Tri-County church of Christ, Watertown, NY, North Country

November 1, 2002, Vol.2, No.21.
Two new articles every two weeks. Bible Question? E-mail us.
THIS ISSUE: "Introduction to Deuteronomy" (see below)
and "
The Four Gospel Accounts"

Overview of the Bible:
Introduction to Deuteronomy

by Keith Sharp


Moses is the author of the book of Deuteronomy (1:1-5). Chapter 34 was probably appended by Joshua after the death of Moses.


The name "Deuteronomy" means second law and is taken from the Septuagint (Greek) translation of 17:18.

The Law

The term "law" ("torah") (4:44) is the comprehensive word for the code of law comprising God's covenant with Israel, the heart of which was the Ten Commandments spoken directly to the people by the Lord on Mt. Sinai, written by the finger of God on the two tablets of stone and preserved in the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. Law has four characteristics: it is the expressed and binding will of the ruler (Nehemiah 9:13-14), it is a rule of action (Romans 2:13), it is the standard of judgment (James 2:9,12), and it requires obedience (Luke 6:46). Four terms are used descriptively of parts or aspects of the law in Deuteronomy: "statutes," meaning things prescribed or enacted by law; "judgments," i.e., rights, whether public or private, all that each could claim as his due, and all that he was bound to render to God or to his fellow men as their due; "testimonies," i.e., ordinances attested and confirmed by God; and "commandments," that is, charges laid upon men as the expression of divine will and which demand obedience. The law is also called a "covenant." This term means a divine ordinance, with signs and pledges on God's part, promises for Israel's obedience, penalties for disobedience, and ordinances for Israel to accept.


The theme of Deuteronomy is obedience (30:1-3,8-20). The book is a series of exhortations by Moses to Israel, delivered in the plains of Moab just before his death (1:1-3), in view of the fact he would not be able to lead them into the land of Canaan, to obey the law of the Lord in the land of Canaan. The old generation had died in the wilderness, the region east of the Jordan River had been conquered, and Moses was 120 years young (34:7) and had led Israel through the wilderness for 40 years (1:3). He must die, and Joshua was to take his place. Moses, the servant of the Lord, delivered a series of stirring farewell addresses to the new generation. The great deliverer-lawgiver-prophet presented three reasons for obedience: History, God's past goodness to Israel; Law, the goodness of God's law; and Prophecy, God's promised goodness to them for obedience.


God demanded that Israel obey His law. They could not plead that they were unable to do so, for Moses assured them the law was not impossible to obey (30:11-14). But, for Israel to obey God's law, they had to keep all His commandments always (30:2,8; 31:12), keep them carefully (5:32; 15:5), keep them diligently (11:13,22), and keep them with all their hearts and souls (11:13; 26:16; 30:2,10; 32:46). But Israel did not so keep God's law (1:19-46; 9:4-24). Thus, the Lord was just in condemning them (27:11-26; 28:15-68).

These truths in principle apply to the law of Christ but with one crucial difference (18:18-19; Acts 3:19-26). As Israel, we are able to obey all God's law (I Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 5:3), but we do not always do so, i.e., we sometimes sin (Romans 3:9,23; 1 John 1:8,10). Thus, God is just in condemning us (Romans 6:23; 8:3). The critical difference is that the animal sacrifices of the law of Moses could not take away the guilt of sin (Hebrews 10:1-4), whereas the sacrifice of Christ perfectly cleanses the inner man of the taint of iniquity (Hebrews 9:13-14; 10:12-17).


Introduction - 1:1-5

1. Moses' Last Sermons - chapters 1 - 30

a. First Sermon: Historical - 1:6 - 4:43
(Exhortations to Obedience Based on God's Past Goodness to Israel - 4:36-40)
b. Second Sermon: Legal - 4:44 - 26:19
(Exhortations to Obedience Based on Review of God's Law Delivered at Horeb - 5:1-3; 6:4-7; 7:11; 26:16-19)
c. Third Sermon: Prophetic - chapters 27 - 30
(Exhortations to Obedience Based on Blessings for Obedience and Cursings for Disobedience - 27:1; 28:1-2,15)

(1) This is the renewal with a new generation of the covenant made at Horeb. - 29:1,9-13.
(2) Because Israel disobeyed God, the cursings for disobedience (28:15-68) became the history of Israel written in advance and constitute an amazing, faith building series of prophecies.

2. Moses' Last Days - chapters 31 - 34

a. Moses' Charge to Joshua - chapter 31
b. The Song of Moses - chapter 32
c. Moses' Blessing of Israel - chapter 33
d. Moses' Death on Mt. Nebo - chapter 34

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