Old Testament Overview
• Transition's often define high points in our history.
• Name some for America, our church, you personally.
• In Deuteronomy, the last of the five books of the Pentateuch,
we encounter one of Israel’s greatest transition!
• On the plains of Moab, the people wait to enter the Promised
land while Moses delivers three exhortations/sermons.
• Deuteronomy comes from the Greek meaning “second law”.
• More than that, as the last book written by Moses it contains:
• Summation of the covenant God made with Israel in the desert, and
• the foundation for the rest of the Old Testament.
• It is key to Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings
• At then end of Numbers the people were across Jordan River in
• It is BC 1400, the first generation has died, and next are ready.
• Deut. 1:1&3 tell us it’s the 40th year and that Moses is going to
be talking/proclaiming to them God’s commands.
• Why the wait?
• Because there’s more at stake than just a place to live!
• Israel is a nation: Redeemed from slavery, constituted as a
nation, brought into covenant with Yahweh, given good laws and
a tabernacle where God’s glory dwelt.
• This is the last puzzle piece for God to make good on Abrahamic
• A place to live does not ensure a relationship with God.
• Deuteronomy tells future generations who they are and what it
means for them to be in covenant with Yahweh.
• Read Deut. 29:12-13.
38 years * 365.25 days = 13875.5 Days
2,400,000 people /1375.5 days = 173 funerals a day
• A “covenant” as a bond in blood, sovereignly administered,
binding two parties with terms and conditions.
• Near East rulers used a covenant to guarantee their alliances
laying out the terms, documenting them, and ratifying them in
a solemn ceremony, with oaths, witnesses and a symbolic seal
• So far we’ve seen two:
• Abrahamic – God will make him a great name, nation and blessing.
• Mosaic – established the Law, sacrificial system, laid out the people’s
obligations: to be Holy s God is Holy, with the curse of death if they
• Deuteronomy ratifies the Mosaic Covenant and follows the
typical format for a Near East covenant document.
I. Preamble | Dt. 1:1-5
II. Moses’ First Speech: Historical Prologue | Dt. 1:6-4:43
III. Moses’ Second Speech: Covenant Stipulations | Dt. 4:44-26:19
I. General Stipulations: Love and Faithfulness | Dt. 4:44-11:32
II. Specific Stipulations: Justice and Holiness | Dt. 12:1-26:19
IV. Moses’ Third Speech: Covenant Renewal | Dt. 27:1-30:20
I. Blessings and Curses | Dt. 27:1-28:68
II. Covenant Ratification and Final Exhortation | Dt. 29:1-
V. Conclusion: Israel’s Future | Dt. 31:1-34:12
I. Moses Transfers Leadership to Joshua | Dt. 31
II. Moses Prophesies Exile and Restoration | Dt. 32
III. Moses Blesses the Tribes | Dt. 33
IV. Moses Dies | Dt. 34
Historical Prologue - Chapters 1-4
• Chapters 1-4 review of the Israel’s relationship with God to date.
• Theme: Yahweh shown himself as both just and merciful.
• Moses here recounts their history:
– The people’s lack of trust in God’s power (Dt. 1:32),
– God’s refusing to let the first generation enter the land (Dt. 1:35),
– Wanderings in the desert (Dt. 2:14), and
– God’s unmerited faithfulness in provision (Dt. 2:7) and military victory (Dt.
– 4:39-40: “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in
heaven above and on earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees
and commands, which I am giving today, so that it may go well with you
and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the
LORD your God gives you for all time.” The point? A perfectly faithful
God requires perfect faithfulness to himself.
• History: God has been gracious.
• Charge: Follow God alone.
General Stipulations: Love and
Faithfulness - Chapters 5-11
• The covenant duties of the people begin in chapter 5.
• It begins with a reiteration of the Ten Commandments.
• Its more than following rules and regulations. At the heart of
these commandments is a story of love. Look at 6:4-6.
• “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the
LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your strength. These commandments that I give you
today are to be upon your hearts.”
• The “Shema” which is Hebrew for “hear.”
• Hear: Yahweh is one God, He is the only God, and he demands
total love. And how were they to show their love?
• By obeying God’s commands from the inside out!
• Why? Because God had loved them first. Read 7:7-8.
• He chose his people not because of anything about them; he
loved them simply because he loved them.
• Their relationship with God is based not on their merit but on
• This applies to us too!
• We’re in a different chapter of redemptive history, love still
should be at the center of how we engage with God.
• Read Luke 10:27.
• A crucial part of loving God is obeying the first commandment:
having no other gods but him.
Specific Stipulations: Justice and
Holiness - Chapters 12-26
• Deuteronomy 12:1 by saying, “These are the decrees and laws
you must be careful to follow in the land that the LORD, the God
of your fathers, has given you to possess -- as long as you live in
• These 15 chapters point out that as God’s nation in God’s land,
the people were to worship God alone, reflect God’s holiness,
and represent God’s justice.
• This section may be the toughest to work through as you
meditate on this book in our personal devotions.
• Why? It contains command after command, covering such
diverse topics as
– how to destroy idols (Chs. 12-13),
– clean and unclean food (Ch. 14),
– tithes, animal property, and national feasts (Chs. 14:22-16:17),
– murder and sexuality (Chs. 19-23).
• Broadly speaking, the commands follow the order of the Ten
Commandments (though not exactly).
• To understand how to apply these laws today we need to step
back and review the where we are in redemptive history.
• God is fulfilling his promises to Abraham by establishing Israel
as his special people.
• Take a quick look at 1 Peter 2:9 (“special” NKJV)
• To set the stage for Christ, the promised seed of Eve.
• From this holy nation the Messiah would descend.
• As God’s covenant nation they are obligated to obey His law.
• Today, Christ has already come and we’re in another stage of
• It’s a stage that even Deuteronomy points forward to.
• Deut. 21:22-23, pertaining to capital punishment: “If a man
guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung
on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight.
Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung
on a tree is under God’s curse.”
• Read Gal 3:13 where Paul uses this verse to explain how those
who have faith are freed from the curse of the law by the
sacrifice of Christ!
• Jesus bore the curse that all of us who fail to obey God’s perfect
• For those who trust in Christ, that changes our relationship to
• The law no longer condemns us. Gal. 3:24-25
• Do we jump from chps 11 to 27, skipping the laws in between?
• Not! The law is still good. Jesus said he came not to abolish the
law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17).
• The law still reveals God’s flawless character, it still exposes our
need for a Savior, and it stills instruct Christians how to live.
• Two stages.
1. The entire law has been fulfilled in Christ. He perfectly obeyed the law,
and died so those under the curse of the law might be set free.
2. The laws in the OT fall into 3 categories: moral, civil, and ceremonial.
1. Moral laws are largely permanent and apply directly to us.
2. Civil laws applied to the political nation of Israel’s governance and
3. Ceremonial laws dealt with Israel’s temple sacrifices, religious
offerings, and national feasts.
The political nation of Israel and the temple system of worship have
found their end point, in Christ. They’re no longer binding on
Applying the 3 law categories today as Christians.
1. Follow the NT’s instruction regarding these laws.
– Deut. 14 covers laws about clean and unclean food .
– Mark 7 and Acts 10 teach that Christians do not need to follow those
rules - they were part of the civil law.
– But, moral laws are repeated or even amplified in the NT, like “do not
murder” are valid for Christians today.
– They are part of doing the “good works” that we’ve been saved by
grace to do (Eph. 2:9-10).
2. Understand what these laws teach us about God’s character.
– Deut. 22:11 forbids the Israelites from mixing wool and linen to remind
them about God’s holiness and the nation’s distinctness.
– We don’t have to obey this civil law, but it tell us much about God.
3. Appreciate Jesus’ perfection because he upheld all these laws.
All of them.
• These laws are quite instructive for our lives as Christians.
• They point us again and again to our need for a Savior!
Moses’ Third Speech: Covenant
Renewal - Chapters 27-30
• To better understand this final sermon – put on their shoes.
– You can see the Promised Land waiting in the distance.
– Moses has just expounded God’s laws in his second speech.
– God’s standards are utterly high, and he demands that Israel “carefully
observe them with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 26:16).
• Now we find that total allegiance comes with consequences.
• If Israel devotes their entire heart to Yahweh, the covenant
promises great blessings. Deut. 28:10-11 (14 verses of blessing)
• If not, the covenant includes terrible curses - 70 devastating
verses of them!
• The greatest curse of all? Exile from the Promised Land.
• How would you feel knowing this? Knowing the blessings only
come... if we’re perfectly faithful??
• Will they do this?
• In the end, Moses tells the people that they will indeed fall
• Why – they need a new heart that only God can provide. (29:4)
• Deuteronomy ends as a book not about doom, but about hope.
• God’s law and its curses stand against the people. But God
makes some astounding promises of grace.
1. Restoration for all who repent of breaking his covenant. 30:2-3
– The curses do not need to be the end of the story
– If they only would repent and trust in God’s promises.
2. A new heart to his people.
– 10:16, the LORD commands them to “Circumcise your hearts.”
– He was looking for an inward transformation – not physical.
– But in 30:6, Moses declares that even after the people go into exile for
their disobedience, “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and
the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your
heart and with all your soul, and live.” He will transform their hearts.
• Remember Deuteronomy is a book of transitions.
• The people have affirmed God’s covenant for a great transition
into the Promised Land and a great nation.
• There is a great transition of leadership.
• Deuteronomy a great transition to the rest of the Old
• The Torah ends and the rest the of the history and prophecy is
• Subsequent books will show the many ways the promised curse
falls on the rebellious people.
• But before that, God here offers a preview of their future.
• He does that through the song of Moses in chapter 32.
• There is the future curses but also a promise of the Messiah to
Deut 18:18, Deut. 34:10-11, and John 8:28.