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Old Testament Survey

Deuteronomy




Key Verses

4:9
4:23
4:31
10:12-14
30:19-20


Key Chapters

Chapter 27
Chapter 28-30


Key Concepts

Covenant


Thoughts for Reading

We are all given choices in life – choices which are for life or for death.
Which choice do you make?


An eleven day trip turned into a 40 year journey as God punished the Israelite’s by directing them through the wilderness after the spies returned from Canaan full of fear and unbelief (Num 13, 14). Now, the nation sat poised on the brink of entry. But, the generation ready to enter into the promised land was not the generation which left Egypt. Those over 20 at that first Passover celebrated in Egypt died in the wilderness. This new generation had not witnessed or understood the events of that Passover night or the events at Mt. Sinai. So, Moses gathers the nation together for a review and refresher course on God, His demands, His love, and His desire for obedience from the Jewish people.

Title

The name “Deuteronomy” means “second law.” This name is incorrect, for Moses was not giving a new or second law, but was rather expounding upon and explaining to a new generation the law already given by God to the nation. The idea here is that Moses is "making clear, distinct, explaining or expounding” the law to a generation of Israelites who were not present at Mt. Sinai when God first presented the law to the Nation. The Hebrew title is “And these are the words” from the opening verse. The correct interpretations of both titles are the same. The “words” are the rehearsing of the law to the new generation.

The Date of Deuteronomy

The internal record of the chronology from Egypt to Moab is helpful in a reconstruction of the date of 1406 B.C. for the writing of Deuteronomy:

This makes the date for the giving of the book of Deuteronomy January or February 1, 1406 B.C.

Author

Moses is historically considered the author of all five books of the Pentateuch. The authors and heroes of the New Testament treat the Prophet as the author. Notice, however, that Moses probably did not write the last chapter, a chapter which records his death. This other author (Joshua?) may have also done some editorial work on the rest of this book, as is evidenced by the use of the third person narrative rather than a first person / second person narrative (1:1-5; 4:41-43,44--5:1a; 27:1; 29:1; 31:1,30; 32:48; 33:1).

Purpose

The lesson of the Exodus is that the nation displayed a severe lack of faith. Faith is the key ingredient looked for in man by God. Remember Abraham –

Genesis 15:6
And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Or the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11?

Moses’s ultimate desire is to instill this faith in his people. He desires that the nation might live, possess the land, and obey God (4:1-2; 6:3, 17-19, 24-25; 8:1; 10:12--11:32). At the same time Moses warns the nation about the consequences and judgment which will fall upon them by a lack of faith (6:15-19, 24-25; 7:4, 9-16; 15:4-6,10). This concept of blessing and cursing is set forth in its finest glory in the concluding chapters of this books.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

The book, then, is a sermon or series of sermons to exhort the people in how to act and live as the chosen people of God. Sounds a lot like Sunday mornings, doesn’t it?

A simple outline of the book is:

Covenant, Promise, and Curses

Deuteronomy is full of the things which have come before. At its heart is Deuteronomy 6:4-9, part of the Shema.

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 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. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Rituals
It is difficult for Christians to understand the outward force of this ritual. The Jews placed miniature scrolls containing the full Shema (Deut 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Num 15:37-41) in little boxes called phylacteries (Matt 23:5). These boxes are held in place by cords which are wrapped so that one box sits on the arm at heart level and the other on the forehead between the eyes, thus, representing an outward fulfillment of this Scripture. Orthodox Jews still use phylacteries in worship today.

This is the BASIC FACT of the book. God is our everything. Jesus couples verse 5 with the commandment from Leviticus to love your neighbor (Lev 19:18) as the statement of the two great commandments (Matt 22:35-39).

The BASIC TRUTH is set forth later in this same chapter:

Deuteronomy 6:23
And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.

This truth points to the BASIC REQUIREMENT of the people, obedience.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13
12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13 To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

The BASIC PLEDGE of God is was made to Abraham, but the fulfillment is dependant upon the attitude of the people.

Deuteronomy 4:27-31
27 And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. 28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; 31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

This should result in a BASIC DIFFERENCE on the part of the people.

Deuteronomy 12:10-14
10 But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; 11 Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD: 12 And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. 13 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: 14 But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.

This difference is reflected by Christ in His talk with the Samaritan woman at the well.

John 4:20-26
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Finally, the emphasis of Deuteronomy is that these Basics all culminate in a BASIC BLESSING to the people.

Deuteronomy 8:3
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Deuteronomy 6:16
Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

Deuteronomy 10:20
Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.

It is the blessing of God HIMSELF to which Moses and the Law speak. Notice that Deuteronomy 6:13 says much the same thing as 10:20. It is these verses which Jesus displays as the power of God at work in resisting the temptations of the Devil (Matt 4:1-11). We can draw upon this same power today, just as the nation of Israel should have drawn on it at the urging of Moses.

This is truly the book of the covenant. The word for “covenant” appears 27 times in this book, with chapter 29 being the keystone. Deuteronomy 30 is the statement of the Palestinian Covenant, the expansion of the Abrahamic covenant as it concerns the giving of the land to Israel. The ultimate promise is that God would be with His people and bless them as long as they remember Who God is and follow only Him. The watch word could be summarized in the words “watch, lest you forget yourself.”

Many scholars see the pattern of Deuteronomy as that of a Hittie Suzerainty treaty between the ruler and his people. There is some resemblance. The treaty would have a preamble, a historical prologue, a set of stipulations, a provision for depositing the treaty in the temple, together with a periodic reading of the treaty, a list of gods as witnesses to the treaty, and a set of blessings and curses. Certainly, Deuteronomy follows this general pattern, but whether Moses structured the book this way or not, it is irrelevant to the meaning and purpose of the book.

Deuteronomy 27-30 contain the final section, the listing of blessings and curses. These curses included invasion by foreign armies (28:49-62) as well as a world-wide dispersion of the people (28:63-68). Looking back, it is amazing how well both the blessings and curses have played out on the Jewish people through the course of history.

Jesus in Deuteronomy

We earlier made reference to the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15 which looks forward to Christ the prophet like Moses. Moses himself is a type of Jesus in this book, being the priest (32:31-34), the leader, a type of king (33:4, 5), and the prophet (34:10-12).

Deuteronomy 18:15
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken

This ends the books of Moses and the Law. The foundation of the Bible has been set. God has revised His pattern of dealing with mankind so that salvation is now coming forth through the Jewish nation (John 4:22, above).

  • Genesis -- Ruin -- The Fall of man
  • Exodus -- Redemption -- By blood and the power of God
  • Leviticus -- Communion -- On the ground of atonement
  • Numbers -- Direction -- By the will of God
  • Deuteronomy -- Destination -- By the faithfulness of God

This is the foundation of all that follows.

Where do you place your faith?

 

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December 9, 2019

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