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Deuteronomy 1 – Travel, Tribunals, and Trouble

Two months before Israel crossed the Jordan to enter the promised land (Josh 4:19) and one month before his death (Deut 34:8) Moses spoke several times to Israel renewing the covenant they had with the Lord, explaining to them the law of their God.

Moses began by reviewing Israel’s history from Horeb (Mt. Sinai). They were to leave Horeb for the land God promised them as descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

To enable timely consideration of various issues a series of administrative judges were appointed. Such were to be men who not only had knowledge and understanding but the maturity and ability to correctly and impartially apply God’s law to various circumstances (“wisdom”).

Moses then detailed Israel’s failure at Kadesh Barnea. Instead of believing the Lord they believed the assessment of 10 men who did not believe the Lord. They did not believe God would protect them and that they would die in the attempt. Israel said their problem was insurmountable odds; God said their problem was unbelief. Consequently God treated them according to their expectation: All of that generation, except Caleb and Joshua, would die, not by the Canaanites in the promised land, but in the wilderness because of their unbelief.


  1. Accurately explaining God’s Word requires understanding its historical background and circumstances.
  2. Israel needed to know their history and learn from it, specifically what happens when God is or is not believed and trusted.
  3. Correctly evaluating human behavior requires godly judgment.
  4. Unbelief judges God’s promises by human assessment of present and possible circumstances.
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