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Daily Bible Study

Introducing Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy offers great riches of wisdom to strengthen and sustain our faith. It is striking that all three of Jesus' quotes from Scripture as he resisted the temptations of Satan came from Deuteronomy (Lk 4:4, 8, 12). A book so significant in the life of our Lord must have much to say to us as well.

The word Deuteronomy means "the second giving of the law." It's an appropriate title, because that is what the book of Deuteronomy is. The Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai forty years earlier. Now, in Deuteronomy Moses repeats the Ten Commandments, reminding the nation of Israel about the circumstances under which they were given and explaining again what they mean.

The difference between the first and second giving of the law is striking. The first time Israel had just been delivered from slavery in Egypt. They hardly knew God at all, and Moses was their new leader. Now they have had forty years of experience following God under Moses' direction. The first time the law was given, they were merely a collection of slaves who had just fled from Pharaoh. They were terrified of the people whose land they were about to invade. Now they are a unified nation experienced in combat.

The book of Deuteronomy is divided into four sections. In the first three sections Moses reminds the nation of what they need to know before they march into the land. In 1:1—4:44 Moses rehearses their history. The second section, 4:44—28:68, contains the Ten Commandments and the covenant commitments that God and Israel have made to each other. In the third section Moses address the consequences of unfaithfulness to the law and issues a call to determined and heartfelt commitment to God. The final section, 29—34, records Moses' goodbys and his death.

Moses was laying down his burden of leadership and turning it over to Joshua. For forty years he had lead the nation. How hard it must have been for him to let go! With great care and passion Moses speaks from his heart. You can feel his aching desire to make sure that he had done everything possible to get his people ready for the blessings and challenges of life in the Promised Land.

As we read the words of Moses in Deuteronomy, there is much we can learn about being the people of God today. Throughout the book, Moses issues a call that rings down through the centuries, through the Old Testament to the New, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (6:5). That is something we need to hear again and again and again.

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