Not only are we over 1/6 of the way done with the Bible, but we finished the Torah today, and thus concluded the life of Moses. The last chapter of Deuteronomy is an emotional one. After reading the first five books of the Bible, I feel connected to Moses. God used a humble man in which to relay his holiness and decrees, and I am grateful to have the privelege of reading God's word through him 3400 years later.
Also, it is NOT TOO LATE to join the reading plan! I received an email from someone this morning that is devoting today to catch up and join the 30-day plan! Wow, hats off to her! From the sound of it, she will be reading Genesis-Deuteronomy all today. Talk about inspiring!
If you are unable to join the plan this month, then come back to the website later in the year. The plan will stay up.
As we finished Numbers 33-36 today, it's fitting that chapter 33 recounts the history of Israel. Since Monday of this week, we've read through hundreds of years of history (tens of thousands, millions and/or billions of years if considering Genesis 1-11). We've seen God reach out to his people, rulers control the Hebrews, God save the Hebrews by walking through the Red Sea (symbolizing the NT teaching of baptism), rebellion, war, bloody battles, celebrations.
The Bible is an amazing book, with something to learn on every page. It's the most carefully compiled history book of all time, the worldwide best-selling book every year, written in three continents with over 40 authors through over a 1400-year period. It is a library of 66-books, now translated to over 2,500 languages. Thank God that he preserved the most important book of all time, so delicately, so carefully, so intentionally, so that we can reach out for him now, because he's been reaching out to us for all time.
For some information on texts used for many current translations of the Bible, see my January newsletter here.
The book of Deuteronomy is best understood under the umbrella of three central themes.
1. God's covenant with his people Israel.
2. Israel's (specifically the second-generation Exodus) choice to remember, obey, and teach God's covenant.
3. God's inclusion of the poor, ailed, widowed, and the "weak" in society, showing God's love.
The book can be easily divided into three sermons given by Moses, with a closing out of Moses life, as well as an era.
1. Deuteronomy 1:6-4:49
2. Deut 5-26
3. Deut 27-30
Closing: Deut 31-34
As we can recall from from reading Numbers yesterday, the Israelites that were over twenty-years-old and over would not inherit the Promised Land, because they lacked faith in God's deliverance, a result of 10/12 spies returning from Canaan and presenting an implausible military victory (Numbers 13).
Deuteronomy is the second giving of the law (literally "second law"), which Moses presents to those that were under twenty-years-old at the time the first-generation Exodus Israelites were banned from the Promised Land. The second law would thus be given ~40 years after the first-generation was banned from the Promised Land. The entire book of Deuteronomy recaps the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, (and some patriarchal references in Genesis) as a reminder to God's people of all that God had done.
For example, Moses recalls Israel's defeat of King Sihon as well as their defeat of King Og (Numbers 21), the benevolence of God through the years in the wilderness, and the many ways that God saved them over and over again, always providing for their needs and leading them to holiness.
The first and second theme throughout Deuteronomy go hand in hand: Moses commanding obedience to the Lord from the second-generation Exodus Israelites, and their choice to follow or disobey the commands. In Deuteronomy 4, Moses takes special care to remind the people of how blessed they are to be alive, and how worthy God is to be obeyed.
If you're following along and didn't read the book of Deuteronomy today, I recommend reading Deuteronomy 4:1-14 below to understand a central theme of the book of Deuteronomy: the covenant of God, and Israel's choice to obey them.
“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal-peor, for the Lord your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today. See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
"Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children— how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’ And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments,[b] and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. And the Lordcommanded me at that time to teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess."
Today's recap is a bit shorter, which doesn't at all reflect the density, history, and applicability of the book of Deuteronomy for our lives. If you haven't read the Torah before, I highly recommend reading it! You can start now and finish in just a couple days if you wish. The Torah is a complex history of our lives as Christians and our ancestors finding God. If you're not a Christian, it's still the most fascinating story of all time. Now that we've finished the Book of the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy), we begin a new "chapter" (both literally and figuratively) in the BIble. Throughout the next few books, until the end of Kings, Israel fights to become a nation of God. They will inherit the Promised Land, establish themselves, and appoint kings. There will be blood, romance, sin, repentance, and everything in between! Buckle in tight, because the ride is going to get very bumpy.
Joshua is commissioned to lead Isral in Deuteronomy 31, and thus leads them into the Promised Land in the book of Joshua, which we will read tomorrow.