The book of Deuteronomy is often referred to as the “heartbeat” of the Old Testament. If you can wrap your mind around Deuteronomy, the message of the historical books and the prophets will come alive! The opening verses of Deuteronomy help orient the book in the direction it ought to be read. This month we will consider two foundations for Deuteronomy.
1. Theological Foundation – “These are the words that Moses spoke” (Deut. 1:1a). This was no mere retelling of history by any random person. Moses is the one whom God chose to be His prophet to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land. He is God ’s mouthpiece (Ex. 3:10 -17), God ’s prophet (Deut. 18:15), God ’s lawgiver (Ex. 20). When Moses spoke, the people listened because his words were God ’s words. Moses ’ final speeches come from an old prophet not far from the end of his life. He would see the promised land, but never lay a foot inside it until Jesus is transfigured on a mountain over 1,400 years later (Deut. 3:23 -27; Mt. 17:1 -3)! God ’s message to this generation of Israelites is as imperative as the message delivered 40 years before.
2. Geographic Foundation – Deuteronomy 1:1 continues – “beyond the Jordan in the wilderness” (Deut. 1:1b). The Israelites are outside the promised land. Unable to enter until the proper time, they now stand on the borders of the land promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:1 -3; 15:1 -21). The speeches of Moses in Deuteronomy take place over a short time, but the whole book begins and ends outside the promised land. Joshua opens up and the Israelites are crossing into the land with all Moses spoke to them in their minds and on their hearts. The Israelites are a people on the border and ready to enter, but only after God instructs them on the kind of people they are to be for His glory.
Next month, we will examine more foundations to understand this great book!