Deuteronomy: Past, Present, and Future
Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day. . . . They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. (Deuteronomy 32:46-47)
The fifth book of the Bible, the book of Deuteronomy, is based on a series of sermons delivered by Moses about God’s law. An early Greek translation of the original Hebrew gives us the book’s title—Deuteronomy means “second law”—although a more accurate title might be Words, as in “These are the words Moses spoke” to the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 1:1).
Today, I want to focus on one key thought that is repeated often throughout the book: “Remember,” or “Don’t forget.”
To help us remember, the structure of Deuteronomy can easily be divided into three separate Mosaic messages. The first of these reflects on the past (chapters 1-4). Here Moses reviews the Israelites’ forty years of wandering in the desert that didn’t have to happen. He concludes this walk down memory lane with strong encouragement to keep and observe God’s laws. In other words, “Don’t forget” (Deuteronomy 4:9, HCSB).
The second message (chapters 5-26) takes a look at the present. Moses reminds the people of Israel to walk by faith and be very careful to remember that it is God who has provided all their wealth. He tells them they must avoid pride lest they think they obtained their victories and lands through their own skill and power. This message contains the well-known precept to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus later identified this as the greatest of all the 600+ commandments found in the Law. In this same passage, Moses also exhorts parents to teach these same truths diligently to their children, to talk about them when they rise up, lie down, sit, and walk along the way (Deuteronomy 6:7).
Moses’ third message (chapters 27-34) gives the people hope for the future. God knows that His chosen people will be prone to sin, to stray from His ways and forget His words. So Moses tells them there will always be a way back by way of sincere repentance. This discourse from Moses contains several climactic moments, including his exclamation, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). That’s powerful stuff!
Encouragement from the past, faith for today, and hope for tomorrow—these will help you remember the words of life, to obey God’s commandments, love Him with all that is in you, and live a life full of blessings that come from the one and only God of heaven.
Heavenly Father, I acknowledge you as the God of all creation. I know that all I possess comes from you. I know you set the captives free, parted the Red Sea, fed the children of Israel with manna from heaven, and gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. Help me to never forget your mighty deeds! I want to remember your works, obey your commandments, love you with my whole heart, and teach your truth to my children. Help me to be faithful in all these things. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! Davis’s four books include: Good Morning, God, based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path, an ABC book based on Psalm 119, In the Beginning, based on the Creation account in Genesis, and Psalms to Know Early.
© 2017 Davis Carman