We have in Deuteronomy the repeated emphasis on not having other gods before them. They were poised to enter the promised land, and this meant that they were poised to go into battle and take over towns and cities that were already occupied and where the people were worshiping other gods. As they conquered these cities they were commanded to first of all tear down all of the religious artifacts that may have been present from the previous population so that whatever religious relics were still in existence, would be destroyed. God is a jealous God, He says so himself.
I found it interesting that it is within these verses where we see the establishment of the local synagogues where the people are told to create a space that would have the name of the Lord God upon it and the Levites who were living in that town would be the ones who were running that space. The Levites do not have their own land like all of the other tribes, but rather are spread out among the other tribes and they serve the function now, as it is laid out here, to run the place that is established in each land, that has the name of the Lord upon it. We would call it the synagogue of that time, or the church in the Christian parlance.
In 13 we see the punishment for anyone who might lead people away from God to another God is pretty severe. Even if it is your best friend, or your son or daughter, they are to be killed and you are to be the one who takes the first blow. Did I mention that God is a jealous God? We continue in chapter 14 with eating laws which then goes into the year of jubilee and the requirement to set your slaves free and to forgive the debts that you may have over other people.
Mark 9 is filled with a number of very, very important life events of Jesus. We begin with the transfiguration of Jesus where we are commanded to listen to Jesus even in the midst of the disciples not understanding the kingdom that he brings or how he is going to bring it: with his suffering and death. We see a number of times that the disciples did not understand, look at vs.32 this whole talk of suffering and dying, and they were too afraid to ask him. I love the depiction in the Vatican of the transfiguration because you also have the scene of the disciples trying to heal the boy and unable to do so. Every time that I go to the Vatican I have to see this painting, and it reminds me of the power of the Gospel, and the importance of listening to Jesus and his commandments. It is by Raphael.