Deuteronomy contains three addresses by Moses to the Israelites poised to enter the Promised Land of Canaan after 40 years tin the desert. Since Moses would not be going in with them, he wanted them to be prepared to live in their inheritance. The orations and songs found in Deuteronomy constitute his farewell to the children of
Moses himself stood on the divide between his earthly and heavenly life as he gave what amounts to his last will and testimony, urging the Israelites to reflect upon their past history with God: his deliverance from
Throughout his messages, Moses emphasizes the covenant that the Israelites have with God. Obeying the covenant would bring great blessing; rebelling against it would bring certain cursing. In fact, Deuteronomy as a whole reflects the pattern of an ancient Middle Eastern covenant treaty made between a powerful Lord (sometimes called a “Suzerain”) and a lesser servant (sometimes called a “vassal”). The typical pattern of a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty with its corresponding sections in Deuteronomy is as follows:
1. A Preamble or Introduction (1:1-5)
2. A review of the past relationship between the parties (1:6-4:49)
3. Basic stipulations that ensured fidelity to the treaty (5:1-26:19)
4. Sanctions in the form of blessings and curses (27:1-30:20)
5. Witness to the treaty (32:1)
6. A provision for the storage and reading of the treaty (31:1-34:12)
Just as the Israelites desperately needed God to deliver them from the bondage of
In Moses’ first address (Deut. 1-4), he looks back over the history of
In his second address (Deut. 5-26), Moses looks up to God and lays out the Israelites responsibility as God’s special covenantal people – they were to represent Him and His ways in the earth. They are to obey Him in things great and small.
In his third address (Deut. 27-33), Moses looks out to warn the Israelites of the consequences of disobedience:
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendents may 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” (Deut. 30:19, 20).
Moses exhorted the Israelites to be faithful to the covenant and receive God’s intended blessings and instructed the Israelites to renew their covenant once they entered the Promised Land in a special ceremony upon two mountains. The Levites were to recite on the barren peak of Mount Ebal the curses awaiting disobedience to God’s law, and on the lush slopes of Mount Gerizim the wonderful blessings ensured to those obeying God’s law.
Finally, this grand old man of God, now one hundred and twenty years old, departed from the stage of history. He sang a song for
Yet hundreds of years later, Moses’ feet finally did rest on
Deuteronomy was one of Jesus’ favorite Bible books; Jesus often quoted from it and used it to fend off the temptations of the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4). And He appeared in glory with its author on the slopes of Mount Hermon north of the