Module 07: The Failure of Human Mediation - The Promise: God
Module Guide: Deuteronomy - The Book of Reviews
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Deuteronomy is the last of the books of the Pentateuch. It is didactic rather than historic. Its actual history covers a very brief period, probably not many days. It consists of a collection of the final public utterances of Moses. The form in which we possess it is in all likelihood the result of the work of an editor, who collected these great discourses, and connected them by such information concerning the occasion of their utterance as should make them a consecutive series, and thus give them value in their relation to the earlier books. It has been surmised that this work was done by Joshua, and this, to say the least, is quite probable.
The book is, therefore, essentially a book of Moses, for it consists of his final words to the people whom he had led, first out of Egypt, and then for forty years of wandering in the wilderness. It may therefore be most simply divided by the six discourses which it chronicles. Of these discourses the first was a Retrospect (1:1-4:43); the second, a Resume of Laws (4:44-27:10); the third, the uttering of Warnings (27:11-28:68); the fourth, concerned the Covenant (29:1-31:13); the fifth was a great farewell Song (31:14-32:47); and the sixth, a final Benediction (32:48-33:29).
First Discourse: Retrospect
In reviewing the forty years of wandering Moses dealt with the three great movements: first, from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea; secondly, from Kadesh-barnea to Heshbon; and finally, from Heshbon to Beth-peor. In looking back he was careful to state all the facts in the light of God's government. Their disturbance at Horeb was due to the direct commandment of God, and even though the path of the wilderness was a terrible one, they had not been left to grope their way through it alone. God had ever moved before them, choosing them out a place in which to pitch their tents. Moreover, he reminded them that they had not only been the objects of God's love, but that His power had wrought on their behalf.
Having surveyed the history from Horeb to Beth-peor, he exhorted them to obedience. Keminding them of the importance of the commandments, he based his appeal upon the greatness of God and the perfection of His law, insisting upon it that their whole existence and history centred around a spiritual ideal.
There had been granted to them no visible form of God, even amid the majestic manifestations of Sinai, and therefore he warned them against making any graven image.
Continuing this exhortation to obedience, he looked into the future, and in the light of subsequent history his words were indeed prophetic. At the close of the first discourse we have a brief account of his appointment of three cities of refuge.
Second Discourse: Resume of Laws
A general introduction indicates the place, time, and subject of this second discourse, which deals with testimonies, statutes, and judgments. The testimonies were the actual words of the law given, and these were first dealt with. The statutes were the provisions for worship, and the conduct harmonizing therewith. The judgments dealt with the arrangements for civil and religious authority, and the administration of justice.
A study of the testimonies, or uttered words of the law, reveals the fact that no vital change was made at any point in the nature or binding force of the commandments. There were slight verbal alterations, but these were due to the circumstances in which they were uttered. One striking difference is that in connection with the law concerning the Sabbath: the ground of appeal was no longer the rest of God in creation, but their position as redeemed from Egypt's bondage. Having referred to the ten words, a great statement was made as to the deepest value thereof, and as to the peoples' corresponding responsibility. "Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah." The true response of the people to this truth was that of fear issuing in obedience, and resulting in well-being. The discourse then proceeded to deal with the responsibilities in detail.
Dealing with the statutes, he carefully warned them against idolatry, and commanded that all idols and false places of worship were to be destroyed as they entered the land. Nothing was to be allowed to seduce them from their loyalty to Jehovah in worship. He then passed to injunctions, which revealed his consciousness of the effect of worship on conduct; and finally, restated the arrangements for the observation of the great feasts.
In dealing with judgments, he first commanded the appointment of judges and officers, and then declared the principles upon which they were to act. The three-fold medium through which the will of God would be interpreted to the people — that namely of king, priest, and prophet — he then described. The laws of peace and of war were set out in great detail, and finally provision was made for a ceremony of blessing and cursing on the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, when the land was entered.
The Third Discourse: Warnings
In this third discourse Moses devoted himself to solemnly warning the people. Before proceeding to this more specific purpose of his discourse, he spoke of the blessings which would follow obedience. The effect of disobedience he described first in their own borders. Adversity of every kind would overtake them in trade, agriculture, and in matters of health; and in every way there would be suffering if there were disobedience. In all this he really uttered prophetic words, for we find here a detailed description of the Koman victories, which came so long after, and the ultimate destruction of the city and the driving out of the people.
Fourth Discourse: The Covenant
The terms of the covenant had been already given. In urging the people to be true to it, Moses first of all referred to the Lord's deliverances wrought in the past, from Egypt, through the wilderness experience, and in the day of battle on the eve of their coming into possession. His appeal was made to all classes. In prophetic and burning words he described what would be the result of their breaking the covenant. Recognizing their imperfection, and their inability to appreciate the methods of the Divine government, he enunciated a principle of far-reaching importance and perpetual application. He declared that the secret or hidden or mysterious things belong to God, while the things revealed belong to us and to our children. Continuing his discourse, he uttered words thrilling at once with all tenderness and urgency of appeal. We have here a great prophetic evangel, the value of which Israel has perhaps not learned even until today.
After the conclusion of the formal discouse, Moses spoke to the people of his own departure, and encouraged their heart in view of their coming into the land by reassuring them of the presence and power of God.
Fifth Discourse: The Song of Moses
Preceding the public uttering of the great Song, Moses and Joshua appeared before the Lord in order that the latter might be officially appointed to succeed in the administration of affairs. Jehovah then solemnly spoke to His servant, telling him that his time had come to sleep with his fathers, but that the people he had so long loved and cared for would indeed fulfil his predictions concerning failure, and would be visited with punishment. Gloomy enough was the outlook for the great leader, but it was the occasion of one of those manifestations of the Divine love which are so full of beauty.
It was in face of this foreknown fact of failure that he was commanded to write the song. The purpose of it was distinctly stated. A song embodied in the nation's life remains from generation to generation, and in days of disaster will constitute a haunting memory, testifying to truth concerning God. Songs often remain after commandments are forgotten. The law was written and committed to the priests; the song was written and taught to the people. The first part of the song consisted of a call to attention, and a statement concerning its nature. Heaven and earth were called to listen while the servant of God proclaimed the name of God. Moses sang of God as to His greatness. His perfection. His justice, His faithfulness. Then in a description equally brief, he referred to the people. It was a sad contrast. There is nothing said of them which is good. There follows a description of the tender government of God which is full of exquisite beauty. It is a revelation of the love which lies behind all law. The figure of the eagle and its method with its young is one of the most superb in the whole Bible, as a revelation of the truth that through methods which may appear almost unkind, love is work- ing perpetually toward the higher development of those upon whom it is set. In strange contrast the song now became a wail as the unfaithfulness of the loved people was described. Such unfaithfulness had resulted in discipline necessarily severe. The people who had turned to the false were abandoned to the false. The face which had been as the sunlight was hidden from the people who had turned their back upon it. The very tenderness of love had become the burning of a fierce anger, and the benefits had been replaced by chastisement. The song then broke out into lament, "Oh, that they were wise," and celebrated God's ultimate deliverance of His people. Finally Moses appealed to the people to be obedient.
Sixth Discourse: The Blessing
These were the final words of the man of God. Often had he set before his people blessing and cursing. His last words were of blessing only. In stately and majestic language he affirmed anew the majesty of Jehovah. The great words of blessing were pronounced upon the tribes, Simeon only being omitted. Reuben and Judah were referred to in terms which suggested that they were to be saved, yet so as by fire. Levi, having lost all earthly things for the special honour of bearing the word of God, would receive the reward of such sacrifice. Benjamin was to have the special protection needed by frailty. The choicest things were said concerning Joseph. His were all precious things, and the good-will of Him Who dwelt in the bush. His, therefore, was the portion of government. In Issachar and Zebulun there was to be triumph over disability. Gad, overcoming at last, was to be a judge; and Dan was the type of conquest. Naphtali was to be satisfied, and Asher sustained. Thus in his final benediction Moses made the peculiar realization of blessing by the tribes unfold the all-sufficiency of God.
The last chapter of Deuteronomy is in all probability the writing of another hand. It contains the story of the death of Moses, the equipment of Joshua for his work, and a last tender reference to the great leader and law-giver. The passing of Moses was full of beauty. In the fact of his exclusion from the land toward which his face had so long been set was his punishment. Yet it was tempered with mercy. There had been no weakening of his force. His career ended in full strength. He went up into the mount to die, and Jehovah gave him a vision of the land, and buried him in the valley.
The last words are almost a wail of sorrow: "There hath not arisen a prophet ... like unto Moses." Thus ends the last book of the Pentateuch. The nation created for regeneration among the nations was on the margin of possession. The great story will now move on through the history of these people to the coming of the promised One.
Part A: RETROSPECT - Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43
A.1. Introduction - Deut. 1:1-1:5
A.2. The Place: The Discourse - Deut. 1:6-4:40
- Review of the Forty Years - 1:6-3:29
- Exhortation to Obedience - 4:1-4:40
- Retrospective - 4:1-4:24
- Prospective - 4:25-4:31
- Introspective - 4:32-4:40
A.3. Sequel: Cities of Refuge - Deut. 4:41-4:43
Part B: RESUME OF LAWS - Deuteronomy 4:44-27:10
B.1. Introduction - Deut. 4:44-4:49
B.2. Character and Place: The Discourse - Deut. 5:1-26:19
- Testimonies - 5:1-11:31
- The Decalogue - 5:1-6:25
- Obedience - 7:1-11:31
- Statutes - 11:32-16:17
- Worship - 11:32-14:2
- Some Effects of Worship on Conduct - 14:3-16:17
- Judgements - 16:18-26:19
- Principles of Law - 16:18-16:20
- Administration of Law - 16:21-26:19
B.3. Sequel: Provision for the Land - Deut. 27:1-27:10
Part C: WARNINGS - Deuteronomy 27:11-28:68
C.1. Introduction - Deut. 27:11-27:26
C.2. The Curses: The Discourse - Deut. 28:1-28:68
- The Blessings of Obedience - 28:1-28:14
- The Curses of Disobedience - 28:15-28:68
Part D: THE COVENANT - Deuteronomy 29:1-31:13
D.1. Introduction - Deut. 29:1-29:2a
D.2. The Discourse - Deut. 29:2b-30:20
- The Appeal to the Past - 29:2b-29:9
- The Terms of the Covenant - 29:10-29:29
- The Appeal to the Future - 30:1-30:20
D.3. Sequel - Deut. 31:1-31:13
Part E: THE SONG - Deuteronomy 31:14-32:47
E.1. Introduction - Deut. 31:14-31:30
E.2. The Song - Deut. 32:1-32:43
- Introduction - 32:1-32:3a
- A Contrast - 32:3b-32:5
- An Appeal - 32:6-32:6a
- A Contrast - 32:6b-32:18
- Judgement - 32:19-32:28
- Lament - 32:29-32:30
- Final Deliverance - 32:31-32:43
E.3. Sequel - Deut. 32:44-32:47
Part F: THE BLESSING - Deuteronomy 32:48-33:29
F.1. Introduction - Deut. 32:48-32:52
F.2. The Blessing - Deut. 33:1-33:29
Part G: HISTORIC CONCLUSION - Deuteronomy 34:1-34:12
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.