Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Deuteronomy 1 - What God Has Already Done

LINK: Deuteronomy 1


OVERVIEW OF DEUTERONOMY

This book was written by Moses  in about 1407/6 BC. Of course, he did not write the final summary after he died. It was probably written by Joshua. 

The name Deuteronomy comes from the Greek word meaning literally "a second law." It means that Moses went through the law a second time for the Israelites before they stepped into the land God had already given them. It was a further explanation in case they did not get it the first time.


The whole book is a series of discourses given by Moses while east of the Jordan. It is a transitional book as they prepared for a new land, and new leader (Joshua). In order to prepare the people for this change, Moses looked backward to the journey through the wilderness and forward to the prospect of the land.


The New Testament evidence attributes this book to Moses (see Mark 10:3-5 and Hebrews 10:28). It is the most quoted book in the Gospels. When Jesus was in a wilderness of His own, being tempted by the devil, He replied to each temptation with a quote from the wilderness book of Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:4,7,10/Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, 16).


In addition to a review of the history of Israel and the Law, one of the mega-themes of this book is love! A popular notion among contemporary Christians is the assumption that if one wants to hear about the love of God, one needs to read the New Testament. If one wants to know of the wrath of God and learn about the fear of the Lord, one needs to go to the Old Testament. This sets the two testaments in sharp opposition to one another; when ,in actuality, the Old and New Testament reflect both God's wrath and love. In fact, it is hard to really understand the full picture of God's love or wrath without an understanding of these characteristics based on both testaments. 


William Dyrness states:
. . .studying the New Testament without a background in the Old is like listening to only the last movement of a great symphony. Unless we begin at the beginning, we miss the sense of developing themes and their subtle variations. To fully appreciate the music of the Bible, we need to listen to its early movements.  (Themes in Old Testament Theology by William Dyrness)
So, as we study Deuteronomy, let's attempt to take a look at the love of God by looking at the "early movements" of His character found in this great book and how this aspect of His character influences (or at least should influence) His people!


Here is a general outline of the book:


1) Moses' First Address: What God has Already Done (1:1-4:43)
2) Moses' Second Address: Covenant Obligations (4:44-26:19)
3) Moses' Third Address: Call for Renewal of Covenant and Curses and Blessings (27:1-29:1)
4) Moses' Fourth Address: A Summary of Covenant Commands (29:2-30:20)
5) Moses Passes the Baton to Joshua (31-34)


BACKGROUND FOR DEUTERONOMY 1

Moses stood on the edge of the Promised Land and reviewed the journey from Mount Sinai to the edge of the Promised Land. While it should have taken them only eleven days, it took them forty years to arrive! He traced the journey as far as Kadesh where the unbelief of the Israelites prohibited them from entering sooner (Numbers 13-14).


REFLECTION


Ever feel like you are wandering in circles in the Christian life? We are to be journeying forward toward the Promised Land (heaven) in our walk with the LORD, but what should be a journey of a few days is often stretched out for years! I do not want to be like the Israelites!


APPLICATION

Remember the time line of your journey in the application section of Numbers 33-34? If you are just joining the Bible Book Club, here is a handout that explains the timeline in more detail: Time-line Reflection Questions.


These questions may help you go even deeper:

Where do you see obstacles in your life that have continued to hinder you from moving forward? Do you see a besetting sin or character issue that continues to keep you back or knocks you off track? Do you see patterns of fear and lack of faith? Do you see patterns of disobedience? Do you see unresolved conflict? Do you get discouraged and want to quit at certain points and go no further? Why? Do you get to a point and find opposition from the enemy too much to bare and shrink back?


Try to determine what keeps holding you back from growing and moving forward and talk to God about it. Let a review of past failures be a teaching tool for you, but do not let a morbid preoccupation with those failures of the past hinder you either! Even Moses failed but he continued to move forward. So can you!!!


PRAYER

WOOHOO! We are on the edge of the Promised Land. We have a "better country" waiting for us LORD. Praise YOU! Thank You that we have so much to look forward to. What hope we have! Help us to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12) looking to Jesus who endured suffering and opposition so that He might make a way to the Promised Land! Hallelujah! Amen.
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