The Book of the Month

"One More Time"

Michael G. Foresha

Deuteronomy contains 34 chapters, 958 verses, and some 28,461 words. In the Hebrew Bible, the fifth and last book of the Pentateuch is called Debarim, meaning "words," from 1:1, "These are the words which Moses spoke ..." Based upon a mistranslation of 17:18, in the Greek version it is called Deuteronomion, meaning "second law-giving." In reality, what it contains is not a new law but a repetition and reemphasis of the law that was given earlier in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. As Johnny Ramsey would say, Deuteronomy literally means, "One more time." The book covers a period of 70 days just prior to Israel's entrance into the promised land. Thirty-nine years after what should have been an eleven-day journey, in the plains of Moab, the Law of Moses is rehearsed for the new generation about to inherit Canaan (the older died in the wilderness). It is not a mere formal repetition of the law; rather, Moses reemphasizes the necessity of obedience, repeats the standard of obedience (the Word of God), reminds them of the incentive of obedience (the love of and for God), and restates the alternative of obedience (the wrath of God). Obedience is the theme of the book, and active verbs such as "do," "keep," and "observe" are used more than 170 times in the book. The evidence for Mosaic authorship is overwhelming. Joshua is the possible author of chapter 34.

The book consists of three sermons delivered by Moses, farewell speeches, and the death of Moses. The book may be outlined after the following fashion: The first sermon, "The Past Forty Years" is of historical nature (Deut. 1:1-4:43). Moses begins in their present location (Moab) and then retraces their steps of the past from Sinai. Moses then links the nations past to their future, by emphasizing God's conditional promises. The second sermon, "The Law Already Given" is one of hearing and doing (Deut. 4:44-26:19). The Law and the Decalogue (10 commandments) are repeated. The rebellious people are exhorted to love God and keep His commandments. Emphasis is placed on the responsibility of each to hear, keep, and teach God's commandments. Moses reissues the call to Holiness. The third sermon, "Blessings and Curses" is one of choice: "halted between the two" (27:1-30:20)." The lesson takes place in a valley of decision between Mt. Ebal (curses) and Mt. Gerizim (blessings). Blessings follow obedience, and disobedience is punished with curses. There is a renewal of the covenant and promise of restoration in the future. These sermons are followed by four appendices (31:1-34:12): (1) farewell speeches to Joshua, the priests, the elders, the Levites, and, finally, the people. (2) Song of Moses (3) the blessing of the tribes by Moses, and (4) Moses viewing the promised land, his death, and his burial by God. Joshua then led the people.

The book of Deuteronomy stands as a connection between the Pentateuch and the New Testament. Deuteronomy contains 259 references from the preceding books and is quoted or alluded to 100 times in the New Testament. Some highlights of Deuteronomy are Christ's masterful defense against the Tempter (Deut. 8:3, 6:16, 6:13, 10:20; Matt. 4:4, 7, and 10), the answer Jesus provided for the lawyer regarding the first and greatest commandment (Deut. 6:5; 10:12; Matt 22:34ff), and the prophecy of the great Prophet to come who will be like unto Moses (Deut. 18:15-19). By the testimony of two New Testament spokesmen, Peter (Acts 3:22) and Stephen (Acts 7:37), it is confirmed that the Prophet to come was in fact Christ. Moses was a type of Jesus. However, Christ "hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses" (Hebrews 3:3). 90 Pleasants Ave., Shinnston, WV 26431.


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