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THE SECOND GIVING OF THE LAW
While Moses had spoken of events later than the giving of the law insist on the moral lessons of Israel's disobedience through the wilderness (ch.9:22-23), he returned in verse 25 to his intercession for Israel at the time of the giving of the law. Now he recalls God's instructions to hew two more tablets of stone (v.1), and bring them to the mountain of God. But He adds, "and make yourself an ark of wood." God would write the commandments again on these stones, which Moses must put in the ark (v.2).
The ark was not mentioned at the first giving of the law, and the tablets were broken. But the ark speaks of Christ, the only One in whom the law is safe from the danger of breakage. So that this second giving of the law did not put Israel under absolute law, but rather involved the mediatorship of Christ as between the people and the law There was grace in this from God, and yet Israel was not put under grace, for this can only be now that Christ has suffered for sins and been raised again (Romans 6:5-14). But when the tablets were put in the ark, this signified that Israel was under law, but law tempered with mercy.
Moses therefore obeyed the Lord in making the ark and hewing the tablets of stone, taking them up the mountain (v.3). When the Lord had written on these, Moses brought them down and put them into the ark (vs.4-5). This answers to the words of the Lord Jesus in Psalms 40:8, "Your law is within My heart." The only place the law is safe from abuse is in the heart of the Lord Jesus.
Verses 6-9 form a parenthesis in speaking of Israel's journeys after this, for it was long after this that Aaron died, but it appears that Moses is indicating God's answer to Moses' prayer in the death of Aaron and the succession of Eleazar to the priesthood. Also, since Eleazar is a type of Christ in resurrection, there is connected with this the abundant blessing of the Spirit of God, as is symbolized in Jotbathah (v.7), meaning "a well with much water," showing that God answered Moses' prayer beyond all that Moses asked or thought.
Connected with this, though it had actually occurred long before, was the separation of the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant and to minister before the Lord, having no inheritance with the other tribes (vs.8-9). This is recorded inNumbers 8:9-26; Numbers 8:9-26 at the beginning of the wilderness history, but Moses speaks of it here to connect Levitical service with the priesthood of Eleazar, the type of Christ in resurrection. For us today, the Levitical service in which every believer is to engage, is directly connected with Christ as the High Priest in resurrection, the Source of all direction and all power for such service.
As on the first occasion of the giving of the law, so on the second occasion, Moses remained in the mountain forty days and forty nights, and his intercession for Israel availed to avert God's judgment (v.10). Rather than destroying Israel, God gave Moses orders to proceed on the journey to the land of Canaan (v.11).
WHAT GOD REQUIRED OF ISRAEL
How perfectly right it was of God to require of Israel to fear Him, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve Him with all their heart and all their soul, to keep His commandments and His statutes (vs.12-13). Yet, in considering carefully each of these things, could Israel possibly be confident of obeying them? In fact, from the very outset, God's legal requirements as regards Israel were doomed to fail, for people will never do what is required of them. Thus law requires, but the grace of God provides.
Moses proceeds to show how the Lord had perfect title to Israel's obedience, for heaven and earth belong to God (v.14). Yet more, God had shown true delight in the fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, choosing them and their descendants above all other nations (v.15).
Therefore he tells them to circumcise the foreskin of their heart, that is, cut off the selfish, fleshly desires of their heart; and "be stiff-necked no longer" (v.16). Being stiff-necked refers to the stubbornness of wanting our own way. But would Israel be corrected by being told this? Sadly, no! Only the New Testament shows the way of proper correction.
"For the Lord your God is a God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe" (v.17). How important that we, as well as Israel, should meditate well on these arresting statements. Whatever people may call "gods," all of these are totally subservient to the one living God, or whoever may be "lords," having authority in some small realm, they are themselves under the supreme authority in some small realm, they are themselves under the supreme authority of the one Lord of the universe. A similar expression to this is used of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 19:16, "King of kings and Lord of lords."
This great God of Israel who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe, is shown rather to administer justice for the fatherless and widow and shows love toward strangers (v.18). How totally in contrast to this are the great majority of rulers in the world today! Law courts too frequently show sad disregard for justice. The poor will commonly suffer gross injustice while the wealthy use their money to pervert judicial action in their own favor. Believers may well be deeply thankful for a God who is perfectly just and faithful.
Because God loves strangers as well as Israel, then Israel is told to love the stranger, for they were at one time strangers in the land of Egypt (v.19). They should therefore understand the feelings of a stranger. Showing kindness to strangers would be consistent with their fearing the Lord and serving Him, as well as taking oaths in His name (v.20). Taking oaths was consistent with their being under law, but the Lord Jesus changed this in saying, "But I say to you, do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. No shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black" (Matthew 5:34-36).
The Lord God was to be their object because of who He is and what He has done (v.21), which included His multiplying Israel from 70 persons to well over 2,000,000. this was in fact far more than the number of stars they could see in the heavens.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 10". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany