D’varim—Moses & John Reveal the Heartbeat of Torah

For years, Deuteronomy (D’varim) has been one of my favorite books of the Bible for several reasons. Mostly because in it Moses reveals the heart of our loving Father in heaven for his people, and why it’s important for them to follow his ways, which are a river of life and a source of great blessings. Additionally, Deuteronomy is the aged Moses’s last will and testament for the people of Elohim, and it contains life saving information for the next generation. It also reveals the quintessential truths of YHVH’s Torah, while pointing people toward Yeshua the Messiah, who is the Living Torah-Word of Elohim. Interestingly, and I have sensed this for many years, John’s first epistle, written when he too was a very old man, is like the Deuteronomy of the New Testament containing much of the same information, warnings, pleas, instructions and exhortations as Moses’ last book. For the first time, in this video, I do a comparative analysis of the main messages of each of these books such that your perspective on each one may be expanded and a new appreciation for each as well as Messiah and his Torah gained. May you be blessed! — Nathan

 

Deuteronomy 31—Will YOU be faithful to YHVH’s commandments?

Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31:3, YHVH your Elohim … will go over before, and he will destroy these nations. YHVH promised to destroy Israel’s enemies before them. Who or what are your enemies? Do you believe YHVH’s promises here? Some of the enemies we have are a result of our own sinning and our repentance will bring our deliverance from them. But what about attacks that come against us through no fault of our own? What do you do about them? Do you realize who you are in Yeshua, and are you aware of the spiritual power you have as a victorious overcomer by the name and through the blood of Yeshua? (Read Ps 91; Luke 9:1; 10:19; Rom 8:37; Eph 6:10-18; Jas 4:7–10; 1 Pet 5:6–10; 1 John 4:4; Rev 12:11.)

Deuteronomy 31:10–13, You shall read this Torah before all Israel. Verses like this tend to expose the theological confusion that occurs in the minds of many Christian Bible teachers. For example, about this verse, Christian commentator Matthew Henry writes about the need to read the Word of Elohim and that doing so will “help us to keep his commandments.” Yet elsewhere in the same commentary he says that the commandments or laws of YHVH “are done away with.” 

Statements like these are representative of a split and incongruous, “double-speak” thinking on the part of many Christians when it comes to the commandments or laws of Elohim. Some laws, they say, we are to keep (e.g. thou shalt not murder, lie, commit adultery, which they refer to as “the moral law”—a non-biblical term), but other laws we can disobey (e.g. the Sabbath, dietary laws, and biblical feasts, which they refer to as “the ceremonial law”—another non-biblical term). 

Is it possible to have it both ways: to believe that we need to keep the Creator’s commandments, yet, at the same time, teach they are done away with? If so, then what is the meaning of such biblical phrases pertaining to YHVH’s Torah or Word as “forever,” “for a thousand generations,” “the same yesterday today and forever,” “till heaven and earth pass away,” “I change not,” and “think not that I came to destroy the Torah-law?” Is ­YHVH’s Word inconsistent and contradictory, or is this, instead, the case with the thinking of men? Is YHVH’s immutable character flawed with regard to keeping his Word, promises and standards or is man the one at fault?

In reality, we need to ask ourselves an important question: Do we have a high enough view of YHVH Elohim and fear him and tremble at his Word (Isa 66:2), or have we, in reality, demoted the veracity of his Word by contorting YHVH and his Word to fit the mindset of changeable and inconsistent man (which the Scriptures define as idolatry)? 

Moreover, have we, by denying the validity of some aspects of YHVH’s Word, bought into the lie that the serpent proffered at the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden when he told the man and the woman that YHVH really did not mean what he said and that humans can take the “have it your own way” and “pick and choose” approach when it comes to obeying the Word of YHVH (a philosophy that forms the basis for the religious movement called secular humanism, which is at the heart of all the religions of the world—including much of Christianity—except the true religion of the Bible)?

In reality, how many aspects of Christian theology are no more than a thinly veiled version of the religion of humanism in disguise? 

These are tough questions that the saints who are citizens of the nation of Israel (Eph 2:11–19) need to ponder seriously. At the same time, let’s not forget the words of Yeshua in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my [Torah] commandments” and the words of the apostle in 1 John 2:5–5, “He that says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep his [Torah] commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keeps his Word in him truly is the love of Elohim perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The bottom line reason why man has a hard time submitting to all of YHVH’s commandments is nowhere stated more concisely in the Bible than in Romans 8:7,

[T]he carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be.

Deuteronomy 31:12, Gather together the people. … and the small children. A fundamental aspect of Hebrew culture is the teaching of the children. This is the primary responsibility of the parents as stated in the Shema (Deut 6:7) and secondarily that of the community of faith. Many parents have all but handed their YHVH-ordained charge in this area over to others: the church and the government educational system, day care, the baby sitter, etc. Additionally, often the children take the backseat in the education in many churches and Messianic congregations. Often pastors struggle to find volunteers to help in the children’s ministry. Is this right? Is this the heart of the Father? It certainly is not the heart of Yeshua who went out of his way to minister to the little children (Mark 10:13–16; see also Matt 18:1–5 and Mark 9:33–37).

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Deuteronomy 14–16 on a Peculiar, Kosher, Generous, Feast-loving people

Deuteronomy 14

Who me? Peculiar??

Deuteronomy 14:2, A peculiar people.The saints are called to be the kadosh (set apart) and peculiar or treasured people of YHVH. What we eat (verse 3ff) is a key factor in being set-apart unto YHVH. After all, if we are returning to the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and learning to study, “eat” and live YHVH’s Torah, learning to live by the “whole counsel of the Word of Elohim” (Acts 20:27), and coming away from certain paganized practices of the mainstream Christian church, how then can we still eat unclean (both physical and spiritual) food? Eating kosher spiritual food goes hand-in-hand with eating kosher physical food. Are you still eating “any abominable thing” (verse 3)? These are not the my words, but YHVH’s words—or commands! What excuses and rationalizations have you contrived in your thinking (i.e. strongholds and altars to pagan gods) to keep your belly as your god (Phil 3:19)?

Deuteronomy 14:2, You are…a peculiar/treasured people unto himself. The term treasured people/am segulah is used several times in the Torah. For example, in Exodus 19:5–6 when YHVH betrothed himself to and married the people of Israel they became his am segulah or “treasured possession among all the peoples of the nation, a kingdom of priests and a kadosh or set-apart nation.” Moses restates this same idea to the younger generation of Israelites about to enter the Promised Land in our present verse, and again in Deuteronomy 26:17–19 where he again calls them his “treasured people” and admonishes them to keep his Torah-commands that he might “make you high above all the nations which he has made, in praise, and in name, and in honor, and that you may be a set-apart people unto YHVH your Elohim.” What passage in the Testimony of Yeshua does this remind you of? (Read 1 Peter 2:9.) Note that YHVH has chosen us from among all the peoples of the earth. As A Torah Commentary For Our Times points out, “This idea that God selects or designates the people of Israel as an am segulah remains a central belief in Jewish tradition. The prophet Malachi (3:17) uses the term. So does the Psalmist who, singing in the Jerusalem temple, praises God for having ‘chosen Jacob—Israel—as a treasured possession’” (135:3–4; p. 132). With humility, contrition and gratefulness, do you own this identity? Is it a part of your innermost being? If you know that you are a special treasure and a called-out people destined for great things in the kingdom of Elohim will not the reality of who you are and whose you are and what you are to become affect your walk of righteousness here and now? Does this not inspire you to walk a little higher, a little more set-apart, a little closer to YHVH, and to be a better spiritual light through your words, thoughts and deeds to the heathens around you?

Deuteronomy 15

Deuteronomy 15:4, Except.The implication here seems to be that when lending to someone who is not poor, it is acceptable to expect them to pay you back after the seven year time limit. This is because the rich person doesn’t really need your money, but is likely using it like a business loan to make more money.

Deuteronomy 15:7, Among you a poor man. 

Charitable Giving Vs. Government Socialistic Welfare Handouts

Multiple times, the Scriptures enjoins those who have been blessed materially to help those who are poor. In fact, YHVH even has a special place in his heart for a special class of individuals who have fallen into poverty, namely, the widows and the fatherless (Deut 14:29; 16:11, 14; 24:19; 26:12–13; 1 Tim 5:3). Let’s now discover some biblical guidelines about charitable giving.

Yeshua declared that the poor would always be among us (Matt 26:11), so there will never be a lack of opportunity for the so-called haves to help the have-nots. Furthermore, YHVH promises to bless us when we give to the poor (Ps 41:1–3) as well as to those who have dedicated their lives to serving YHVH’s people through the ministry (Deut 14:29; 16:14; 26:12–13). 

In Deuteronomy 15:7, we discover that there are levels of priorities in our charitable giving. Our first responsibility is to help a poor person who is a brother, that is, who is a member of our immediate family, or someone who is like a brother to us. Second, we are to help those in need who reside in our gates, or are a member of our immediate community. Finally, and last, our charitability is to go toward those who are in need in our own land or country. The idea here is that our charitable giving is to go first to those who live the closest to us, and then go out from there geographically as we are able to do so financially. Too many churches have it backwards. They support to poor in other countries through evangelistic outreach, while neglecting the mission field or charitable giving on their own backyard.

In the Torah, there is a social welfare system in place to help the needy, but it comes with strict guidelines. For example, YHVH instructed the Israelites to set aside a certain portion of their income to help the poor. (Deut 14:28–29). For the ancient Israelites, this was a sort of social welfare system whereby those who had been blessed materially were commanded to help those who weren’t and were in need. 

Moreover, the Torah had other social mechanisms whereby those who had fallen into poverty had the means to work themselves out of that economic state. There was no such thing as sitting idly and expecting a handout from society! For example, a poor person could sell themselves into servitude for a period of time until they worked themselves out of debt (Exod 21:2; Lev 25:39–55). Every seven years, debts were forgiven (Deut 15:1–2). Those who had an abundance financially and were in position to loan money to a poor person were forbidden from charging the lender any interest (Lev 25:35–38). Moreover, a poor person who had land could also sell their land to raise money; however, at the end of the 50 year jubilee cycle, that land would be given back to them (Lev 25:8–17). 

Laws were in place where the poor wouldn’t starve to death. Two Torah laws insured this. Those who had agricultural lands were neither to glean their fields after their initial harvest, nor were they to reap the corners of their fields. The poor were allowed to come back into the fields after the harvest and to reap anything that remained (Lev 19:10; 23:22; Deut 24:19–21), and to eat freely of the agricultural produce every seventh year (Exod 33:11). In fact, the entire book of Ruth is the story of how this system worked such that the well-to-do helped the poor. There was no system in place where the government gave a person vouchers to receive free food; you still had to go out and work for it.

There is one key fact stands out in the Torah’s social welfare system however. The poor had to work for their food. In fact, most Bible students are aware of the fourth commandment, which tells us to rest on the seventh day of the week—the Sabbath. However, many people overlook the rest of this command; namely, everyone is to work for the six days prior to resting on the seventh-day Sabbath. Working is a biblical command. In the Bible, there was no such thing as retirement, or sitting back idly and waiting for a government welfare check to show up in your mailbox while you sat around watching television, playing video games or doing social media!

A lazy couch potato

The idea of sitting back and collecting public assistance for doing nothing was unheard of in the Bible and is contrary to the Torah. This is a socialistic and an evil Marxist concept and a form of wealth redistribution, which is a form legalized theft, and disincentives one from working. This is not “a workers paradise” despite the propaganda that tells us otherwise. This concept is anathema to the biblical concept of hard work, personal responsibility, and thievery. In fact, socialism, which Karl Marx, the father of modern socialism, is considered to be one of the steps to a complete communist “utopia.” Such a system has proven to be a miserable failure everywhere it has been tried: the Soviet Union, Cuba, Communist China, North Korea Cambodia, Venezuela and many more countries. Who wants to live in such places? It it’s so great there, why Marxist-socialistic governments have to construct walls to keep their people in, and why do people risk their lives trying to escape? 

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Nuggets from Deuteronomy 1 and 2

Deuteronomy 1

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)?

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Welcome to Deuteronomy/Devarim!

Outline of Sefer Devarim/Deuteronomy: Moses’ Farewell Address

Chapter 1:1–5, Introduction

Chapters 1:6–4:40, First Discourse

Moses gives a veiled rebuke for sin and disobedience, and gives a review of the journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh with exhortations to obedience.

Chapters 4:44–11, Second Discourse, Part 1

The religious foundations of the covenant, the spirit in which it is to be kept and the motives to right obedience are discussed. Moses shows how the covenant defines the relationship between YHVH and Israel and emphasizes the basic spiritual demands that such a relationship imposes upon Israel.

Chapters 12–26, Second Discourse, Part 2

  • The code of law dealing with:
  • Worship, Chapters 12:1–16:17
  • Government, Chapters 16:18–18
  • Criminal Law, Chapters 19:1–21:9
  • Domestic Life, Chapters 21:10–25
  • Rituals and the Sanctuary, Chapter 26

Chapters 27–30, Third Discourse

The enforcement of the Torah-law with its blessings and curses; establishment of a fresh covenant between YHVH and Israel (i.e. the younger generation).

Chapters 31–34, The Last Days of Moses

  • Chapter 31, Committal of the law to the keeping of the priests.
  • Chapter 32, The Song of Moses (a prophecy about Israel’s future).
  • Chapter 33, Moses’ patriarchal blessing over the tribes of Israel.
  • Chapter 34, The death of Moses.

Overview of the Book of Deuteronomy/Devarim from Various Commentators

This last book of the Torah starts out with “These are the words which Moses spoke ….” The Hebrew name for Deuteronomy is Devarim meaning “words,” which is the plural form of devar meaning “word, speech, a matter or thing, a commandment, a report, a message, promise.” Note the similarity in meaning between the Hebrew word devar and the Greek word logos from John 1:1 (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim.”). Logos means “speech, word or thing.” From this connection, we see that Yeshua was the Word of both the Old Testament (OT or Tanakh) and the New Testament (NT or Testimony of Yeshuah). He is the message of the entire Bible (Spirit Filled Life Bible, from the “Word Wealth” at Deut 1:1).

Deuteronomy is written similarly to the vassal-treaties formulated between captor and captive nations prior to 1000 B.C. It contains historical information, enumerates laws, and concludes with threats and promises (Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, from the Introduction to Deuteronomy). From a general survey of Deuteronomy, it is sufficiently evident that the exposition of the commandments, statutes, and rights of the law had no other object than this: to pledge the nation in the most solemn manner to an inviolable observance, in the land of Canaan, of the covenant, which YHVH had made with Israel at Horeb (Deut 28:29Keil and Delitzsch Commentary of the Old Testament, from the introductory note to Deut).


In Deuteronomy, Moses speaks like a dying father giving a farewell song to his children, all the while he celebrates Elohim as the spiritual Rock of Israel. While the eyes of the Israelites may have fixated too much upon Moses their physical leader (instead of Elohim) for forty years, Moses now attempts to redirect their eyes, trust and allegiance heavenward and onto YHVH, their real spiritual Leader who had been behind Moses—a mere human leader—all the time.

Deuteronomy is Moses’ last word and final admonition to Israel before his death. It is a review of the main points found in the first four books of the Torah. This review is for the benefit of the younger generation who has been born and/or grown up in the wilderness and who are about to enter the Promised Land. The first few  chapters of Deuteronomy includes several themes that are mentioned over and over again underscoring their importance in YHVH’s eyes. They are:

  • Teach the children YHVH’s instructions in righteousness (i.e. the Torah).
  • Teach the children about their historical and spiritual roots.
  • Fear YHVH.
  • Remember the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and the supernatural occurrences surrounding that event.
  • Do not allow yourself to become involved in idolatry and the practices of the heathen nations.
  • Keep Torah and all will be well with you.
  • YHVH’s Torah commandments are eternal.
  • Don’t forget YHVH nor turn from the Torah—YHVH’s instructions in righteousness.

Consider these admonitions of YHVH to his people. Are we heeding these instructions and grounding our people in these things? What are you doing in your own life to take YHVH’s wise admonitions seriously?

The words of Deuteronomy are earnest and impressive. Moses looks back over the whole of the forty years of Israel’s wandering in the desert, reminds the people of all the blessings they had received, of the ingratitude with which they had so often repaid Elohim, and of the grace, mercy, love and judgments of Elohim. Furthermore, Moses explains the laws of Torah again and again, and adds to the Torah some 70 new laws, which were necessary to complete it. He never wearies of urging obedience to the Torah in the warmest and most emphatic words, because the very life of the nation was bound up with this; he surveys all the storms and conflicts which they passed through, and, beholding the future in the past, takes a survey also of the future history of the nation, and sees, with mingled sorrow and joy, how the three great features of the past—that is to say, apostasy, punishment, and pardon—continue to repeat themselves in the future also (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the OT, from the introductory note to Deut).

Deuteronomy is a unique book—distinct from the narrative and historical, the legal, prophetic, and devotional writings of the Scriptures, though it has affinities with each of them. In its literary aspect, it is an oratory; and as such it is unsurpassed in its rush of rhythmic sentences, its ebb and flow of exalted passion, its accents of appeal and denunciation: Moses’ speech shines as well as his face. And this noble language gives utterance to truths which are always and everywhere sovereign—that Elohim is one, and that man must be wholly his; that Elohim is righteous and faithful, merciful and loving. Elohim’s proclamation in Deuteronomy stands in relation to Israel and humanity not merely as Judge or Ruler, but as Friend and Father. “And thou shalt love YHVH your Elohim with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all they might.” This whole-soul love and devotion to Elohim is to be accompanied by a large-hearted benevolence towards man, and indeed towards all sentient beings; by the recognition of the retributive righteousness of El; and by the insistence on the vital importance of family life, and of religious instruction within the home. The influence of the Book of the Farewell Discourses of Moses on both domestic and personal religion in Israel throughout the millennia has never been exceeded by that of any other book in the Scriptures (Soncino Edition of the Pentateuch and Haftorahs, from the introductory note to Deuteronomy).

In this book, YHVH can also be viewed as a husband asking his bride to give her whole heart to him, to follow him and to obey him. Sadly, in the rest of the story (after Joshua), we see chronicled the sad saga of a bride having a difficult time being a good wife. In the end, Israel becomes a rebellious and adulterous wife to the point that YHVH was forced to divorce her despite his patience and mercy. Then YHVH promised to do a new thing and comes in a human form (namely, Yeshua) like Moses—so that his people would learn to relate better to him. He wanted to set his people back on the right and good path (of Torah), and to restore them as his bride. He has now betrothed himself to his people (the saints) once again (this occurred with Yeshua at the last supper), given them his Holy Spirit as their engagement ring (on the Day of Pentecost), and since then it has been a long betrothal period (2000 years), so that those saints (i.e. redeemed Israel or the one new man; Eph 2:11–19) through trials and tribulations can be spiritually refined so that she can be a good wife for him. YHVH wants to see what is actually in her (our) heart. He wants a faithful companion forever.

Moses was the first to prophesy the coming of the Messiah (Deut 18:15), and Moses is the only person to which Yeshua compared himself (John 5:46–47).

Yeshua often quoted from Deuteronomy. When asked what was the most important commandment in the Torah, he quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and included this verse as part of his summation of the whole Torah. In his temptation in the wilderness, he quoted exclusively from Deuteronomy when resisting the devil (Deut 8:36:166:1310:20).

Deuteronomy teaches more of the heart and spirit of the Torah, and that the relationship of Elohim to his people encompasses much more than just a legalistic observance of the Torah. Israel’s covenant relationship with Elohim involves obedience and loyalty as well as love, affection and devotion, which should be the true foundation of all of our action. Success, victory, prosperity and happiness all depend upon our obedience to YHVH. The book is a must-read for an understanding of man’s obedience to Elohim based on love and fear (Deut 10:1213Spirit Filled Life Bible, from the introductory note to Deut).

In a sense, Deuteronomy is not only a synopsis, but a commentary on the first four books of the Torah. This book along with the Epistle to the Hebrews contain the best comment on the nature, design, and use of the Torah (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on Deuteronomy, from the introductory note to Deut).

The Book of Deuteronomy contains not so much a recapitulation of the things commanded and done as related in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, as it is a compendium and summary of the whole law and wisdom of the people of Israel, wherein those things that related to the priests and Levites are omitted, and only such things are included as the people are generally required to know. Much more than a being a repetition of what preceded it, Deuteronomy is an oratory description, explanation, and enforcement of the most essential contents of the covenant revelation and covenant laws, with emphatic prominence given to the spiritual principle of the law and its fulfilment, and with a further development of the ecclesiastical, judicial, political, and civil organization, which was intended as a permanent foundation for the life and well-being of the people of Israel in the Promised Land of Canaan. There is not the slightest trace throughout the whole book of any intention whatever to give a new or second law (Keil and Delitzsch, from the introductory note to Deut).

The covenant of Deuteronomy contains all these parts.  The first eleven chapters are generally a summary of the adventures of Israel beginning from the covenant they confirmed at Mt. Sinai.  The actual stipulations or terms of this new covenant start with chapter 12 and go to chapter 26.  Chapter 27:10-28 detail the blessings and punishments that will come depending on Israel’s compliance.  Later chapters instruct how the covenant will be perpetuated. 

As part of their compliance Moses instructed Israel to write this law on large stones when they crossed into the Promised Land.  Likely they wrote only the instruction of chapters 12-26:15.  Since they recited the blessings and curses of chapter 27-28 they probably didn’t write those or anything following with the law (Deu 27:11-14).

More Insights About the Book of Deuteronomy

In stark terms, YHVH warns the Israelites in Deuteronomy of the struggles Israel will have as it walks between two world: the lower world that attaches itself to man’s soul and attempts to pull him downward, and the upper world that pulls the spirit in man heavenward.

Deuteronomy presents Torah (as does Ps 119) as the way to be spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, materially elevated before Elohim and in the eyes of the surrounding nations (Deut 4:6). 

In Deuteronomy, YHVH lays out two extremes: blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience; curse for following the ways of this world, and blessings for following the Word of YHVH. But seldom do individuals find themselves in one extreme or the other, for few are either totally worldly or totally heavenly in the orientation of their lives. They are usually caught up somewhere in the middle ground between the two: not totally evil and not totally good. Their lives are a mixed bag of good and evil, blessings and curses, and a double-orientation toward the heaven and the world. The Bible calls this double-mindedness (Jas 1:84:8), and Yeshua decries such an individual (Matt 6:24, “one can’t serve both God and mammon”). The Bible also calls this being lukewarm­—being neither hot nor cold, and YHVH hates this as well (Rev 3:15–16). Such an individual, if he isn’t careful, can find himself feeding spiritually more from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of life.

YHVH lays out the highest spiritual ideal for Israel: to be wisdom in the sight of the nations (Duet 4:6), to be the head and not the tail, to be the greatest and not the least, and to be the lender and not the borrower. Such a position of status is possible thanks to following the Torah. He wants the best for his people, but achieving such is conditional on their obeying him. Many people make claim to believe in the God of the Bible, to love him and many even claim to follow and to obey him—just ask them! But in reality, do they? What are the fruits of their lives? Their true spiritual status is based on what they do, not what they profess with their mouths!

Deuteronomy affirms the sufficiency of Torah. The Torah is the Word of Elohim and nothing more needs to be added to it. It is the full revelation of YHVH when it says not to add to the Word of Elohim (Deut 4:212:32). It is the bedrock of the Scriptures and the bedrock of truth. If Torah is the bedrock of YHVH’s word, then the Ten Commandments are the cornerstone in that foundation of truth, which Moses reiterates in Deuteronomy five. The rest of the Scriptures are just commentary or elucidations on Torah, or admonitions for YHVH’s people to return to Torah. The truths of the Testimony of Yeshua (the New Testament) stand firmly on the Torah and never once contradicts Torah. The Torah is the flower bud that contains the full flower, while the Testimony of Yeshua is the open flower in its full glory.

Torah keeps YHVH’s people on the straight and narrow path­ and from falling into the ditches on either side of the road. Those ditches are legalism and license, the letter and the spirit of the law (Deut 5:32).

Deuteronomy stresses man’s need to fear Elohim. Though loving, personal, merciful, and full of bountiful goodness, he is at the same time a consuming fire of jealousy, wrath and judgment against those who disobey him, and he will bring all men to account for their wickedness and sin (Deut 4:246:159:3). He warns his people not to tempt or to push him (Deut 6:16). He is also a consuming fire against Israel’s enemies (9:3).

The absolute preeminence of YHVH is stressed again and again in Deuteronomy.Putting him first in our lives starts with fearing him always (Deut 6:24), and doing what is right and good in his sight that you may be blessed and live victoriously (Deut 6:18). All this is based on YHVH’s love for his people and vice versa.

Deuteronomy defines and elucidates the true meaning of love. The Shema of Deuteronomy 6:5 declares that man is to love YHVH 1000 percent. Likewise, YHVH set his love unconditionally upon his people (Deut 7:7–9). That love is inviolate for 40,000 years, or 1000 generations (Deut 7:9).

Deuteronomy stresses the importance of relationship. Numerous passages in Deuteronomy enumerate the importance of relationships at all levels: between humans and between humans and Elohim. The horizontal and vertical aspects of love come together at the seven annual biblical feasts where YHVH’s people are commanded to gather together where he has placed his name and at the times he has set to celebrate and rejoice before him (Deut 1214:23ff16:1ff).

Deuteronomy constantly repeats and stresses Israel’s history and emphasizes the importance of understanding our history including both the defeats and victories of our forefathers. History is a great teacher, and many mistakes can be avoided by having a thorough understanding of and a healthy respect for history, and by learning the lessons of history.

Deuteronomy instructs men to circumcise or cut way the barriers of their hearts(Deut 10:1630:6; see also Lev 26:41). Deuteronomy is the first place YHVH commands his people to circumcise their hearts.

Deuteronomy emphasizes the need to teach Torah to our children. We are not only to be concerned about our past history, but to be future-minded people also by passing on our legacy (YHVH’s Torah instructions from heaven) to future generations (Deut 6:711:19).

Deuteronomy is a song or poem where the Creator passionately woos his creation. It almost sometimes seems that YHVH is pleading with his people to follow him, to keep his commands, to enter into a forever love relationship with him so that they can be blessed abundantly and victorious, though he forcefully stresses their need for him, the curses that will come upon them if they turn away from him, the fact remains that the choice to follow him is still up to them (Deut 11:2630:15). The only thing over which man remains sovereign is his own heart; therefore, man has to choose to love and serve YHVH with his whole heart.

 

General Overview of the Book of Numbers (B’midbar)

The English name Numbers derives from the fact that in this book the Israelites are counted or numbered on several occasions (see chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 26). Leviticus ends with YHVH instructing his people to count their flocks for tithe purposes, while Numbers begins with YHVH, as the ultimate Good Shepherd (or in Hebrews, YHVH Rohee), counting the Israelites themselves, who are the sheep of his pasture (Pss 74:1; 79:13; 95:7; 100:3). 

The Hebrew name for this third book of the Torah is B’midbar meaning “in the wilderness.” This name originates from the fact that this book chronicles Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. The book of Exodus, on the other hand, records the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, its establishment as a nation, its covenantal relationship with YHVH and the construction of the tabernacle (mishkan), which was the symbol of YHVH dwelling or tabernacling in the midst of his chosen people. The book of Leviticus deals with the inner workings of that tabernacle and the mechanics of how sinful man could maintain a right spiritual relationship with a righteous Elohim. This was accomplished through the agency of the Levitical priesthood that would function within the tabernacle as a human intermediary between man and his Creator.

The book of Numbers covers much of Israel’s forty years wandering in the wilderness and recounts the early years of this nation under YHVH’s theocratic rule. Recorded are Israel’s triumphs and defeats, its obedience and disobedience to YHVH’s rule of law and the resulting consequences whether blessing or curses.

The fact that several instances of counting or numbering took place in the wilderness proves that it was not for political or national economic reasons, but was in fulfillment of YHVH’s Torah instructions. Each Israelite was to give a half-shekel of silver toward the maintenance of the tabernacle. The shekels then counted would give the exact number of Israelites (Exod 30:12–16).

In this book, we see several main subdivisions. Chapters 1:1–10:10 cover instructions from YHVH to Israel while still at Mount Sinai. Chapters 10:11–36:13 cover the Israelite’s actual wilderness journey. The second section dealing with the wilderness journey has two main parts: the perishing in the wilderness of the older generation (Num 10:11–25:18), and the preparation of the second generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land (chapters 26–36).

Reoccurring themes in the book of Numbers include the continual murmuring of Israelites and the divine punishment on them as a result. YHVH made promises to care for them and lead them into the Promised Land. Instead of having faith and trust in him, with few exceptions, the Israelites exhibited doubt and unbelief in YHVH. As a result, the entire older generation, with the exception of faithful Joshua and Caleb, perished in the wilderness never to realize the promises YHVH had made to them concerning the Promised Land. This is a poignant lesson for all believers in their faith walk. The spiritual application of this lesson is not missed by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews in chapter four of that book. When YHVH makes promises, his people need to embrace those promises with enthusiastic and optimistic faith and never let go of them. After all, if we cannot trust our Creator, then who or what can we trust?

In this book, we see revealed the grace of YHVH, that he is longsuffering and slow to anger (Num 14:20–38), but that he is also just, and as a father, he disciplines those he loves. His judgments are measured and progressive. The more his children refuse to obey him and resist him, the stronger the judgments. Eventually, the older generation of Israelites died off in the wilderness. This teaches us that death is the final judgment against the sin of rebellion and unbelief. There are no eternal rewards or spiritual inheritance for those who refuse to take hold of YHVH’s promises and to go forward in faith and faithful obedience to him.

We see the work and person of the future Yeshua the Messiah in the book of Numbers as well. As Provider, he meets all of Israel’s needs both physical and spiritual. Paul reveals that Yeshua was the spiritual Rock that gave them water in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4). Twice, Israel received water from the rock (Exod 17:1–7 and Num 20:1–13). Additionally, the secular prophet, Balaam, prophesied about the Messiah who was to rise out of Israel like a star (Num 24:17). Leading rabbinic Jews sages, such as Akiva ben Joseph of the early modern era, mistakenly applied this verse to the Jewish zealot, Bar Kokhba, when he endeavored to throw off the yoke of Roman rule over the Jewish people during the Second Jewish Revolt of A.D. 133–135.