Overview Of The Old Testament: Deuteronomy
God is calling us on to maturity: ‘go in and take possession of the land; (1:6,8; Philippians 3:13-14). Do not hesitate to move forward with God: ‘do not fear... It is a good land which the Lord gives us’ (1:21,25). Will we be the new generation, ‘a new creation in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:17)? In the giving and taking of the land, we see both grace and faith: ‘I have begun to give... this land over to you; begin to take possession...’ (2:31). Without God’s strength, the people of Israel would fail. With Him, they would be victorious: ‘You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you’ (3:22). Privilege involves responsibility. Israel was a privileged people, redeemed by the Lord, delivered from bondage ‘by a mighty hand and outstretched arm’ (4:34). Israel was a responsible people, called to obey the Lord: ‘Obey His laws and commands’ (4:40). The Word of God was spoken to Moses before it was spoken by him (5:27). We cannot begin to live for the Lord until we begin to listen to Him. ‘Hear’ and ‘do’ (6:1-3; James 1:22-25). In our obedience to God, there is to be the fear of the Lord and love for the Lord (6:2,5).
Deuteronomy 7- 10
Enter, Destroy, Possess (7:1-2). Don’t try to jump straight from entering to possessing. Don’t forget to destroy. We enter the Christian life through faith in Christ. We will not ‘take possession of’ a fuller enjoyment of His salvation if we refuse to ‘destroy’ the obstacles to His blessing in our lives. The ‘wilderness’ was a place of ‘testing’. God was ‘disciplining’ His people. He was teaching them to ‘walk in His ways’ (2,5-6). In the ‘wilderness’, we must remember this: ‘man does not live by bread alone... man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord’ (8:3). Everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord - His warnings as well as His promises! He speaks to us in warnings: ‘Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God’ (8:11). He speaks to us in promises: ‘the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land’ (8:7). ‘We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:4). Moses was an intercessor (9:25-29). The ministry of the Word needs to be grounded in prayer. Prayerfully seeking the Lord’s help, we are to place His Word at the centre of the life of His people (10:5).
God is at work among His people, teaching them many lessons. Through His precious promises and strong warnings, He leads us in the way of obedience and blessing (11:31-32). If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we need the whole Word of God - the warnings as well as the promises. ‘Destroy’ everything that threatens to take the place of God in your life. (12:2-3). Get rid of those things which keep you from crowning Christ as Lord of your life. Obedience to God involves an uncompromising attitude toward those who would lead people away from God. Those who say ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (13:2,6,13) must not be permitted to exert their evil influence on God’s people. God says, ‘You must not listen to them (13:3,8). We have been ‘earmarked’ as servants of the Lord (15:17). Being ‘earmarked’ for God involves listening to God (Isaiah 55:2-3). Pay careful attention to God’s Word (17:18-20). In our worship, we must keep the Lord at the very centre. Anything or anyone who distracts our attention from the Lord is no help to true worship (18:9-14). ‘A prophet like Moses’ (18:15): Jesus is the ultimate prophet - to see and hear Him is to see and hear God (John 5:19; 12:49; 14:9). He preaches God’s Word. He is ‘the Word of God’ (John 1:1).
Deuteronomy 20- 23
We are to fight for the Lord without fear, confident of His glorious presence (20:1-4). In the service of the Lord, we must not be ‘fearful and fainthearted’ (20:8). We are to be ‘good soldiers of Jesus Christ’ (2 Timothy 2:3). The offer of ‘peace’ is made (20:10; Romans 5:1). Some refuse to ‘make peace’. They choose to ‘make war’ (20:12). When the enemies of Christ and the Gospel are raging, we must be resolute in our commitment to living ‘as the Lord our God has commanded’ (20:16-18). We are to ‘do what is right in the sight of the Lord’. This will involve ‘going forth to war against our enemies’. It will involve ‘purging the evil from our midst’ (21:9-10,21; Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Hebrews 12:1-2,11). Care for ‘your brother’ (22:1-4). Our caring is not to be selective - ‘If the brother does not live near you or if you do not know who he is’ (22:2). God sees us as we really are. He ‘looks on the heart’ as well as ‘the outward appearance’. We must live to please Him, praying, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (14; 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139: 23-24).
Deuteronomy 24- 29
Justice for the vulnerable is grounded in God’s redemption (24:17-18). This is an important principle for us. God loves us. He has done great things for us. He cares. We are to care. Let His love be the guiding light in every part of your life. The people of Israel had a testimony. They had been redeemed by the God of love. Thankful for His love and salvation, they brought their offerings to the Lord (26:5-9). The call to obedience is grounded in the gift of salvation. Redeemed by the Lord, we are called to be ‘a people holy to the Lord our God’ (26:16-19). Through His strongly worded warnings, God calls us back from the way of disobedience (27:15-26;28:15-24). Through His promises of blessing, He calls us to the way of obedience, the only way to true happiness (28:1-14). ‘If you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God...’ (28:15). Why does God warn His people of the consequences of disobedience? He wants them to draw back from the way of disobedience and follow the pathway of obedience and blessing. God has done great things for His people - ‘in the land of Egypt... in the wilderness’ (29:2,5). Acknowledging Him to be the Lord their God, they were to live in obedience to Him (29:6,9). The way of obedience is the way of blessing.
For Israel, a real turning to the Lord with ‘all the heart and soul’ involved obedience to ‘His commandments... written in this book of the law’ (30:10). We are not left wondering what God wants us to do - ‘...the Word is very near you...’(30:11-14). Through His Word, God ‘sets before’ us a choice. He calls us to ‘choose life’ (30:15-20). Moses’ song was ‘a witness for God against the people of Israel’ (31:19). It can still help us, in this generation, to confess our sin - We ‘have dealt corruptly with Him’ (32:5) - and glorify our God - ‘I will proclaim the Name of the Lord’ (32:3). Here, we have both the warning of judgment and the promise of salvation. Rebuking ‘a perverse generation’ - ‘They are devious people, children who can’t be trusted’ - God says, ‘I will hide My face from them’ (32:20). When, in our need, we look to Him for mercy, we have His promise: ‘The Lord will... have compassion on His servants, when He sees their power is gone’ (32:36). ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (33:27): This is no guarantee of peaceful tranquillity. For Israel, there was conflict. ‘Saved by the Lord’, Israel had found true happiness. Still, there were ‘enemies’ to be ‘thrust out’ and ‘trampled down’ (33:27,29). If God’s work is to do well, there needs to be spiritual leadership. Moses had led God’s people in his day. Joshua was to take his place (34:9). Moses was important. Joshua was important. The Lord is more important - ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (