Moses contextualized his message. His audience and their needs changed his preaching. You see, he communicated with second generation believers. The first generation died in the wilderness because of unbelief. So he needed to make his message connect to the “youth.”
Just what did Moses adapt? Was it some obscure teaching hidden behind and around cooking a kid goat with its mother? Perhaps it was a modification of some dietary law. Surely it was some minuscule thing, right?
Nope. Moses transformed the Ten Commandments to meet his audiences needs. Let me illustrate this with one example. Look at Exodus 20:17 as delivered to the first generation, then look at Deuteronomy 5:21 as delivered to the second generation.
1. Ex. 20:17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
2. Deut. 5:21: “ ‘And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’
Two changes happened.
First, the order of what not to desire varies. Exodus 20:17 says you must not covet a neighbor’s house; then Moses explain you must not covet your neighbor’s wife. The order is reversed in Deuteronomy.
Moses might have straightened out a wrong impression of Exodus 20:17. Israel piled together their wives with their possessions in one stack. But wives aren’t possessions like pots and pans. The Israelites should have appreciated wives as distinct from things— in fact, as more important than possessions.
Second, Moses piled another command on the list: you must not covet your neighbor’ house or “his field.” The addition of field fills in the Israelites about land-rights. Before this time, no Israelite owned a field. Moses contextualizes the principle in the Ten Commandments to make the command applicable to the lives of the current generation.
While the Sinai covenant bound the parents of Moses’ current audience, forty years later a new generation emerged. This generation needed a fresh application of God’s eternal law. So in this covenant renewal, Moses contextualizes the message to his audience.
Should we contextualize the Bible’s message this way too? I’ll provide my thoughts on this later.