls over and the trooper comes to his window. Well the trooper, seeing who it was, says, “just a moment please I need to call in.” The trooper radio’s in and asks for the chief. He tells the chief “I’ve got a REALLY important person pulled over and I need to know what to do.” The chief replies “Who is it, not Ted again?” The trooper says,” “No, even more important.” The chief replies, “It’s the Governor, isn’t it?” The trooper replies “No, even more important.” “It’s isn’t the President is it?” “No, more important”, replies the trooper. “Well WHO the HECK is it!” screams the chief. “I don’t know,” says the trooper. “But he’s got the Pope as a chauffeur!

:17  nor taketh reward:

(Deu 10:17 NLT)  … takes no bribes.


You can’t bribe God

You’ve probably heard stories of people making bargains with God.  “God, if you’ll get me out of this mess, I promise to do such and such for you …”  If a person gets out of a mess, it’s not because God wants the thing you’re offering Him as much as He is simply being merciful and is giving you a chance.
Don’t get me wrong.  God wants you to serve Him.  But He knows when you’re just blowing smoke as well.
God doesn’t take reward – He doesn’t take a bribe.
A guy from Tyson Foods arranges to visit the Pope.  After receiving the papal blessing he whispers, “Your Eminence, do we have a deal for you. If you change The Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken....’ we will donate $500 million dollars to the Church”.  The Pope responds saying, “That is impossible.  The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be  changed”.  “Well,” says the Tyson man, “we are prepared to donate $1billion to the Church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken....”  Again the Pope replies “That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed”.  Finally, the Tyson guy says, “This is our last offer.  We will donate $5 billion to the church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken....’” and he leaves. Next day the Pope meets with the College of Cardinals to say that he has good news and bad news.  “The good news is that the Church has come into $5 billion”. “The bad news is that we are losing The Wonderbread Account”.
God on the other hand can never be bribed!

:18 judgment of the fatherless and widow


God cares for least

The orphans and widows were at the bottom of the totem pole.  They were the most helpless of all people.  Yet God cares for them.
Single parents who have been abandoned – God cares for you.  You are very special to Him.

:19 Love ye therefore the stranger


Reach out to others

There was a time when you too were a stranger.  Remember what it was like?
Sometimes when we become “accepted” in the group, we forget what it was like to be on the outside.
Keep your eyes out for others.  Keep your eyes open for those who are new.

:22 Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons

When Joseph had been raised up in Egypt and Jacob took the family to live there during the famine, there were seventy people in all, descendants of Jacob (also known as Israel).

Now there are multitudes of Israelites.  We think there were probably about 2 million at the time of Moses.

Deuteronomy 11

:2  I speak not with your children which have not known

The people have wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  Part of the reason for the long length of time was to allow the first generation to pass away.  But that didn’t mean that everyone who had been in Egypt had died before they entered into the Promised Land.  Only those who had been twenty years and older at the first Passover have died.  There was an entire generation of young people who witnessed the deliverance from Egypt and have grown up in the wilderness.  This is the generation coming into the Promised Land.

:6 Dathan and Abiram

Dathan and Abiram were part of “Korah’s rebellion” (Num. 16).  This was a group of people who rebelled against God and Moses and felt like they knew better how to run things.

:8 keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong

(Deu 11:8 NLT)  "Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and occupy the land you are about to enter.


Strength comes from obedience

Sometimes we have the idea that it isn’t all that necessary that we obey every little thing that God has for us.  We think that one little thing can’t be all that bad.
Yet learning to obey all that God has for us gives us strength.
There was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man He had a work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man’s mind such as; “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it? etc.” Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. “Why kill myself over this?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.” And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. “Lord” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?” To this the Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock.

:10  wateredst it with thy foot

The farms in Egypt required a lot of labor for irrigation.  They had little water wheels that they would operate with their feet to irrigate the fields.  In the Promised Land, the water would come from adequate rain.

:14  the first rain and the latter rain

The “first” rain, also known as the “early rain” fell in autumn, between September and October.  The latter or “late rain” came in the spring between March and April. These rains begin and end the rainy season.

:17  he shut up the heaven

God has used drought as a form of judgment on a nation.

:18  bind them for a sign upon your hand

Again, the Jews take this literally and have developed their “phylacteries”, little leather boxes with Scriptures in them.  They wear these boxes on their hand or forehead.

:23 Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you


Obedience leads to victory

Victory over our enemies comes when we are walking in obedience to the Lord.

:24 Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon …


It’s all yours, within limits.

Some people will quote this verse as if they can lay claim to whatever they want.  “Where ever I walk will be mine” they say.  Yet this is all within the boundaries of what God has already spelled out as the Promised Land.
A better idea of this is to think that all of God’s Promises can be yours if you walk with obedience.
Paul said,
(1 Cor 6:12 KJV)  All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

:29 thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.

This would happen in Josh. 8:30-35, when Joshua set up an altar on mount Ebal, whitewashed the rocks, and wrote a copy of the law on it.  Then half of the people stood on one mountain while the other half on the other, and they read the law to the people with the blessings and curses.


Make your choice

The idea of the display on the mountains would make a huge impression on the people, there is a vast difference between the results of following God and the results of disobeying God.
Joseph Stowell writes,
I remember as a boy hearing about the great preacher-evangelist Charles Templeton. He pastored a large church in Toronto and helped found Youth for Christ in Canada. Templeton is a clear memory because the story of his departure from the faith was such a shock to Christians all over North America. It wasn’t a moral failure, but a denial of all he had believed. So you can imagine my interest as I recently read about him in Lee Strobel’s new book, The Case for Faith. Templeton is now in his 80s. After denying his faith, he had a brilliant career as the editor of two of Canada’s largest newspapers and made one run at the prime minister’s job. While interviewing Templeton for the book, Lee asked him about his denial of a belief in God. Templeton was unmoved and spoke of why he could not accept the God of the Old Testament. Strobel then asked him what he thought of Jesus. At this point Templeton bowed his head and wept. Through his sobs he said, “I … miss … Him.”
Recently while sitting next to Billy Graham at a dinner in Fort Lauderdale, I asked him what he had enjoyed most in his many years of ministry. Before he could answer I suggested that perhaps it had been his times with and influence on presidents and heads of state. I was going to suggest that it might have been preaching the gospel to great throngs around the world. …
Before I could go on, Graham said with a determined softness in his voice, “Beyond a doubt it has been my fellowship with the Lord. To be able to talk with Him, to hear from Him, and to have His guidance and presence in my life has been my greatest joy.” Billy Graham is two years younger than Charles Templeton. In the early days they were friends and colleagues in the cause of Christ. I couldn’t help but feel the contrast as I heard the love and adoration for Christ in Graham’s answer. One man chose to stay with Jesus, and in his later years he finds his greatest joy in the relationship that he has cultivated with Christ all through life. The other, having denied Jesus, in spite of a celebrated life, feels the loss deeply.

Deuteronomy 12

:2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places …upon the high mountains

This is one of the things that Israel did not do.

Over and over we read how even the good kings did not “remove the high places”.

:3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire

Much of the ancient, pagan religions had to do with sex.  Many of the articles of worship in these religions could be classified as pornographic.  This was their purpose, to stir up the lusts.

Every time they were to come across some of the religious stuff of the Canaanites, the Israelites were to destroy it.

They weren’t to cry out, “But it’s a classic example of pagan art!”

They weren’t to put it in a museum.  They weren’t even supposed to study it.

They were to destroy it.

:4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.

(Deu 12:4 NLT)  "Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods.

:5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:

We call this the command for the “Central Sanctuary”.

There would one day be a single place selected in the land of Israel where God would have His people come to worship. 

Gilgal, Bethel, and Shiloh would all be temporary central sanctuaries until the temple would be built in Jerusalem.

The final selection wouldn’t come until David’s day.

It happened after David had sinned in taking a census of the people.  As punishment, a plague was running through the nation and David could see an angel making it’s way to Jerusalem.  David was told to make a sacrifice at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.  David purchased the place and with his sacrifice the plague was stopped.

(1 Chr 22:1 KJV)  Then David said, This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel.

David recognized that this was a special place.  Eventually this would be the place where Solomon would build the temple.  This would be the place where God was to be worshipped.

The whole point is to make sure that the beliefs of the Jews stayed pure.

This was a day when people didn’t have their own copies of the Bible.

They relied upon the Levitical priests to teach them about God and how to worship him.

But when the people started getting away from a set standard of worship, the result would always be that the people would go into idolatry.


The Central Sanctuary is God’s Word.

For us, it’s not the issue of coming to a central place to worship.
The issue is making sure we keep our worship on track, by making sure we stay in God’s Word.
Jesus told us that the time of the “central sanctuary” has changed:
John 4:20-24  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. {21} Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. {22} Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. {23} But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. {24} God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Now the idea has boiled down to the basics – worshipping God spiritually (with the Spirit and not just a mental exercise or religious tradition) and in truth (based in God’s Word).

When churches begin to get away from God’s Word, it’s like the people trying to offer sacrifices their own way, and they end up worshipping goat-demons instead of following after God Himself.
God’s Word is the thing that holds us together in worshipping God in truth.  As long as we all hold to God’s Word, we all worship with the same, correct standard.

:8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.


God makes the rules, not you.

Our society is having so many problems today because we have refused to accept that there are things that are absolutely right and absolutely wrong.  Instead, we take polls to see whether or not people think things are okay or not.
I remember in high school that most people thought that living together before you were married was pretty exciting, but it was considered wrong.  Having a baby without being married to the father was something people whispered about.  Today, all these things are considered normal.  The rules have changed in society.  But does that mean that it’s okay now to live together before you get married?  Absolutely not.  God says no.
(1 Th 4:3 KJV)  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
It is God’s will that you “abstain from fornication”.  Fornication is defined as any kind of sex outside the bounds of marriage.

:12 And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God


Worship involves joy

The Central Sanctuary was supposed to be a place of joy, rejoicing.

:17 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn


The tithe is for God, not for you

The Israelites were commanded to give back to God one tenth of all their income.  They were required to give it to the Lord, not keep it for themselves.
From time to time I hear of people taking their “offering” and spending it on something that will benefit them.  For example, some people will excuse not giving to the church because they spend their “tithe” on their kids’ private Christian school.  I’m all in favor of sending your kids to a Christian school (mine go to one), but don’t consider it your offering to the Lord when you are spending it on your family.
God would later rebuke the people for their lack of faithfulness in their tithe:
(Mal 3:8-10 KJV)  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. {9} Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. {10} Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
God promises that if we learn to obey Him with the tithe, that He will meet our needs.

:19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.


The offering is for the ministry.

One of the main practical reasons in having the people remember to give their tithe was in order to support the Levites.  The Levites acted as the “pastors” and support staff for the nation.  When the people did not bring in their tithe, the Levites weren’t paid, and the Levites tended to not show up for duty.  Instead, the Levites all stayed home and worked their secular job to support their family.
Currently, of the offerings that people give to support this church, about 50% goes towards the building (rent, utilities, etc) and about 20% goes towards paying my salary.  My salary allows me to be able to dedicate my time to the work of the ministry rather than having to work another job on the side.  As we continue to grow as a church, we’ll hopefully be able to free up some more “Levites” from the other jobs to be able to take care of more needs in the church.

:21 If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee

The command of the central sanctuary doesn’t mean that if you lived far from Jerusalem you’d never be able to eat meat.  But there would be a difference between simply butchering an animal for the purpose of eating it and actually performing a sacrifice.

Butchering an animal for it’s meat was okay anywhere.  Performing a sacrifice would only be permitted in Jerusalem.

:24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.

The kosher way of butchering an animal is to hang the animal upside down and slit its throat.  It makes a bloody mess as the blood drains from the animal.  But this way the blood is removed from the animal before the meat is butchered.

:25 Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.


Blood is special

The only restriction God had about butchering meat in the local towns was that the people were to be careful about blood.
God had already told the people that blood was to have a special significance.
(Lev 17:11 KJV)  For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
God had decided to let blood become a symbol of the life of the animal.  Blood would be used in the sacrifices to signify the animal pouring out its life for the one bringing the sacrifice.
It points to the day that Jesus would one day shed His blood for us.
God wanted the blood to be special so that one day people would recognize the significance of Jesus dying on the cross and shedding His blood.

:26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose.

Killing an animal to eat the meat was allowed any place.

But killing the animal for the purpose of sacrifice was only allowed to happen in one place, the central sanctuary.

It’s not that God wants a monopoly on all meat, He just wants a monopoly on all worship.

:30  that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods?

Sometimes it isn’t all that smart to spend too much time investigating “other” religions.  If you’re not grounded in the Lord, you can get caught up in the very lies that keep so many people captive.

:31  for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

These people committed human sacrifice.


God-led worship

I think we need to be careful what kinds of things we bring into our worship.
I know that for some people, this means that we shouldn’t have “rock music” in the church.
But I think the idea is not about musical styles, but about attitudes and ways of worship.  There are human ways to stir up a crowd and get them excited.  You see it at rock concerts and football games.  I think that our worship needs to come from the leading of the Spirit and not from what our brains tell us in whipping up emotion.  How can you tell the difference?  I’m not always sure you can.
Ahaz was known as a wicked king.  One of the things he did was to change how worship was done in the temple.
(2 Ki 16:10-16 KJV)  And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. {11} And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus. {12} And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon. {13} And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar. {14} And he brought also the brazen altar, which was before the LORD, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of the altar. {15} And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king's burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by. {16} Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.

Ahaz was impressed with the altar in Damascus and thought that it would be cool to have an altar like that in Jerusalem.  So he moved the altar that God had let David and Solomon to build and put his own altar in its place.  He was changing his worship to be more like the worship of the world.

We need to be careful that we don’t let our worship get off track by being pulled with worldly influences.