Deuteronomy Chapter 6: Keeping the Commandments

Feb 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Deuteronomy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Deuteronomy Chapter 6: Keeping the Commandments

Deut. 6:1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:

Deut. 6:2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

The term “commandments” suggests the audible statements, the Ten Commandments, that God gave to the children of Israel. And there were other occasions in Moses’ ministry, as well as under Joshua and others, on which God spoke audibly, at least to the prophet, regarding what was to be done. Already factored into the Law were the ceremonial “statutes” and “judgments,” which pertained to selected decisions and examples of how to properly judge, plus the compensating reward for either infracting or obeying those statutes and judgments.

An extension of life was promised for obedience. As the Jew endeavored to keep the natural Law, God overruled so that it had a beneficial effect on the natural health of the individual. The bottom line with commandments, statutes, and judgments was obedience to God’s Word.

Comment: Moses’ saying, “These are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded [me] to teach you,” shows his personal role in teaching the Israelites so that they would “fear the LORD thy God.” With Moses being a representation of Jesus, he was laying the groundwork for the Israelites to hear Jesus’ words in the Kingdom.

Reply: Yes, the instruction of the Law certainly pointed forth to Christ. Jesus said, “Moses … wrote of me,” and different perspectives can be pursued with regard to how Moses did this (John 5:46). The standpoint here in chapter 6 pertains to moral deportment.

Moses commanded the Israelites to keep all of God’s statutes and commandments—“thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son [three generations, down to the grandchildren], all the days of thy life.” Each individual Jew was instructed to teach his family that there was a personal responsibility not only for his own obedience but also for the instruction of his family as part of his parental responsibilities so that “thy days may be prolonged.”

Deut. 6:3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.

Moses repeatedly used expressions like “Hear therefore, O Israel,” “Hear, O Israel,” and “Now therefore hearken, O Israel” (Deut. 4:1; 6:3,4; 9:1; 20:3). With a prolongation of days being the result of obedience, a multiplication of the population would naturally ensue, and the Lord’s blessing would attend the increase. Of course numbers are not always an evidence of favor, but when they are the result of obedience, the whole congregation is wonderfully blessed.

Comment: Deuteronomy 7:12-16 promised that obedience would bring the Israelites not only natural blessings but also God’s love, their own multiplication, no barren wombs, the removal of sickness, and the consumption of all their enemies. The blessings would be so abundant that disobedience was foolish.

Reply: The cup of blessing God would pour would overflow if the Israelites would just obey.

But the bottom line of all the blessings pertained to the lengthening of their days in one fashion or another and the increase in population.

“As the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.” The author of a book written many years ago entitled Palestine, Land of Promise mentioned, among other things, that when he was in the air above the land to study the topography and the feasibility of digging canals for irrigation and electrical power, he could see that the mountainous terrain of Israel had been terraced to an astounding degree for the growing of olive trees and for other agricultural purposes. The markings were in the ground, but the productivity of the reestablished nation of Israel has not yet matched that of the past. Certainly productivity in the Kingdom will reach that level or even surpass it.

Comment: The huge grapes that Joshua and Caleb and the other spies brought back from the Promised Land indicate the degree of fruitfulness back there.

Reply: Yes, the grapes were so large and heavy that they had to be carried suspended on a pole between two people.

Comment: In calling Israel a land of milk and honey, Exodus 3:8 also calls it a “large” and a “good” land. Today Israel is a tiny nation, but this Scripture proves its borders will be enlarged.

Reply: Yes, when the West Bank, Transjordan, and the land down to El Arish in the Sinai Peninsula are included in Israel’s borders, the nation will be considerably larger. Especially when God’s blessing is on the land, it will be more than ample to sustain the future population.

Deut. 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Notice again, “Hear, O Israel”! Moses was no doubt a robust individual. At this time, at age 120, which was just before his demise, he was in the peak of strength. Probably he, as well as other prophets, was given extraordinary power of voice so that every word could be relatively distinctly heard in order to be of greater benefit to a larger hearing assembly.

“The LORD our God is one LORD.” This is a good statement to counteract Trinitarians, yet they use all kinds of semantics to make a unity of three. Today Trinitarians go so far as to emphasize a bi-unity because any intellectual person even in the natural world can see that they cannot explain every Scripture. Because a sufficient number of Scriptures are insolvable, Trinitarians emphasize just Jesus and his Father, saying that Jesus is God. A large segment of Evangelical Christians even call him Jehovah.

Comment: The Israelites had just come out of Egypt, which had a culture with a multiplicity of Gods. Therefore, Moses was reinforcing the oneness of their God and warning them not to serve other gods.

Reply: Yes, and Israel’s God was invisible.

Comment: The thought in the Hebrew is, “Jehovah our Elohim [plural] is one Jehovah.” The majesty of God is shown by the plural.

Comment: Moses would have paused: “Jehovah our God is one [pause].” Then he reiterated: “Jehovah.”

Comment: The New American Standard reads, “Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God. The LORD is one.”

Reply: The word “is,” being supplied, is italicized in the King James, so placement is optional, and the word can be inserted elsewhere as well.

Deut. 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Comment: This command to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and might is not outwardly enforceable. With regard to the Law, there were a lot of outwardly enforceable ceremonies and statutes that might appear to be obeyed, but this intense love of Jehovah was inward.

Reply: Stated another way, there was a distinction between the letter of the Law and spontaneous obedience. In Psalm 119, David told how much he loved God’s Law, which was his meditation day and night. He loved God and His Law with all his heart, soul, and might.

Comment: If the Israelites had obeyed this one command, they would have been obedient in all of the commandments, statutes, and judgments. They would not have pursued other gods, and they would have recognized the Messiah.

Reply: They would have been as obedient as is possible in fallen flesh. They needed heart appreciation for God’s instruction and delight in obeying and doing His will with all their might to the extent possible.

Deut. 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

Moses probably raised his voice a decibel higher when he uttered these words. He was so intense in his reasoning in giving utterance to what God had told him that his words were purposely repetitive. He was not speaking vain repetition because just three generations later, with the grandchildren, problems began to arise during the Period of the Judges. Earlier under Joshua, a faithfulness was demonstrated while the Israelites were busily engaged in fighting  foes in the land. His presence was powerful, being somewhat like that of Moses. However, with the decease of both leaders, problems quickly arose.

Deut. 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

A King James marginal reference is, “And thou shalt engrave them diligently….” The purpose was to crease the cranium with these good commandments, to score a groove in the memory.

Comment: With verse 7 not mentioning work or labor, the implication is that while the parent was around his children morning and evening, he was to discuss the commandments, and at other times, he was to teach them how to sustain their life by work. His time in the house was to be devoted to instruction of the Lord.

Reply: Yes. As Christians, we endeavor to do the same. Most of us have to do secular work eight hours a day and sometimes not in the best environment, but in our leisure moments, if we are not too fatigued, one of the first things we want to do is mediate on the Lord’s Word or fellowship with those of like precious faith.

Comment: Verse 7 is related to loving God with all the heart. During every waking moment, when possible, God is on the mind.

Reply: By following the advice in verse 7, one was an exemplar to his family, and the children were more likely to do the same when they grew up.

Comment: The last thing at night and the first thing in the morning, one’s thoughts were to be on the Lord. We are reminded of the Morning Resolve: “My earliest thought I desire shall be, What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” (Psa. 116:12).

Comment: Proverbs 6:20-22 contains a parallel thought: “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.”

Deut. 6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

Instead of using cosmetics to glorify themselves, the Jews were to wear outward signs and symbols that pointed to the Lord. Such garnishment created good habits, for both natural and spiritual Israelites are what they think. As the Apostle Paul said, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, … honest, … just, … pure, … lovely, … [and] of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

Comment: Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for a wrong spirit: “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments” (Matt. 23:5).

Reply: Circumstances at the First Advent and even today are different than in Moses’ day. No longer are Astoreth and Molech worshipped with infants being burned alive and cannibalism in society. Thus it is not as necessary to bind commandments on the hand and put them in frontlets between the eyes.

Deut. 6:9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

This practice is still followed by Orthodox Jews. It is helpful for Christians to have Scripture texts on the wall or in other exposed places not only to remind ourselves but also to let others know where we stand.

Deut. 6:10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not,

Deut. 6:11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God would give them “great and goodly cities, … houses full of all good things,” wells, vineyards, and olive trees. There is an antitype with the Christian.

Comment: God provides everything the Christian needs. “Wells,” which furnish water, are the Bible, the source of truth. “Olive trees” picture the Holy Spirit. “Vineyards” are doctrines.

Comment: Jesus said, “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt. 19:29).

Comment: From the perspective of the Promised Land being the inheritance beyond the veil, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). And Paul said, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

Comment: Philippians 4:19 applies: “God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” God supplies not only our necessities but also additional blessings in superabundance.

Reply: Yes, He opens the windows of heaven to us, spiritually speaking. Another area of blessing is the spiritual family. One’s friends increase a hundredfold. The spiritual family of a Christian outnumbers and, in most instances, is closer than his natural family. Especially in this Laodicean period, many spouses also consecrate, and spiritual interest usually comes down through family lineage.

When we sum up the thoughts, Malachi 3:10 comes to mind: “Prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” God does more for us than we could ever imagine. What we receive is not the product of our own wisdom, energy, understanding, or efforts, but blessings are available based on the depth of our commitment to serve God in fullness of heart and spirit.

Deut. 6:12 Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Verse 12 was a warning to the Israelites not to forget that God had brought them out of bondage in Egypt. In antitype, it is a warning to Christians not to forget that God brought them out of the world and bondage to sin and death.

Comment: We must not attribute to self the things that the Lord does for us.

Comment: Once we have been freed from sins in the past—sins prior to consecration—we must never forget the freedom that has been given to us at the hand of the Lord.

Comment: Jesus criticized Christians in the Laodicean period of the Church for their attitude.

“Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

Reply: The Laodicean spirit of ease, wealth, satisfaction, etc., is a great trial for the Christian at the present time.

Comment: Proverbs 30:7-9 reads, “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”

Reply: Both trials and pleasures can distract the Christian, leading him to forget the Lord. Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).

Deut. 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

Deut. 6:14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;

It is amazing how quickly the Israelites forgot, especially after the ten plagues, the opening of the Red Sea, and other mighty miracles. The books of Deuteronomy and Joshua show that the younger generation was quite obedient, generally speaking, during the days of Joshua, and the people did some very unusual things. For instance, the whole multitude obediently kept silent for seven days while they marched around Jericho. With the third generation, however, old problems returned, including following other gods. How essential it is for parents to teach their children, and then for the adult children to instruct the grandchildren, etc., in order to preserve faith and the blessing of the Lord in the family!

Deut. 6:15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

God has a right to be “a jealous God,” for He is the Emperor of the universe, the “Father of [all] spirits” (Heb. 12:9). He is worthy to be honored with the utmost obedience.

Deut. 6:16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

Meribah is usually coupled with Massah, where the Israelites murmured for water and Moses initially struck the rock, which produced water through the power of God (Exod. 17:1-7). This incident shows how early in the wilderness wanderings the Israelites disobeyed. In fact, just as there were ten plagues upon the Egyptians, so the Israelites experienced ten plagues in the wilderness to sift out the ungodly element from the host. The murmuring was expressed in question form: “And the people thirsted there for water; and … murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? … Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Exod. 17:3,7).

Comment: Massah means “temptation.”

Reply: Yes. Although the people were truly thirsty, God had warned in advance that He would try them to see if they really loved Him with all their heart, mind, and soul. With the delay in the assuaging of their thirst, they should have realized the experience was a test of patiently waiting for God to exercise His promised care. The Lord similarly tests us, and if we are not careful, we will murmur with regard to God’s providence. Instead of wondering why there is a delay, we should realize that the delay is a test of our faith.

Deut. 6:17 Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.

The Israelites were to diligently keep God’s commandments, testimonies, and statutes. Moses’ words are similar to New Testament instructions to spiritual Israelites in the wilderness of sin of the present life. With wickedness increasing daily, Christians must watch and pray to be alert to the dangers that continually confront them. In present prevailing conditions of evil and low standards, it is even more difficult for an individual to make his calling and election sure. The Harvest work is becoming more and more a gleaning work, rather than a harvest of numbers.

Deut. 6:18 And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers,

The Israelites were to “do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD.” Thus works are a proof of one’s faith.

Comment: Verse 18 reminds us of Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

Reply: Yes, life and death are set before the human race, and it is our choice. God highly respects freewill offerings. He is looking for those who obey Him out of the fullness of their heart. He greatly appreciates spontaneity of service rather than activities based on prudence. “Do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: … that thou mayest go in and possess the good land.” The Christian is journeying to a “good land.” The angels in heaven were probably amazed and startled to realize they were bypassed and, instead, tiny “human ants” are invited to the high calling.

Because of the proliferation of evil in our day, Paul encouraged Christians to assemble together even more as they see the day of Christ drawing near (Heb. 10:25). Without assemblage, there is the danger of slipping away and losing life altogether. Not only would current blessings and opportunities be lost, but even life itself. The point is that we need one another.

Deut. 6:19 To cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.

We are to rebuke Satan, just as Jesus did. A rebuke given with firmness and in faith is effectual. Of course we have to produce the faith that will produce the results.

Deut. 6:20 And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you?

Generally speaking, children observe the sincerity of their parents. The question is, Does the life of the parents match their profession?

Deut. 6:21 Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand:

Israelite parents were supposed to tell their sons of the bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt before God brought them out with a mighty hand. In antitype, the bondage was to Satan and his house, or “furnace of affliction” (Deut. 4:20; Isa. 48:10). One’s joy over being delivered from such a background is very evident to a little child. The parents are to be role models as best they can. The child may ask about the circumstances that led the parents to consecration. How did God lead them out of the world with a mighty hand? Even if the question is not verbalized, the child observes the life of his parents and mentally questions to make sure the parents mean what they say.

It is interesting how children sometimes stand up for what they believe, perhaps writing a report for their English or history class. Children are tried as well as the parents. Spiritual survival is difficult in a college environment, especially if one lives on campus. It is essential to keep in close contact and fellowship with brethren in order to offset that environment.

Comment: Jesus said to his disciples, “Except ye … become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Wanting to know, the son asks with an honest heart, “What is the meaning of these things?” Our attitude should be the same when we inquire about God’s instruction; that is, we must be sincere.

Reply: Yes, and children sometimes ask searching questions.

Deut. 6:22 And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:

“Great and sore” signs and wonders were shown before the Israelites’ eyes. The children of Israel at this time—the ones Moses was addressing—were generally the purged remnant that would enter the Promised Land. They were the younger generation because the older ones had perished for disobedience.

The antitypical lesson is that the Lord’s people need the Holy Spirit to conquer the enemies that beset them. Therefore, frequent fellowship brings results. Environment is a big factor, and it can change, or override, genetics for either good or bad.

Of the leading characters in the heavenly ranks, Paul murdered many Christians prior to his conversion, and Peter denied the Lord three times. However, their transgressions are not an excuse for us to intentionally dabble in sin and then ask for forgiveness because God is so merciful. Such sin is premeditated.

Comment: We are warned not to presume on God’s grace and mercy. Such sins are called “presumptuous” (Psa. 19:13).

Reply: Like David, we should pray, “Keep back thy servant … from presumptuous sins.” Judas premeditated the betrayal of Jesus, whereas Peter denied Jesus when surprised by the circumstances and then fully repented subsequently. Those who are forgiven the most usually love and overcome the most and will ultimately be in the highest ranks of the Church. The same principle applies with the wealthy. If they consecrate and are faithful, their reward will be a higher destiny among the stars that differ in glory (1 Cor. 15:41).

Deut. 6:23 And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.

Deut. 6:24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.

God commanded “us [the parents, and Moses included himself] to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God … always, that he might preserve us.” Obedience to truth brings a natural benefit to health, that is, along the lines of the flesh to a certain extent.

Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain,

Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20). Those who have a properly instructed faith would not say to a mountain, “Be thou cast into the midst of the sea,” because they know such a request is not in harmony with God’s will. But if they see that something is the Lord’s will and command it, the event will happen. Thus proper faith is an instructed belief that is based on the principles and knowledge of what would please God. That kind of faith would be able to do mighty miracles.

Deut. 6:25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.

If followed, the moral law of God, and to some extent the ceremonial law, lead to Christ. As a “schoolmaster,” they lead and instruct toward Christ (Gal. 3:24). Those who seriously tried to keep the Law and honestly evaluated themselves, thus realizing they could not live up to its requirements, would have prayed for forgiveness and help. Today such prayers are even more effectual because Jesus’ righteousness is the covering.

Comment: Back there the Israelites did not have a choice. Their “righteousness” came from observing the Law. In contradistinction, our righteousness comes from the robe of Christ.

Reply: Yes, and we are to add to our faith virtue, to our virtue knowledge, etc. (2 Pet. 1:5-7).

Thus we are given commandments and instruction, but the arrangement for the Christian is one of mercy, grace, and forgiveness of shortcomings. The fact Christ came down here to die for us is stupendous information. It would be most interesting to know the circumstances under which Jesus made the commitment to his Heavenly Father to come to earth to die. John the Revelator “saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” (Rev. 5:2). None in heaven could do that until the Lamb came forward. Jesus’ worthiness above all of the other angels was demonstrated even in the fact that he volunteered to come down here. His obedience as the Logos was outstanding. What wonderful training he had as the Logos, whereas Satan’s freedom led to his downfall.

(2003-2005 Study)

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