"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."
The final Book of the Pentateuch closes with the most passionate pleas for total commitment to the LORD in the Bible. Time and time again Moses challenges the people to total surrender to God. The early Christians referred to Deuteronomy frequently in their whole-hearted yearning after God. The New Testament writers refer to it over eighty times, making it one of the most quoted Old Testament Books in the New Testament . As well as detailing a running narrative of the events of Israel in the desert, Deuteronomy continually stirs its readers to remember Yahweh's faithfulness.
1. Note what the LORD was asking Israel to call to mind in these verses-
a) Dt. 2:7 -_________________________________________________
b) Dt. 4:3 -_________________________________________________
c) Dt. 5:24 -________________________________________________
d) Dt. 6:12 -________________________________________________
e) Dt. 10:22 -_______________________________________________
The title of the Book comes from the LXX (Septuagint) rendering the Second Law or the Repeated Law. It is arranged in three sections, each where Moses is commencing a fresh address to the people. Thus Deuteronomy may be broadly summarised as-
Dt. 1:6 - 3:29 Events of Israel's wanderings.
Dt. 4:1-49 Because God has been faithful, dedicate yourselves to Him.
Dt. 5-28 The heart of the Book. A review of the covenant God established with them
Dt. 29-34 A plea from Moses for Israel to keep the covenant with God. Appendices (A song from Moses; Joshua appointed new leader; Moses' final farewell; the death of Moses).
After forty years of wandering through the wilderness, Israel was on the verge of entering the Promised Land, just over the Jordan River. Ironically, the man who had brought them so far was not allowed to cross over himself. He was an Israelite who never once entered Israel!
2. What was Moses' response to God forbidding him to enter? (Dt. 3:23)
3. What was God's response? (Dt. 3:26)
Perhaps we may never quite fully understand why God didn't allow Moses to enter in. As stated in the Numbers study, Moses was accountable to God based on the amount of revelation he had. Increased privilege brings increased accountability! Moses was a man who saw the intimate glory of God (Ex. 33:17-23). He was expected to move in obedience to God explicitly, not presumptuously. When Israel cried out for water the first time, the LORD told Moses to strike the Rock, and bring forth water. When they cried out again, the LORD this time commanded Moses to speak to the rock. Moses didn't. He struck the rock instead, not once, but twice. There are valuable lessons to be learnt from this incident. The typology of a rebellious believer, parched and spiritually dry, on the verge of death, crying out for water; and God, through Moses, provides the Rock, typical of Christ (1Cor. 10:4), to meet man's need. This typified God providing an undeserving people with His Son as the payment for their sin and their hope of true (eternal) life (Jn 7:37). Yet it tragically portrays what happens when people lose faith in God's Faithfulness, wander away from Him, and then seek to treat Him with contempt. The writer of Hebrews discusses this principle in chapter six of that Book where he calls the offense of walking away from God's salvation, as to put Him to open shame (Heb. 6:6). When Moses was told to speak to the Rock, that was all that was necessary to bring water out (typical of a renewal of relationship between God and His people). By simply speaking to the Rock, it reminds us that when we stray from God, renewal and restoration is available to us if we speak to God by confessing our sin to Him (Num. 5:7; Pr. 28:13; 1Jn 1:9). By striking the Rock, Moses was :
a) moving in presumption, something already clearly forbidden (Num. 15:30-31).
b) typically putting Christ to death the second time, thus insulting God by implying that Christ's once-and-for-all sacrifice was insufficient (Heb. 9:28; 10:10; with Heb. 6:6).
We also see that increased responsibility carries increased accountability. The sins that a new member of God's community commits are not as significant as the sins that leader in God's community commits. Moses had the highest responsibility amongst and for, the Hebrews. What others of less responsibility could "get away with", Moses couldn't. Although the incident of striking the Rock the second time angered God, Moses' guilt was dealt with, but the consequences remained. Perhaps if we understood the enormity of sin and its lingering consequences, even after forgiveness is received, it might cause us to think twice about wilful disobedience.
THE WORD OF GOD ESTABLISHED
The Bible began on a principle of Progressive Revelation. Firstly, it was orally communicated. Now it was written down for all to read. The written Word was now being established as God's revelation to man. Observe how God speaks in the Bible. Consider His infinite wisdom, yet profound ability to put His words into the simplest statements. This awesome process, where God divinely inspired a man to write His words in a way that used that man's personality, intellect and ability, all without corrupting or detracting from God's pure purpose, is what theologians call Plenary Inspiration . Unlike Muslims who believe that Mohammed received the Koran (Qu'ran) from God dictating it word for word from His copy of it in Heaven, and therefore is only "God's Word" when it is read in Arabic, we have a Word from God that is available to people of all languages and dialects in their own tongue.
4. What promise is contained in Dt. 4:1 for keeping the Word?
5. How would Dt. 4:2 affect the cults who use the Bible?
6. What will keeping God's Word do to us?
7. What responsibility does every follower of God have? (Dt. 4:9)
We don't worship our Bible, we worship its author! Yet, God has exalted His Word above His Name (Ps. 138:2). In other words the credibility of His Name is invested into the Word He has given us. History and experience has differentiated between God's Word and Man's. While many religious groups claim to have sacred Scriptures, only God's true Word remains unalterable and completely consistent. For example, the Hindu Vedas extols the virtues of caste segregation as its fundamental fabric for meaning and existence. Yet, today most Hindus are abandoning this most fundamental Hindu doctrine, thus instantly eroding the authority of the Vedas. Buddhist scriptures are founded on the philosophy of self, and the despising of any external deity, but this has been abandoned by most Buddhists who now worship the Buddha contrary to their scriptures. Muslim scriptures forbid a man from marrying more than four wives, yet its author (Mohammed) went on to marry nine wives, even including his daughter in law, thus raising questions about the genuine authority of his own scriptures .
8. Why does Dt. 6:4-5 sum up all the Law?
BLESSINGS OF OBEDIENCE
Does God merrit people according to their righteousness? Reading through the blessings found in this chapter, we notice that they were conditional. But how does this equate with God being the God of grace? Firstly we should remember that this was being addressed to a people who were already saved by God's grace not their own effort (Dt. 9:6). Therefore, it appears that these blessings are the result of obedience that are freely available to everyone equally. Are they available to people who are not redeemed? History would seem to indicate that at least the principles of a person, people, nation honoring God's laws bring a blessing. John Calvin distinguishes between what he called civil righteousness and God's righteousness. By this he implied that people can live to varying degrees of human righteousness, yet still be totally corrupt and lost in sin.
9. How does Dt.11:2 compare with Hebrews 12:7-11?
10. What would keeping God's commands do to someone? (Dt. 11:8)
There is something mysteriously powerful about the Word of God. In this chapter Israel is urged to memorise the Word so that they might teach their children and be an example to the nations. Yet this appreciation of God's Word was not to come from their head, but from their heart (Dt. 11:18).
LAWS GOVERNING KINGS
God's concept of strong leadership has always been different from that of man's. Jesus said that in the world, leaders lord it over their followers, but in His Kingdom it was not to be so (Mtt. 20:25-28). God sees meekness and humility as the among the greatest qualities a leader can have. Moses was meekest man in the world (Num. 12:3) and was also the greatest leader ever to live. Jesus was meek and lowly (Mtt.11:29) and is the highest Leader in the universe.
11. Note down some of the qualities of a godly king as prescribed by God-
12. Who does Dt.18:18 refer to?
13. Deuteronomy contains laws that included the principles of justice for living together as a community of people. How is justice within a society maintained with the instructions in Deuteronomy 19?-:
a) For accidental murder (vss. 1-12):
b) Property rights (vs. 14):
c) False accusations (vss. 15-20):
d) For those who had been deliberately maimed or injured (vs. 21):
14. Why were Israel's battles not just a matter of military might according to Deuteronomy 20:1-4? What principles from this can be applied to the Christian walk today?
15. Before destroying a city, what did God tell Israel to offer its inhabitants? (Dt. 20:10)
16. Deuteronomy 20, 21, 22, 24 contain many laws about sexuality that might seem to the modern reader to be outdated. Yet history records that a where a people abandon God's standards of sexual morality they reap destruction (Rom. 1:26-32). List some of the standards that God mentions in relation to sex, sexuality and morality:
Deuteronomy contains much of the civil law, as well as the moral law, that God gave to Israel. These laws were to be enforced by the state, not by individuals taking matters into their own hands. In this sense, justice can be meted out by the state without individuals being guilty. This is why the Bible condones the death penalty for murder. By doing this it places the highest value possible upon human life, and thus requires the life of the murderer for the crime to be adequately and justly punished. One scholar has said
Notice that the purpose of God's intructions was justice. Individuals were not to take it upon themselves to carry out vengeance against the murderer; rather the government was to execute justice and thus safeguard the human race. When modern lawmakers set aside capital punishment, they are indirectly claiming to be wiser than the divine Lawgiver...
Originally given in a setting that was already familiar with such methods of justice, God then gave the Israelites guidelines and boundaries to enforce His standard of justice. We have already noted the justice laws given in chapter 20 which made allowances for innocence, unlike the system that Israel had previously been exposed to.
17. Note the list of blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 28. As you continue to study through the Old Testament you will notice that they speak with a tragic prophetic authority. Note some of the blessings and curses mentioned, and refer back to this chart by filling in fulfilment references as you read through the remainder of the Old Testament -:
|eg.||Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land (Dt. 28:42)||The Book of Joel.|
|Your enemies shall flee||2Chronicles 20:22-24|
THE DEATH OF MOSES
An interesting observation about God's strongest leaders, is that they were all worshipers of God. That might sound obvious, more specifically, they knew how to sing to the LORD. In Deuteronomy 32 we have a song of Moses recorded. We know that David sang and worshiped God amidst the congregations of Israel. Jesus the Christ also sang and worshiped God with His disciples, probably frequently (Mtt. 26:30). When Moses had blessed the tribes of Israel the LORD led Moses up to the peak of Mount Pisgah, which is called Mount Nebo. From there He showed him the Promised Land. Despite Moses being in peak physical condition, the LORD was calling Moses to a place better than the Promised Land. No one saw his death or his burial. This would prevent his body and bones from becoming an idol to Israel in years to come. Many years later, a prophet appeared on the Biblical scene and stood where Moses would have gazed from. This time the scene was not peaceful and relaxed, rather it was seething with violence as this lone man of God, inspired by the life of his probable hero Moses, called down fire and destroyed his opponents. This same man also travelled to Mount Sinai where his hero had received the Law. From there Elijah went to the same mountain as Moses did when he departed this earth. Perhaps wanting to depart the same way his hero did, Elijah also experienced the special intervention into his death as did Moses. Perhaps the connection between these two men wasn't designed to end here (Mtt.17:3; Rev.11???). Although Moses lived 500 years before Elijah, such was the affect of his example on a young man prepared to obey the LORD in all things. Which was what the Book of Deuteronomy was successfully designed to do.