Make thee high above all nations - It is written, Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people, Proverbs 14:34. While Israel regarded God's word and kept his testimonies, they were the greatest and most respectable of all nations; but when they forsook God and his law, they became the most contemptible. O Britain, even more highly favored than ancient Israel! learn wisdom by what they have suffered. It is not thy fleets nor thine armies, howsoever excellent and well appointed, that can ultimately exalt and secure thy permanence among the nations. It is righteousness alone. Become irreligious, neglect God's ordinances, profane his Sabbath, despise his word, persecute his followers, and thou art lost. But fear, love, and serve him, and thy enemies shall be found liars, thou shalt defeat their projects, and trample on their high places.
The form of confession when bringing the first-fruits, related Deuteronomy 26:4-10, is both affecting and edifying. Even when brought into a state of affluence and rest, they were commanded to remember and publicly acknowledge their former degradation and wretchedness, that they might be ever kept humble and dependent; and they must bring their offering as a public acknowledgment to God that it was by his mercy their state was changed, and by his bounty their comforts were continued. If a man rise from poverty to affluence, and forget his former state, he becomes proud, insolent, and oppressive. If a Christian convert forget his former state, the rock whence he was hewn, and the hole of the pit whence he was digged, he soon becomes careless, unthankful, and unholy. The case of the ten lepers that were cleansed, of whom only one returned to give God thanks, is an awful lesson. How many are continually living on the bounty of God, who feel no gratitude for his mercies! Reader, Is this thy state? If so, then expect the just God to curse thy blessings.
A brief and earnest exhortation by way of conclusion to the second and longest discourse of the book.
Thou hast avouched - literally, “made to say:” so also in the next verse. The sense is: “Thou hast given occasion to the Lord to say that He is thy God,” i. e. by promising that He shall be so. Compare Exodus 24:7; Joshua 24:14-25,
The blessings of God's covenant are mutual.... God accepts those who will work for His name's glory, to make His name a praise in a world of apostasy and idolatry. He will be exalted by His commandment-keeping people that He may make them “high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour” (Deuteronomy 26:19). AG 150.3Read in context »
“He remembered His holy promise, and Abraham His servant. And He brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness: and gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labor of the people; that they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws.” Psalm 105:42-45. Ed 40.1
God surrounded Israel with every facility, gave them every privilege, that would make them an honor to His name and a blessing to surrounding nations. If they would walk in the ways of obedience, He promised to make them “high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.” “All people of the earth,” He said, “shall hear that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.” The nations which shall hear all these statutes shall say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 26:19; 28:10; Deuteronomy 4:6. Ed 40.2
In the laws committed to Israel, explicit instruction was given concerning education. To Moses at Sinai God had revealed Himself as “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6. These principles, embodied in His law, the fathers and mothers in Israel were to teach their children. Moses by divine direction declared to them: “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.” Deuteronomy 6:6, 7. Ed 40.3Read in context »
But the Israelites fixed their hopes upon worldly greatness. From the time of their entrance to the land of Canaan, they departed from the commandments of God, and followed the ways of the heathen. It was in vain that God sent them warning by His prophets. In vain they suffered the chastisement of heathen oppression. Every reformation was followed by deeper apostasy. DA 28.1
Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through their honor and exaltation. If they had walked in the ways of obedience, He would have made them “high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.” “All people of the earth,” said Moses, “shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.” “The nations which shall hear all these statutes” shall say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 26:19; 28:10; Deuteronomy 4:6. But because of their unfaithfulness, God's purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation. DA 28.2
They were brought into subjection to Babylon, and scattered through the lands of the heathen. In affliction many renewed their faithfulness to His covenant. While they hung their harps upon the willows, and mourned for the holy temple that was laid waste, the light of truth shone out through them, and a knowledge of God was spread among the nations. The heathen systems of sacrifice were a perversion of the system that God had appointed; and many a sincere observer of heathen rites learned from the Hebrews the meaning of the service divinely ordained, and in faith grasped the promise of a Redeemer. DA 28.3
Many of the exiles suffered persecution. Not a few lost their lives because of their refusal to disregard the Sabbath and to observe the heathen festivals. As idolaters were roused to crush out the truth, the Lord brought His servants face to face with kings and rulers, that they and their people might receive the light. Time after time the greatest monarchs were led to proclaim the supremacy of the God whom their Hebrew captives worshiped. DA 28.4
By the Babylonish captivity the Israelites were effectually cured of the worship of graven images. During the centuries that followed, they suffered from the oppression of heathen foes, until the conviction became fixed that their prosperity depended upon their obedience to the law of God. But with too many of the people obedience was not prompted by love. The motive was selfish. They rendered outward service to God as the means of attaining to national greatness. They did not become the light of the world, but shut themselves away from the world in order to escape temptation to idolatry. In the instruction given through Moses, God had placed restrictions upon their association with idolaters; but this teaching had been misinterpreted. It was intended to prevent them from conforming to the practices of the heathen. But it was used to build up a wall of separation between Israel and all other nations. The Jews looked upon Jerusalem as their heaven, and they were actually jealous lest the Lord should show mercy to the Gentiles. DA 28.5Read in context »
The education of the Israelites included all their habits of life. Everything that concerned their well-being was the subject of divine solicitude, and came within the province of divine law. It was because the Lord desired to make them His representatives that He provided them with a special bill of fare. They were placed under careful restrictions in regard to their diet. The use of flesh food was almost entirely prohibited. The people were to be holy, and the Lord knew that the use of flesh meat would be a hindrance to their advancement in spiritual life. By a miracle of mercy He fed them with the bread of heaven. The food provided for them was of a nature to promote physical, mental, and moral strength, and ...the wisdom of God's choice for them was vindicated in a manner that they could not gainsay. Notwithstanding the hardships of their wilderness life, there was not a feeble one in all their tribes. TDG 77.2Read in context »