GENERAL FACTS DEUTERONOMY
The name “Deuteronomy” comes from the Greek and means literally “second law.” We should not think of Deuteronomy, however, as a book of new laws given to Israel. It is instead a repetition of the law given by God through Moses. Rather than “second law,” a better name would be a “second giving of the law.” At the end of the Book of Numbers, the Children of Israel were in sight of the Land of Canaan in the Plains of Moab. The forty years of wandering in the wilderness were at an end. Moses knew that his era in the history of God’s chosen people was also coming to an end. He knew that he would not be allowed to enter the Land of Canaan. In the Book of Deuteronomy Moses speaks to the Children of Israel as an old grandfather might speak to his beloved family. He reminds them of their history and God’s faithfulness in all of their history. He repeats to them the Law that God had given to them. He admonishes them to faithfully keep God’s Law. At the end of Deuteronomy the last acts and death of Moses are recorded, perhaps by another human author.
GENERAL OUTLINE OF DEUTERONOMY
Deuteronomy can logically be divided into four main parts:
- Moses’ First Oration (1-4)
- His Second Oration (5-26)
- His Third Oration (27-30)
- Moses’ Last Acts and Death (31-34)
PART 1 – MOSES’ FIRST ORATION (1-4)
In these chapters Moses first reviews the past 38 years of history of the Children of Israel, that is their history from the leaving of Mount Sinai until they reached Moab. He tells again of the sending out of the 12 spies, the people’s rebellion, the wanderings in the desert, the defeat of certain enemy kings, and the division of the conquered lands. The end of chapter 3 tells of Moses being forbidden to enter Canaan and his view of the land from a mountain top. In chapter 4 Moses earnestly commands the Children of Israel to obedience to the Lord God. Remember that there was by now a young generation of Israelites who had not personally experienced all of the things of which Moses spoke. They needed this review and encouragement. Remember also that even the people who had experienced God’s care in the past were quick to forget. They also needed this review of their history and the encouragement to remain faithful.
PART 2 – MOSES’ SECOND ORATION (5-26)
In these chapters Moses repeats the Law for Israel. The three kinds of law are repeated: the moral, ceremonial, and civil laws. Skim over these chapters in your Bible to survey the content.
PART 3 – MOSES’ THIRD ORATION (27-30)
In these four chapters Moses urgently pleads with the people and encourages them to be faithful in keeping the Law. The blessings of obedience are enumerated as well as the curses for disobedience. Moses confronts the people with a clear choice: life or death, blessings or curses. Survey these four chapters in your Bible.
PART 4 – MOSES’ LAST ACTS AND DEATH (31-34)
Chapter 31 tells of the appointment of Joshua to succeed Moses. Chapter 32 is a song that Moses composed. His song tells of the faithfulness of God, the Rock, and of the corruption of His people. In spite of their evil, the song says that faithful God still cared for His covenant people. In chapter 33 Moses blesses the tribes of Israel. Chapter 34 records the death of the 120-year-old Moses after he had been able to view Canaan from the top of Mount Nebo. When he died, “his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone” (v.7). He died because God called him. His role in the history of God’s chosen people was fulfilled. Joshua became the new leader.
MESSIANIC PROPHECY IN DEUTERONOMY
Deuteronomy 18:15 records an important prophecy of Christ. Moses is speaking in this passage and says: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him” (18:15). Memorize this great prophecy.
JESUS’ USE OF DEUTERONOMY
Jesus quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy frequently. When Jesus was being tempted by the devil in Matthew 4, three times he responded to the temptations with quotations from Deuteronomy. You will find his answers to the devil in Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 6:16, and Deuteronomy 6:13. In Matthew 22:37 Jesus summarizes the First Table of the Law by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. There are many other instances of Jesus quoting from Deuteronomy. The fact that Jesus frequently made reference to Deuteronomy shows the great importance of this book.
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