Monday, June 14, 2010

Why Should I Study Deuteronomy?

The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth and final book of the Pentateuch, which are the first five books of the Bible and are written by Moses. It contains three speeches given by Moses before the wandering Israelites enter into the Promised Land. This book is not one that is really ignored, but I doubt one will find it on many Christians’ “Favorite Books” list.

The name of this book means “Second Law” and it comes from a mistranslation of the LXX which is the Old Testament translated into Greek. This is not a new law system, but is simply a restatement of the Law of Moses. Those who had been adults when the Law of Moses was first given had since died after wandering in the desert for forty years. This was due to their disobedience and unwillingness to take the Promised Land the first time they had been led to it. Those who were not before the land were the children of that rebellious generation. The purpose of this book was ultimately to make sure that this new generation would, “remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (8:2-3).

This purpose leads us to a very crucial lesson that many need to take heed to in today’s society. Remember that this was not a new law, but simply a reminder of all that God had commanded them. Those who follow God in these days need to do the same to prepare the next generation. Too often we leave the teaching of young ones up to the preacher or youth minister or the teachers of Sunday and Wednesday classes. Deuteronomy 6:7-9 teaches that the parents have a responsibility to teach their house at all times. Getting around three or four hours a week of studying the scripture (if even that much) is not going to cut it. This purpose also included the concept of obedience, disobedience, rewards and punishment. The current generation needed to be reminded of the law under which they lived, as well as the results of whatever actions they chose.

The setting of this book can teach us much as well. The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for many years, but were not going to settle down in their own land. They would go from eating manna to working farms and growing their own food. There would be new duties for the people, and as Moses would soon die, there would be a new leader. Despite the changes in their lives and the new setting in which they would be, the law which was given on Sinai would remain the same. God’s law is always relevant. Even today for Christians, no matter where they may be, under what type of government they might live or what their economic situation is, the law of God is relevant and authoritative.

Finally, we see the love of God in this book. Chapters 1-4 deal with His love as seen in the past, 5-26 show His love in the present and 27-34 show His love for His people in the future. In fact, the law He gave was an expression of His love as He wants to save us, and wants us to have a means of expressing our love towards Him. This love did not give justification for man to do as he pleased, and Moses actually ends his third speech with a discussion of the results of rebellion against God.

Deuteronomy is an important book for us today. As we are all wanting to prepare ourselves and others as we seek to enter our “promised land” of heaven, we should learn from the lessons presented to the Israelites as they prepared to enter theirs.

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