In Summary: Deuteronomy. The names means “second law” in Greek, and this book essentially recaps the life of Israel from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Included are reminders of crucial laws, but excluded are details like the size of the Ark of the Covenant.
One of the differences in the telling of Deuteronomy is the presentation in first person. I am of the opinion that Deuteronomy represents the record of Moses’ oral presentations to the people of Israel. The more natural manner of speaking would be first-person, using words like “I” to describe what he saw.
This first chapter deals with how the people of Israel have reached their current situation. They are in the wilderness area just across the Jordan River from the land of Canaan. In modern terms, they are in Jordan, or thereabouts. Moses retells the Exodus, briefly, and then about the wandering times. He does appear to cast the light a little brighter on himself than Exodus does.
The retelling is necessary because we are now looking at an entirely different generation of Israelites than we had at Exodus 12. These are the ones who were less than 20 at Kadesh-Barnea and the spies, they are the replacement for the unfaithful generation.
And they have come close to the land, and camped near Mount Nebo.
In Focus: Take a good, hard look at Deuteronomy 1:6. Moses reminds the people of what God said at Mount Horeb (another name for Mt. Sinai). They had been at the mountain “long enough.” 1:7 contains the command to “turn and set your journey, and go.”
The people of Israel were to be done sitting around, learning and developing. It was time to put into practice what God had called them to do, what He had prepared them for. It was time to take their position as a royal priesthood and holy nation, taking the light of YHWH to the nations.
The people had learned holiness. They had seen God’s mighty hand act in salvation. They were organized both for war and for life in the land in the principle of the judges over 50s. They were ready.
Then they faltered, and turned back. All was ready and prepared, but their faith failed. Now, Moses brings them back to this point:
It’s been long enough. It was time to get going.
In Practice: You should see where this is headed. Consider your life, Christian, and what God has prepared you for—and stop clinging to where you have been. Go forward, obey, take action to do what God has commanded.
Consider your life, church, and what God has prepared you for—and stop clinging to what has been. We are not called and equipped mope and lament the state of the world. We are called and equipped to stand forward into battle for the souls of humanity. We are called and equipped not to whine about where prayer is not allowed or where God is not welcome, but to pray without ceasing and to be the evidence of an ever-present God.
Consider your life, Church, and what God has prepared us for—and stop clinging to petty divisions where we have them. We are called to walk in unity, guided by the Word of God as we serve the Word Incarnate. Let us stop seeking the powers of this world, either to support us or even permit us, and go forward. People are dying—our fellow believers die for their testimony and the unsaved die to face eternal wrath. And we are worried about names on the sign.
It has been long enough. Let us get to work.
In Nerdiness: The Hebrew title for Deuteronomy is “These are the words,” taken from the opening line. Deuteronomy is based on the Greek words for second law, which informed the Latin title in the Vulgate of the 5th Century, AD.
The author? Moses, with some editorial emendations. I like the idea of this as the transcription of oral instruction to the people.