Significance of Deuteronomy. James Dale, Audio (followed by text)
Deuteronomy Basics. James Dale, Audio
Freeze Church Sermon
April 15, 2018
Introduction to Deuteronomy
Love God – Obey God
Are we There Yet?
(Introduction to Deuteronomy)
When the elders met a few weeks before we finished the book of 2Peter, we discussed at some length the question “What book of the Bible should we study now?” Although we feel topics are important to preach about when it is necessary, we are predominantly committed to the expository style of teaching the Word of God. As one pastor put it, “The Holy Bible wholly taught.” Anyway, we batted around several ideas for a few weeks and eventually settled on Deuteronomy. Let me give you some reasons why this book is important to know as men and women of the Faith.
1. Understand Jesus better… It was Jesus’ favorite book. He quoted more from it than any other book of the Old Testament. When He was in the wilderness for 40 days and was tempted by Satan, he quoted from Deuteronomy as a response to each of Satan’s three temptations. (Deut 8:3; 6:16; 6:13)
2. Understand the New Testament better… There are more than 80 references in the New Testament to Deuteronomy.
3. Understand our country better … We should know this book if we are an American citizen. It could be argued that Deuteronomy had the greatest impact on American life, law, and culture than any other single source. Where did the founding fathers find their unique concepts of God-given inalienable rights, individualism, limited government, full republicanism, separation of powers, and an educated and virtuous citizenry?
“In an attempt to answer that question, political scientists embarked on an ambitious project to analyze some 15,000 writings from the Founding Era (1760-1805) with the goal of isolating and identifying the political sources referenced in each work. If the source of the references could be determined, then the origin of the Founders’ political ideas could be determined. The researchers identified 3,154 quotations and documented the source of each, finding that the single most-cited authority was the Bible. Thirty-four percent of the documents’ quotes were taken from the Scriptures … a percentage almost four times higher than the second most cited source.” (“The Founders’ Bible”, David Hutton, p.281)
Deuteronomy was the most quoted Old Testament book. Therefore, as we study through this book, keep your eyes open for passages that could have had direct application to the formation of the constitutional republic of our country.
4. Understand prophecy better … Deuteronomy has a prophetic overview of what will take place in the future in relation to Israel including the first mention of the tribulation and the coming of Jesus. (Deut 4)
Understand false teachers better … Deuteronomy gives a test for false prophets.
6. Understand Moses better … Deuteronomy records the death of Moses. One translation says “Died by the kiss of God”. It is as though God kissed Moses and put him to sleep. I’m not fond of other translations as a rule, but this is a beautiful thought (Deut 34). It is not the last we see of Moses. He pops up on another mountain 1500 years later with Jesus.
This book is the fifth of a series of books that Moses wrote called the “Pentateuch” … “Pente” means “five” and “Teuch” is the case that the scroll was kept in. These five books used to be one scroll in the original Hebrew but was probably divided into the five books by the Greek translators when the Septuagint was made. The focus of each book could be stated as:
Genesis – Plan of God
Exodus – Power of God
Leviticus – Person of God
Numbers – Providence of God
Deuteronomy – Principles of God
Knowing that Moses wrote these books, I always get a smile when I read Num 12:3.
Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.
It would be like my saying, “I am more humble than anyone in this room.”
The end part where the death of Moses is recorded was probably written by Joshua when he started to write his own book. Think of a captain’s log on a ship. When Joshua was written, it was at first placed on the end of the Pentateuch scroll which made it a “Hexateuch”. When it was translated later and divided, that part was kept with Deuteronomy.
The date is pinpointed at 1406 BC. Remember that Jacob’s descendants had gone to Egypt because of a severe drought. When Joseph died, the Israelites were eventually made slaves and God called Moses to take them out of Egypt to the land promised to Abraham. With great miracles, the Lord brought them across the wilderness and through the Red Sea and onto Mt. Sinai where they spent a year receiving the law and organizing into a nation. Then they went to Kadesh Barnea to enter the land, but after 10 of the 12 spies brought back a bad report of how scary the military was, they refused to go in. God punished them by wandering in the wilderness for 40 years until every soldier died that was 20 years old and older except for Joshua, Moses, and Caleb.
When 40 years were almost up they began to march toward the Promised Land again, only this time they wanted to come in from east of the Jordan River. They tried to cross on the King’s Highway but Edom stopped them at the border, so they had to go around. After an arduous journey, they camped on the east side of the Jordan River across from Jericho where Moses writes and teaches this book to the new generation of Israelites 40 years after the first law was given. This book covers about 2 months of time, and half of this time they were mourning for Moses after he saw the Promised Land …
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height, I view my home and take my flight.
(From the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer”)
It was written in the style that these people would recognize and relate to … called a Suzerain treaty. It was a contract that a king would have with his vassals. In this case, it this case a heavenly covenant that God the King was making with his people. But more specifically it was also used as a marriage contract. In other words, what Moses did in Deuteronomy was to take all the various facets of the three earlier books and present them in the form of an ancient marriage contract, what we would call a prenuptial agreement today. You are holding in your hands the contract signed between Israel and God where Israel becomes the wife of Jehovah. When you understand this, then you understand the many references to God’s jealousy and Israel’s adultery in the Bible. It also helps you understand the distinct roles in prophecy between the wife of Jehovah (Israel) and the bride of Messiah (the church).
The title of this kind of treaty was usually the first words of the book like a computer by default does with a document when you save it. The first word of Deuteronomy is “devarim” in Hebrew, or “These be the words”. But when the Old Testament was translated into Greek from the original Hebrew in the 3rd century BC (called the Septuagint, or LXX meaning 70 because 70 Jewish scholars did the translating), they divided the Pentateuch into five books and named this book with the Greek word “Deuteronomion”. “Deuteros” means “second” and “nomos” means “law”. Thus, this book is the “second law” … not second in the meaning of a different law, but second in the meaning of a second giving of the same law in the form of a wedding contract.
In addition, it was not a purely reiteration as in a copy of what was stated before. New situations arose not specifically covered the first time (i.e. – the daughters of Zelophehad). Plus, a new generation had risen unfamiliar with Mount Sinai. It is like trying to explain who Red Skelton was, or what a LP is, to most of you. The law had to be interpreted to a new generation. They had not even been circumcised during the last 40 years. (Josh 5:2-9; Deut 10:16)
The adult millennials today (born between 1981 and 1996) seem to be exactly like this. Many have lost what it means to be an American, much less what a Christian is. For instance, It is reported that 35% of the millennials are “nones”. (“Millennials increasingly are driving growth of ‘nones’”, Michael Lipka, pewresearch.org) In case this sounds funny to you, that is spelled N-O-N-E. It is a category that you can check when the Pew Research Center asks about your religious affiliation. And this figure is growing. We are becoming a secular nation at an alarming rate. As a nation, we have failed to do what Moses was doing … passing down our heritage.
This should greatly concern the Christian family. Are we teaching and training our children? The men’s retreat is addressing this topic, and we hope to give encouragement and practical advice to young families in our church, but also a sharp reminder to us grandparents to get involved with our grandchildren. Look at Deut 4:29.
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.
If we look at the words that Moses uses here, we can see what was on his heart.
- Land (153 times)
- Inherit (36 times)
- Possess (65 times)
- Hear (44 times)
- Heart (46 times)
- Love God (22 times)
- Obey God (27 times)
You could summarize this like … “If you go into the land that God has given you as an inheritance and hear His word and obey and love Him with all your heart, you will possess the land.”
If you realize that the motive for obedience should be love (John 14:15), then we could further condense the main purpose of this book to the title:
Love God – Obey God
Next week we are going to dig into this marvelous revelation of God to us. If you have time, read the first chapter and ask God to bless us as we teach through Deuteronomy.