Overview of Deuteronomy Presented by Christopher R. SmithTo Capital City Vineyard, Lansing, Michigan March 10, 2013
To communicate His word to us in the Bible, God used existing human languages. Hebrew and Aramaic Greek
To communicate His word to us in the Bible, God also used existing human literary forms. Cry for Help Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might. Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth.Psalm 54(part of a book): Complaint Arrogant foes are attacking me;A Psalm of Supplication ruthless people are trying to kill me— people without regard for God. Statement Surely God is my help; of Trust the Lord is the one who sustains me. Petition Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them. Vow of Praise I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good. You have delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
Sometimes the literary form makes up a whole book. OPENING Sender’s name The elder, To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth— Recipients and not I only, but also all who know the truth— because of the truth,2 John which lives in us and will be with us forever:(a whole book): Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, theEpistle Good wish Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. MAIN Business of letter It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing BODY you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work. I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Travel plans Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy CLOSING may be complete. The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings. Greetings
A well-known literary form in the ancient worldwas a treaty between an emperor (“great king”) and a subject king.1. Great king’s name and titles2. What the great king has done for the subject king3. First term: exclusive allegiance4. Additional terms: tribute, passage of armies, etc.5. Blessings for keeping treaty, curses for breaking it6. Safekeeping of treaty copies
Because the emperor or great king was also known as a suzerain,this literary form is sometimes called a suzerainty treaty covenant.
“But how is that supposedto help me understand the Bible?I haven’t read any‘suzerainty treaty covenants’ lately.”Actually, you have . . .
The Ten Commandments: A Suzerainty Treaty Covenant1. Great king’s name and titles ➞ “I am Yahweh your God”2. What the great king has done for ➞ “Who brought you out of Egypt,the subject king out of the land of slavery”3. First term: exclusive allegiance ➞ “You shall have no other gods before me”4. Additional terms ➞ (The other nine commandments)5. Blessings and curses ➞ Worked into the commandments: “That it may go well with you,” “The Lord will not hold anyone guiltless,” etc.6. Safekeeping of treaty copies ➞ Commandments written on stone tablets, kept in the ark of the covenant
We’ve already seen that existing literary forms can make up part of a book, or all of a book.After suzerainty treaty covenants werediscovered in the mid-20th century,a brilliant Old Testament scholar namedMeredith G. Kline realized that the entirebook of Deuteronomy was in that form!He published his interpretation in the1963 book Treaty of the Great King:The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy
As you read through Deuteronomy, you can follow this literary form1. Names and titles of the great king (1:1-5) • Warfare (20:1-20)(Name and qualifications of Moses, his agent) • Laws on various subjects (21:1-22:12) • Sexual relations (22:13-30)2. What the great king has done for his subjects: • Exclusion from the sanctuary (23:1-14)historical prologue (1:6-3:29) • Laws on various subjects (23:15-26:19)A special appeal by the great kings 5. Blessings for keeping the treaty and cursesrepresentative (4:1-43) for breaking it (27:1-30:18)3. First term of the treaty: exclusive allegiance 6. Securing the treaty(4:44-11:32) • Witnesses (30:19-20) • Succession (31:1-8)4. Other terms of the treaty: • Custodians of the treaty copies (31:9-29)• How exclusive allegiance is to be lived out • A song of witness (32:1-52)practically (12:1-14:21) • Epilogue: A blessing on the tribes (33)• Offerings and festivals (14:22-16:17)• Community leaders (16:18-18:22) Death of Moses (34)• Safeguards of justice (19:1-21)
The theme passage of Deuteronomy is found in the section on exclusive allegianceHear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love theLORD your God with all your heart and with all your souland with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4“Love” in the Bible and in other texts of the ancient worldmeans loyalty between covenant partners, whether thecovenant is political, marital, or religious. John Kohlenberger Read Through the Bible in a Year, p. 18
The theme passage goes on to explain how we cultivate that covenant loyalty:These commandments that I give you today are to be onyour hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk aboutthem when you sit at home and when you walk along theroad, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them assymbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on yourgates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9
Reading and reflecting on the book of Deuteronomy can help us understand and practice the way of lifethat expresses our exclusive allegiance to the Great King.