So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 31:9-13)
Reading The Law Every Seven Years
Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he brought the children of Israel to the borders of Canaan a second time. Four decades earlier, the people rebelled against God when they did not believe the Lord could deliver them from the hand of the people of Canaan. Moses would not be allowed to enter the promised land and gave the nation’s leadership to Joshua, son of Nun. God promised to fight for the people to destroy all the nations as He did to Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites and their land, which He destroyed. The people needed faith and courage that God would fight for them, giving them victory on every hand. All the promises of God were true and faithful. The Lord would never leave them or forsake His people.
Before crossing the Jordan, Moses wrote the law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, and to all the elders of Israel. The Law of Moses was the word of God instructing the people in their obedience to the will of the Lord. It contained all the requirements and blessings of God’s overshadowing plan to bless Israel above all nations of the earth. If the people obeyed the word of the Lord, God would bless them immensely. The warnings against disobedience were harsh. When Moses delivered the written law to the people, he included a caveat that was a part of the law. Every seven years, at the Feast of Tabernacles, all Israel must come before the Lord and listen to the law read to them. All of the men, women, and children and the strangers among them must gather together to hear and learn to fear the Lord God through the reading of the law. The reading would remind them to observe all the words of the law. This reading was not a choice but a command that must be obeyed.
A secondary reason for the reading of the law was to teach the children who did not know the word of the Lord. Every generation would hear the whole law read in its completeness at the end of each seven years. If a man lived to be seventy years of age, he would have heard the reading of the law seven times. Children would listen to the reading of the law. Husbands and wives had no excuse to understand the law. Masters and slaves heard the law being read. Young men and women learned the blessings and penalties of the law. Hearing the law every seven years would help to engrain the message of God within the hearts of the people.
The history of Israel does not indicate how long this practice was kept, but it is evident by the failed efforts of the nation; the reading of the law every seven years did not take long to be forgotten. Israel’s history is what happens when the word of the Lord is ignored and put aside. During the period of the Judges, every man did what was right in his own eyes. King Saul did not take much stock in reading the law. Solomon allowed his foreign wives to hinder his reading. During the days of the divided kingdom, few kings knew the law. Israel was destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Jesus Christ established His church and gave the law of God to His people. It is evident by the example of Israel the need for continual reading of the law. Every Christian should make it a permanent part of their life to read the word of God. They should not wait every seven years to read the book. A daily meditation on God’s word will create healthy, vibrant, faith-filled lives. Children who grow up with parents who do not read the Bible to them are many, which is why young people walk away from God. They never saw Him in their homes. Reading the word of God is where faith comes from. If there is no reading, there is no faith. Israel was given as an example of what happens when a generation comes that does not know the law of God. Read the Bible. Your eternal life depends on it.