Deuteronomy contains three speeches and two poems, spoken by Moses in Moab before the crossing of the Jordan River. He gives the Ten Commandments to the chosen people here. Three chapters of this book tells of the last days of Moses.
Two key passages to focus on:
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – “And now Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 – “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants shall live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
The formal ratification of the covenant occurs in Deuteronomy 27 as Moses, the priests, the Levites and all Israel “Take heed and listen, O Israel: This day you have become the people of the LORD your God” (27:9).
Observations about the Book of Deuteronomy:
1. Deuteronomy consists of a series of farewell messages by Israel’s 120 year-old leader, Moses.
2. It covers the time frame of about one month and takes place entirely on the Plains of Moab.
3. Deuteronomy is the repetition of the deeds of God and the content of the Law for the benefit of the generation about to enter the Promised Land.
4. Deuteronomy is one of the four Old Testament books most quoted in the New Testament. The other three books are: Isaiah, Psalms, and Genesis.
5. Deuteronomy is not a second law, but an adaptation and expansion of much of the original law given on Mt. Sinai. It is enlarged and renewed on the Plains of Moab through three sermons by Moses.
There are three major divisions in the book
Moses delves into the past to remind this new generation of the undeniable facts of their history: the moral judgement of God upon Israel’s unbelief and the deliverance and provision of God during times of disobedience. The simple lesson is that obedience brings blessings and disobedience brings punishment.
This moral and legal section is the longest in the book because Israel’s future as a nation in Canaan will depend on a right relationship with God. These chapters review the three categories of the Law:
Testimonies – Chapters 5 – 11
These are the moral duties: a restatement and expansion of the Ten Commandments and an exhortation not to forget God’s gracious deliverance.
Statutes – Chapters 12 – 16:17
These are the ceremonial duties, such as sacrifices, tithes, and feasts.
Ordinances – Chapter 16:18 – 26
These are the civil and social duties. These include the system of justice, criminal laws, laws of warfare, rules of property, personal and family morality, and social justice.
In the final eight chapters, Moses writes history in advance. He predicts what will befall Israel in the near future – both blessings and cursings, and he predicts what will happen in the distant future – dispersion among the nations and eventual return.
Because Moses will not be allowed to enter the land, he appoints Joshua as his successor and delivers a farewell address to the multitude.
God Himself buries Moses in an unmarked grave, perhaps to prevent idolatry. Moses finally enters the Promised Land when he, along with Elijah, appears with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3).
The last three verses of Deuteronomy (and the Pentateuch) are an appropriate epitaph for this great man.
“But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)