Deuteronomy is a book of transition as the nation of Israel is prepared to launch its military invasion to take possession of the Promised Land. The three messages delivered by Moses as his last words to God’s covenant people recount God’s past faithfulness (despite Israel’s pattern of disobedience and idolatry) and point to obedience to the revealed law of God as the key to future blessing, security and prosperity. Both general and specific stipulations of the law are reviewed as Moses exhorts the people to embrace the new leadership of Joshua and move forward in the path of covenant loyalty. His final exhortation lays out the blessings and cursings as he urges the people to CHOOSE LIFE.
BASED ON GOD’S DEMONSTRATED FAITHFULNESS, TAKE POSSESSION OF GOD’S PROMISES AND THEIR ASSOCIATED BLESSINGS
BY CHOOSING LIFE IN LOVING THE LORD AND OBEYING HIS COMMANDS
6:18 “You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to give your fathers”
10:12-13 “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?”
30:19-20 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So CHOOSE LIFE in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
(1:1–8) INTRODUCTION AND INITIAL CHARGE: POSSESS THE LAND —
AN UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S COVENANT REQUIREMENTS PREPARES ISRAEL TO CROSS THE JORDAN AND TAKE POSSESSION OF THE PROMISED LAND
A. (:1-5) Introduction to the Book of Deuteronomy
B. (:6-8) Initial Charge to Take Possession of the Land
I. (1:9–4:43) MOSES’ FIRST SPEECH: HISTORICAL PROLOGUE IN PREPARATION TO CROSS THE JORDAN AND TAKE POSSESSION OF THE PROMISED LAND
A. (1:9-18) Preparing for Conquest by Establishing Delegated Leadership Structure –
Qualified Leaders Share the Load and Adjudicate Justice
B. (1:19 – 2:1) History Lesson: Israel’s Earlier Disobedience Regarding Taking Possession of the Land – Israel’s Disobedience Flies in the Face of God’s Faithfulness and Assurances
C. (2:2-23) Travel Instructions – In Their Journey to Their Own Promised Land, Israel Must Respect the Sovereign Lands of Edom, Moab and Ammon
D. (2:24 – 3:11) Conquest of Transjordanian Amorite Kings (Sihon & Og) –
God Grants Victory as His People Fight the Battles to Possess the Promised Land
E. (3:12-29) Final Preparations for Crossing the Jordan –
Resolving Issues of Reward, Responsibility, Rulership and Rationalization Prepared God’s People to Move Forward in Their Mission of Conquest
F. (4:1-40) Covenant Faithfulness – Obedience to God’s Revelation –
Life in the Land Depends on Covenant Faithfulness as the Uniqueness of Israel Responds to the Uniqueness of Their God
G. (4:41-43) Historical Interlude – Three TansJordanian Cities of Refuge –
Moses Implements a Legal System in the Newly Acquired TransJordanian Territory that Combines Mercy and Justice
II. (4:44 – 26:19) MOSES’ SECOND SPEECH – COVENANT STIPULATIONS
A. (4:44–11:32) General Covenant Stipulations
1. (4:44-49) Introduction to Moses’ Second Address –
Proclamation of the Law in Preparation to Cross the Jordan
2. (5:1-33) The Foundational Ten Commandments –
The Exposition of Israel’s Covenantal Relationship Begins with the Foundation of the Ten Commandments
3. (6:1-9) Fundamental Truth and Expression of the Covenant Relationship –
Covenant Commitment Must be Wholeheartedly Lived Out and Propagated to Future Generations
4. (6:10-25) Protecting Future Generations Against Abandoning Devotion to God –
Both Prosperity and Hardship Can Tempt God’s People to Forget the Historical Experience of Redemption so Protect Future Generations with Historical Instruction
5. (7:1-26) Chosen to be a Holy Treasured Possession –
Election Defines Our Identity as God’s Treasured Possession (Involving Countless Blessings) and Orients Us towards Holiness (Requiring the Purging of God’s Enemies)
6. (8:1-20) Remember and Don’t Forget –
Remembering God’s Faithfulness in Tough Times (The Wilderness) Should Guard against Forgetting God in Prosperous Times so that We Obey Rather than Perish
7. (9:1 – 10:11) Refutation of Self Righteousness – Surprising Persistence of Covenant Privileges – Despite Israel’s History of Provoking the Lord to Anger Covenant Privileges Persist
8. (10:12 – 11:1) Pledging Allegiance to the God of the Covenant –
Times of Transition Require a Renewed Pledge to Total Allegiance to the God of the Covenant
9. (11:2-32) Loyalty Test = Key to Possessing the Promised Land –
Choosing Obedience, Love and Loyalty to God Ensures the Blessing of Possessing the Promised Land
B (12:1–26:19) Specific Covenant Stipulations
1. (12:1 – 16:17) Stipulations Regarding Worship and Religious Ceremony
a. (12:1-32) The Centralization of Worship –
b. (13:1-18) Warning against Spiritual Seduction –
Three Hypothetical Attempts at Spiritual Seduction Denounced in Order to Maintain Covenant Loyalty
c. (14:1-21) Holiness Reflected in Eating Regulations –
God’s People Must Manifest Their Distinctive of Holiness in Areas of Daily Living (e.g. Dietary Laws)
d. (14:22-29) The Basics about the Annual Tithe of Crops and Livestock –
Offering Tithes Affords the Opportunity to Joyfully Celebrate a Communal Feast in the Presence of the Lord
e. (15:1-18) Sabbatical Debt and Indentured Servant Releases –
The Sabbatical Debt and Indentured Servant Releases Grant a New Start for Israelites Who Have Fallen on Hard Times
f. (15:19 – 16:17) Consecration of Livestock and Celebration of Annual Feasts –
The Jewish Religious Sacrifices and Annual Celebratory Feasts Reflected Their Joy in God’s Deliverance, Provision and Abiding Presence
2. (16:18-18:22) Stipulations Regarding Leadership
a. (16:18 – 17:13) Righteous Administration of Judgment Purges the Evil from the Community to Maintain Righteousness
b. (17:14-20) Anticipation of the Monarchy –
Transition to a Monarchy Will Lead to Abuse of Power Unless the King Submits to the Supreme Authority of God’s Word
c. (18:1-22) Support of Priests and Discernment of Prophets –
God’s People Must Respond to Divinely Appointed Leaders with Material Support and Spiritual Discernment
3. (19:1 – 22:12) Stipulations Regarding Civil Law
a. (19:1-13) Laws Regarding Manslaughter, Cities of Refuge and Murder –
Refuge Must Be Made Available in Cases of Involuntary Manslaughter But Premeditated Murder Requires Capital Punishment
b. (19:14-21) Laws Regarding Personal Property and Judicial Witnesses –
The Law Ensures Both Personal Property Rights and the Integrity of Judicial Witnesses
c. (20:1-20) Laws Regarding Waging God’s Wars – God’s Wars Must Be Fought:
– In Dependence Upon God’s Strength
– With Courage and No Distractions
– According to God’s Rules of Engagement and
– Without Collateral Damage
d. (21:1-9) Purging the Guilt of an Unsolved Murder –
The Defilement of God’s Holy Land by an Unsolved Murder Must be Addressed via Ritual Atonement
e. (21:10-23) Maintaining Righteousness in Social and Judicial Contexts –
Potentially Complex or Troublesome Situations Require the Application of God’s Wisdom to Maintain Righteousness in the Promised Land
f. (22:1-12) Regulations Regarding Natural Acts Infused with Spiritual Significance –
The Covenant People of God Must Maintain Their Holy Distinctiveness and Function as Loving Neighbors as They Live Out God’s Practical Principles of
4. (22:13 – 23:18) Stipulations Regarding Maintaining Purity
a. (22:13-30) Purity of Marriage and Improper Sexual Relations –
The Examination of 5 Cases that Promote Sexual Fidelity and Protect against Abuse
b. (23:1-14) Purity of the Worship Assembly and the Military Camp –
The Presence and Favor of a Holy God Demand that Israel Guard the Purity of the Worship Assembly and the Military Camp
c. (23:15-16) Purity in the Treatment of Escaped Foreign Slaves –
Israel Must Remain Distinct from Her Surrounding Pagan Nations in the Treatment of the Disadvantaged
d. (23:17-18) Purity in Prohibiting Cultic Prostitution –
Israel Must Remain Distinct from Her Surrounding Pagan Nations in the Prohibition of Cultic Prostitution
5. (23:19 – 25:19) Stipulations Regarding Interpersonal Relationships
a. (23:19-25) Keep Your Vows and Don’t Take Advantage of Others
b. (24:1-4) Protecting Women from the Abuse of Remarriage in Certain Situations –
The Prohibition of Remarriage in Specific Situations Protects the Dignity of the Formerly Rejected Wife
c. (24:5-22) Demonstrate Righteousness to the Poor and Vulnerable –
Your History of Being Redeemed from Slavery in Egypt Should Motivate You to Show Compassion, Dignity and Righteousness to the Poor and Vulnerable
d. (25:1-19) Enforcing God’s Fair Standard of Righteousness –
Miscellaneous Laws Require Israel to Enforce God’s Fair Standard of Righteousness While Inflicting Shame on Those Who Offend
6. (26:1-15) Two Initiation Tithes upon Entering the Promise Land –
The Initial Presentation of First-Fruits and of the Third-Year Tithe Celebrated God’s Past Faithfulness and Called for Continued Blessing as the People Fulfilled their Covenant Obligations
7. (26:16-19) Conclusion to Moses’ Second Address –
Covenant Renewal Reinforces Israel’s Commitment as God’s Chosen People to Obey God’s Laws
(27:1-28:68) CENTRAL CHARGE: BLESSINGS AND CURSES
A. (27:1-26) Charge Issued to Israel –
Covenant Renewal Ceremony upon Entering the Promised Land to Charge Israel with Continued Obedience to God’s Law While Reciting Specific Curses for Disobedience
1. (:1-8) Celebration of God’s Faithfulness and Commitment to Future Obedience via a Commemorative Monument and Special Sacrificial Offerings
2. (:9-10) Charge to Listen and Obey in the Context of Covenant Renewal
3. (:11-26) Catalog of Curses Recited
B. (28:1-14) Catalog of Covenant Blessings for Israel –
Covenant Blessings Attach to the People of God Conditioned on Obedience
C. (28:15-68) Catalog of Covenant Cursings for Israel –
Covenant Cursings (the Reversal of God’s Blessings) Attach to the People of God Conditioned on Disobedience
III. (29:1-30:20) MOSES’ THIRD SPEECH: FINAL CHARGE
A. (29:1-29) Appeal for Covenant Loyalty –
The Perspective of History Should Motivate Covenant Loyalty
(:1) Transition – Covenant Renewal
1. (:2-13) Understanding the Provision of God’s Faithfulness in the Past Should Motivate Covenant Loyalty
2. (:16-29) Understanding the Painful Consequences of Unfaithfulness Should Motivate Covenant Loyalty
B. (30:1-20) Choose Life – The Two Constrasting Choices are Clear
1. (:1-10) Future Restoration and Prosperity Should Cause Israel to Reflect on the Need for Covenant Loyalty Now
2. (:11-14) Revelation Makes God’s Word Accessible, Understandable and Doable
3. (:15-20) Choices Have Consequences
(31:1–34:12) EPILOGUE: SUCCESSION OF LEADERSHIP
A. (31:1-29) Continuity of Leadership in the Transition from Moses to Joshua –
During Any Crisis Transition Time, We Need Assurance of God’s Ongoing Presence and Ultimate Leadership
1. (:1-8) Leadership Transition Maintains a Strong Continuity Based on God’s Ultimate Role as Commander-In-Chief
2. (:9-13) Leadership Transition Maintains a Strong Continuity Based on the Authority of God’s Law
3. (:14-23) Leadership Transition Maintains a Strong Continuity Based on Divine Commissioning and Lessons from History
4. (:24-29) Leadership Transition Opens the Door for Increased Rebellion and Disloyalty
B. (31:30 – 32:43) Israel’s National Anthem Extols God’s Justice and Mercy –
Rejecting the Rock of Israel Results in God Forsaking His People – But Not Utterly
C. (32:44-52) Testimony of Moses’ Song and Death –
God’s Judgment (as Reflected in Moses’ Song and His Own Death) Is Designed to Promote the Spiritual Life of Future Generations
D. (33:1-29) Tribal Blessings Communicated by Moses –
Tribal Blessings as the Last Words of Moses Provide Encouragement in Covenant Renewal and Conquest Preparation
E. (34:1-12) The End of the Road for Moses –
Despite the Unique Significance of Moses’ Ministry, He Must Designate Joshua as His Successor and Die without Entering the Promised Land
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
To understand the covenant relationship that God established with His people as He graciously liberated them from the bondage of sin and provided the power for them to respond in love and obedience to their King.
To encourage confident hope in God’s promises for the future as we see His sovereignty over the nations and over Israel on display.
To help us take sin and its dangerous consequences seriously and understand how far short we fall of God’s righteous standards. (We are prone to forget and to grow comfortable and complacent. We face the same type of temptations the Israelites faced.)
To motivate the proper response of fear of God and love for Him based on His display of mercy, undeserved grace and unrivaled love in our lives as He continually manifests His goodness and power.
To guard against idolatry by remembering the deliverance which the true God has already provided for us.
To lay the foundation for the heart of obedience (which Christ unfolds in His Sermon on the Mount) – that God is never satisfied with outward performance but rather with the condition of our heart towards Him.
Henrietta Mears: You will come to appreciate the full force & magnetic beauty of Deuteronomy only as you read its pages….Nothing in literature matches the majesty of its eloquence. Nothing in the OT has any more powerful appeal for the spiritual life. No book in all the Word of God pictures better the life that is lived according to God’s will & the blessings showered upon the soul who comes into the richness & fullness of spiritual living along the rugged pathway of simple obedience…If you want a taste of heaven on earth, become familiar with Deuteronomy.
Tyler Velin: I have grown a fond appreciation for this book, which is mostly a pastoral sermon to a people in a time of transition (Deut. 1:3). I had heard one commentator say that Deuteronomy is to the whole Old Testament what Romans is to the New Testament: a handbook of practical and gospel-centered theology. I couldn’t agree more (not to mention Deuteronomy is Jesus’ favorite book to quote in the gospels).
David Malick: Message Statement – Covenant history and stipulations made with Israel at Mount Horeb and interpreted by Moses in Moab across from Beth-peor necessitate committed obedience on behalf of the nation and its leaders (though ultimately through YHWH) to experience blessing, rather than cursing, in their occupation of the Land.
Matthew Patton: Deuteronomy is the mountain at the center of the Old Testament. Everything in the Pentateuch leads up to it, with its climactic renewal of God’s covenant relationship with his people. And everything in the rest of the OT flows out from it: the blessings of the land (Joshua–1 Kings), the curses of the covenant (2 Kings–Malachi), and the subsequent need for a savior. And at the top of the mountain is none other than the God of Deuteronomy, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When such breathtaking heights beckon, won’t you climb this mountain with me?
ESV.org: Key Themes:
God’s uniqueness (4:1–40).
Israel’s election (4:37–38; 7:6–8; 10:14–15; 14:2).
The land’s goodness (1:25; 6:10–11; 8:7–13; 11:8–15).
God’s faithful promise-keeping (1:8, 19–46; 7:1–26; 8:1–20; 9:1–10:11).
God’s power to defeat the enemies in the land (2:1–3:11; 4:1–40; 7:1–26).
Exhortations to Israel to love, serve, fear, and obey God (6:5; 10:12–13; 13:4).
Warnings against idolatry and instruction for proper worship of God (4:9–31; 5:6–10; 7:1–5; 8:19–20; 12:1–32; 13:1–18).
The impact of God’s laws (12:1–27:26).
Moses’ imminent death (1:37; 3:26; 4:21; 32:51; 34:1–12).