By our love, by our love…
We did it! We finished Numbers today and tomorrow we begin the Book of Deuteronomy. As we prepare to read Deuteronomy, I thought I would lay out some thoughts about this great book in the Bible.
Deuteronomy is essentially a sermon or series of sermons preached by Moses. It is motivational in nature, urging Israel’s faithful obedience to the covenant laws of Sinai given 40 years before.
The book contains the addresses that Moses gave during the final months of his life, when the Israelites were encamped in the plains of Moab prior to their entrance into the Promised Land.
The people were facing war, temptations, and a new, settled way of life – all under the unproved leadership of Joshua.
Moses’ congregation had not personally experienced the deliverance at the Red Sea or the giving of the law at Sinai; they needed to be reminded of God’s power and God’s laws.
As a reminder, the older generation (the generation that was part of the exodus from Egypt) has died off after the refusal to enter the promised land (see my blog dated March 27, 2014). Now that the younger generation is back at the border again, Moses wants to ensure the failure of their parents does not happen again.
The book may be viewed as a constitution for the theocracy of Israel once she was established in the land. Think about it – Israel in Deuteronomy is the only nation on earth that had as its “constitution” the Word of God.
The primary themes are God’s love and man’s obedience. Deuteronomy recognizes the need for God to act within the heart if Israel is to achieve faithful obedience to God’s covenant.
The ideal life in the land is for each member of the people, and the body as a whole, to display fervent love to God as the proper response to God’s love for them. This is the means by which the rest of the world is to learn of the true God – the very reason why Israel exists.
Hmmm…suppose we switch the words of the previous paragraph to each member of the church, and the church as a whole, is to display fervent love to God as the proper response to God’s love for them. This is the very reason why we as Christians and the Church as a whole exist.
When asked which commandment is the most important, (Mark 12:29-31) Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5,
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Jesus would go on to add, “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Imagine what our lives would be like if we embraced this idea to display fervent love for Jesus and our neighbor and adapted the Bible as our own “constitution”.
Until next time, keep reading…
Excerpts and references: ESV Study Bible, HCSB Study Bible, Gospel Transformation Bible