Read Deuteronomy 1, Isaiah 60, 1 Corinthians 2 today. This devotional is about Deuteronomy 1.
The word “Deuteronomy” means “second law” (deutero = second, nomos = law). This book was written at the end of Moses’s life, just before Joshua took over and led Israel into the Promised Land. The entire book is essentially a long sermon on Israel’s history and the law God gave in Exodus. It explains to the new generation under Joshua what God has done for Israel and how he expects Israel to live as his chosen people.
Chapter 1 here begins the book with a brief overview of the previous 40 years of Israel’s history, starting with the diversification of Moses’s leadership to other judges (vv. 9-18). As Moses summarized the ordination of judges in the past, he repeated his instructions to those judges in verses 16-17. In the middle of verse 17, he said this to Israel’s judges, “Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God.”
Anyone who is in a position of leadership will have to choose between doing what is right in God’s sight and doing what is best for the leader’s own career or prosperity. Powerful people are used to getting what they want. They get what they want because of their position. Sometimes they get what they want due to their reputation. Or, they get what they want because they intentionally use their leverage with threats or promises of good things (aka “bribes”). Anyone who wants to be liked, who wants to be influential, who wants to prosper will be tempted at some point to look the other way in a matter of righteousness and justice to give favor to someone with influence.
I know a pastor who signed a contract with an organization then broke his commitment to that organization because someone of influence in his congregation wanted him to do something else. When weighing the consequences, he chose the powerful over doing what is right.
I can sympathize; any leader will have to face this choice in some way or other. The only antidote is to fear God more than you fear the powerful. As Moses said in verse 17, “Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God.”
Will you do what is right even when it is costly and disadvantages you in some important way? Do you fear God and trust God enough to provide for you if you choose to fear God more than another person?