“Beware Lest Thou Forget the Lord

Old Testament Lesson 21 (Deuteronomy 6–8; 15; 18; 29-30; 34)

May 16–22

MOSES’ FINAL SERMONS

The setting for this week’s lesson is the sermons that Moses gave to the children of Israel just before they entered the promised land (Deuteronomy 1:1–3). The book of Deuteronomy consists of four sections that are defined by these sermons:

Chapters 1–4   First Speech
.  A recitation of the events that took place between the departure from Sinai and arrival east of the Jordan River.

Chapters 5–26   Second Speech
.  Moses’ account of the events that took place at Sinai, and the instructions that Israel received there, often called the Deuteronomic Law (chapters 12–26).

Chapters 27–30   Third Speech
.  Moses’ final instructions to his people, including blessings and curses that he promised to them, based on their behavior.

Chapters 31–34   The Last Acts of Moses
. An appendix to the book, including exhortations to Joshua and a final celebration before the departure of Moses

MOSES’ 2ND SPEECH:  COMMANDMENTS RECEIVED AT SINAI

Remember and Keep the Commandments

Deuteronomy 5:1–6:3
 Moses reiterated the Ten Commandments to the rising generation. Notice that the covenant made at Sinai is “valid for us” also (v. 3). They had voluntarily promised to be obedient to God’s laws (v. 27).

Deuteronomy 5:32–33
 Israel was sent to their tents while the Lord spoke to Moses. Then, theyy were commanded to observe the commandments strictly.

Deuteronomy 6:4–5
 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” This passage, the “shema” (“hear”), is the most important statement of Jewish faith, repeated on special occasions and at the moment of death.

Deuteronomy 6:6–9; 11:18–21
 
Frontlets
were strips of parchment on which were written four passages of scripture . . . and which were rolled up and attached to bands of leather worn . . . around the forehead or around the arm. This was an attempt to follow the instructions of the Lord about writing the commandments between their eyes and on their arms. The Lord also commanded that they “write them upon the posts of thy house (v. 9).”

● This commandment should be understood spiritually (symbolically) rather than literally. To write the commandments on their minds was to suggest that they should always be in their thoughts. On their arms or hands suggests that they should guide their daily activities. And on the doorposts suggests that they should be the foundation of their homes and family lives.

● President Ezra Taft Benson said, “[People who are] captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. . . .  Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians.”
(endnote: 1)

Remember and Love the Lord

Deuteronomy 6:10–12; 8:10–20
 We are to remember the Lord under all circumstances, even when things are going well for us. President Brigham Young said, “The worst fear that I have about [members of this Church] is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth.”
(endnote: 2)

● Three scriptures found in this section were later quoted by the Savior in thwarting the temptations of Satan:


Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3
 When Satan tempted Him to turn the stones into bread, He countered: “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”


Matt. 4:7; Deut. 6:16
 When Satan challenged him to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, He said: “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”


Matt. 4:10; Deut 6:13
 When Satan offered Him the kingdoms of the world, he said: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Deuteronomy 7:6–8
 God chose Israel to keep his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 7:25–26
 The idols of other nations were to be burned entirely, and neither the idols themselves nor the precious metals on them were to be taken into the homes of the Israelites.

Reviewing Events at and since Sinai

Deuteronomy 8:2–6; 11:1–3, 7–8
 Moses reviewed the great acts of the Lord seen by the children of Israel in the wilderness.  These included, but were not limited to:

— God heard their prayers, kept faith with their forefathers, and delivered them from Egyptian captivity.

— He divided the Red Sea and saved them from Pharaoh’s army.

— He provided daily bread and water.

— He manifested himself at Sinai with power and an audible voice.

— He answered all things that they called on him for.

— Their clothes did not wear out (v. 4).  This was needed because they had limited means for producing clothing.

— He revealed holy and wise laws so they could govern themselves.

— He chastened them as any concerned parent might have done.

— He called them to be holy people, like himself.

— He was now giving them the land of promise, showing that He keeps his covenants.

Deuteronomy 8:2
 God sent them through the wilderness to test and prove them.  He does the same with us today (D&C 98:14).

Deuteronomy 8:17–20
 Moses warned against forgetting their blessings and boasting. They will be no more preserved than the nations they will drive out if they do.

Deuteronomy 9
 Moses reminded Israel that it was not because of their righteousness that they were allowed to enter the promised land.

Deuteronomy 10:1–5
 Moses reminded Israel that a new set of tablets was created for them. This was done to “save the words of the everlasting covenant of the priesthood” that they had received (v. 2).

Deuteronomy 10:12–15
 All that God requires of Israel (or us) is to love and serve him with all hearts and souls.

Deuteronomy 11
 If Israel serves the Lord, they will possess the land of Canaan and prosper.

— This included a promise of the “first rain” and the “latter rain” (v. 14). “The first or former rain [was] that which fell in Judea about November, when they sowed their seed, and this served to moisten and prepare the ground for the vegetation of the seed. The latter rain fell about April, when the corn was well grown up, and served to fill the ears, and render them plump and perfect. . . .”
(endnote: 3)

— They (we) are to abide by the Lord in thoughts, desires, and actions, and teach them to their (our) children (vv. 18–21).

— If they are righteous, no nation, though “greater and mightier” will be able to stand before them (vv. 22–25).

Avoiding Worldly Practices

Deuteronomy 11:26–32
 Landmarks were established to remind them of options and consequences, Mt. Gerizim was declared a mount of blessing and Mt. Ebal a mount of cursing. “The two mountains mentioned were selected . . . because they were opposite to one another, and stood, each about 2500 feet high, in the very centre of the land not only from west to east, but also from north to south.
(endnote: 4)

— This place was also the place of Abraham’s first altar in the land of promise, and it was the place of Jacob’s first camp upon arriving back from Haran, where he also built an altar.

— The area there was called the “plains of Moreh.” Moreh means “director, teacher,” just as torah means “direction, or doctrine.” Both are from
yareb
, “to point out, give guidance.” It was thus a place where the Lord gave guidance and direction to Abraham, Jacob, and their descendants.

THE LAST ACTS OF MOSES

Moses’ Farewell and Blessings on Israel

Deuteronomy 31:1–8
 Moses gave Joshua charge of Israel and urged him and the people to be courageous and strong.

Deuteronomy 31:9–13
 Moses delivered the law to the priests and commanded that it be read to all Israel every seven years.

Deuteronomy 31:14–18
 The Lord told Moses and Joshua that the people would eventually “go a whoring after the gods of . . . the land.”

Deuteronomy 31:19–22
 The Lord also gave Moses a song, which Moses taught to Israel to be a witness against them when they would rebel against God.

Deuteronomy 31:24–30
 Moses commanded that the law be placed in the Ark of the Covenant.

Moses’ Song Testifies of Christ

Deuteronomy 32:1–47
 Moses’ song testified concerning the “Rock” of their salvation. Israel’s Rock is Jehovah (Christ) (vv. 1–4).

● Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Christ is the Stone of Israel (Gen. 49:24). [He said] ‘I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall.’ (D&C 50:44) Christ is thus the stone or foundation upon which all men must build. Of him the psalmist prophesied: ‘The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.’ (Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10–11; Luke 20:17–18) Peter [taught] that the Saints ‘as lively stones’ should build ‘a spiritual house,’ with Christ, the Stone of Israel, as the foundation (1 Pet. 2:1–9).”
(endnote: 5)

● The Apostle Paul said of Israel during their wanderings: “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4).

● The song of Moses also taught other important truths:

— The children of Israel were chosen in the premortal existence (vv. 8–9).

— Jeshurun (the “upright”) have rejected the Rock for other gods (vv. 15–18).

— Moses declared that “their rock” (the false gods of the wicked) “is not as “our Rock” (Christ) (vv. 31–33).

— Jehovah (Christ) is the God of life and He lives forever (vv. 39–40).

— Israel is urged to build upon the Rock and be preserved in the promised land (vv. 45–47; Matt. 7:24–27; D&C 50:44).

Moses Prophesies Concerning the Tribes of Israel

Deuteronomy 32:48–52
 God commanded Moses to climb Mount Nebo (a high peak on the Avarim range on the mountain divide (Hebrew, “pisgah”) east of the north end of the Dead Sea.

Deuteronomy 33  
Moses gave his last blessing to the tribes of Israel. We might pay particular attention to the blessing upon the tribes of Joseph (vv. 13–17).

Moses Is Translated on Mt. Nebo

Deuteronomy 34
 Joshua was the author of this last chapter of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 34:1–6
 Moses saw the promised land and was “taken” by the Lord. The Bible says “no man knoweth of his sepulchre” (v. 6).  The writer who finished the book of Deuteronomy (probably Joshua) knew only that Moses was gone and so assumed that he had died, that the Lord had buried him.

Deuteronomy 34:7–8
 However, Moses was not near death. He was 120 years old but his “eye was not dimmed nor his natural force abated” when he left the children of Israel.

● Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “The Old Testament account that Moses died and was buried by the hand of the Lord in an unknown grave is an error . . .  It is true that he may have been ‘buried by the hand of the Lord,’ if that expression is a figure of speech which means that he was translated.”
(endnote: 6)

The Greatness of the Prophet Moses

Deuteronomy 34:9
 Joshua was “full of the spirit of wisdom” because Moses had laid his hands upon him before he left.

● Deuteronomy 34:10–12  Joshua said, “There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

Notes:

FOOTNOTES

1:

In Conference Report, Oct 1985, 6;
Ensign
, Nov 1985, 6–7.

2:

Preston Nibley,
President Brigham Young: The Man and His Work
, 4th ed. [1960], 128.

3:

Clarke, Clarke,
Bible Commentary
, 6 vols. [n.d.], 1:770.

4:

Keil and Delitzsch,
Commentary on the Old Testament,
10 vols. [1996], 1:3:349–350.

5:

Mormon Doctrine
, 2nd ed. [1966], 768.

6:

Mormon Doctrine
, 805.

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