Deuteronomy 1:1, Words.The Hebrew word is devarim, which is the plural of the generic Hebrew word for word, which is devar/debar,and is the Hebrew name for the last book of the Torah. Devar is related to several other well-known Hebrew words such as midbar/wilderness (Exod 7:16; Num 1:1; 14:33; Deut 1:1,31; 2:7; 8:2,16), b’midbar/in the wilderness (Num 1:1),and deveer/oracle, sanctuary, holy of holies (1 Kgs 6:16; 2 Chr 5:7,9; Ps 28:2). Look up these words in your Bible to see how they are used. How are they related to each other with respect to hearing or being led by the Word of Elohim?
Deuteronomy 1:1, Wilderness…plain…Red Sea…Paran…Tophel and Laban…Hazeroth…Dizahab. Seven names are mentioned here, which are code words for major sins that Israel committed against YHVH while wandering in the wilderness. The younger generation may have been too young to remember what happened at those places, but Moses was giving them a history lesson, so they wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of their forefathers as they were about to enter the Promised Land. (See below for a discussion of the sin that each of these names represents.) If one were to quickly read over these words and fail to realize that they are code words or Hebraisms representing historical events, one would pass over some rich Torah treasure. For Americans, words like 911, Ground Zero, Katrina, Pearl Harbor, Christmas, D-Day, JFK and FDR conjure up all sorts of images and emotions. This was true of the Israelites when they heard the names in verse one.
Deuteronomy 1:2, Eleven days. Horeb (Mount Sinai) was only an 11 days’ journey to the edge of the Promised Land (Kadesh Barnea), yet because of Israel’s bad conduct (disobedience to YHVH’s commands, lack of trust and faith in YHVH’s Word evidenced by complaining, murmuring and even outright rebellion) they were made to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. What is holding you back from going forward in your spiritual walk? What sin, what fear, what wrong beliefs or false religious concepts are you refusing to let go that are hindering you? If you are serious about serving YHVH, it is time to repent and go onward and upward in Yeshua!
Deuteronomy 1:5, Moses began to declare this law (KJV). This is a poor translation of the Hebrew. A better translation would be: “Moses began to explain this law [Torah]…” (NKJV), or “Moses undertook to expound this law [Torah] … “ (NAS), or “Moses began explaining the Torah …” (ASET). To whom was Moses explaining the Torah? (Read verse 39 and cp. with Deut 6:7). Moses was the dutiful parent faithfully teaching Torah to the younger generation about to enter the Promised Land. How are you preparing the young people in your life to enter into the Promised Land of YHVH’s eternal kingdom?
Deuteronomy 1:11, Add to you a thousand times yourselves. If the children of Israel numbered between several million (there were approximately 600,000 men of fighting age numbered among the Israelites), then when was this prophetic promise of YHVH ever fulfilled in Israel’s history? Where are the several billion Israelites (1000 times two to three million) today? (See Gen 26:4; 32:12; Exod 32:13 cp. Hos 7:8; 8:8; Eph 2:11–19.)
Deuteronomy 1:12–13, Choose…men. Choosing leaders to help govern Israel and to maintain the peace was of first priority because the people were prone to strife and complaining. Without a dispute and conflict resolution plan in place, the nation of Israel would have been one of total anarchy, strife and confusion.
Deuteronomy 1:13 and 15, Provide for yourselves distinguished men, who are wise, understanding, and well known … so I took … of your tribes distinguished men, who were wise and well known. Compare the two lists. What character trait is not listed in the second list? Why? The word understanding (biyn, Strong’s H995/TWOT 239) means “discerning, perceptive, discreet, intelligent, observant and prudent.” Why did Moses have such a difficult time finding understanding men to be leaders in Israel? Are people any different today? Only two men out of hundreds of thousands had understanding: Caleb and Joshua.
Deuteronomy 1:26–28, Moving forward in the face of obstacles. Many times in our spiritual walk we are just at the point of spiritual breakthrough, but we receive an evil report about some spiritual giants that is blocking our forward movement and our resolve to advance melts. It seems sometimes that if we could just see what the future holds for us that it would be much easier for us to go forward! Yet Yeshua said, Blessed are those who haven’t seen, yet still believe in YHVH’s promises (John 20:29). Do you have what it takes to go on without being deterred by the world, the flesh and the devil? How can one go forward in faith if one cannot see where one is going? It gets down to personal and intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father, through Yeshua. He directs us through his Spirit. Can you hear his voice with your spirit when he tells you, “This is the way, walk you in it,” (Isa 30:21)?
Deuteronomy 1:29, He will fight for you. How does Elohim fight for us? Let’s look at the example of the children of Israel. We can learn a lot from them (1 Cor 10:11). How many examples are there of the Israelites sitting down and doing nothing while YHVH fought for them? Few if any. What then does YHVH require?
We must do our part, and he will do the rest. What is the part we are to do? That depends. Sometimes it depends on what we we’re capable of doing. Often he requires us to come to the end of our resources and abilities, and then he will step in and finish the fight on our behalf to the victorious end. We also have to fight only the battles he has told us to fight.
Sometimes we choose to fight battles he has not instructed us to fight. This was the case with the Israelites who chose to go up and take the Promised Land when YHVH had told them not to do so. As a result of their disobedience, they were defeated (Deut 1:42–45). YHVH will not support his people in a battle he has not sanctioned.
When YHVH tells us to go to battle, we must fight how he tells us to fight, who he tells us to fight, and when he tells us to fight. For example, if the Israelites had gone up against Jericho using conventional warfare tactics, they would have been defeated because that’s not how YHVH instructed them to defeat that city. The same is true of Gideon’s unconventional method of defeating the vast Midianite army with only three hundred soldiers armed with candles in clay jars and shofars.
YHVH will only fight for us when we submit to his battle plans and fight the enemy his way. For example, the Israelites defeated the Amalakites when Moses stood on a hill with his arms outstretched in a cross-like formation. Likewise, they overcame Jericho by marching around it blowing shofars. Gideon used lamps and shofars to defeat the enemy. David used a slingshot and a pebble. Once the Israel defeated their enemy with the help of the ark of covenant, through prayer and praise.
The biblical list of unconventional methods of YHVH’s people defeating their enemies is a long and inspiring one! What can we learn from all of this? For YHVH to fight for us, we must first do things his way so that he’ll fight for us. This means knowing when and who to fight and how to fight. Often we have to wait on YHVH for the answers to these questions even as a military officer has to wait for headquarters to give him his marching orders. Headquarters won’t back or support the soldier who takes matters into his own hands. Conversely, headquarters won’t tolerate a solider who refuses to obey orders. The same is true of YHVH.
Deuteronomy 1:36, Because he has wholly followed YHVH. What does this statement say about the heart of Caleb? If you check most Hebrew lexicons, you will find that the name Caleb (or Calev/cKF) means “dog.” But this is not the whole story. Hebrew is a very flexible language, and one word can have multiple definitions. The Hebrew word kal/KF and lev/cKliterally mean “all heart.” When you think of a dog, what comes to mind? Always happy to see its master, unconditional love, a faithful companion, guarding and protecting its family no matter the cost. How does Calev’s name fit his spiritual characteristics? What can we learn from Calev about what is pleasing to YHVH. (For more on Calev, read Num 13:30; 14:6, 24, 30; 32:12; Josh 14:6–14.) Be inspired by this mighty man of faith.
Deuteronomy 1:39, Little ones…knowledge of good and evil. The “little ones” were those under the age of 20 (see Num 14:29; 32:11). Certainly, children under the age of 20 should have by then, if they were raised properly, have a sense of the difference between good and evil. However, YHVH is extremely gracious. He gives children ample time choose to follow him. By age 20, children will have had enough time to learn the difference between good and evil, and have had enough experience to have made an informed and intelligent choice whether to follow the path of good or evil. Those who reject YHVH at this age can no longer plead ignorance of his ways or inexperience in coming to an understanding the consequences of their actions. If they choose to go against YHVH it’s because they have stiff-necks, and hard and rebellious hearts.
Deuteronomy chapters 2 to 3, Overcoming the Canaanites YHVH instructed the Israelites to make war with and to destroy some of the Canaanites who were not relatives of Israel. The believer’s battle to enter into the Promised Land is a spiritual one (2 Cor 10:3–5 and Eph 6:10–18). Who and what are enemies with whom we must constantly do battle and by the power of the Spirit of Elohim utterly destroy their influence in our lives? (See 1 John 2:15–17; 1 Pet 5:8; Jas 5:7 to name a few.)
Deuteronomy 2:2–9, Edom. Edom (another name for Esau, brother of Jacob) and Moab and Ammon (sons of Lot) were blood relatives of the Israelites. Often those of our own family will stand in our way as we go in to possess our spiritual, Elohim-given inheritance and destiny.
What is the lesson from this passage of scripture on how to deal with less-than-cooperative family members who don’t acknowledge Elohim much less his spiritual calling on your life? Are we to make war with them? Are we in any way to be beholden to or dependent on them for our physical needs? If we became dependent upon them could this help or hinder our chances of entering our own spiritual destiny or “Promised Land” that YHVH has for us? Does YHVH desire our families to be saved? (See Acts 16:31; 2 Pet 3:9.) How can we be a light to our families if we are fighting and attempting to destroy those who would spiritually stand in our way? These aren’t easy questions to answer. One thing is certain though. We must put serving and obeying YHVH Yeshua above allegiance to our families. Yeshua had some pretty hard words in this regard (see Matt 10:34–39).
This passage also teaches us to avoid conflicts with family members at all costs. No good can come from such confrontations. How does verse 5 start out? Now go on to read verse 6. YHVH instructed the Israelites to treat their cousins with respect and civility—almost in a business-like manner. Nowhere does Scripture tell us that we have to like our heathen family members. But neither are we to act offensively toward them. Like the Israelites when forced to encounter long lost relative, sometimes it is best to smile, be nice, but keep moving on!
Another lesson to be learned from these verses is this: Choose your battles carefully. Avoid conflicts with others if possible. Go to battle only when YHVH tells you to. Only then will you come out victoriously, for then he will be fighting on your side and not against you. Latter in this chapter, we see that YHVH instructed the Israelites to engage certain nations and defeat them. When Israel obeyed him and fought only his battles, what was the outcome? (Read 2:24–3:11 cp. 3:22.)
Deuteronomy 2:5, I have given…to Esau. Even though Esau was a profane man who despised the things of YHVH, brought grief to his parents, and wanted to murder his brother, YHVH still showed mercy to him and his descendants by giving them an inheritance just outside the Promised Land. The speaks volumes about the grace of YHVH.
Deuteronomy 2:7, Lacked nothing. A major lesson the Israelites had to learn while trekking across the wilderness for forty years en route to the Promised Land was to trust YHVH for their physical provision (food, clothing and water). Similarly, today redeemed believers or “the Israel of Elohim’ (Gal 6:16) are on a similar journey (although a spiritual one) through the wilderness of life en route to the Promised Land of their spiritual inheritance, which is eternal life in YHVH’s everlasting kingdom in the New Jerusalem, which will be on the new earth. What are some similarities between the journey of the physical Israelites our our spiritual one?
For forty years, YHVH instructed the Israelites in the laws of cause and effect. When they loved, obeyed and trusted him, they automatically received the blessings of his physical provision. When they were rebellious and stiffnecked and refused to love and obey him they received curses and judgment and suffered great lack. The same principles work for us today except that YHVH has added a spiritual dimension to this paradigm. To the degree that we love, serve and obey YHVH-Yeshua and keep his commandments we not only will be blessed and provided for in this physical life as were the children of Israel, but we have the blessing, through faith in Messiah Yeshua, of obtaining eternal life and becoming literal sons of Elohim (John 1:11; Rom 8:14–15, 23; 9:4; 2 Cor 6:18; Gal 4:5–6; Eph 1:5; 1 John 3:1–2; Rev 2:13–16).
The saint becoming a son (and daughter) of Elohim is something the apostles taught about a lot, but a concept the Western church hardly mentions. It’s time this truth be rediscovered and taught again, for this is the ultimate spiritual blessing that comes from serving and obeying YHVH.
Lack leads to death. Provision leads to life—and for the saint, this ultimately means eternal life.
Deuteronomy 2:31, Begin to possess [the Promised Land].
Salvation Is a Journey, Not a One Time Event
Possession of the Promised Land was a process—a journey, at times a difficult one. This concept is as true for us as much as it was for the children of Israel. The idea in mainstream Christianity that when you receive salvation at the beginning of your spiritual walk and that’s all there is to possessing or entering the kingdom of Elohim is a seriously incomplete one. It doesn’t fit the biblical models or the teachings of Yeshua and the apostolic writers about the need for the believer to persevere and overcome to the end to receive his ultimate eternal inheritance.
When this verse states that Israel“began to possess [the Promised Land],” what does this mean? Why didn’t YHVH give the Promised Land to Israel all at once? What did Israel have to do to “possess” the land? What do we have to do to possess our spiritual inheritance? Does YHVH just hand it to us, or do we have to persevere, overcome and fight for it?
Leaving Egypt is a picture of a believer’s initial salvation, while entering the Promised Land is a picture of a believer’s ultimate or complete salvation involving his glorification or the redemption of his physical body and being granted eternal inheritance at the resurrection. It’s also a picture of rewards for obedience. Between the time of leaving Egypt and entering the Promised Land, there was a 40 year-long journey, which is a picture of our time as physical humans on this earth with all of its ups and downs, trials, victories and so on.
Much more could be said on this subject as the apostolic writers show us. Suffice it so say, the idea that the mainstream church propagates that receiving salvation is a one time event like getting your ticket punched to a movie theatre, amusement park ride or at train station falls woefully short of the biblical truth about walking out a righteous and sanctified life. The failure to understand this has led many people to become discouraged, deceived and to fall away spiritually.
Yes, the initial steps in the process of salvation are relatively easy, but then there’s repenting of sin, learning how to live a sanctified life, becoming obedient to the commands and lordship of Yeshua, overcoming one’s sin nature, and using one’s spiritual talents to help advance the kingdom of Elohim. All of these are aspects of the redeemed believer’s journey through the wilderness of life en route the Promised Land of our spiritual inheritance, and how we do during this spiritual trek will help to determine the levels of one’s eternal rewards (Matt 5:19). All of these things are precursors and steps in the process to actually receiving eternal life and a resurrected glorified body.
The children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their subsequent 40 years journey to the Promised Land is a picture of this salvation process and all the steps in between that we all must go through.
The idea that the saint can have it all here and now is not a biblical one, but an ear-tickling message promoted by hireling gospel peddlers and corporate church merchandizers who have something to sell you. Beware of these false and misguided teachers who refuse to tell you the whole truth as presented in the Bible! Caveat emptor! Let the buyer beware!