November 1, 2002, Vol.2,
Two new articles every two weeks.
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THIS ISSUE: "Introduction
to Deuteronomy" (see below)
and "The Four Gospel Accounts"
Overview of the Bible:
by Keith Sharp
Introduction to Deuteronomy
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 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
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