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Further exhortations of Moses.
To enforce his appeal to the Israelites, in calling upon them to remain loyal and obedient to the God of their fathers, Moses reminded them of the wonderful prodigies that they had witnessed, and which were unknown to any other people; and of the divine
power that had been so signally exercised in their behalf, especially in rescuing them, an entire nation, from the grasp of another nation which was holding them in bondage. And all this was done, he added, that they might know that the Lord he is Goda; and that there is none else beside him. shalt keep, therefore, his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.”
This seems to have ended the first exhortation of Moses to the people. We next find him specifying the three cities on the east side of the Jordan, which were to be the cities of refuge; and soon again assembling the people to hear still further his parting counsels.
He refers them to the covenant which God made with them in Horeb, when his voice was heard in the mount, out of the midst of the fire. He reminds them, how he stood between the Lord and them, at that time, to show them the word of the Lord; because they were afraid by reason of the fire. He proceeds to rehearse, in their hearing, the ten commandments; to relate the affecting circumstances under which they were originally given; and to urge upon them the duty of implicit obedience.
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord : and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart : 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. And thou shall bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
He warns them not to let the great prosperity which would attend their taking possession of the promised land, and their dwelling in the midst of its abundance, lead them to forget the source of all their blessings, and to go astray from the true God after the false deities of the nations which would be near them. And, again, such importance did Moses attach to parental instruction, he enjoins it upon them, to take great care that the children should be fully taught the peculiar dealings of God with the Israelites; the reason of them; and the nature and obligations of his commands.
He repeats, in the most explicit and solemn manner, the divine injunction to exterminate the Canaanites, and to leave no vestige of their idolatry; assigning as the reason of this, that they were a holy people, and that the Lord their God had chosen them, "to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth :" not on account of any superior goodness in themselves, but because he had loved them, and would keep the oath which he had sworn unto their fathers.
If obedient, Moses assures the Israelites that God will be faithful to all his promises, and bless them in the most striking manner. Their families, the fruits of the earth, their flocks and herds, shall increase abundantly. They shall be blessed above all people. No sickness shall prevail among them. They shall be strong to overcome all their enemies; for the Lord their God will be among them, a mighty God and terrible. He will, by degrees, put out the heathen nations before them, so that they shall eventually be destroyed with a mighty destruction.
And once more-ah! how well he knew the character of his countrymen, the corrupt propensities of the human heart, and the ensnaring ter.ptations to which they would be exposed-Moses charges them to burn with fire the graven images of all the false gods which they should find. shalt not desire,” he adds, "the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein : for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it : but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing."
Are we careful to banish from our houses, and from our hearts, what we know to be displeasing to God, lest by retaining it, we make greater and more rapid progress in sin, and, at length, draw down upon us his fearful and irremediable indignation ?
As an additional motive to obedience, Moses calls upon
the Israelites to remember all the way which the Lord their God had led them, during forty years, in the wilderness, to humble them, and to prove them, to know what was in their heart, whether they would keep his commandments or no. He had permitted them to suffer from hunger, that the interposition of his providence might be conspicuous in the miraculous supplies of manna with which they were furnished. In this way they were taught the important lesson, " that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live," that by his simple mandate God can provide the means of sustenance in any emergency, and from any source that he pleases, natural, or supernatural.
In the wilderness they had witnessed the severity of God. He had chastened them, as a father doth his son, to lead them to fear and obey him. In the wilderness, too, they had witnessed the abundant mercy and kindness of God. Notwithstanding the expressions, often, of his terrible displeasure, his forbearance and long-suffering had been great. He fed them with manna, and their raiment waxed not old. He had guided, sustained, and protected them. Their toilsome journeyings are over. Jehovah is about to bring them into the country to which they had been looking forward with earnest expectations. It is a pleasant and fertile country: of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein," says Moses, " thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass."
Having passed through such trials, and expe