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The No-Name God

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

4  NumbersDeuteronomy


Jehovah requires obedience

 

 

Numbers

Deuteronomy

 

Summary Highlights of Chapter 4

Attributes of Jehovah revealed in Chapter 4

 

 

Numbers

 

Two years after the Israelites left Egypt, Jehovah told Moses to take a census of the people (Numbers 1:1-3), and gave him specific instructions for how to do it. Moses did as he was instructed, and found there were,

"six hundred thousand and three thousand five hundred and fifty (Numbers 1:46)"

 

men over 20 years old who were able to go to war. This did not include the elderly, or any lame men who could not go to war.

 

Assuming that most of these men had families, and assuming that each family was at least four people (603,550 x 4 = 2,414,200), this would indicate that there were more than two million people in the wilderness, with all their animals and goods.

 

This census number also did not include the family of Levites whom Moses was told not to count. Jehovah did instruct Moses to,

"appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its furnishings and over all that belongs to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings, and they shall tend it, and around the tabernacle they shall encamp." (Numbers 1:50).

 

Adding in the Levites, and others unable to go to war, would considerably increase the number of Israelites in the wilderness whom Jehovah promised to lead, protect, and provide for. This was no small undertaking!

 

Later (Numbers 3:14), Moses was instructed to number the Levites. But, instead of counting the males from 20 years of age, he was to begin numbering all the males from one month old. This census discovered 22,000 males in all the families of the Levites.

 

Moses was also instructed to number all the first-born males from the age of one month in all the tribes of the Israelites. After doing this, Jehovah instructed Moses to,

"Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle, and the Levites shall be mine. I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)." (Numbers 3:45).

 

This shows that Jehovah was equipping the Israelites with a specific group to guard the tabernacle and serve him full time. He would find a way to provide their needs!  There were more censuses taken, but the above gives an idea of why they were taken.

 

Numbers 6 records Jehovah’s instructions for those who chose to dedicate themselves to his service as a Nazarite. They were to neither drink nor eat anything from the grape vine, they were not to cut their hair, nor were they to go near any relative who died during the time of their consecration. One interesting point is found in Numbers 6:2, which indicates that Jehovah said,

"When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazarite, to separate himself to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."

 

Although the scriptures refer to both as "him" in the latter part of the verse, this clearly indicated that any female could also take a vow as a Nazarite. Most of the preaching on this point limits Nazarites to men.

 

Numbers 6:7 says that the separation of a Nazarite is "to god (‘elohiym:H430)."  What god?  Jehovah, the god of Israel. This scripture shows that in addition to Aaron, his sons, and the Levites, that any man or woman of the tribe of Israel could consecrate themselves to serve Jehovah for a certain length of time. However, that did not typify what today is commonly called the laity.

 

The scriptures never make a separation between clergy and laity concerning service given to God. The Jews erred when they considered that the Gentile converts were only nominal Jews, and were only allowed to participate in the rituals of Judaism up to a certain point, and no further.

 

Over the centuries, the clergy has consistently considered themselves an elite group above the rest of believers. This denigrates the vast majority of people to being second class servants of God.

 

Aaron and his sons were instructed about what to say so the people might be blessed. Numbers 6:24-27 says,

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) bless you and keep you. Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I, I will bless them."

 

This was another way that Jehovah had chosen to reveal himself to Israel. When his name was pronounced upon them, this meant they were under his power, and could depend upon his name, or power, for their protection and provision.

 

Numbers 8:10-12 says,

"When you present the Levites before Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and the people of Israel shall lay their hands upon the Levites, and Aaron shall offer the Levites a wave offering before Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) from the people of Israel that it may be theirs to do the service of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), then the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bulls and offer the one for a sin offering, for a burnt offering, to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) to make atonement for the Levites."

 

This refers to the consecration of the Levites to the service of Jehovah, according to the instructions Moses had received from Jehovah. The tribe of Levites were the designated people who would take care of most the offerings made to Jehovah by the other tribes of Israel. Aaron and his sons would continue to care for the tabernacle and its services.

 

Two years after the people left Egypt, Moses was instructed to institute the Passover. Numbers 9:5 says that the first Passover feast after leaving Egypt was to take place on the 14th day of the first month. Jehovah instituted a feast to commemorate what he did for the people of Israel because he did not want them to ever forget that it was he who delivered them from bondage.

 

Numbers 9:14 presents a rather startling statement to those who teach that in the Old Testament, Jehovah only dealt with the Israelites.

"And if a stranger sojourns among you, and will keep the passover to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), according to the statute of the passover and according its ordinance. One statute you shall have, both for the sojourner and for the native."

 

Jehovah actually agreed to provide for anyone willing to participate according to the Passover statutes. This was another hidden attribute of Jehovah which was now revealed.

 

The people were taught to be completely obedient to the command of Jehovah.

"At the command of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the people of Israel set out. At the command of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) they encamped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle. According to the command of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), they remained in camp. Then, according to the command of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), they set out." (Numbers 9:18-20).

 

For those people who wanted to "get going," it must have been frustrating to sit and wait for no apparent reason. But, to Jehovah it was reasonable because the Israelites needed to learn his discipline.

 

Numbers 10:9-10 introduced another term to designate Jehovah.

"And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets that you may be remembered before Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430), and you shall be saved from your enemies. Also on the day of your gladness and at your appointed feasts and at the beginning of your months you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt of offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings, and they shall be for you for remembrance before your god (‘elohiym:H430). I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430)."

 

The phrase "your god" seems to be more personal then simply stating that Jehovah was the god of Israel. Jehovah was saying that he could be a god to an individual, as well as a nation.

 

Numbers 11:16-17 definitely declares that Moses had the spirit of Jehovah upon him.

"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou know to be (that they are) the elders of the people, and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. And I will come down and talk with you there, and I will take some of the spirit which is upon you and put it upon them, and they shall bear with you the burden of the people, that you may not bear it alone."

 

Here, Jehovah declared that he was the one who distributed the spirit to whomever he desired. In this particular case, Moses had received an abundance of the spirit for the tremendous task he was called to perform. But, even with the great amount of spirit upon him, he felt that it was more than he was physically able to bear. Therefore, Jehovah took some of the spirit which was upon Moses, and divided it among the 70 elders in order to relieve Moses.

 

This diminished amount of spirit upon Moses may have contributed to a serious future problem. When the people wanted water to drink,

"Yahweh said to Moses (saying), Take the rod and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring for them water out of the rock, so you shall give drink to the congregation and their cattle. And Moses took the rod from before Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock, and he said to them, Hear now, you rebels, shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his rod twice, and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their cattle drank. And Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not believe in me to sanctify me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore, you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." (Numbers 20:7-12).

 

Jehovah said to tell the rock, but Moses struck the rock, directly disobeying the command of Jehovah. We cannot help but wonder: If Moses had retained the full measure of spirit Jehovah had originally given to him, would he have acted so rashly?

 

Although Moses was angry and frustrated with the unbelief of the congregation and their continual whining, Jehovah did not take his disobedience lightly and imposed a sentence upon Moses.

"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, Go up into the mountain of this Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the people of Israel. And when thou have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, you also as Aaron your brother was gathered. Because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the waters before their eyes, these are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin." (Numbers 27:12-14).

 

Moses’ disobedience cost him entry into the promised land. Why was striking the rock so important to Jehovah? Previously, the first time the people needed water, Moses received the following instructions:

"So Moses cried to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) (saying), What shall I do with this people? almost they stone me. And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and your rod which you struck (with it) the Nile, take in your hand and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the people may drink. And thus did Moses in the sight of the elders of Israel." (Exodus 17:4-6).

 

Maybe in his frustration, Moses did the same thing he did the first time, without paying close attention to the commandment of Jehovah.

 

Numbers 12:13 is a vivid illustration of the word "god" used as a generic appelative rather than a proper name.

"And Moses cried to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), saying, O god (‘el:H410), heal her, I beseech thee."

 

This appeal was for his sister, Miriam, whom Jehovah had given leprosy because of her jealousy. In this direct address, "god" is not a proper name but a common noun. Moses was simply addressing Jehovah as what he knew him to be—a god.

 

The people constantly complained about their condition in the wilderness. Numbers 14:11-12 says,

"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe me, in spite of all the signs which I have wrought among them? I will strike them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they."

 

Moses then pleaded with Jehovah not to follow through on his threat, saying that the people surrounding Israel would claim that he was not able to deliver them, and the name of Jehovah would suffer shame (see Numbers 14:14-19).

 

Jehovah relented because of Moses’ pleading, but he did not completely exonerate the people. Numbers 14:22-24 says,

"For all of the men who have seen my glory and my signs which I wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the proof these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice, shall (not) see the land which I swore to their fathers. And all of those who despised me, they shall not see it. But my servant Caleb, because a different spirit is with him, and has followed fully after me, and I will bring him into the land into which he went , and his descendants shall possess it."

 

Numbers 14:27-35 shows that Jehovah pronounced judgment on the people for despising him by their complaining.

"How long shall (they) this wicked congregation murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel which they murmur against me. Say to them, As I live, says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), what you have said in my hearing thus will I do to you. Your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and all those being numbered of you, of all your number from twenty years old and upward, you who have murmured against me, not one of you shall come into the land where I lifted my hand that I would make you dwell, except Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring (them) in and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and your children shall be shepherds in this wilderness forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness until the last of your dead bodies (fall) in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year. You shall bear your iniquity forty years and you shall know my displeasure. I, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), have spoken; surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation that are gathered together against me in this wilderness. They shall come to a full end and there they shall die."

 

The punishment Jehovah meted out to them was what they had rashly asked for:

"And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!"

 

Jehovah remembered these rash words and made them the basis for the punishment of all Israel who had come out of Egypt who were 20 years old, or older. Jehovah also removed his protection from them, and when they presumed to go into battle against his command, they were defeated.

 

Numbers 15:41 is an interesting scripture, demonstrating that Jehovah was the god of Israel, and also that "god" was not a proper name.

"I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430), which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your god (‘elohiym:H430): I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430)."

 

The word "god" is used here to indicate an office, meaning that he was the one they were to obey.

 

The people of Israel had great difficulty learning that Jehovah would provide for them. After all the times he had provided for them, and after the punishment sometimes meted out to them for their unbelief, they still doubted.

 

Numbers 21 relates that Jehovah promised to give them victory over the Canaanites, and he did so. Yet, when they began to move again according to Jehovah’s direction, they also began to complain again because they did not like the route he had chosen for them. Jehovah reacted with great anger against them and sent venomous serpents into the camp which bit and killed many people. The people then repented and asked Moses to intervene with Jehovah for them, which he did. Then,

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, Make (for yourself) a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and (it shall be) every one who is bitten when he sees it shall live. (Numbers 21:8).

 

Numbers 22 describes how King Balak hired Balaam to curse the army of Israel. But, when he tried to do so, he could only speak good for Israel. When questioned, Balaam said,

"Though Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) my god (‘elohiym:H430), to do less or more." (Numbers 22:18).

 

Balaam had learned his limits!

 

Later, in Numbers 24:15-17, Balaam offered a beautiful prophecy about the coming of the Messiah.

"And he took up his discourse and said, The oracle of Balaam, the son of Boer, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of god (‘el:H410) and knows the knowledge of the most high, the vision of the almighty, who sees falling down but having his eyes uncovered: I see him, but not now I behold him, but not nigh. A star shall come forth out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel."

 

Numbers 27:1-8 relates an unusual judgment made by Jehovah.

"Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, from the families of Manasseh, the son of Joseph, and these were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar, the priest, and before the leaders and all the congregation at the door of the tent of meeting, saying, Our father died in the wilderness and he was not among the company who gathered themselves against Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) in the company of Korah, but for his own sin died, and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his family because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brethren. Moses brought their case before Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses (saying), (What) the daughters of Zelophehad are saying, you shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren and cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them. And to the people of Israel you shall say, If a man dies and has no son then you shall cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter."

 

This judgment, which allowed women to inherit their father’s possession, still stands today. This is the first scriptural notation that women may be inheritors as well as sons.

 

When Moses learned that he would not be allowed to lead the people into the promised land, or even to go in himself, he pleaded with Jehovah to appoint another to lead Israel so they would not be without a shepherd. Jehovah told Moses to anoint Joshua for that post (Numbers 27:15-19). Moses would only get to look into the promised land from Mount Abarim; he would not get to lead the people into it.

 

Some who think this was a heavy penalty for Moses often miss the point of this scripture. The greater a person’s calling, or responsibility, the more spirit is bestowed upon them for guidance in fulfilling that calling. The greater the responsibility, the greater the accountability.

 

Further, more is expected from those who have followed the spirit’s guidance for longer periods than from those just beginning to follow the spirit. If such people commit a sin, their punishment will undoubtedly also be greater.

 

When Moses made his request for another leader (Numbers 27:15-16), he also defined another of Jehovah’s attributes.

"And Moses said to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) (saying), Let Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the god (‘elohiym:H430) of the spirits of all flesh appoint a man over the congregation."

 

The balance of Numbers relates Jehovah’s instructions for dividing the land, plus provides various other instructions for Moses to pass along before his death.

 

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Deuteronomy

 

The term "Jehovah, your god" is prominent throughout the books of Moses. Deuteronomy 1:8 plainly asserts that it was Jehovah who had sworn to give the fathers the promised land. The promise was to

"your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them."

 

This point becomes very important later in the scriptures!

Deuteronomy 1:25 says,

"And they took in their hands of the fruit of the land, and brought it down to us, and brought us again word and said, The land is good which Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) our god (‘elohiym:H430) gives us."

 

Previously, the people were often told that Jehovah is "your god."  The people even referred to Jehovah as "the god of our fathers."   However, things had progressed to the point that the people now claimed Jehovah to be "our god."

 

The first mention of "my god" occurs in Exodus 15:2, in the song which Moses sang to Jehovah after successfully crossing the Red Sea. The next to mention "my god" was Balaam (Numbers 22:18). It is not certain that they were claiming Jehovah to be their god in the same sense we would understand it today, or if they meant that Jehovah was "their boss." 

 

The next usage of "my god" is found in Deuteronomy 4:5, when Moses referred to Jehovah as "my god."  It is clear that this is not a common term used in the scriptures by many people. Thus far, only Moses and Balaam have used it.

 

In Deuteronomy 3:23-28, Moses recounted to the people why he would not be allowed to lead them into the promised land, and why they would instead be led by Joshua.

"And I besought Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) at that time, saying, Lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069), thou hast begun to show thy servant thy greatness and thy mighty hand, for what god (‘el:H410) in heaven or in earth can do such works as thine, and mighty acts as thine? Let me go over, I pray, and see the good land beyond the Jordan, and Lebanon, that goodly hill country. But Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) was angry with me on your account and would not hearken to me. And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to me, Let it suffice you; speak no more to me (more) of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and behold with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put the land which you shall see in possession them."

 

This is the first record of Moses pleading with Jehovah to let him go into the promised land. He was allowed to look over into the land, but he was not allowed to enter it. Jehovah’s judgment for disobedience was still valid. Even though Moses blamed the people, it was he who struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock.

 

Throughout Deuteronomy, Moses continued to recall the blessings Jehovah had given to Israel, and he continued to warn them about the consequences of sin, especially the folly of pursuing other gods in the countries they were about to enter. He warned them in Deuteronomy 4:35,

"To you it was shown that you might know that Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) he is god (‘elohiym:H430); there is no other beside him."

 

Moses declared to the people that Jehovah was to be their only god. They were to serve him only. He was their adonai, or lord, or master.

 

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says,

"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) our god (‘elohiym:H430) one Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). And you shall love Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise.

 

This passage extended to each household the commandment originally given to Israel as a nation. Just imagine how much better it would be if the households in this country had fathers who would do the same for their families!

 

Jehovah, through Moses, warned the people not to forget him when they came into the promised land, and not to worship the gods of the nations surrounding them. He gave the reason for this warning in Deuteronomy 7:6-7.

"For a holy people you are to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430). Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) has chosen you to be to him a people for possession out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. Not because you were more in number than any other people that Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) set his love upon you, and chose you, for you were the fewest of all the peoples."

 

Jehovah disclosed another of his attributes in this passage. Sometimes he chooses the weak in order to show his strength. Israel was chosen to demonstrate his power because compared to other nations, they were few in number and therefore a weak nation.

 

In Deuteronomy 7:9 Moses told the Israelites more about the characteristics of their god, Jehovah.

"Know therefore that Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430), (he) is god (‘elohiym:H430), the faithful god (‘el:H410) who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations."

 

Note carefully that the covenant was conditioned upon the peoples’ response to Jehovah. The promise of the land was unconditional, but whether or not they remained in the land was conditional. Jehovah wanted the people to know that he is always faithful to his word.

 

In the rest of Chapter 7, Moses listed numerous things which Jehovah would accomplish for his people, Israel, if they remained faithful to him.

 

In Deuteronomy 9:4-5, Moses warned the people about pride, a common blight upon humanity. After Jehovah had cleared the nations from the promised land, Moses told them,

"Do not say in your heart after Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) has thrust them out before you, saying, Because of my righteousness Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has brought me in to possess this land, whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations is Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word which Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."

 

People still fall into this trap today. When it appears that they have accomplished something for God, they claim the credit for themselves, even if only quietly in their hearts.

 

In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Moses summarized everything he had told the people about obedience.

"And now, Israel, what does Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) require of you, but to fear Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430), to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) with all your heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and his statutes, which I command you this day for your good?"

 

The reasons for following God were clearly stated. When we obey the precepts of the Bible, it is "for our good."

 

Moses further described Jehovah in Deuteronomy 10:17.

"For Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) is god (‘elohiym:H430) of gods (‘elohiym:H430), and lord (‘adown:H113) of lords (‘adown:H113), the great god (‘el:H410), the mighty, and the terrible, who does not lift up faces (is not partial), and takes no bribe."

 

The word translated lord in the above scripture comes from adonai, which means master, or lord, or the one to whom people are to be obedient. Make no mistake about it, he is the greatest of all masters.

 

Moses also warned the people again about the characteristic of justice abiding in Jehovah, their god.

"Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430), which I command you this day; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430), but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods (‘elohiym:H430), which you have not known." (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

 

The Israelites were still in the process of learning what their god, Jehovah, wanted from them. Moses warned them many times about the dangers lurking ahead of them during their lifetime.

 

Then, realizing the dangers of the liberty Jehovah had given the people, Moses warned them of another latent danger.

"You shall not do according to all that we are doing here this day, every man whatever is right in his own eyes. For you are not come as yet to the rest and to the inheritance which Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) gives you." (Deuteronomy 12:8-9).

 

It was very difficult for the Israelites to walk in the liberty Jehovah had given them without wasting, or losing, their inheritance (remaining in the promised land).

 

Jehovah considered going after other gods to be a serious issue, illustrated by his command to kill any Israelite who did that (see Deuteronomy 13:5-10). And this brings a question to mind: Did Jehovah regard the physical life of a person to be as important as their spiritual life?  Did Jehovah regard physical life with the same intensity and the same worth as men ascribed to it, while ignoring the spiritual side of life, or at least making it of secondary importance?

 

Deuteronomy 23:18 contains an interesting instruction:

"There shall not be a cult prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a cult prostitute of the sons of Israel. You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) in payment for any vow, for indeed both of them [are an] abomination to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430)."

 

Moses was warning the people about the mother goddess worship which was very common among the nations of that area. It was probably the mainline religion of that time, appearing under various names in the scriptures, such as Diana, Astoreth, or Astarte, according to the region involved.

 

The male prostitute, or dog, mentioned above, was a man who had been castrated, had donned the clothing of a woman, and had became a priestess of the earth goddess religion. These male prostitutes offered their bodies to men who preferred anal sex with a man rather than copulating with a woman.

 

Throughout Deuteronomy, Moses taught the people what Jehovah expected from them in order to experience the promised land as a place of blessing. He instructed them about all the evil which would befall them if they strayed from following Jehovah and turned to the heathen gods.

 

Many people accuse the Old Testament Jehovah of being a cruel and vicious god. The question is whether or not the ills that would befall the people if they choose other gods would actually be brought on them directly by Jehovah, or whether they were simply the result of their sin?  For instance, by engaging in the sexual orgies of the earth goddess worship, people risked all kinds of venereal diseases. Many of the ills described in Deuteronomy as a result of going after other gods are symptomatic of some of those diseases.

 

Moses also related to them the promises of Jehovah, and all the blessings which would befall them, if they continued to follow the leadership of their god, Jehovah. Many of these rewards are a natural result of living a godly life. Of course, there were also blessings which came directly from Jehovah, such as driving the other people out of the land.

 

In Deuteronomy 31:2, Moses repeated what Jehovah had told him about his personal ending.

"And he said to them, I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I am no longer able to go out and come in. Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has said to me, You shall not go over this Jordan."

 

Given the many times Moses repeated this, it must have weighed heavily upon his mind. He mentioned it again in Deuteronomy 32:48-52, when he repeated Jehovah’s instructions about his death.

"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses that very day (saying), Ascend this mountain of Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan which I give to the people of Israel for a possession. And die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not revere me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For before you shall see the land, but there you shall not go, into the land which I give to the people of Israel."

 

The trespass referred to was when Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it. Perhaps this was important to Jehovah because if Moses, the leader of Israel, was publicly seen disobeying a direct order of Jehovah, it would cause the people to believe they also could do the same.

 

Deuteronomy 34 tells about the trip Moses made to Mount Nebo, and about his death. First, Jehovah showed him all the land to be given to the 12 tribes of Israel. This was before Israel entered Canaan, and long before the land was divided among them. Jehovah was graciously giving Moses a preview of what Israel would be like when the land was divided. After he died, Jehovah buried Moses on the mountain, and his grave has never been discovered (Deuteronomy 34:6).

 

Deuteronomy 34:10 says

"And there has not arisen since a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) knew face to face."

 

Remember, scripture often speaks of Jehovah as appearing to people in person, but as here, Moses spoke to Jehovah in the presence of the shekinah glory cloud which appeared to him at the tabernacle.

 

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Summary Highlights of Chapter 4

 

# Assuming that most of these men had families, and assuming that each

     family was at least four people (603,550 x 4 = 2,414,200), this would

     indicate that there were more than two million people in the wilderness

     with all their animals and goods.

 

# Although the scriptures refer to both as "him" in the latter part of the

     verse, this clearly indicated that any female could also take a vow as a

     Nazarite. Most of the preaching on this point limits Nazarites to men.

 

# The scriptures never make a separation between clergy and laity

     concerning service given to God.

 

# Over the centuries, the clergy has consistently considered themselves

     an elite group above the rest of believers. This denigrates the vast

     majority of people to being second class servants of God.

 

# The tribe of Levites were the designated people who would take care of

     most the offerings made to Jehovah by the other tribes of Israel. Aaron

     and his sons would continue to care for the tabernacle and its services.

 

# Jehovah instituted a feast (Passover) to commemorate what he did for

     the people of Israel because he did not want them to ever forget that it

     was he who delivered them from bondage.

 

# Jehovah actually agreed to provide for anyone (not just Israelites)

     willing to participate according to the Passover statutes.

 

# For those people who wanted to "get going," it must have been

     frustrating to sit and wait for no apparent reason. But, to Jehovah it

     was reasonable because the Israelites needed to learn his discipline.

 

# Jehovah declared that he was the one who distributed the spirit to

     whomever he desired.

 

# Although Moses was angry and frustrated with the unbelief of the

     congregation and their continual whining, Jehovah did not take his

     disobedience lightly and imposed a sentence upon him: His

     disobedience cost him entry into the promised land.

 

# Jehovah relented because of Moses’ pleading.

 

#  Jehovah also removed his protection from them, and when they

     presumed to go into battle against his command, they were defeated.

 

# The people of Israel had great difficulty learning that Jehovah would

     provide for them. After all the times he had provided for them, and

     after the punishment sometimes meted out to them for their unbelief,

     they still doubted.

 

# Some who think this was a heavy penalty for Moses often miss the

     point of this scripture. The greater a person’s calling, or responsibility,

     the more spirit is bestowed upon them for guidance in fulfilling that

     calling. The greater the responsibility, the greater the accountability.

     Further, more is expected from those who have followed the spirit’s

     guidance for longer periods than from those just beginning to follow

     the spirit. If such people commit a sin, their punishment will

     undoubtedly also be greater.

 

# It was Jehovah who had sworn to give the fathers the promised land.

 

# People still fall into this trap today. When it appears that they have

     accomplished something for God, they claim the credit for themselves,

     even if only quietly in their hearts.

 

# The reasons for following God were clearly stated. When we obey the

     precepts of the Bible, it is "for our good."

 

# It was very difficult for the Israelites to walk in the liberty Jehovah had

     given them without wasting, or losing, their inheritance (remaining in

     the promised land).

 

# Many accuse the Old Testament Jehovah of being a cruel and vicious

     god. The question is whether or not the ills that would befall the people

     if they choose other gods would actually be brought on them directly

     by Jehovah, or whether they were simply the result of their sin?

 

# Moses also related to them the promises of Jehovah, and all the

     blessings which would befall them, if they continued to follow the

     leadership of their god, Jehovah. Many of these rewards are a natural

     result of living a godly life.

 

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Attributes of Jehovah revealed in Chapter 4

 

# When his name (Jehovah) was pronounced upon them, this meant they

     were under his power, and could depend upon his name, or power, for

     their protection and provision.

 

#  Jehovah actually agreed to provide for anyone (not just Israelites)

     willing to participate according to the Passover statutes.

 

# Jehovah declared that he was the one who distributed the spirit to

     whomever he desired.

 

# Jehovah said that he could be a god to an individual, as well as a

     nation.

 

# Jehovah pronounced judgment on the people for despising him by their

     complaining.

 

# Jehovah was the god of the spirits of all flesh.

 

# Jehovah sometimes chooses the weak in order to show his strength.

 

# Jehovah wanted the people to know that he is always faithful to his

     word.  The promise of the land was unconditional, but whether or not

     they remained in the land was conditional.

 

 

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October 2009

 

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