By now, you probably know the drill. If you are new to this, this series, as you may have deciphered, is an outline of the entire Bible, book by good ol’ book. Here are the previous sections: Part 1 | Genesis, Part 2 | Exodus, Part 3 | Leviticus, Part 4.1 | Numbers 1-8, Part 4.2 | Numbers 9-19, Part 4.3 | Numbers 20-27, Part 4.4 | Numbers 28-36
Part 5.1 | Deuteronomy 1-11 – In the beginning section of Deuteronomy, the journey from Mt. Sinai is recounted in a way that describes in detail the Lord’s purpose for all that the Israelites had been through. Through all the struggles and trials that the Israelites endured, the Lord revealed to them that He alone is God and that He alone deserves all of their love and heart and soul and might!
Part 5.2 | Deuteronomy 12-20 – As Deuteronomy continues, the importance of serving the Lord according to the law is emphasized. We learned of two constantly repeated phrases in these chapters: “at the place that the Lord will choose” and “so you shall purge the evil from your midst.” As the chapters ran through many laws and rules, these phrases continued to pop up and remind us that it important to meet the Lord on His terms, and it is important to purge evil from our lives.
DEUTERONOMY – In Numbers we saw the children of Israel go through a great journey from Mount Sinai to the promised land. Along the way however, we witnessed the unfaithfulness, worry, and complaining of the Israelites that so vividly describes much of our lives even to this day. The biggest moment of unfaithfulness was when they trusted in the bad reports of spies over the promise of God. Because they refused to enter the land that God had promised to give them, the Lord cursed them to wander through the wilderness for 40 years. He vowed that those above a certain age would never enter the promised land. Deuteronomy begins after the 40 years. The Israelites have again arrived at the promised land, and this time it is a new generation that needs to hear and/or remember their history. They need to be reminded of the law that has the power to grant them a relationship with a holy God, and they need to prepare themselves to conquer the land that was promised to God’s own nation.
- Deuteronomy 21 – 27 | Various laws, i.e. “a hanged man is cursed by God,” unequally yoked, a full and fair measure, the year of tithing, curses and consequences: These chapters of Deuteronomy quickly run through many different laws and rules for the Israelites to live by. At first glance, many of these laws can be taken out of context to paint a distorted picture of who God really is. When reading these chapters, it is extremely important to have an understanding of the big picture – the entire Word of God. The time of the Israelites was highly dependent on the law, which we don’t have the capacity to fully understand. But because of Jesus Christ our time is now one of grace, in which the first law has been abolished [or completely fulfilled] by Him. Now the consequences aren’t so drastic because we have His gift of grace to lean on – but that does not mean we should take advantage of it! (See Romans 6:1) So for us, all of these chapters and the entire law of the old testament has been consolidated into the question – Do you believe in Jesus Christ?. It has become so simple! However in the midst of these “old” laws, there are many notable ideals that should be considered even in our period of grace. In chapter 21 verses 22-23, we read of a law that curses those who were sentenced to death and hanged by a tree, and this same law is recited in reference to Christ becoming a curse for us in Galatians 3:13. We also see chapter 22 verses 9-11 stress the importance of purity and sanctification. Yoking an ox with a donkey to plow a field would not work because they are two very different creatures with different strengths. In the same fashion, yoking a believer with an unbeliever would not work, as discussed in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Providing a “full and fair measure” is also an interesting ideal described in chapter 25 verses 13-16. It prohibits the intentional use of inaccurate measures, which translates into being fair and honest as a general rule of thumb. To me, this means both being honest with everyone as well as meting out the proper judgement, rebuke, or discipline as necessary. As we reach the end of the run-through of the various laws, chapter 26 verses 16-19 reconciles it all by reiterating the ultimate purpose. Finally, in chapter 27, we see a declaration of curses for those who transgress the law.
- Deuteronomy 28 | The rewards and consequences for being obedient or disobedient to the law: This chapter discusses the far reaching implications of abiding by the law or denying it. Simply put, obedience to all of the commandments warranted immense blessings for the people immediately and for generations to come. Anything less than obedience to all of the law resulted in drastic curses, which brought many afflictions that would ultimately lead to destruction. In one case it is “blessing” that will overtake the children of Israel, and in the other, it is “curse” that will overtake them:
And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. | Deuteronomy 28:2
But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you | Deuteronomy 28:15
- Deuteronomy 29 – 30 | The covenant from Sinai reiterated to the Israelites in Moab – a summary of its ultimate purpose and importance: As the list of laws comes to an end, Moses declares to the new generation of the Israelites the purpose of it all! They have entered a “sworn covenant” with the Lord, in which He chooses to establish them as His very own people.
so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is making with you today, that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. | Deuteronomy 29:12-13
However, this immense blessing does not come absent of potential consequence. The children of Israel are clearly reminded that anything less than complete obedience to the covenant would result in them being cut off from the promise and cast out from the land.
all the nations will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, and the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’ | Deuteronomy 29:24-28
Chapter 29 ends with the description of only the two extremes of immense blessing or drastic consequence, but chapter 30 expounds on the circumstances by promising forgiveness to those who return to the Lord and obey His law with all their heart and soul. We see the mercy of our Lord as He establishes a unique and peculiar people, and to this day we continue to see His mercy so vividly manifested through Jesus Christ. Chapter 30 ends by wonderfully summarizing the entirety of this law. It simply describes the “choice” set before the Israelites, which is the same that is set before us today! The choice is either life or death.
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. | Deuteronomy 30:11-18
- Deuteronomy 31 – 34 | Joshua to succeed Moses as leader, the law written for the people to reference, the song of Moses written for a witness, the death of Moses, the blessing of Moses on Israel, Moses’ death: As Deuteronomy comes to an end, we see a major transition from Moses, who was an awesome leader and image of Christ, to Joshua who would take up the mantle of leader of the Israelites. As Moses’ time came to an end with the nation of Israel, we read of how he prepared the entirety of the law by writing it for the Levites. We also read of his song, which was written to exist as a witness to the faithfulness of God and the importance of the law. Chapter 32 documents the entire song of Moses and he warns the people of Israel to remember the law because it is not empty words, but their very life! The chapter ends with a reminder that because of his unfaithfulness (see Numbers 20) Moses would not enter the land promised to the Israelites. We learn of his impending death on Mount Nebo where he would be able to see the land that he could not enter. Finally, the book ends in chapter 33 with Moses’ blessings on the children of Israel before his death and the succession of Joshua in chapter 34.
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, non like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. | Deuteronomy 34:9-12
Deuteronomy is a fantastic picture of the depth of what was required to have a relationship with God. There were so many seemingly radical laws that, frankly, we cannot understand. However, they were still necessary regardless of our ability to comprehend them. Now that law has been wiped away. How good is it to have a Savior? How good is it to rely on Christ who became a curse so that the curse could be lifted from us? It is so good! We can now declare the same commitment to the Lord with confidence that we already have eternal life through Christ.
“This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice. And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.” | Deuteronomy 26:16-19
In the book of Deuteronomy, we saw the new generation of Israelites finally reach the promise land after wandering for 40 years, and although Moses could not enter because of his disobedience, we learn that Joshua was appointed successor and leader to the nation as they embarked on conquering the land the Lord had blessed them with.