Q. & A.
Q:Following the events of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is difficult without a map showing the places where major events happened. Is it possible to provide such a map in your Short Notes?
A:Thank you for this very useful suggestion. A map is provided, with this issue of Short Notes. For convenience of viewing, it is provided on pages 2 and 3. This map is taken from Thompson Chain-Reference Bible which was given as a reference in Short Notes on the Bible # 1.
The Book of Deuteronomy
It is the fifth and last of the five Books of Moses (Torah). In the Septuagint translation (285 BC), this book was called Deuteronomy to mean writing the Law for the second time. However, it is not a repetition of previous information, but it is a continuous reminder of God’s commandments, presented by Moses before his departure from present life, in renewed thought, to prepare the new generation for obedience that springs from faith.
Summary of the Book:
In essence, the Book consists of a sermon by the prophet Moses – the leader that has reached the age of 120 years – presented to the new generation that had not witnessed most of the events of the exodus from Egypt. They were children in the early years in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 14:22-24,31,32). This is the generation prepared to inherit the promised land. This sermon was presented by Moses in three parts, as three smaller sermons, in the Land of Moab, one month before crossing the Jordan River. In this farewell speach, the leader directs his people to, and reminds them of God’s commandments, after he has led them for 40 years in the wilderness. The book consists of 34 chapters.
Three important facts can be discerned in this sermon:
1. The Lord God is unique, there is no one like Him, performer of wonders, whose spiritual character is distinguished with truth, honesty, and kindness to those who obey His commandments.
2. God’s people are unique, being distinguished from all the people on earth as a holy nation and kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), hiers of the promises, beloved of God and, therefore, disciplined also by Him.
3. The relation between God and His people is a unique relation made through a covenant built on truth, justice and righteousness. It is a mutual relation in which God promises to take care of His People and protects them in return for their obedience to the commandments they received from Him.
Importance of Deuteronomy:
The value of the book appears clearly in several instances. Christ, in his confrontation with the devil on the mountain (Matthew 4:1-11), quoted all his responses to the devil’s temptations from Deuteronomy (8:3, 6:16, 6:13, 10:20). Also, Christ quoted Deuteronomy when he was asked about the greatest commandment (Mark 12:28, Deuteronomy 6:5). The book refers, for the first time in the Bible, to the
special curse of being crucified on a tree (21:22,23). Moses also refers to the coming of Christ the Lord in this Book (18:15,18,19, Acts 3:22,23).
Subjects of the book:
1. The first Sermon (Chapters 1-4): It details the work of God with their fathers, the chief events that occurred since they departed from Egypt, and the ingratitude of their fathers who responded to God’s merciful deeds by mischief and disobedience. In this sermon, Moses presents to the new generation the culmination of the spiritual thought that was harvested from the events of the journey, and requests their obedience and gratitude to God.
2. The second Sermon (Chapters 5-28): This sermon is a presentation of the Divine Law that encompasses most of the book: first: the ten commandments (chapter 5-11), and second: civil and religious laws to be followed in the promised land (chapters12-28). These latter laws are recitations of` the commandments and laws of the covenant (Exodus 20:22-23:33) and other miscellaneous laws (Exodus 13:3-16: 34:10-26). As people crawling in the spiritual infancy, God presented to them detailed laws for all aspects of their life: their relation to the gentiles, relation to false prophets, relationship to God, their worship and daily living. All these laws carry deep spiritual significance (typology). The sermon concludes by discussing the curses and blessings on mount Ebal and mount Gerizim (27). The people declared their acceptance of the law by saying “Amen”.
3. The third Sermon (Chapters 29,30): This is the conclusion in which Moses urges his people to be committed to the covenant that has been establised between God and them in the land of Moab as to the covenant that was in Horeb (29:1). At the same time that God warned that if any person disregards His Law, He will blot out his name from under heaven (29:20), He opened the door of hope for those who repent so that no one falls in despair (30:2). Also, He revealed to them that His Law is easy, being not far from them: “For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us’ …. But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Deut 30:11-14). Also, this sermon reveals how much God respects human freedom of choice, for people can chose between the way to life or the way to death (Deut 30:15).
4. Conclusion (Chapters 31-34): This contains final commandments, the appointment of Joshua the son of Nun to succeed Moses, the writing the Torah and its deposition in the ark of the covenant (chapter 31); then the final song of Moses (chapter 32) and the blessing of the tribes of Israel (chapter 33); and finally, the death of Moses, after God had shown him all the promised land from Mount Nebo, and his burial (chapter 34).
“Be strong and of good courage … It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you: do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deut 31:7,8)
Saint Mark’s Orthodox Fellowship urges you to study the Bible and encourage others to do the same. Please feel free to make any copies from these notes and distribute them to your relatives and friends. The fellowship welcomes any questions, comments or additional references, whether for publication in these “Short Notes” or in private correspondence.
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