The Book of Deuteronomy


the book of Deuteronomy the epic
conclusion to the Torah and…Spoiler Alert: “Moses is going to die!” Now in order
to understand this book we need to remember the story so far so Israel has
escaped from slavery in Egypt then they spend one year at Mount Sinai
this is where they made the covenant with God to obey all of these laws and then
they wander around the desert for 40 years before they make it to the Jordan River
which is right across from the land God promised them. They are ready to go in this is
where the book of Deuteronomy begins and what this book is really is a speech
Moses gives these final words like a pep talk to the new generation of Israel
that’s about to go into the land and the speech, it’s broken up into three large
sections. So Moses begins the first part of the speech with somber tone because he’s
highlighting Israel’s rebellion and resistance which has been going on for
the last forty years and that sets up the rest of the opening section which is
Moses challenge to this new generation to be different from their parents and
to respond to God’s grace with love and obedience so he reminds them of the ten commandments
like the basics of the covenant and then he gives them this very famous line
listen oh Israel the Lord is our God the Lord alone love the Lord your God
with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength. Now in Jewish
tradition this is called the Shema because the first Hebrew word in this
line is Shema Israel and this became a very important prayer in judaism said
twice a day and it emphasizes the Israelite’s
exclusive commitment to their God the one true God who loved them who rescued
them from slavery because they’re about to go into a land where people are
worshipping many other gods and Moses thinks that loyalty to the Lord their
God is the only way to life now notice, these keywords in the Shema: listen
and love you are going to find these words all over this opening section of the speech
the word ‘listen’ in hebrew means more than just let sound waves come into your
ears it includes the idea of responding to what you hear so for Israel this
means responding to God’s grace by obeying the laws of the covenant and
then listen as always followed by love ya so love is the true motivation for
obeying the laws. Israel won’t obey without love and they don’t truly love
if they don’t obey. So there’s this tight connection between loving and listening
their runs through the entire book so Moses tells them that if they do listen
and love they will fulfill their original calling as the family at Abraham
to show all of the nation’s the wisdom and justice of God and so become a
blessing to them. The second big section in Deuteronomy is a large block of
laws and commands and this is where the book gets its name Deuteronomy means a second law and it’s
because many of these laws we’ve heard before in fact in the first line of the
book we’re told that Moses is here explaining clarifying the laws so he’s
repeating an expanding on the laws making them relevant to this new
generation there’s laws about how israel’s to worship God, laws about their
leadership structure, laws about social justice and then some more laws about their worship now after all of the laws of Moses warns
Israel of the consequences of their obedience or disobedience or in his
words the blessing for the curse if they listen and love they will experience
blessing and abundance in the land and if they don’t there’s going to be famine
plagues and they’ll be forced off their land into exile and that brings us to
the final section of his speech. Here Moses says I set before you today life or death blessing or curse so
choose life but then things get really interesting because after forty years
with these people, Moses knows they’re not going to obey and so he predicts their
failure and even their future exile from the promised land and he focuses on what
he thinks is the true source of the problem that they have hired and selfish
hearts it’s as if israel is incapable of truly loving God in a way that brings
about obedience, but this problem isn’t unique to Israel. Yeah, in fact Moses when he’s using this language
about blessing and curse he’s tying Israel’s story all the way back to all
humanity’s story from Genesis 1 through 3 so Adam and Eve they were blessed by God just
like Israel and given a choice to trust and obey God like Israel and then they
rebelled and brought a curse on the land like Moses knows israel is going to do. And so
these stories there about Israel’s hard heart but they’re actually a window into
the universal human condition. But Moses doesn’t give up hope entirely that’s
right he says that somehow on the other side israel’s exile God promises to
transform their heart so that one day they truly can listen and love. In the final chapters joshua
has appointed as the new leader of israel and then Moses takes the entire
law code, the one he just predicted Israel would break. Thats right and he put it into
the ark of the covenant and then Moses hikes up to the top of a mountain so we
can see the promised land from afar and then he dies and that’s how the
torah ends which is a strange place to end a story and it’s right there at the
climax will they obey the laws and live faithfully in the land or not. Well the story
does continue right into Joshua the next book of the Bible but this is the end of
the Torah and it’s been ended here for a reason the Torah is written for people who are
either outside of the land or who are still waiting for the fulfillment of
God’s promise to bless the whole world and so now as each generation reads the
torah they find themselves called to hope in what Moses hoped for: a new and
transformed heart that one day can truly listen and love. Guys with this video the Torah series is
complete it was two years in the making we’re super happy with how they turned
out and that because of you all they are available to anybody. Here is why we’re doing
this: We believe the Bible is one unified story it leads to Jesus and it has profound
wisdom for the world we hope that the videos have been helpful for you and
making sense and reading the Torah maybe by yourself or with the small group or
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