Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
So often, we want to simplify what is complex. We are a people who profit from quick reference guides and “Made-Easy” manuals. But the Bible is a large book, filled with details and intricacies that cannot be minimized or glossed over. For the early Jews, they were required to know “the Torah”—the Law of God (the first five books of the Old Testament). While a large number of them knew the Torah very well, God saw fit to provide a “Torah-Made-Easy” guide; an exposition and application of the first four books: the book of Deuteronomy. For those who are fascinated by the Old Testament, you may find Deuteronomy to be the best book in the Bible!
Main themes: A Call to Obedience
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:4-5)
“…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3)
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)
After wandering in the wilderness for forty years, the first generation has all but died out and their children are ready to cross over into the Promised Land. But before they do, their aging leader, Moses, pauses to re-teach the Law of God and command them to obey the Lord.
1:1—4:43. Moses gives an overview of the last forty years in the wilderness. He reminds them of their parents’ journey through Sinai (1:6-18), Kadesh-barnea (1:19-46), to Moab (2:1-3:29), and on the plains of Moab (4:1-43).
4:44—26:19. At this point, Moses stops to rehearse for the people the laws of God. The word “deuteronomy” means “second law-giving”, which is what is done here. In this section, Moses covers the Ten Commandments (4:44-5:33), the command to love the Lord (6:1-25)—which includes the “Shema” (6:4-9). He addresses again the various warnings, food laws, tithing requirements, festivals, and purity code. He addresses again God’s requirements for them regarding their treatment of one another (19:1-26:19); after all, they are being charged with founding a new nation!
27:1—30:20. Here, Israel’s covenant with God is ratified. They are making their commitment to follow God and obey all His commands and precepts. In chapters 27-28, we encounter the dramatic scene of the ceremonies detailing the blessings and curses.
31:1-34:12. The last section of the book ties up all the loose ends. Moses, who is prohibited from entering the Promised Land, gives a final word before he dies. Joshua will be his successor and will lead God’s people into the land of Canaan.
What Makes This Book So Great:
It would be easy to gloss over this fifth book of the Torah, citing it as “more of the same” but that would be a huge mistake. There is a reason God made Israel rehearse His law once more. It had been forty years since the first law-giving and the people had severely broken it and all but forgotten it. Deuteronomy is a second chance for them. Further, it is the foundation of the nation of Israel. It has been said that the book functions as a constitution for the theocracy of Israel. If any student wants to understand the next 34 books of the Old Testament and possess a foundational understanding of the New Testament, then these first few books are of the utmost importance.
Beyond simply understanding the information, a Christian must see the immensity of the revealed Word of God. His Law covers every aspect of life in great detail, and we must see that to violate even one sliver of His Law is to shatter the whole thing! (see James 2:10) The Torah functioned as a guiding document for a nation, but it doubled as the divine standard for God’s people. This was a moral and ethical mandate, and the only person ever to keep this code perfectly is the Lord Jesus Christ. For all others, it brings only condemnation and reveals the need for a Savior (Rom. 7:7-25).
As I always suggest with larger books, break up you reading into sections, but re-read your sections many times. Not only do you want to understand the story, but also the individual parts and language. Challenge yourself to memorize passages, perhaps “the Shema” (Deut. 6:4-9)—a sort-of creed that functions as Judaism’s basic confession of faith; it is also profitable for the Christian believer. Strive to understand the Torah (also called the Pentateuch) enough to explain it in simple terms. It will help you as you explore the rest of the Bible.
- Ajith Fernando, Deuteronomy: Loving Obedience to a Loving God. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).
- Edward J. Woods, Deuteronomy. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2011).
- Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy [NICOT] Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookSeries