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Saturday, December 28 2013
Deuteronomy 4: The View From Higher Ground
"Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes"
The map below (with present-day political boundaries) shows the topography of the region around the Jordan River - the green shades are low elevations, while the brown shades and white are highlands and mountains. The place that Moses was given to see the Promised Land, without crossing the Jordan River, is located on the map approximately where the grid lines for 30 North (30 N) and 36 East (36 E) intersect. The map makes plain how Moses, from that higher ground, could see for such a long way: "Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan" (see Deuteronomy 3: What Did Moses Pray For At The Jordan River?).
It was also at that place that the Book of Deuteronomy was spoken and recorded, within the month just before the Israelites crossed the Jordan ("And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them; ... On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law" Deuteronomy 1:3,5 KJV). It was a history lesson and a re-statement of what the LORD had declared to the adults of the Exodus who, by that time forty years after the Exodus, were all dead (see Deuteronomy 1: Why A Book Of Deuteronomy In The Bible?).
"4:1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
The Israelites had plagued themselves with idolatry throughout their time in the Sinai. The golden calf was the most infamous incident (see Exodus 32: The Mount Sinai Riot and Exodus 33: Why Did Moses Pitch A Tabernacle Outside The Camp?), but it remained a constant threat (e.g. see Numbers 25: The Moabite Seduction) that Moses never stopped warning about, "Lest ye corrupt yourselves."
"4:15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: 4:16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 4:17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, 4:18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: 4:19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. 4:20 But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day." (Deuteronomy 4:15-20 KJV)
Moses himself would not cross the Jordan because of an incident years earlier (see Numbers 20: Water From The Rock At Meribah). Along with his high-ground view across the Jordan however, Moses also saw the Promised Land, the ultimate Promised land, that he will enter, as the apostles were later also given to see in vision (see The Moses And Elijah Vision).
"4:21 Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance: 4:22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land. 4:23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
Moses warned that generation to not make the same mistake as their parents and grandparents (see Numbers 11: Winners and Whiners): "Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee."
"4:32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? 4:33 Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? 4:34 Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
Many now-familiar events would not have happened if the Israelites had entered the Promised Land when they first had the opportunity (see the list in Deuteronomy 1: Why A Book Of Deuteronomy In The Bible?), including the Israelite tribal lands east of the Jordan River (see Numbers 32: The Israel Of East Jordan) and the cities of refuge that were established there (see Numbers 35: Cities Of Refuge).
"4:41 Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising; 4:42 That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live: 4:43 Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites." (Deuteronomy 4:41-43 KJV)
Then, as Moses was about to reiterate the Ten Commandments to the Israelites there while overlooking the Jordan River, just as he had done forty years earlier to their parents and grandparents at Mount Sinai: "this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel: These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt, On this side Jordan":
"4:44 And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel: 4:45 These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt, 4:46 On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Bethpeor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt: 4:47 And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising; 4:48 From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon, 4:49 And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah." (Deuteronomy 4:44-49 KJV)
Fact Finder: Did Moses teach "religion" or how to be citizens of the Kingdom of God?
This Day In History, December 28
457: Majorian, a general of the Roman army, became emperor of the Western Roman Empire after deposing Emperor Avitus (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).
484: Alaric II succeeded his father Euric as king of the Visigoths. The Visigoths (from the Latin meaning western Goths) and Ostrogoths (from the Latin meaning eastern Goths) were branches of the Germanic people referred to collectively as the Goths. The Germanic people eventually succeeded and became the later Roman Empire (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).
1065: Westminster Abbey was consecrated.
1612: By means of the newly-invented telescope, Galileo Galilei became the first astronomer to observe the planet known as "Neptune" (a pagan name given to it by men). Galileo was not the inventor of the telescope, but he was the first to use it to study the heavens.
1688: William of Orange made a triumphant march into London as James II fled.
1694: Queen Mary II of England died of smallpox at age 32.
1698: George I of England got divorced.
1795: Plans for building Toronto's famous Yonge Street were first proposed. While the southern section of it is today a major street in Toronto, the original 48 kilometer road from York (i.e. Toronto) north to Lake Simcoe was one of the earliest highways in Canada. It was named after Sir George Yonge, then Secretary of State for War in the British government.
1836: Spain recognized the independence of Mexico, which at the time included large areas of what is today the U.S. (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas).
1849: Paris tailor Jolly Bellin reportedly discovered "dry cleaning" when he accidentally upset a lamp containing turpentine and oil on His clothing and saw the cleaning effect.
1895: Antoine and Louis Lumiere introduced their Cinematograph (which projected "moving pictures") in the basement of the Grand Cafe in Paris.
1908: Over 82,000 people were killed by an earthquake that struck the Sicilian town of Messina. A tidal wave that followed caused more devastation.
1923: Alexander Eiffel died at age 91. He designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which is named after him.
1936: Benito Mussolini sent war planes to Spain in support of Francisco Franco.
1946: French occupation forces declared martial law in Vietnam. It was the colonial French who divided Vietnam into two countries, North and South. When the French were the driven out during the resulting civil war, the U.S. replaced them in an effort to maintain the artificial boundary. The Vietman War was actually a civil war.
1947: Victor Emmanuel III, king of Italy 1900-1946, died at age 78. His reign brought an end to the Italian monarchy.
1948: Prime Minister Nokrashy Pasha of Egypt was assassinated by a member of the "Muslim Brotherhood." Pasha had just outlawed the group because he regarded them as terrorists.
1950: Chinese troops crossed the 38th Parallel into South Korea.
1997: The government of Hong Kong ordered the slaughter of 1.3 million chickens as well as a large number of ducks, geese, quail and other poultry in an effort to stop the spread of a newly discovered variety of flu.