The book of Deuteronomy was written by Moses to remind the people of Israel of what God had done and to encourage them to rededicate their lives to him. At this time God had led his people out of Egypt and across the great desert. They were standing ready to enter the Promised Land but before the Israelites could go into the land, Moses had some important advice to give them. He delivered his advice in three separate parts that are commonly called speeches. The three speeches were 1) a brief history lesson emphasizing Godâ€™s great acts on behalf of his people, 2) a review of the current law, and 3) a restatement of the covenant â€" Godâ€™s contract with his people.
The History Lesson (Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43).
Moses reviewed the mighty acts of God whereby he liberated Israel from slavery in Egypt. He recounted how God had helped them and how the people had disobeyed. By reviewing the history of Godâ€™s previous care for the people of Israel, the people could learn about the God they were serving and how he would care for them in the same way.
The Current Law â€" A Review (Deuteronomy 4:44-28:68).
After reviewing the history of Israelâ€™s journey, Moses recounts the Ten Commandments and the other laws given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. He urges them to obey the law and reminds them of the consequences of disobeying Godâ€™s laws. Obeying Godâ€™s laws brought blessings to the Israelites and disobeying brought misfortune. The Ten Commandments and all of Godâ€™s laws pointed out to them where they fell short and showed them how they should act as Godâ€™s people. In addition to the Ten Commandments this narrative included Godâ€™s laws for proper worship, the laws for ruling the nation, the laws for human relationships, and the consequences of obedience and disobedience.
The Covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20).
After reviewing Godâ€™s laws, Moses calls for commitment, urging the people to honor the contract they had previously made with God. Knowing Godâ€™s Word was not enough; it must be obeyed. Although there were many parts to the covenant, its purpose can be summed up in two sentences: God promised to bless the Israelites by making them the nation through whom the rest of the world could know God. In return the Israelites promised to love and obey God in order to receive physical and spiritual blessings. God was still keeping his part but the Israelites were already neglecting their part. Moses restated the covenant to warn the people that if they did not keep their part of the covenant they would experience severe discipline. Godâ€™s faithful and patient love was portrayed more often than his punishment. God showed his love by being faithful to his people and his promises. God reminded his people that in order to ratify his agreement they must choose the path of obedience.
The lessons are clear. Because of what God had done, Israel would have hope and would follow him; because of what he expected, they would listen and obey; because of who he was, they would love him completely. Learning these lessons would prepare them to possess the Promised Land. Moses realized that the past is a variety of promises, failures, victories, and embarrassments. Sometimes people want to forget memories that are too painful. However, as the years go by, remembrances of unpleasant events usually fade into the subconscious. Moses acknowledged that there is a time to remember: mistakes should not be repeated; commitments made must be fulfilled; and the memory of special events can encourage people and move them to action.
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