To put your finger on the pulse of the Old Testament, look to Deuteronomy! Last month we noticed two foundations in understanding this great book. The Theological Foundation emphasizes God and His writer, Moses. The Geographic Foundation sets the stage for a nation on the border of the promised land. Consider two more foundations in brief.
Historic Foundation – “It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb …In the fortieth year…” (Deut. 1:2 -3). Notice the time difference between verse 2 and 3 is a trip that should have taken eleven days takes forty years! Forty years previously, God declared it was time for the Israelites to enter the promised land. In verse 6, God even declares that they had stayed long enough on the mountain. In verse 8, He reiterates the promise from Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, etc. The Israelites rebelled in faithlessness and refused to enter the land. Their faithlessness compounded when they determined to go up “by themselves” to enter the land (41 -42). An entire generation would pass except Caleb and Joshua. Forty years for an eleven -day journey!
Thematic Foundation – “…the Lord your God carried you…” (Deut. 1:30). The Israelites struggled to remember the presence of God and all He has done. They failed to enter the land because they did not trust God ’s presence (Deut. 1:30 -33). They failed to take the land afterwards because they did not have God ’s presence (Deut. 1:41 -45). The Israelites survived in the wilderness because the Lord was with them (Deut. 2:7). Throughout the book there is a special emphasis on God ’s presence (Deut. 4:37 -39) and where He will place His name (Deut. 12:11 -14; 14:23; 16:2; 26:2). He promises to be with the Israelites in worship (Deut. 10:8; 12:4 -7), in war (Deut. 9:3 -4; 20:1 -4; 31:3 -4), and in peace (Deut. 12:8 -12).
These four foundations in Deuteronomy set the stage for the rest of the Old Testament. Joshua begins with the promise of presence (Josh. 1:5 -9). In Judges, there is rejection of the laws of Deuteronomy where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). First and Second Samuel contrasts an ideal king in man ’s eyes and an ideal king in God ’s eyes with the promise of Deuteronomy 17:14 -20. Kings and Chronicles display the promises, curses, and devastation of captivity all prophesied in Deuteronomy. In the prophets, one learns how much this book influenced their preaching.
It is no wonder why Deuteronomy is called the “heartbeat” of the Old Testament! But we know God ’s Story does not end there. These four foundations all point to Jesus.
Theological Foundation – Jesus is the Word (Jn. 1:1 -3).
Geographic Foundation – The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1:14).
Historic Foundation – Jesus is the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29).
Thematic Foundation – Jesus promises to be with us (Mt. 28:18 -20; Rev. 1:12 -20). How powerful is God ’s wisdom, how great are His promises!