Thank you for joining us this week. Deuteronomy is a unique book where we read of the man and the event that establishes the religion and faith of Israel and tells us of the divine calling and destiny of Israel. The existence of Israel even today is bound up in its faith. There is the assurance of God, the reality of his existence and his chosen people.As we began our read we must take note of the lack of responsiveness of the people. They wandered for 38 years, a whole generation had passed because a majority of Israelites had not the courage and faith to follow their calling. They were a faithless generation. This fact should cause us to take a hard look at our direction in life and our response to the calling of Christ. Do we wander in a faith of convenience or do we labour in the call of our Lord and Savior? If we learn anything from this book it should be that the call to faith is essential for every generation.
This series on Deuteronomy will be a challenge for all of us. It is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, credited to Moses and it is the ending book or scroll of the Pentateuch, also referred to as the first five books of the Bible. This first five are also referred to as the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible. In chapter 17: 18-20 it is indicated that this could also be a second law.
Deut: 17- 20
18 When he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law written for him in the presence of the levitical priests. 19 It shall remain with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 neither exalting himself above other members of the community nor turning aside from the commandment, either to the right or to the left, so that he and his descendants may reign long over his kingdom in Israel.
When you get into scripture study, especially as a layman, you are confronted with a number of rabbit trails that lead to a number of rabbit holes. Rabbit trails are the many directions that the information can take you, then leaving you stranded in a hole of contributing thoughts. I hope to avoid this and spare you this confusion. Sometimes referred to as the Book of Laws, the theological community finds that description to be inadequate. The book describes itself by content as being composed of law but also containing instruction, directives, guidance, and adds also that it is made up of decrees, statues and ordinances, Deut: 4: 44-45
44 This is the law that Moses set before the Israelites. 45 These are the decrees and the statutes and ordinances that Moses spoke to the Israelites when they had come out of Egypt,
There was one reference that caught my attention…and without going into detail that might take us down one of the many trails here I offer an insightful thought from the NIB page 272 which says that this book could be considered as a comprehensive guidebook for Israel to live as the people of the Lord God. If we want a comprehensive term to describe what we will find in the book it most likely would be polity. I found Webster’s to have the best definition… the form of government of a religious denomination. So far we have discovered that the book of many names is a possibility when discussing Deuteronomy as we have referenced it as the last book or scroll in the Pentateuch, the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint or Greek Bible, and the one that was most familiar to me, a book of laws. These first five books make up the first part of the Hebrew Bible and lay the foundation for what we have come to know as the Jewish Nation. They provide the catalyst for the heirs of Abraham who are considered to be bound by a covenant to the Lord God through Moses on Mt Sinai as to how to live their lives as people of God. At this point I think it best to move on into this book. We start with Chapter 1 vv. 1-5.
Moses spoke in the wilderness before crossing the River Jordan into the promised land. The expanse and totality of this land that they are to live in is stated as simply “beyond the Jordan”. Moses prepares to introduce a divine law, for it stands above the “law of the land” or the “law of the King”. This is a law intended for the entire nation of Israel. We read in Deut: 6:20, that even the children are to be taught the law and are expected to respond to it in a proper manner. We read also v. 4 that Israel can win victories when obedient to the law. We began in the first chapter which I will break down into three segments.
Let’s look at vv. 1-8.
Moses recounted to the people all that God had given him. Here they were at Horeb, only eleven days from Kadesh-bernea. How could this be? They had wandered for forty years due to their disobedience and bad conduct. Had they now come to understand the value of and need for obedience? If so, they might be ready to go forward. How many times have we as church or as a believer been disobedient to God’s will in order to do our will? But God in his wisdom and mercy having brought us into hard times knows when we have been tried enough. When God commands us to go forward his word and law sustains and encourages us.
Moses reminds the people they now have in place a body of fundamental principles and law by which they are to be governed. He then says that my and your presence here is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. We have good laws that have been given to us and good men to carry them out, in these things are the proof of God’s goodness to the people of Israel and the care of Moses.
To paraphrase Moses he says to the people….You have gone through so many trials, come through that terrible wilderness and now you are so close to that happy settlement in the land of Canaan. It must have been hard on those hypocrites to find their work for naught, to be so near to the kingdom of God. The core of all this was an unbelieving heart. Had any of them ever looked into the Holy Land and understood that for it to be a good land they must go into it? The problem is that disbelief springs forth from a disobedience to God’s laws. Can they not give thanks for God’s mercies received, confess and seek forgiveness of their sins, renew their covenant to God and seek the courage to renew their service to God? Do you reading this today perhaps believe that as a nation we also should do the same?
On our own plans don’t always work out but here we read that with courage in the exercise of our faith as we go about our duty to our calling and to follow the Lord fully, when we look past the opposition we will triumph and firmly hold onto our promised blessings.
Life is Good
Resources: New Interpreters Bible Volume 2
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary/ Deuteronomy