Set Back by Sin for 38 Years (Dt 1:1-46)

Deuteronomy 1:1-46; Key Verses: Dt 1:8, 21, 26, 30-32

"See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land..." "See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it..." "But ... you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God." "The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you..." "In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God."

Introduction: Deuteronomy consists of three speeches (sermons) Moses gave to his people before handing leadership to Joshua and before their entrance to the promised land. Key Verses may be:
  • Love. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Dt 6:5).


Take this 22 Question Quiz on Deuteronomy 1-13

Deuteronomy Quiz on Chapter 1 - 13. On my first take, I had 15 correct and 7 incorrect in 6 min + and received a score of 70% (without cheating by looking up the references).


An Overview of the Pentateuch in Preparation for Studying Deuteronomy

Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch, presents the stories of Creation (Gen 1:1-2:25), the Fall (Gen 3:1-24), and the beginning of God's plan of redemption through Abraham (Gen 12:1ff), his son Isaac (Gen 24:1ff), and Isaac's son Jacob (Gen 27:1ff), who is also called Israel. In the later chapters of Genesis, Jacob's son Joseph is taken down to Egypt (Gen 37:1ff), eventually to be followed by his brothers and father.

Exodus, which is next, records the greatest redemption event in the Bible prior to Christ's incarnation. The first chapter summarizes four hundred years in the life and slavery of the children of Israel in Egypt (Ex 1:1-22). The first eighty years of Moses' life follow in the second chapter (Ex 2:1-25). Then, the story line from Exodus 3 on through Leviticus and up to the middle of Numbers covers the span of only one year. It is a great year, for the Lord calls Moses as an eighty-year-old man to return to Egypt and lead the children of Israel out of slavery. Having redeemed his people, God guides them through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where God gives the peo­ple his law (Ex 20:1-17), and instructs them in his ways, even though they sin repeatedly. This is always the order of the Bible: redemption first, then response; grace then law.

Deuteronomy: Outline/Overview

Analysis (Edward Woods, 2011):
  1. First Address of Moses: Retrospect - What God Has Done (1:1-4:43).
  2. Second Address of Moses: What God Commands for the Future (4:44-28:68).
  3. Third Address of Moses: Recapitulation of the Covenant Demand and the Call to Choose God and Obey (29:1-30:20).
  4. The Transition from Moses to Joshua (31:1-34:12).


The Gospel in 1-2 Samuel

The message of 1-2 Samuel is NOT "be like David" and "don't be like Saul."

God is David's ultimate concern. 1-2 Samuel are about Israel's first kings, Saul and David. Ultimately, they look to the great King, God himself. These are gospel-filled stories, unflinchingly honest about sin and society, but saturated with hope of salvation. The two key characters (apart from Samuel) are both royal sinners. But Saul and David are as different from one another as darkness is from light. For Saul, God does not appear to be a major concern, perhaps not a reality at all. For David, God is his ultimate concern, the ultimate reality, and carries ultimate weight. This is what it means to "honor" God. Therefore, "those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed" (1 Sam 2:30). Saul is destined to fall and David to rise.


The Gospel in Ruth

God cares for his own with great loving kindness. Ruth is the story of a young Moabite widow who comes to know the covenant love the one true God and the joy of belonging to his people through her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi. Through these two women God's sovereign hand is at work to redeem a people for himself. God, the hero of the story, is the faithful God who cares for his own and provides what they need with great loving kindness (hesed). Like Ruth, we too "were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2:12). Like Ruth, we too need a Kinsman-Redeemer who will do all that is necessary to remedy our helpless condition.

The Gospel in Judges

Judges portrays the people of God languishing without good leadership. Judges and 1-2 Samuel bridge the gap from the entrance of the people of God into the Promised Land under Joshua to their expulsion from the land due to unfaithful kings in 1-2 Kings. Since the conquest of the land is not complete, Judges begins with the question of who will lead in battle (Judg 1:1) and ends with "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit" (Judg 21:25). The need for a king to lead God's people into their full inheritance is an important theme.


The Gospel in Joshua

God gives and Israel inherits is the formula that is repeated from the beginning to the end of Joshua. The spotlight is not on Joshua's courageous moral example or on timeless principles of conduct, but on God's fulfillment of a historical promise. Even Joshua's name ("Yahweh Saves!") points away from himself to the real hero of the story. Joshua is a story of grace.

Israel was not the ultimate seed of God's promise but was rather God's instrument for providing him. God's gracious covenant with Abraham involved key promises including a temporal land and nation and an everlasting inheritance for all nations through his descendant Christ (Gal 3:16). Entering the land is a gracious gift (Dt 7:6-9; 9:4-8), while remaining God's holy nation depended on Israel's obedience to the covenant. This echoes Adam's testing in Eden, with the consequent promise of life or death, blessing or curse, enjoyment of God or exile (Ex 19:4-8; 24:3, 8; Dt 11:17, 26; 28:1-68). Even after heeding the serpent, Adam and Eve received God's gracious promise of a Savior, the seed or offspring who would crush the serpent's head (Gen 3:15). Would this seed be Israel? Was Israel the fulfillment of God's promise? Though there was genuine faith and obedience under Joshua, yet ultimately Israel transgressed the covenant (Hos 6:7).


The Gospel in Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy contains Moses' last three sermons and two prophetic poems about Israel's future. It is one of the most important books in the OT because:
  1. Jesus quoted it more than any other OT book.
  2. Jesus used it in his own life more than any other OT book (Lk 4:1-13).
  3. Jesus summarized the supreme command of the Bible from Dt 6:4-5 (Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30).
  4. It is quoted over 80 times in the NT, and references to it occur in 22 of the 27 books.


The Gospel in Numbers

The Christian life is a wilderness journey of unpredictable transition and testing on the way to our final destination. Numbers narrates the arduous wilderness journey of Israel, fraught with trials and failures every step of the way, on the way to the Promised Land. The "wilderness life" only requires that the people of God exercise faith by trusting daily in his guidance and provision.

The wilderness journey testifies to God's faithfulness in the following ways:
  1. God's saving grace in delivering them out of slavery in Egypt.
  2. God fulfilling his gracious promises he swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 12:1, 7; 26:2-4; 35:12).
  3. That God provided for them and sustained them for forty years reveals that God is indeed their Shepherd (Ps 23:1).
  4. To be among them in the wilderness meant, above all, to have the Lord dwelling in their midst with his tabernacle pitched at the heart of the Israelite encampment to atone for their sins and to guide them into the land flowing with milk and honey.


Pope Francis' answers the question, "Who are you?"

How can anyone not love Pope Francis?

I am a sinner. During an exclusive interview in August 2013, Pope Francis was asked, "Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?" The pope stared in silence. The interviewer asked him if this was a question that he is allowed to ask. The pope nodded that it is, and he says, "I do not know what might be the most fitting description.... I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner."

Loving the Bible is like a Husband Loving His Wife's Letters

I love receiving hand written cards from my wife, even if her handwriting is often quite hard to read and decipher. Strangely, I even delight in trying to figure out what exactly did she write to me! She wrote this to me after 32 years of marriage. I can thus relate to what John Stott writes when he equates loving the Bible with loving to read my wife's written words to me:

"A man who loves his wife will love her letters and her photographs because they speak to him of her. So if we love the Lord Jesus we shall love the Bible because it speaks to us of him. The hus­band is not so stupid as to prefer his wife's letters to her voice, or her pho­tographs to herself. He simply loves them because of her. So, too, we love the Bible because of Christ. It is his portrait. It is his love-letter."

Why Study the Old Testament?

If Christ is the key to human history, the Old Testament carefully describes the lock.

If Christ is the climax of the story, the Old Testament sets the stage and begins the plot. Do you read just the endings of books?

If the New Testament presents God's promises kept, the Old Testament tells us about God's promises made.

In other words, if you don't get what the Old Testament teaches, you'll never get Christ.

Mark Dever, The Message of the Old Testament, Introduction: Fly First, Walk Later


The Gospel in Leviticus

Jesus is the Great High Priest and the sin offering. It may be natural to think of Leviticus in terms of the grace of the gospel, because its ideas and concepts find their ultimate fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus--sacrificial atonement or the priesthood. Hebrews makes these connections by emphasizing again and again that Jesus is the Great High Priest (Heb 4:14; 10:21), the one without sin (Heb 9:14; 9:7), who offers himself as the ultimate sacrifice that cleanses all our sin (Heb 1:3; 7:26-27; 9:12, 14, 26, 28; 10:10, 12, 14; 13:11-12) which gives us confidence to draw near to God (Heb 10:19-22).

The Gospel in Exodus

Redemption. Exodus records the greatest redemption event in the Bible prior to Christ's incarnation. This is good news to captives who labor in bondage to sin and misery. The redemption in Exodus begins with God remembering his covenant promises offered in Genesis (Gen 3:15; 12:1-3; 15:13-14), in particular by remembering his covenant with Abraham (Ex 2:23-25), and coming to redeem his people through Moses the mediator (chs. 3-4). Central to this redemption is judgment and salvation: judgment on Egypt and salvation through the substitutionary death of spotless lambs (chs. 7-13).

The Gospel in Genesis

I highly recommend the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.

Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch, narrates for Israel the story of people who walked with God (Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) to encourage their descendants to break away from their resistant and recurring hardness of heart. The foundation stories of Genesis set the stage for understanding the Gospel in many ways.
  1. The Creator is the King over all his creation.
  2. Sin entered the world and took away human freedom.
  3. God reveals the depth of his love and grace, despite humanity's continual disobedience.
  4. God called frail and profoundly flawed human beings to represent him: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
  5. These giants of faith learned to love God more than the goods of this life.


The Meaninglessness of Wisdom, Pleasure, Possessions, Accomplishments (Eccl 1:12-2:26)

Eccl 1:1-11 poses a question: What do people gain from all their toil? The sad answer is, "Nothing." Eccl 1:12-18 asks, "What can we discover about life from using our wisdom?" Eccl 1:14 says, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

  1. What was the Preacher determined to do to discover about the meaning of life (Eccl 1:12-13a)? What did he conclude (Eccl 1:13b-15; Dt 29:29)?
  2. What did he acknowledge about what he had attained (Eccl 1:16; 2:9)? What did he set his heart to know (Eccl 1:17a)? What conclusion did he draw (Eccl 1:17b)? Why (Eccl 1:18)?
  3. In the Preacher's search for meaning, what did he explore (Eccl 2:1-3)? What did he accumulate during his search (Eccl 2:4-8)? How great did he become (Eccl 2:9; 1:16)?
  4. What did he conclude (Eccl 2:10-11, 12-16)? How did he feel about his achievements and accomplishments (Eccl 2:17)? Why (Eccl 2:18)? Why did this trouble him (Eccl 2:19-21)?
  5. What was the result of one's labor, striving, and toil for things under the sun (Eccl 2:22-23)?
    What did he say was the best man could achieve (Eccl 2:24a)? Who was capable of achieving this (Eccl 2:24b-26a)? What does the sinner receive (Eccl 2:26b)?