OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 17
DEUTERONOMY 6; 8; 11; 32
- Moses gives instructions to the Israelites to help them remember their
- Moses counsels the Israelites to obey God's commandments and remember
- Moses counsels the Israelites to be mindful of the Rock of their salvation
A thoughtful study of this lesson should encourage us to remember the
Lord and the covenants we have made with him and create an environment
that will help us to do so.
The Book Of Deuteronomy
- Contents: Three sermons or discourses given by Moses prior to
his departure from Israel in which he summarized the Mosaic code. At this
time Israel was camped in Moab across the Jordan from the promised land.
Joshua would soon lead them in their battle against the Canaanites to possess
the promised land.
Imagine the setting for this event:
- First Sermon (1:6-4:40):
- Recounted the most important events of their years of wandering.
- Reminder that they should not forget the laws given at Sinai.
- Second Sermon (chaps 5-26):
- Review of the law, including the 10 commandments.
- Third Sermon (chaps 27-30):
- A call for Israel to renew the covenant.
- A warning of the consequences for failure to renew covenant.
- Chapters 31-34 - A Supplement:
- Possibly not written by Moses recounting the selection and ordination
of Joshua as Moses' successor and the death of Moses. We know from other
sources that Moses didn't die, but was translated.
It is significant that the essence of Moses' message was not only applicable
to the ancient Hebrew tribes, but to the people of God in all ages.
The book of Deuteronomy contains Moses' last words to the Israelites.
- A great congregation (or conference) of tens of thousands, possibly
- A nomadic people that have lived in the desert for years.
- A prophet of 120 years about to deliver his final admonition to a people
he has loved as a father.
- "Moses speaks like a dying father to his children. The words
are earnest, inspired, impressive. He looks back over the whole of the
forty years of their wandering in the desert, reminds the people of all
the blessings they have received, of the ingratitude with which they have
so often repaid them, and of the judgements of God, and the love that continually
broke forth behind them; he explains the laws again and again, and adds
what is necessary to complete them, and is never weary of urging obedience
to them 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 have 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--viz.
apostasy, punishment, and pardon--continue to repeat themselves in the
future also." (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary)
- IF YOU WERE TO GIVE ONE LAST MESSAGE TO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS, WHAT
WOULD IT BE?
- Let's consider a few of Moses' last words to his beloved people.
Instructions To The Israelites To Help Them Remember Their
- READ DEUTERONOMY 6:1-5. Moses instructs the people
to keep the commandments.
READ DEUTERONOMY 6:6-7. Teach and talk of the commandments.
- THESE VERSES CONTAIN THE CORE MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY. WHAT
IS THAT MESSAGE?
- To love the Lord with "all thine heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy might" (6:5).
- To keep the commandments "all the days of thy life"
- In the tenth chapter we read: "And now, Israel, what doth the
LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in
all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy
heart and with all thy soul" (10:12).
- DID MOSES GIVE THE PEOPLE A REASON FOR FOLLOWING THROUGH ON HIS INSTRUCTIONS?
WHAT WAS IT?
- "that thy days may be prolonged" (6:2).
- "that it may be well with thee" (6:3).
- "that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers
hath promised thee" (6:3).
- IS THE MESSAGE ANY DIFFERENT FOR US IN OUR DAY?
- Some of the specific laws and ordinances may be different, but the
message remains the same. Our goal, as was that of ancient Israel, is to
put God at the center of our life. As we do so, we strive to live His teachings
and keep his commandments.
- Our study of the Old Testament reveals that ancient Israel struggled
to follow these instructions.
- WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES WE FACE IN ATTEMPTING TO LIVE A GOD CENTERED
- I think one of the great challenges in keeping a proper focus is the
environment that surrounds us. We associate in our neighborhoods, and at
work or school, with people who have differing standards. Often we hear
course language. We are inundated with media offerings (books, magazines,
television, radio, music, movies) that usually stand in contrast to the
teachings of God.
- As a youngster, growing up in Utah Valley, we often sought relief from
the hot summer days. Usually, we would hike over to the community swimming
pool and spend part of the afternoon. Other times we would fill an inner
tube and head up to the irrigation canal (this was before most of them
were fenced off). The water seemed to flow slowly and gently. We would
put our inner tubes in the water, sit in the middle, and spend the afternoon
floating down the canal. As gentle as the current seemed, it was very strong.
If we worked at it, we could only slow our rate of passage down the current.
There was no way, floating along in our inner tubes, that we could paddle
upstream. The only was to stop progress down stream was to get out of the
canal. We found ourselves several miles down the canal when it was time
to quit and go home. We usually had to call somebody to come pick us up.
- Living in the world is much like trying to resist the current in the
canal. Though the flow in the canal looked gentle, it had great power.
If we are not careful, the flow of current thought can sweep us far from
our destination before we know what is happening.
READ DEUTERONOMY 6:8-9.
- The Lord recognizes that we are fighting an upstream battle with the
world, but unlike inner tubes in the canal, their is a way to succeed in
remaining upstream. Here he suggests that we teach our children and consider
the things of the Lord when we:
- Sit in thine house.
- Walk by the way.
- When we lie down.
- When we get up.
- As the Lord said in verse 6, "these words...shall be in thine
heart." We can only survive in the world of current thought if
we strive on a daily basis to keep the words of the Lord fresh in our heart.
HOW CAN WE DO THIS?
- Personal and family prayer.
- Family home evening.
- Daily scripture study.
- Regular attendance at church and all our classes.
- For the youth: seminary and institute.
- Daily devotionals.
- Daily discussions.
- Fully observe the Sabbath.
- Sometimes the things of God do not seem as exciting as what is going
on around us in the world. This is an illusion. When we immerse ourselves
in the things of God, we gain true perspective and life takes on meaning.
As a young missionary, I struggled with my change of circumstances from
the world, to a life full of missionary work. As time progressed, I became
immersed in the work and found it to be intensely satisfying. We don't
all have the luxury of spending our lives as missionaries, but we can strive
to constantly keep "these words" in our hearts. But we
must give this constant effort or we will get swept along with the flow.
- The Old Testament Student Manual provides this interesting information:
"Verse 4 (Deuteronomy 6) begins what is known among Jewish people
as the Shema. 'The Shema is in Jewish thought the supreme affirmation of
the unity of God and is frequently called "the acceptance of the yoke
of heaven"'.... The entire Shema, which consists of Deuteronomy 6:4-9,
Deuteronomy 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41 (in that order), is recited
twice daily by all devout Jews as an evening and a morning prayer.... And
if these words were constantly in their hearts and they sought to teach
them to their children in every way possible, in every aspect of their
lives, through precept and example, at night and in the day, at home or
elsewhere, all of society would be dramatically altered. The Shema, if
it truly is an affirmation of faith and not just words, should be the supreme
thought in one's heart, and it is even worthy of death, if living means
a denial of that affirmation." (Old Testament Student Manual,
- "Taking the command literally (verses 8-9), the Jews inscribed
certain scriptural passages, including Deuteronomy 6:4-9, on tiny pieces
of parchment, folded them up, and put them into tiny leather boxes about
1 1/2 inches square. These boxes were then tied to the head to be over
the forehead, or on the left biceps, suggesting that the wearer would 'fulfill
the law with the head and heart'....
"The mezuzah (Hebrew for 'doorpost') was similar to the tefillin in
that it was a parchment with a scriptural passage on it inserted into a
tiny, cylindrical box. The mezuzah was attached to the door frame, and
it became customary for Jews to touch or kiss the mezuzah each time they
left or entered the home." (Old Testament Student Manual, p218)
- WHAT WAS THE INTENT OF THIS COMMANDMENT AS DELIVERED BY MOSES?
- As a constant reminder of the Lord and what it is we ought to be doing.
- SHOULD WE CONSIDER SUCH A PRACTICE TODAY? WHAT CAN WE DO IN OUR HOMES
TO REMIND US OF THE LORD, HIS WORDS, AND OUR COVENANTS WITH HIM?
- Denis Waitley, in his book Seeds of Greatness, makes this observation:
"Recent studies conducted by a Stanford University research team
have revealed that 'what we watch' does have an effect on our imaginations,
our learning patterns, and our behaviors. First, we are exposed to new
behaviors and characters. Next, we learn or acquire these new behaviors.
The last and most crucial step is that we adopt these behaviors as our
own. One of the most critical aspects of human development that we need
to understand is the influence of 'repeated viewing' and 'repeated verbalizing'
in shaping our future. The information goes in, 'harmlessly, almost unnoticed,'
on a daily basis, but we don't react to it until later, when we aren't
able to realize the basis for our reactions. In other words, our value
system is being formed without any conscious awareness on our part of what
is happening!" (Seeds of Greatness, p55)
- Going back to my analogy of the canal, I think Mr. Waitley has described
the power of the flow. Though not appearing to have much influence, all
that we see and hear around us can have an effect on the way we live our
- Mr. Waitley continues, "What if you and I could switch TV channels
to one inside of our own head, in which our minds were cameras instead
of receivers? What if we scripted, produced, casted, rehearsed, and broadcast
our own programs...?" (Seeds of Greatness, p55)
- RETURNING TO THE ABOVE QUESTION: WHAT CAN WE DO IN OUR HOMES TO REMIND
US OF THE LORD, HIS WORDS, AND OUR COVENANTS WITH HIM? WHAT CAN WE DO THAT
WILL POSITIVELY AFFECT THE WAY WE LIVE OUR LIVES?
- We must find ways to counteract the negative influences we encounter.
- The ancient Jews used physical reminders. We can do things within our
homes to remind us of that which is most important. (consider showing contrasting
items and discussing their effect).
- Pictures on the walls: the Savior, temples, family
- We could place scriptural quotations on the mirror, the wall, or the
- The music or other recordings we play.
- The movies we watch.
- The magazines or books sitting around the house.
- In the past, I have talked about my preparations for my first marathon.
To keep focused on that goal, I focused on things that motivated me to
keep working towards succeeding in completing 26.2 miles. I read books
and magazines that discussed running. I associated with runners. I thought
frequently about running. I even watched movies that influenced my thinking
such as Chariots of Fire and Breaking Away. Is not our eternal success
significantly more important than success in temporal ways?
- President Ezra Taft Benson said that 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." (Ensign, Nov. 1985,
The Israelites Counseled to Obey God's Commandments &
- READ DEUTERONOMY 8:2-10. Israel humbled in the
READ DEUTERONOMY 8:11, 18-20. Israel commanded
to remember the Lord.
- WHAT LESSONS DID ISRAEL LEARN IN THE WILDERNESS?
- To be humble (8:2-3).
- To be obedient (8:2).
- Man lives not by bread alone, but by the word of God (8:3).
- HOW WOULD ISRAEL HAVE ACTED IF THEY HAD MARCHED STRAIGHT FROM SINAI
INTO THE PROMISED LAND INSTEAD OF WANDERING FOR 40 YEARS? WOULD THEY HAVE
LEARNED THESE IMPORTANT LESSONS?
- WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FORGET THE LORD?
- Verses 12 through 16 refer to the great blessings that the Lord had
bestowed upon Israel and then verse 17 says, "And thou say in thine
heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth."
- ARE WE EVERY GUILTY OF THIS ATTITUDE?
- Might we say that we were the ones who struggled through college to
achieve a degree.
- Might we say that we worked hard for years to achieve success.
- WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF FORGETTING THE LORD?
- V19: "...if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk
after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you
this day that ye shall surely perish."
- HOW WILL WE PERISH?
- WHAT CONDITIONS OR CHALLENGES DID MOSES NAME THAT MIGHT CAUSE PEOPLE
TO FORGET GOD?
- Prosperity & freedom.
- Isn't it strange that blessings from the Lord create the conditions
in which people forget the Lord. Do we need adversity to be grateful for
- Brigham Young: "The worst fear that I have about this people
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." (in Preston Nibley, Brigham Young: The
Man And His Work, p128)
- Arthur Henry King, a British scholar and a member of the Church wrote:
"American Mormons, and Americans generally, are threatened at a
more fundamental level by the material prosperity of this country. It is
a curse in disguise. Prosperity per se is not an enemy to religion, but
prosperity may often lead to idolatry. The danger of all progress is idolatry,
because the temptation all of the time is to set up something in the place
of God. And the more tempting the progress is--and material prosperity
is tempting--the more dangerous it is. Think of the idols of prosperity:
the car, the camper, the boat (bane of bishops), the color TV, the football
game, two weeks of hunting. These become idols when more enthusiasm and
time are given to them than to the worship of God." (quoted by
Dallin H. Oaks, Pure in Heart, p.82 - p.83)
- HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE STATEMENTS?
- HOW CAN WE USE OUR PROSPERITY TO FURTHER THE LORD'S WORK?
- Spencer W. Kimball: "The Lord has blessed us as a people with
a prosperity unequaled in times past. The resources that have been placed
in our power are good, and necessary to our work here on the earth. But
I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited with flocks and herds and
acres and barns and wealth and have begun to worship them as false gods,
and they have power over us. Do we have more of these good things than
our faith can stand? Many people spend most of their time working in the
service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds,
investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles,
and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long
and happy life. Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these
many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God—to
further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to
raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others
in every way, that they may also be fruitful." (Teachings of Spencer
W. Kimball, p357)
- We have discussed the sweeping current of the world and how easy it
is to get caught in that current. The people of the world have, by and
large, forgotten the Lord. How easy it is to get swept along in temporal
pursuits. We can strengthen ourselves against the current by committing
our resources to the building of the kingdom. Most of us know the blessings
of giving a tithe to the Lord. Our lives and our families are strengthened.
How much more we will be strengthened against the flow if we give more
than we are required. As President Benson stated, people who are "captained
by Christ will be consumed in Christ."
The Israelites Are Counseled To Be Mindful Of The Rock
Of Their Salvation
- READ DEUTERONOMY 32:1-4.
Moses said, that "their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies
themselves being judges."
- WHY IS JESUS CHRIST IS SOMETIMES CALLED THE ROCK?
- Helaman 5:12: "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it
is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye
must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty
winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his
mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag
you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon
which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if
men build they cannot fall."
- Bruce R. McConkie: "Christ is the Rock (Deut. 32:3-4, 18, 30-31;
1 Cor. 10:1-4), or the Rock of Heaven. (Moses 7:53.) Such name-titles carry
a connotation of strength and stability (1 Sam. 2:2), as for instance when
David exulted: 'The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
The God of my rock, in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn
of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour.' (2 Sam. 22:1-4;
23:3; Psa. 18:1-3, 31.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p657)
HOW DO WE BUILD OUR LIVES UPON THIS ROCK, THE TRUE FOUNDATION?
- WHAT IS MOSES TALKING ABOUT?
- The rock of their enemies, their false gods.
- HOW IS THEIR "ROCK" DIFFERENT FROM OUR "ROCK"?
- See Deuteronomy 32:37-40.
- Our "Rock" is the Living God. Their's is false. One cannot
have faith in a false god. In the movies, they often use, for special effects,
rocks that are made of styrofoam. To the viewer of the screen the rocks
appear real. But in reality, the rock is light and is deceptive. So are
false gods. You would not use such a rock to build a foundation. You would
desire the real thing, as the early Saints utilized in the building of
the Salt Lake Temple, which Brigham Young declared should stand through
the Millennium. A temple built on false rocks would not and could not stand.
A life built upon "their rock" will fail.
- We exercise our faith in Christ by honoring our covenants and striving
to keep all the commandments.
We face great challenges in this life. We are fighting the flow of current
thought and action. As President Benson stated, we should have homes that
reflect Christ by the pictures on the walls, by the music in the air, and
by our words and deeds. Such a sanctuary reminds us of the importance of
our covenants, the gospel plan, and the Rock of our salvation. It is only
by building the foundation of our lives upon the Rock, Jesus Christ, that
we can endure to the end and achieve our eternal reward. Their is no other
Lesson 18: Joshua 1-6; 23-24.
Additional Reading: Joshua 7 & 14.
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Changes last made on: Mon Apr 27 1998