Week 10: Deuteronomy 19-34, Psalm 90

“You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as His people, that He may be your God as He promised you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.”      Deuteronomy 29:12-13 (NIV)

What’s Going On?

This week we continue Moses’ farewell address as the people of Israel are preparing to finally enter the Promised Land. There are yet still many instructions for how to live their daily lives once they have conquered the Canaanites and settle into their new homes and tribal communities. There are moral instructions, legal instructions, family and marital instructions, instructions about living in a community, instructions about going to war, and most importantly, instructions to keep the Lord’s commands and decrees and teach them to the next generation so that it will go well with them for many years to come. Chapter 28 summarizes how important it is to keep the commands of the Lord saying there will be blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. There is a little bit of foreshadowing here as we catch a glimpse into the future of the Nation of Israel, who will come to see both blessings and curses along the way. Since the people who are listening to Moses as he summarizes all that has happened and tells them what to expect as they move on without him weren’t all a part of the grand exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the Law forty years earlier at Mt Sinai, he realizes the need for this generation to stand in agreement with the Law and the conditions for being God’s holy people and calls for a national renewal of the covenant between Israel and her God. The book closes with Moses handing leadership off to his faithful aide, Joshua, a reading of the entire Law, and the call to read it publically every seven years. Moses then teaches them a song to help them remember all that they have been through and all of the blessings in store if they will only remain faithful to the Lord. Moses then blesses all of the tribes and sends them on their way. Moses must have watched them go with great pride and great sadness that he won’t be a part of the next leg of their journey. God then shows Moses all the land that Israel is about to inherit. We aren’t told exactly how it happens, but apparently after he dies, the Lord Himself buries Moses, the great servant of the Lord, there at Mount Nebo.

When and Where Are We?

It is about 1400 BC and the people are camped in Moab on the east side of the Jordan River.

Who’s Who?

  • Moses – Prophet, Deliverer, Law-Giver
  • Joshua – Moses’ aide and the new Commander in Chief
  • Eleazar – Aaron’s son and current High Priest

“Now choose life, so that you and your children my live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life.” Deuteronomy 30:19b-20b

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Deuteronomy 19-22
  • Tuesday: Deuteronomy 23-25
  • Wednesday: Deuteronomy 26-27
  • Thursday: Deuteronomy 28-30
  • Friday: Deuteronomy 31-34
  • Saturday: Psalm 90
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Week 9: Deuteronomy 1-18

 “Listen, Israel! The Eternal is our True God—He alone.  You should love Him, your True God, with all your heart and soul, with every ounce of your strength.Make the things I’m commanding you today part of who you are.  Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re sitting together in your home and when you’re walking together down the road. Make them the last thing you talk about before you go to bed and the first thing you talk about the next morning.  Do whatever it takes to remember them: tie a reminder on your hand and bind a reminder on your forehead where you’ll see it all the time, such as on the doorpost where you cross the threshold or on the city gate.”

~The Shema~    Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (The Voice)

What’s Going On?

The time has finally come for the people of Israel to go in and conquer the land that had been promised to them four hundred years earlier. Moses knows he will be leaving them before they enter the Promised Land and realizes the need to gather the people together and remind them of what has led them to this point. The adults who came out of Egypt have all died except for Joshua and Caleb who were the two scouts who trusted the Lord to lead them into the land when they had been there forty years earlier. Since the majority of the people had chosen not to trust God, the Israelites have been wandering in the desert for forty years until that generation had died and the children had grown up. They have been following the cloud by day and fire by night, which has now led them to the east side of the Jordan River in the land of Moab. At the heart of the book of Deuteronomy is the retelling of their history and the absolute insistence that the Law continue to be their central focus once they enter their new homeland. Now that the people will actually be settling in the land, the need for the structure and guidance that the Law brings will take on a new importance. There will be a need for order for the next generations as they will be living with only the Law, the statutes, the traditions, the holy days, the feasts and festivals to set them apart from the foreign nations as Gods chosen people, long before the land will become the Nation of Israel with their own King. Moses, who was hesitant to accept the call of God on his life to lead the people because he felt he wasn’t a great speaker, has now developed into a very powerful speaker as he emphatically calls on the new generation of Israelites to remember God’s covenant given to all Israel and to not be afraid this time when they go in take over the land. While Moses has been their leader, he reminds the people that God is actually their leader and He will be with them long after Moses is gone.

When and Where Are We?

It’s about 1400 BC and the people are camped in the territory of Moab on the east side of the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

Who’s Who?

  • Moses – Prophet, Deliverer, Law-Giver
  • Joshua – One of the twelve spies who trusted the Lord, he will follow Moses as the new leader
  • Caleb – One of the twelve spies who trusted the Lord
  • Eleazar – Aaron’s son and current High Priest

“Love the Lord your God and keep His requirements, His decrees, His laws and His commands always.” Deuteronomy 11:1 (NIV)

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Deuteronomy 1-3
  • Tuesday: Deuteronomy 4-6
  • Wednesday: Deuteronomy 7-9
  • Thursday: Deuteronomy 10-12
  • Friday: Deuteronomy 13-15
  • Saturday : Deuteronomy 16-18
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Week 8: Numbers 20-36

“But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in Me enough to honor Me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Numbers 20:12

What’s Going On

Chapter 20 picks the story up forty years later with relatively little mention of what has gone on during these years. We know that the generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt have died and a new generation will begin preparing to enter the Promised Land. After reading that Miriam has died, we learn that there is still an awful lot of grumbling and complaining going on, even though God continues to provide for their every need. Unfortunately Moses has just about had enough of their bad attitudes and in an angry fit he asks the thirsty people, “Must we (meaning Moses and God) bring water out of this rock?” Uh oh. Moses has been tirelessly pointing to God throughout this whole journey and right here at the end, he shows how very human he was. Not only did Moses and Aaron not follow Gods instructions to speak to the rock, their sin includes pride and taking credit for God’s work (Pride goeth before a fall Prov 16:18.) Aaron will die shortly after this and his son Eleazar becomes High Priest after him. When the king of Moab sees Israel camp outside of town, he calls on a medium to curse them. God, however, instructs him not to curse the Israelites but to bless them instead. It seems that with the help of a talking donkey, God’s will can be done through the most unlikely characters. The rest of the book of Numbers is like a tennis match. On one side we have “Blessings for Obedience” and on the other side, “Curses for Disobedience.” The message is clear. Where there is dependence on God, there is victory. Where there is grumbling and complaining there is destruction. A new census is taken and there are now 601,730 men of Israel, plus the Levites. Everyone who came out of Egypt, except Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, has died. Instructions are given from God through Moses to the people about what to do when they get into their new homeland as Joshua and Eleazar prepare to take over as Israel’s new leaders. Two tribes, Reuben and Gad, plus half of the huge tribe of Manasseh claim land on the East side of the Jordan River although they agree to go with all Israel as they prepare to cross over Jordon and begin claiming the land of Canaan, with its boundaries clearly defined in chapter 34. The final instructions include how the Levites are to be dispersed throughout the other tribes, a portion of land should be reserved as cities of refuge, and what to do when there is no male heir to claim the family inheritance.

When and Where Are We?

It is now about 1400 BC and the people have been wandering in the desert and waiting for the next generation to be raised up. Israel will request passage through the land of Edom, the descendants of Esau, but it will be denied. The stages of the journey are recorded very specifically in chapter 33. The story ends outside of Canaan in the land of Moab, across from Jericho.

Who’s Who?

  • Eleazar – Aaron’s son, the new High Priest. His son is Phinehas, the next High Priest
  • Sihon – king of the Amorites
  • Og – king of Bashan
  • Balak – king of Moab
  • Balaam – a pagan diviner/fortune teller/seer who speaks in oracles
  • Baal of Peor – a false god of fertility
  • Zelophehad – from the tribe of Manasseh, his daughters inherit his share because he has no sons
  • Joshua – the leader who will follow Moses and bring the people into the Promised Land

“Then Moses laid his hands on Joshua and commissioned him as the Lord instructed.” Numbers 27:23

Weekly Reading Assignment:

Monday:  Deuteronomy 1-3
Tuesday: Deuteronomy 4-6
Wednesday:  Deuteronomy 7-9
Thursday:  Deuteronomy 10-12
Friday:  Deuteronomy 13-15
Saturday:  Deuteronomy 16-18

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Week 7: Numbers 1-19

 “and the Lord said, ‘Now hear what I have to say! When there are prophets among you, I reveal Myself to them in visions and speak to them in dreams.  It is different when I speak with My servant Moses; I have put him in charge of all My people Israel. So I speak to him face-to-face, clearly and not in riddles; he has even seen My form! How dare you speak against My servant Moses?’” Numbers 12:6-8 (GNT)

What’s Going On? The Book of Numbers is all about, well – numbers. There will be a census taken at the beginning of their journey to The Promised Land, which was only about 200 miles away. There are 603,550 men of fighting age, plus their families, plus the tribe of Levi. It is estimated that there are at least 2,000,000 total and possibly even more than that. The people of Israel are called to assemble in their family tribe units and placed in an orderly fashion around the Tabernacle. God is very specific in His instructions on how to do this. There is a grand dedication ceremony, they celebrate the Passover, and then head to the desert of Paran following the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The people will learn some harsh lessons about rebellion and complaining along the way and a system of elders will be set up. Once they arrive at the outskirts of Canaan, twelve men are chosen, one from each tribe, to enter the land and then give a report to the people. The land is rich and fertile, but the inhabitants are large and fierce. Only Joshua and Caleb trust the Lord and vote to go in. The others are afraid and they choose not to go in. The constant complaining, opposition, and rebelling against Moses and the Lord will have harsh consequences. There will even be a full on rebellion against Moses, Aaron, and the priesthood. God will open the earth and swallow up those who led the revolt, reminding the people once again that He is their leader and will not stand for rebellion.

When and Where Are We? We start off at the foot of Mt. Sinai two years after leaving Egypt, about 1500 BC. The people have spent the last year building the Tabernacle and all of the things that will be used in service to the Lord. They will then begin the journey toward the land that had once belonged to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the land of Canaan – The Promised Land. The first nine chapters of the book cover the time of preparation for leaving Mt Sinai, and then in chapter 10 the cloud begins to move and they people begin their journey in the orderly fashion as the Lord had decreed. The next few chapters will cover 40 years as the Israelites travel around in the desert and a new generation is prepared to conquer The Promised Land.  

Who’s Who?

  • Moses – “The Lord spoke to Moses”  This phrase is used over 150 times in the book of Numbers
  • Aaron – Moses’ brother, the first High Priest of Israel
  • Eleazar and Ithamar – living sons of Aaron (after Nadab and Abihu are killed)
  • Hobab – Jethro/Reuel’s son, their guide through the desert lands
  • Miriam – Moses’ sister and prophetess
  • Joshua – Moses’ aide, one of the two that trust God to lead them into Canaan
  • Caleb – One of the twelve spies, along with Joshua, who votes to go into Canaan
  • The Twelve Tribes of Israel – The twelve tribes are named after the twelve sons of Jacob, with two exceptions. The tribe of Levi will be scattered among the other twelve tribes in order to serve as the priests to the whole community. The Levites will not march together in formation with the others but will be responsible for the Tabernacle and all of its equipment. There is not a tribe named after Jacob’s son Joseph. Instead, Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, will each be heads of tribes thereby giving Joseph a double portion of the inheritance. These twelve tribes are Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, Gad, and Naphtali.
  • Gershonites, Kohathites, Merarites – the names of the family groups of the sons of Levi that would be used in service for the Lord. Korah, a Kohathite, will lead a rebellion against Moses and he and his supporters will be swallowed up by the earth. Moses and Aaron were also from the line of Kohath.

                                                             God is a God of order!

Weekly Reading Assignment:

Monday: Numbers 1-3
Tuesday: Numbers 4-6
Wednesday: Numbers 7-9
Thursday: Numbers 10-12
Friday: Numbers 13-15
Saturday: Numbers 16-19

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Week 6: Leviticus 1-27

“I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God;
therefore be holy, because I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45 W

What’s Going On?

In the Hebrew text, the book of Leviticus is a continuation from the book of Exodus and actually begins with the words “AND the Lord…” At the end of Exodus, the Tabernacle had been set up and is now ready to be used for both offerings and sacrifices. First things first, Aaron and his sons need to be ordained as priests so that they can oversee all that happens in the new “Worship Center” for the Israelites. This book served as a manual and a guidebook for the Levites who would serve as the priests. The theme of the book can be summed up in one word: HOLINESS. It’s important to notice that the instructions for holy living came after God had already rescued them from Egypt. Obeying the Law was not a condition of God’s rescuing His people – He had already done that. The Law was given because Man had already broken the once perfect relationship with God when sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. Because of sin, man’s fellowship with God had been broken. God is Holy, and He cannot tolerate sin. So, a system is introduced in order for man to have a new kind of relationship with God that would include sacrifices, offerings, special feasts, and special instructions for right living. By following these instructions, God could continue to lead His people as He brings His three-fold promise to fruition. While we’re still a long way from the birth of Jesus, we are going to see glimpses of all that He represents and the desperate need of a Savior throughout the Old Testament and most especially here in the book of Leviticus. Most of the book of Hebrews will later show us how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and replaced by Christ in the New Covenant.

It’s important to remember that the people to whom these laws are given had spent the last 400 years as slaves in a foreign land. This group is now going to be forming a new society that will need guidelines in order to function and to keep their focus on God as the head of this nation of people before, during, and after settling into their new homeland. At the center of their lives would be the Tabernacle and at the center of the Tabernacle would be The Ark of The Covenant, and the Glory of the Lord would dwell inside the Most Holy Place. They were to be vigilant in following God, His instructions, His Law. The book of Leviticus explains how this is to be done through very specific details about the offerings, the laws concerning cleanliness, the moral laws, the regulations for the priests, and the annual feasts. All of these would serve as a constant reminder of the dependence on the Lord and His blessings for obedience and punishment for disobedience. Of course, man wouldn’t be able to keep all of these regulations and when the time comes for Jesus to enter the world, the people would finally understand God’s ultimate act of mercy and grace for all people. The phrase, “I am the Lord your God” is repeated close to fifty times in the book of Leviticus and should be the most important thing we take away from our reading this week.

When and Where Are We?

The people of Israel are camped at the bottom of Mt. Sinai about 1500 BC. These events happen during the first year after leaving Egypt.

Who’s Who?

  • Moses – Prophet, Deliverer, Law-Giver
  • Aaron – Moses’ brother, spokesperson for the Lord, High Priest
  • Aaron’s sons – Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar
  • The Levites – the descendants of Levi, the third son of Jacob, who are chosen to serve the entire community of Israel as priests.

“Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.” Matthew 22:37-40 (TLB)

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday:  Leviticus 1-5
  • Tuesday:  Leviticus 6-9
  • Wednesday:  Leviticus 10-14
  • Thursday:  Leviticus 15-19
  • Friday:  Leviticus 20-24
  • Saturday:  Leviticus 25-27

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Week 5: Exodus 19-40

“Then the Lord said, ‘I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.’” Exodus 34:10

What’s Going On? 

Finally the Israelite people arrive at the foot of Mt Sinai, all 2+ million of them. They are now a free people, but all they had ever known was a life of slavery. It’s time for them to learn how to live as God’s Chosen People. When they arrive, Moses makes his first trip up the mountain where he receives instructions for how the people are to be consecrated in preparation for meeting with God, who appears “on the third day” with thunder and lightning, a thick cloud covering the mountain, and a loud trumpet blast. God then delivers the Ten Commandments, followed by other guidelines for living as God’s people. The Ten Commandments are probably the most familiar of the laws given to Moses, but there are many, many more laws and instructions included here and still more in the book that will follow. Notice in Exodus 23:22-31 how many times God says, “I will…” God establishes Himself as the leader of His people and promises to be their Guide, their Provider, and their Protector for the journey ahead.

These commands from God will be foundational to them as the group of wandering nomads will eventually become the Nation of Israel. These instructions will include how they are to live; how, when, and where they are to worship the Lord; and most importantly, how they are to be a humble and obedient people in order to receive the blessings of God. They were to be set apart, Holy unto the Lord and were expected to look to Him as the supplier of all their needs.  

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for us to see them lose sight of their special place as God’s people because by chapter 32 they grew impatient waiting for Moses and build the Golden Calf to “worship.” Unfaithfulness and idolatry are going to be a constant problem for the Israelites and the consequences will be great. However, God’s instructions will guide the people of Israel as they begin their journey back to the land that had been promised to their ancestors six hundred years earlier.

When and Where Are We?

Three months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites are standing in the desert at the foot of Mt Sinai which is most likely near the southern tip of the Sanai Peninsula, although there is some debate over the actual location. The people will wait there at the campsite they have set up while Moses goes up and down the mountain several times. It looks to me like the people will spend almost a full year settled in this campsite. Mt Sinai is approximately 7,500 feet. The Great Smokey Mountains stand about 6,500 ft, so that gives us some perspective of the elevation! Just for fun, keep a tally of how many trips up and down the mountain Moses will make!  

Who’s Who?

  • Moses – prophet and leader of the Israelite people
  • Aaron – Moses’ brother and partner in communicating with the people
  • Nadab and Abihu – first two sons of Aaron; Eleazar and Ithamar are the younger two
  • Joshua – Moses’ aide
  • The Elders – Leaders in the group who were chosen and set in place as suggested by Jethro/Raoul
  • The Priests – Aaron, his sons, and their descendants will serve as the priests for all Israel
  • Bezalel and Oholiab – given special skills by God to make the things He had commanded them to make

“If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways
so I may know You
and continue to find favor with You.”
Exodus 33:13

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Exodus 19-22
  • Tuesday: Exodus 23-26
  • Wednesday: Exodus 27-30
  • Thursday: Exodus 31-34
  • Friday: Exodus 35-37
  • Saturday: Exodus 38-40


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Week 4: Exodus 1-18

“I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt” “So now, go. I Am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people the Israelites out of Egypt.”             Exodus 3:7; 3:10

What’s Going On?

Moses, having told us the backstory of how the descendants of Abraham ended up in Egypt, now begins to tell his own story. Four hundred years will go by between the book of Genesis and the book of Exodus. During that time, Jacob’s family has grown from 70 to over a million and the first part of the 3-fold blessing has already come to pass – Abraham’s descendants have indeed grown into a very large family. Because there are so many of them, the Egyptians have made the Hebrews into slaves and have even commanded that the male Israelite children be killed in an attempt at population control. One Israelite woman defies the order and places her son in a basket in the river. That son, Moses, is rescued and adopted by the daughter of the Pharaoh where he receives the finest education. But, when he sees a Hebrew slave being treated badly, he kills an Egyptian and then flees to Midian and settles down with Jethro/Raoul who is a descendant of Abraham through his second wife, Ketura. One day Moses hears the voice of God coming from a burning bush telling him to go back to Egypt to set the Israelites free. Moses returns and with the help of his brother, Aaron, asks the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free. Of course the Pharaoh refuses and God begins to bring plagues on the people of Egypt until finally, after the death of every first-born Egyptian son, Pharaoh orders them to leave Egypt. The Israelites have been spared from death by painting the blood of a sacrificial lamb on the doorway of every household so that the angel of death would “Pass Over” their households. Jews still commemorate this event every year when they celebrate Passover. Many years later, Jesus would be celebrating the Passover meal when He is betrayed at the Last Supper. As the Israelites are finally leaving Egypt, they are chased by Pharaoh’s army and trapped at the edge of the Red Sea until God holds the water back allowing them to cross on dry land. Safely on the other side, they witness the Egyptian army being swept away when the waters are allowed to rush back in and Moses, Aaron, and their sister Miriam along with all of the Israelite people celebrate their deliverance from Pharaoh, just as the Lord had told them they would. The people are given instructions and are even allowed to witness the Glory of the Lord as He speaks to Moses, and yet they grumbled and complained about their situation, blaming Moses for their hardships. Moses gets some help from Jethro/Raoul and sets up a system of judges to act as leaders within the community.

When and Where are We?

We begin in Goshen, in northern Egypt. It is now about 1500 BC, 500 years after Abraham. Moses flees Goshen to Midian near Mt Horeb which is called the Mountain of God, possibly the same location as Mt Sinai. Midian is named after one of Abraham’s younger sons and is most likely located east of the Sinai Peninsula in modern day Saudi Arabia. Moses then returns to Egypt where he miraculously leads the people through the Red Sea, into the Desert of Shur, and on to Elim where there is water and fertile ground. They then set out to the Desert of Sin where they see the Glory of the Lord! (I hope you caught that – the see the Glory of the Lord in the Desert of Sin.) They finally arrive at the outskirts of The Promised Land near Canaan where they are attacked by Amalekites at a place called Rephidim. This part of the story leaves the people back in the desert at the foot of Mt Sinai.

Who’s Who?

  • Moses – a descendant of Jacob through the family of Levi and God’s chosen prophet, teacher, and leader for the people of Israel as they begin their journey back to the land promised to Abraham
  • Jethro/Raoul – A priest in Midian who becomes Moses’ father-in-law when Moses marries his daughter Zipporah
  • Aaron – Moses brother, who will speak for Moses and become the leader of the Levite priests
  • Miriam – a prophetess, Moses’ older sister
  • Joshua and Hur – leaders in the fight against the Amalekites

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’” Exodus 3:14a

Weekly Reading Assignment:


Monday: Exodus 1-4
Tuesday: Exodus 5-7
Wednesday: Exodus 8-9
Thursday: Exodus 10-12
Friday: Exodus 13-15
Saturday: Exodus 16-18

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