Book of Deuteronomy
Moses wrote Deuteronomy. After receiving the Law at Mount Sinai, Israel was in the wilderness between Sinai and Canaan for forty years. With a new generation rising up, Moses had to keep repeating the Law and giving people instruction. Instruction was given in the last couple of weeks of Moses’ life, and so this is a re-explanation. The name “Deuteronomy” comes from two Greek words. Those two were “deuteros,” which means “second,” and “nomos,” which means, “law.” Therefore, the idea is for the Law to be restated.
The Book of Deuteronomy can be split into four parts overall, which involve the three addresses of the Law and then Moses’ final activities before his death. In Moses’ first address, he recounts the recent history of Israel. Through this, he speaks about leaving Mount Sinai and going to Kadesh – which was a weary journey filled with troubles. He mentions the troubles faced with the people not wanting to enter Canaan, even though it was God’s Will for them to do so. The Israelites blatantly rejected God’s Will, and God almost exterminated them again as we saw, but Moses appealed before God and obtained mercy for His People. However, the stubbornness had cost the Israelites a punishment that was necessary so that they would cooperate with God’s plan. Their wilderness dwelling for forty years had to be done, their war without God was not fruitful, and they were driven back to the wilderness because they wouldn’t depend on God for His help. So, Moses, in all this mess, instructed them. One of his sermons was on being obedient, because that was the biggest problem with the Israelites is that they were highly disobedient, or utterly rebellious to God’s commands.
God wrote the Laws down and commanded Moses to teach them. After teaching them on obedience, Scripture explains that Moses established three cities of refuge in an area settled East of Jordan. Three more cities would be later established on the West of Jordan, after the conquest of Canaan – as we see at the end of chapter 4. Also, at the end of chapter 4, Moses begins his second address to them, which he talked about man’s obligations to the covenant. In this, he outlines the Ten Commandments, the Shema and Imperatives, practical commands, and other miscellaneous warnings. He also outlines commands concerning the following: worship, false prophets, food, tithes, the Sabbatical Year, annual feasts, and leaders. He lastly identifies civil and social laws that are to be followed.
Before getting deeply involved in teaching all those laws in his second address, he talks about the power of love in chapter 6. (This is expressed in the Shema it appears, an important prayer.) No matter what people wanted to do or not do to fulfill God’s Law, they had to first have a strong and genuine love for God Himself. Love would give them the power to walk in His glorious ways. They were instructed to teach their children likewise, and that family life was to be guided by God’s Law. Moses wanted households to be a place where people would love God’s Law and live by it! God loved Israel as His exceptional and elect people. He wanted love in return. God grieved when people didn’t return His love, and that they would find their individual satisfactions in their own things rather than on God’s things. God acted for the good of Israel, and He just wants people to know that He loves them! Moses got the grip on the love of God and wanted to share his dynamic revelation of it. How awesome is that?!
After this, Moses begins his third address in chapter 27, as we see he wants to talk further about the list of blessings and curses first. It was imperative that people understand that the fulfilling of the Law brought great blessing; however, breaking just one command of the Law shall attach to them all of the curses. First, Moses lists the curses, and then speaks about the blessings (and more curses). This has not only shaped the people’s attitude about God, but shaped people’s attitudes through time about God. For people have always wanted the blessings, but not the consequences for their (foul) actions. But, Moses continued to peg obedience, and wanted to get them to understand God and His Ways. Because of the lack of understanding, Moses felt the need to continually remind people of God’s Ways and covenant. God promised renewed prosperity for their renewed obedience; for love and obedience lead to true life and prosperity, but self-will and disobedience would lead to disaster and death.
Moses began, after renewing the covenant, to do his final works for God before he was to pass away. He knew he only had a few more days, so he handed over leadership to Joshua, as we saw the proceeds of it at an earlier time. He reminded Joshua and the people of the task ahead. For if they put their trust in God during the task ahead, they would be guaranteed victory and possession of the Promised Land. Moses then made three separate provisions to ensure that people didn’t forget the covenantal obligations. He first commanded priests and leaders to be sure that the entire Law was read publicly every seven years. Secondly, he wrote a song that would stick in people’s minds about the constant warning and reminder. Lastly, he put his own record that he wrote of the Law in a safe place beside the Ark, which was a witness against the people when they would turn away from it. This copy beside the Ark was the absolute referencing standard for all the matters of life and of conduct – as we see at the end of chapter 31. These were all practices that Moses wanted in place so that the Law would never be forgotten. Even though it was a lot to read, it was still necessary to reread the Law every seven years.
Soon, we see that he wrote a song, which was a reminder of God’s loving care for them and of the need for faithfulness toward Him! His idea is that people would memorize and sing this song. Then, we see God’s instruction and blessing for Moses. A “will” is displayed where it details the blessings and other provisions for tribes and other people. Also, a couple of prophecies appeared to be mentioned before we see the death of Moses. Before Moses died, God allowed him to climb up to the peak of Mount Nebo, which was in the Abarim Range, and view the fullness of His magnificent land that His People were soon to possess. With Joshua as the new leader, not him nor anyone else would have the unique experience like Moses did, who met God face-to-face and performing such mighty works. The abundance of God’s provision of the Law had been fulfilled, and ways to preserve it were set into place before the death of Moses.