The book of Deuteronomy is one of the most inspiring and exciting books of the Bible, as it contains so much of the essence of the rest of the Bible all in one book. There is a remembrance of the past, inspiration for the future, and a call to heed what must be done in the present. The previously-stated mitzvot (commandments) are reiterated with a few new additions. It is no wonder the book of Deuteronomy is one of the most oft-cited sources from the American Revolution. Many of the important ideas woven throughout the stories told across the Bible are condensed into the book of Deuteronomy.
Two of my favorite mitzvot from the book of Deuteronomy are “be strong and courageous” and “purge the evil from among you” from verses 31:6 and 13:5, respectively. Verse 31:6 is a commandment not to fear or dread the agents of the Adversary, for they are ultimately powerless against the Lord. It is a commandment relevant to the battles of today and the near future, but more so to the here and now. There are enemies around us always, and it is our responsibility to drive them out. Yet, doing so may be a terrifying prospect. We are reminded not to give ourselves over to fear and to do what must be done with courage. This mitzvah is repeated throughout the Bible.
Verse 13:5 is a commandment to stop evildoers in the community from turning people against the Lord and inciting rebellion against God. It is a commandment to bear in mind for the present, but more so for the future. Once the dust has settled from any great conflict with the forces of evil, darkness will seek to creep into the victor’s camp through subtle subversion. Infiltrators will seek to gain our trust with familiarity and normalization of evil things, and we must be vigilant against such evil. Testing the words, actions, and beliefs of people against the Word of God is the clearest way of discerning who these evildoers are. Where they are found, from there they must be expelled. This mitzvah is also repeated and reiterated consistently throughout the Bible.
The Lord commandeth
To be strong and courageous
Guarding our hearts close against darkness
And giving ourselves not over to fear
For a man of God is not one of faint heart
Nor a man predisposed to defeat and dismay
Nay, a man of God is a man who ceases not
Seizing victory from the hands of every setback
He does this through his courage
And he does this through his perseverance
For the man of God feels fear, but gives himself not
He keeps himself from fear, always
With courage, we may grow strong
Through strength, we will confront evil
By overcoming evil, we set ourselves free
Through true freedom from evil, we find the good
Purge the evil from among you
So the land may start to heal
And the people again may begin to love
Those things which evil steals from us
For those who tolerate evil in their midst
And join themselves to the darkness
Will themselves growing further from God
And closer ever to the Adversary
Flee from evil and from sin
Flee from that which is unholy
For to be holy is to be set apart
And to be set apart is to be set free
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