After forty years of wilderness wandering the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. A journey of eleven days from Mt. Horeb would have taken them to this point (Deut. 1:2) but it took them forty years because of their rebellion against God.
The Book of Numbers describes their forty year wilderness wandering and God’s care for them. Now a new generation of Israelites (all the others except Caleb and Joshua were dead by now and Moses himself was not permitted to enter Canaan) were getting ready to cross the Jordan. At this point Moses takes the opportunity to remind the Israelites of their history and encourages them to obey God and all His laws.
“Some passages [of Deuteronomy], for genuine eloquence are unsurpassed in literature, even by Demosthenes, Cicero, Pitt, or Webster.” – Halley’s Bible Handbook.
“You will come to appreciate the full force and magnetic beauty of Deuteronomy only as you read its pages. Read it through in a single sitting.
Nothing in literature matches the majesty of its eloquence; nothing in the Old Testament has any more powerful appeal for the spiritual life.
No book in all the Word of God pictures better the life that is lived according to God’s will, and the blessings showered upon the soul who comes into the richness and fullness of spiritual living along the rugged pathway of simple obedience.” — What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
Jesus and the Book of Deuteronomy
“The Christian heart always quickens its beat when it comes to Deuteronomy, for this book was a favourite with our Saviour. From this book He quoted in His temptation in the wilderness with His adversary the devil.
The following passages were His weapons with which He repelled the tempter: Matthew 4:1—11; Luke 4:1—13; Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; 6:13; and 10:20. Thus this book of Deuteronomy, God’s book about obedience, Moses’ last charge to his people, seems to have about it the peculiar blessing and protection of Christ Himself. . . .
Jesus often quoted from Deuteronomy. In fact, it is almost invariably from this book that He quotes. He took Deuteronomy as His code of conduct (Luke 4:4, 8, 12). He answered the devil in the hour of temptation from its writings.” –What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
“If we read Deuteronomy 21:22—23 and compare it with John 19:31, we see why Christ was accursed as He hung between heaven and earth on the cross. In Galatians 3:10—13 we read that He is cursed because He was bearing our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). What effect did this have upon Paul (2 Corinthians 5:14—15)?” – What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
The Prophet Like unto Moses (Ch. 18:15—19): “This prediction may have a secondary reference to the Prophetic order at large, that is, a succession of Prophets, to be raised up for emergencies in Israel’s history. But its language unmistakably points to One Illustrious Individual. THE MESSIAH. It is one of the Old Testament’s most specific predictions of Christ. Jesus himself so understood it, John 5:46. And so did Peter, Acts 3:22.” — Halley’s Bible Handbook.
“In Deuteronomy 18, God tells of the great Prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ, He alone knows the future. In this day, many are turning to enchanters, soothsayers, fortune-tellers, mediums, consulters with familiar spirits and the black art of sorcery. Spiritualism is rampant today. If you want to know what God thinks about the modern séance, look up Isaiah 8:19, 20; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; and study the dark story in 1 Samuel 28 in the light of I Chronicles 10:13” – What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
New Testament Citations: The New Testament quotes Deuteronomy more often than any other Old Testament book. Twenty-one of the 27 New Testament books allude to Deuteronomy; some scholars count 90 different citations. Jesus, himself, drew from it during his temptation (Matthew 4). – from How to Read Deuteronomy, Family Devotional Study Bible.
Key Themes in this Book
Blessings and Curses
Descriptions of God
The first reference to taking possession of the land of Canaan comes in Deut. 1:8, where God says, “See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them” (NIV).
Why is taking possession so important? We find that taking possession is a Biblical principle. For example, God promised Abram the land of Canaan (Genesis 13:14—17). At the same time, God did not want Abram to be idle. Instead he was commanded thus: “Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you” (v. 17).
Similarly, God wanted the Israelites to go in and take possession of the promised land. Yet the Israelites did not do so but instead 10 of the 12 spies spread a bad report about the land and discouraged the people from taking possession of what God had already given them (Numbers 13 and 14). And they were punished by God for not proceeding in faith to claim the land that was already given to them.
But later in the Book of Joshua we find the new generation of Israelites who crossed over, fighting their enemies and conquering the land and thus taking possession and finding rest from war.
Taking possession is a theme close to God’s heart. That is why in the Book of Deuteronomy we find many references to it (1:8, 21, 39; 2:12, 24; 3:18, 20; 4:1, 5, 22, 47; 9:4, 5, 23; 11:11, 31; 17:14; 26:1; 30:5; 31:3; 32:49). Coming to the New Testament we find that we are coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17, Galatians 4:7). T
hat means that God has given us everything that belongs to Jesus Christ. That is why Paul wrote, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are `Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the `Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 1:20 NIV). Through faith we are to take possession of all that God has promised us in His Word (see Hebrews 6:12).
Life Lesson: This is an oft-quoted illustration. Even though you might have heard this many times before, it serves our purpose. See, God’s promises are like cheques. When you receive a cheque you might become happy because it might contain a huge amount in your name. But as long as you keep that cheque at home it is of no use.
You are to go to the Bank and present the cheque and put your signature on the reverse side so as to claim your amount. Similarly, you have to take the promises of God given in His Word and present it to God Himself and claim it for yourselves in prayer and in faith. We find Old Testament saints and New Testament disciples doing this. For example, see Nehemiah 1:8, 9; Acts 4:30.
“Deuteronomy is a book of remembrance. The name `Deuteronomy’ means `second law,’ which indicates that the law is repeated. Moses did this to remind the people what God had done for them and what they were to do to serve Him when they reached the Promised Land. It omits the things that relate to the priests and Levites and includes the things that the people should know.” — What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.
This word [Remember] is repeated many times in this book:
4:10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words.”
5:15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
7:18 But do not be afraid of them [nations stronger than them]; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.
8:2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years.
8:18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.
9:7 Remember this and never forget how you provoked the Lord your God to anger in the desert.
11:2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm.
15:15 Remember that your were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. (also also 16:12; 24:18, 22)
16:3 so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.
24:9 Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam along the way after you came out of Egypt.
25:17, 19 Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt . . . When the Lord your God gives you rest . . . you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget.”
32:7 Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.
“Moses seemed to fear the coming prosperity even more than the rigours of the desert, and he voiced those fears in chapter 8. In the promised land, a lush country of streams and fruit trees and valuable resources, the Israelites might forget God and begin to take credit for their own success. That, at least, was the danger, and the reason Moses kept urging, `Remember!’
Remember the days of slavery in Egypt and God’s acts in liberating you. Remember the trials of the vast and desolate desert, and God’s faithfulness there. Remember your special calling as a peculiar treasure. Do not forget, as a prosperous nation, what you learned as refugees in the Sinai.” – Notes on Deuteronomy, Family Devotional
Life Lesson: God knows that our memories are short. Therefore He gives us the command to remember how He led us in the past. We should not be a forgetful or an ungrateful people. That is why the Psalmist wrote: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2). Times of prosperity are generally dangerous to a Christian because that is the time he might forget God (see Deut. 28:47 and 48).
The command to obey God is one of the main thrusts of the Book of Deuteronomy. Look at this section: “Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. . . .
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about these decrees and say, `Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’ ” — (Deut. 4:1, 2, 5, 6 NIV).
6:3 says, “Hear O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you.”
In 6:24 and 25 Moses told the Israelites that obeying the laws of God would be their righteousness and that they would prosper when they feared the Lord and did so. In 8:20, destruction as happened to other nations is promised if they failed to obey God (see also 30:17, 18).
In 11:13—15; blessings are promised if they faithfully obeyed the commands that God gave them (see also 11:27). From 11:22 onwards, victory over enemies is promised if they carefully obeyed all the commands of God. Then, the promise “Every place where you set your foot will be yours” (11:24) would come true.
11:32 concludes that chapter asking the Israelites to “be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today.” 12:28, 32; 13:4, 18; 15:5; 26:16—19; 27:10 all deal with obedience.
Chapter 28 is a grand chapter telling us of the abundant blessings of obedience and the severe curses that accompany disobedience.
Chapter 30:1—10 is a section of hope. It promised the Israelites that after all the curses listed out earlier had come upon them; if then they turned to the Lord and sought Him with all their heart and obeyed Him, then God would restore them to prosperity.
30:14 assures the people that “the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” In 30:11 Moses had told the people that what had been commanded was neither too difficult for them or beyond their reach.
In 32:46 Moses told the people to command their children to obey carefully all the words of the law. In 32:47, Moses declared, “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
Life Lesson: What a sad thing these days it is to hear promises from God’s Word quoted by preachers without telling the people that blessings are promised ONLY IF THEY OBEY!
Deuteronomy 6:4—9. “These six verses (4—9) may well be the most quoted portion in the entire Bible. Known as the Shema, they are recited every morning and every evening by orthodox Jews— and have been for hundreds of years. They graphically emphasize the importance of God’s laws to the Israelites” — Taken from Notes in the Family Devotional Study Bible.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and your gates” Deuteronomy 6:4—9 NIV.
The emphasis is on loving God. “This is repeated over and over, 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22. And it was reemphasized by Jesus, Matt. 22:37, and given first place in his teaching.” — Halley’s Bible Handbook.
“For the perpetuation of God’s Ideas among the people, they were not to depend on Public Instruction alone; but were to teach them diligently at Home (4:6—9). Because books were few and scattered, the people were to write certain important parts of the Law on their doorposts, and bind them on their arms and foreheads, and talk of them constantly.” — Halley’s Bible Handbook.
“Deuteronomy repeats verbatim many of the laws given in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Yet it is far from a rulebook. A different spirit pervades it: the spirit of love. The rules in a Deuteronomy read more like a guide on `How to Have a Successful Family` than `How to Repair a Car.’ To maintain a car you need only follow the rules. To maintain a close personal relationship you need more—you need love.
Deuteronomy focuses on motives: why people should obey laws. The preceding three books barely mentioned the love of God for his people, but Deuteronomy again and again refers to it (see 4:37; 7:7 —8; 10:15; 23:5). The author portrays God as a father with his children, as a mother who gives them life, as an eagle hovering over its young.
In return, God asks for obedience based on love, not a sense of duty. At least 15 times in the book Moses tells the Israelites to love God and cling to him. God wants not just an outward conformity, but an obedience that comes from the heart. (Later, in summing up the Old Testament, Jesus quoted the first and greatest commandment from Deuteronomy: `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ [Matthew 22:37; Deuteronomy 6:5].” — Taken from Notes on Deuteronomy, Family Devotional Study Bible.
Moses taught God’s law to the people of Israel (see Deut. 4:1, 5, 14; 5:31; 6:1; 31:19, 22) and he wanted them to “Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deut. 4:9; 6:7; 11:19) (see also 4:10). Deut. 6:7 says, “Impress them [the commandments] on your children.”
Teaching of the law is thus given paramount importance. Even when God gave guidelines for the selection of a king from among themselves the reading of the law was given utmost importance:
“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law . . .” (Deut. 17:18, 19 NIV).
Life Lesson: Teaching the Word of God is of supreme importance. It is the life-blood of any church. But the modern tendency is to focus on certain verses or passages that promises to bless God’s children. But that is like eating sugar and chocolate in the morning for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner and for supper as well. Soon the eater will fall sick. We need a balanced diet which can only be found by reading and meditating on the entire Word of God.
Read 2 Timothy 3:16 which says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NIV).
Paul also told Timothy to teach others too: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2 NIV). Also it is instructive to find out how much time Jesus spent in teaching his disciples, the crowds and the time He spent teaching in the synagogue.
Blessings and Curses
Moses said, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him” (Deut. 30:19, 20a NIV). [emphasis added].
It is clear that Blessings in life is a choice that we make. Blessings come when we choose to obey God. Life, prosperity, blessings, increase are all promised to the obedient. But those who disobey are threatened with death and destruction and curses. Read Chapters 28 and 30 of Deuteronomy to understand that God’s blessings are always preceded by the clause, “If you obey the Lord your God.”
“Chapter 11. A great chapter. Like Chs. 6 and 28, it is an appeal for Devotion to God’s Word and Obedience to His Commandments as basis for National Prosperity, with wondrous Promises and ominous Warnings”– Halley’s Bible Handbook.
“Chapter 28. The Great Prophecy about the Jews. An Amazing chapter. The Whole Future History of the Hebrew Nation is outlined. The Babylonian Captivity and Destruction by the Romans, is vividly pictured. The `eagle,’ 49, was the ensign of the Roman army. In both the Babylonian and Roman sieges of Jerusalem, men and women ate their own children for food, 53—57.
The Jews’ Dispersion, Wanderings, Unceasing Persecutions, Trembling of Heart and Pining of Soul, even unto the present time, are all graphically Foretold. This 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy, placed along side the History of the Hebrew Nation, constitutes one of the Most Astounding and Indisputable Evidences of the Divine Inspiration of the Bible. How else to account for it?” — Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Descriptions of God
A consuming fire, a jealous God (4:24; 5:8; 6:13)
A merciful God, compassionate (4:31; 32:36)
God the Creator (4:32; 32:6)
His Presence and great strength (4:37)
God in heaven above and the earth below (4:39)
The Lord who loves and keeps His oath (7:8)
The faithful God (7:9; 32:5)
A great and awesome God (7:21)
[implied] God the Provider (8:4)
The One who disciplines (8:5); the image of a father disciplining his son.
The One who gives the ability to produce wealth (8:18)
A devouring fire (9:3)
God who is angry (9:8); full of wrath
Sovereign Lord (9:26)
God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes (10:17)
Defender of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien (10:18)
Performer of great and awesome wonders (10:21)
His majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm (11:2)
[implied] Redeemer (13:5)
His Name (14:23)
The Prophet [Jesus Christ] (18:15)
One who fights for you (20:4)
One who moves about in your camp to protect you (23:14)
The Rock (32;4, 15, 18, 31)
Your Father (32:6)
The Most High (32:8)
Like an eagle hovering over its young and spreading its wings to catch them (32:11)
[implied] Mother, “the God who gave you birth” (32:18)
The eternal God (33:27)
Deuteronomy records the farewell speeches of Moses and the song which he taught the Israelites at God’s command (31:19; and Ch. 32). It also contains the record of the blessings that Moses pronounced on the Israelite tribes just before his death (Ch. 33). This is comparable to the blessings that Jacob pronounced on his sons just before his death (Genesis 49).
The Book also records the sadness of Moses as he prays to God to allow him to enter into the Promised Land and is denied permission (Deut. 3:21—29). However God allowed Moses to climb Mount Nebo at the top of Pisgah (34:1) and view the Promised Land. Finally he died there.
He had an unusual honour that no man has ever had. God buried him! Jude 9 contains a reference to the burial of Moses. To this day no one knows where his grave is (34:6). Most Bible Scholars believe that this was to prevent the burial place of Moses being made a place of idolatry.
Moses died strong for the Bible records: “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone” (Deut. 34:7). Moses, before his death and under God’s command, had encouraged Joshua and passed on the torch of leadership to him (34:9).
“Perhaps the greatest lesson that comes out of his life is that we should pay as much attention to our strengths as we do to our weaknesses. Moses was noted for his meekness and humility (Numbers 12:3), but it was in this—an area of strength—that he was tempted and gave way. Because of that particular lapse, he was shut out of Canaan.” — Character by Character by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor J. Partridge.
“Although Moses, because of his sin, was forbidden to enter the Promised Land, he did eventually arrive there—in company with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration! The law kept him out, but grace—as expressed in Jesus—brought him in!” — Character by Character by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor J. Partridge.
● You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance (1:6, 7). Dear young friends, there is a time to advance. Proceed in faith when God indicates to you that it is time to move.
● Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (1:21). Exploits of faith were not done by extraordinary men or women, but by people who were afraid and discouraged like any one of us. But they took to heart the command of God not to be afraid or discouraged and acted in faith. You also do likewise because “the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (3:22).
● To search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go (1:33). Learn to trust God to show the way you should go. He is the one who goes ahead of you to prepare places for you. See also Psalm 32:8 and Isaiah 48:17.
● Because he [Caleb] followed the Lord wholeheartedly (1:36). Following God is not a part-time business. It should be done wholeheartedly. Such wholehearted devotion is always rewarded by God. Remember Jesus also called His disciples with this simple command, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19).
● These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything (2:7). He is a God who blesses you in all the work of your hands and watches over your journey and provides for you. Psalm 34:10 says, “But those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”
● “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully” (4:15). Idolatry is strictly forbidden: Read the following passages carefully: Deut. 4:15—19; 7:25—26; 17:1—7; 18:9—13. 13:1—18. Have you understood how what God has forbidden comes into your life through innocent looking games like palm reading and consulting your astrological or zodiac signs which has been condemned by God? Remember, “Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deut. 18:12a).
● “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah” (Deut. 6:16; see also Exodus 17:7). This is a warning to us if we fail to trust God for the present in spite of God acting for us in miraculous ways in the past. The only place in the Bible where God calls us to test Him is in the case of giving tithes (Malachi 3:10). There God said He would surely pour out His blessings on those who give tithes; in that He can be tested.
● “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” [emphasis added] (Deut. 8:3 NIV). Have you ever tried to understand the depth of the truth that God taught. Bread alone does not sustain life. The quality of your life depends on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Therefore feed on God’s Word every single day. It has lifegiving power in it!
● “It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations” (9:5). Friends, we should not boast that our ability or our merit has obtained blessings for us. Acknowledge the grace of God which makes it possible for you. “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (8:18).
● “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” (10:12, 13 NIV). Compare Micah 6:8. In a nutshell, whatever God wants you to do is written here. This is all that God asks of you; to fear God, to love Him, to walk in all His ways, and doing this with all your heart and soul. Instead of outward religious observances, God desires a circumcision of your heart (10:16).
● “And rejoice before the Lord your God” (16:11), “Be joyful at your Feast” (16:14). God wanted the Israelites to celebrate the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. It included everybody in the family and even all those who had no family to belong to. So we understand that God has kept days of rejoicing in His worship calendar. Read also Nehemiah 8:10 which says, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
● The Israelites (all the men) were commanded to appear before the Lord at the place He chose three times in a year. And it was commanded, “No man should appear before the Lord emptyhanded: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you” (Deut. 16:16, 17). Let us also learn to give to God in proportion to the blessing He has given us and to appear in His presence each time with something to offer.
● God commanded that every seventh year debts should be cancelled (15:1). If (15:5) this regulation was obeyed, God promised to bless them so that they “will lend to many nations but will borrow from none” (15:6). Towards the poor God wanted His people to be openhanded and to give generously (15:10, 11).
He wanted them to give without a grudging heart. Proverbs 19:17 says, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done” (NIV). Similarly God gave commands regarding loans and pledges (Deut. 24:6, 10—15) and also regarding leaving what is left behind for the poor during harvest (Deut. 24:19—22).
Daily labourers should be paid their wages before sunset since they are counting on it (24:15).
Note: Unlike other ancient books, the Bible gives major emphasis to `nobodies’—poor people, aliens, widows, orphans, the sick. Many of the laws relating to them repeat laws from the three preceding books. But Deuteronomy gives hidden insights into why God has such special concern for nobodies and why the Israelites should also. It also gives intriguing ideas on how such concern can be translated into actual political and economic policies. As you go through this book, mark each passage that relates to such people.” — From How to Read Deuteronomy, Family Devotional Study Bible.
● When going to war, anyone who had constructed a new home, or planted a vineyard and was yet to enjoy its fruit, or was pledged to be married to a woman, (see also 24:5) or wass afraid or fainthearted were to be sent home (Deut. Ch. 20). Another practical instruction was not to cut down fruit trees while they laid siege to a city (20:19, 20). Yet another practical instruction was not to ignore “your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen on the road” but instead to help your brother get it to its feet (22:4).
Deut. 22:5 refers to clothing. Matthew Henry comments on this, “The distinction of sexes by the apparel is to be maintained, for the preservation of our own and our neighbour’s chastity.” He also adds, “1. Some think it refers to the idolatrous custom of the Gentiles: in the worship of Venus, women appeared in armour, and men in women’s clothes. 2. It forbids the confusioning of the dispositions and affairs of the sexes. 3. Probably the exchange of garments had been used to gain opportunity to committing uncleanness, and is therefore forbidden.”
● Chapter 27. The Law to be Recorded on Mt. Ebal. “Joshua did this. Joshua 8:30—32. In an age when books were scarce it was a custom to record laws on stones, and set them up in various cities, so the people could know them. It was done in Egypt, and in Babylonia . . . Moses commanded Israel to do it first thing on arrival in Canaan. The stones were to be plastered with plaster, and the laws written thereon `very plainly’ ” Halley’s Bible Handbook
“Chapter 31: Moses Wrote This Law in a Book. Moses, 40 years before, had written God’s Words in a Book, Ex. 17:14; 24:4, 7. He had written a Diary of his Journeys, Num. 33:2. Now, his Book completed, he handed it over to the Priests and Levites, with instruction, that it be Read Periodically to the people.
The Constant Teaching of God’s Written Word to the people is the safest and most effective way to guard against the corruption of their religion. When Israel gave heed to God’s Word, they prospered. When they neglected it, they suffered adversity.
Reading of God’s Book brought Josiah’s Great Reformation, II Kings 23. Likewise, Ezra’s, Neh. 8. Likewise, Luther’s. New Testament books were written to be Read in the Churches, I Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16. God’s Word itself is the Power of God in the human heart. O that the Present-Day Pulpit would somehow learn to keep itself in the background, with God’s Word in the Foreground” — Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Chapter 31:24—29 sums up the tragedy of God’s people in spite of having God’s Laws to guide them. Moses knew from what the Lord had said to him (31:16—22), that the people would remain stiff-necked and rebellious. That is why God wanted Moses to teach them the song that is recorded in Chapter 32 as a witness against them.
Let us examine ourselves, therefore, to find out whether we are stiff-necked and rebellious. If so, let us not remain so any longer. Instead, let us be encouraged to seek the Lord: “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 4:29 NIV). When we do so, we will find this promise of God true, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27a NIV).
“The book of Deuteronomy would have been recognized by its first readers as a relational book. Its form closely follows the pattern of certain types of covenants well known in OT times – of treaties made between a ruler and his subject. This treaty form was well defined, and the content of Deuteronomy fits the form well. There was an important message for Israel in the form…the question dealt with in Deuteronomy is one of how God’s OT people are to live out the relationship which God has already acted to establish.
The well known format of this kind of treaty included: Historical prologue – Introducing the relationship which the ruler has with his subjects Basic stipulations – Stating general principles that govern behaviour Detailed stipulations – Explaining certain specific regulations to be followed Document clause – requiring ratification by the subjects Blessings – Explaining the benefits to be provided under the treaty Cursings – Warning of the punishments to come if the treaty is broken Recapitulation – Reviewing and summarizing the treaty
This form does correspond closely with the content of Deuteronomy. The passages that fit the treaty form are: Prologue (1:6-3:29); Basic stipulations (5:1-11:32); Detailed stipulations (12:1-26:19); Document clause (27:1-26); Blessings (28:1-14); Curses (28:15-68); and Recapitulation (29:1-30:10). ” — Lawrence O. Richards, Complete Bible Handbook.
“[The OT writers’] use of treaty terms and ideas shows that they found the relationship between treaty partners an apt picture of that between God and his people…Jesus himself clearly assumed that his disciples were familiar with covenant thinking, when he referred to his death as inaugurating the new covenant (Mark 14:24)” — Lion Concise Bible Handbook.
More on Eloquence
Three orations by Moses are found in this book, Ch. 1—4, Ch. 5—28 and Ch. 29—30. They are examples of great oration. This inspired Houston Peterson to begin his classic world-acclaimed collection, “A Treasury of the World’s Great Speeches” with the speech of Moses in Deuteronomy5. The following is his editorial comment. “In reading the Bible by chapter and verse (an editorial
arrangement derived from the Renaissance) we hardly realize that the Old Testament is largely made up of speeches, orations and sermons, that are still unsurpassed models of eloquence. `The Hebrews were so fond of oratory,’ writes Edgar J. Goodspeed, `that they cast their entire law in the form of speeches, uttered by God to Moses, or by Moses to the people, the priests or the elders. . . .Hebrew eloquence breaks like a flood in The Book of Deuteronomy. The great feature of it is the address of Moses to the people as they stand at last, after forty years of wandering, on the borders of
the Promised Land. . . .The poet-orators of Judaism, that long line of prophets from Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah in the eighth century before Christ, on to Malachi, Obadiah, and Joel in the fifth, . . . were beyond doubt the great contribution of the ancient Hebrew genius to the thought of
mankind.’ ” — (How to read the Bible, 24—7).
Life Lesson: If you want to be a great speaker, make it a habit of reading the English Bible ALOUD prayerfully every day (minimum 20 minutes), trusting God not only to impress upon your heart its truths but also its communication principles. The King James Version is unmatched for itsmajesty and poetic beauty but difficult for a modern reader while versions like The New International Version is in modern English and easy to understand. ESV, NASB or some other version you are comfortable can be followed.
Deuteronomy 1:6, 7a Break Camp and Advance
Deuteronomy 1:32,33 In Spite Of This
Deuteronomy 5:21 You shall Not covet
Deuteronomy 8:3 Man Does Not Live on Bread Alone
Deuteronomy 28:13 Make You the Head, Not the Tail; If
Deuteronomy 29:18b Root Producing Bitter Poison
Deuteronomy 29:29 Secret Things and Things Revealed
Deuteronomy 31:3a The Lord Your God Will Himself Cross Over Ahead