A Survey of the Scriptures: Lesson 6 Deuteronomy

A Survey of the Scriptures: Lesson 6 Deuteronomy


Deuteronomy derived its name from two Greek words, deuteros meaning “second,” and nomos meaning “law.” The book is really a record of Moses’ sermons on the Law.1 The Hebrew name is “these are the words” (Myrbdh hla).

Deuteronomy provides a review of the nation’s history and a renewal of the covenant made between God and the fathers of the nation concerning the Promised Land, Canaan. The key thought of this book could be summed up: “God will bless you if you hear His word, obey it, and love God from the heart.” Moses’ goal in this book was to encourage God’s people to make a fresh commitment to the Lord.2 Such a re-commitment to God was necessary for several reasons:

  • The generation who had left Egypt were now dead.
  • The 2nd generation needed to hear the Law and make their own commitment to God.
  • They were about to enter Canaan and attempt to conquer it. They needed to be unified.
  • After conquering the land, they were to become a settled nation and they would face new challenges and temptations.
  • Moses was about to pass off the scene, and Joshua was about to take over as leader.

[Who was alive from the 1st generation? Moses, Caleb, and those under 20 years old at Kadesh-Barnea. Why was it important to urge these people to commit themselves to obey God? Their parents had first?hand knowledge of God, but they may not have. Lesson: you cannot live your life on your parent’s faith. You have to have your own relationship with God.]

The book of Deuteronomy is important for a number of reasons. Jesus quotes from it (Matt 4:4), as do many of the OT and NT authors. Deuteronomy “stands as the wellspring of biblical historical revelation. It is a prime source for both OT and NT theology.”3

The structure of the book follows that of vassal treaties typical of the second millennium BC. That is, when a king made an agreement with a subject (or vassal) country, the treaty followed a certain pattern. Deuteronomy follows this pattern loosely.

{A vassal is a subject person or country. The king or ruling kingdom was also referred to as the suzerain, i.e., a nation that controls another nation in international affairs but allows it domestic sovereignty. 4}

Key words: keep, observe, remember

Key characters: Moses and Joshua

Date: around 1405 BC, after 38 years of wandering around in the wilderness

Most of the final chapter is written in the 3rd person. Joshua or some other editor must have added this part after Moses died.

Purposes of Deuteronomy:

ü to explain or expound the Law

ü to encourage the new generation to possess the Promised Land and obey God (4:1-2; 6:3, 17-19, 24-25; 8:1; 10:12-11:32)

ü to prevent judgement and promote the blessing of the nation by the Lord as they enter the Promised Land (6:15-19, 24-25; 7:4, 9-16; 15:4-6, 10)

Outline of the Deuteronomy

Introduction: The Historical Setting (1:1-4)

I. A Review of God’s Mighty Acts (1:5-4:43)

II. Review of the Law, Commands and Warnings (4:44-26:19)

III. Covenant Renewal, Blessings and Cursings (27:1-29:1)

IV. Summary of Covenant Demands: Obedience Yields Blessings (29:2-30:20)

V. Transition from Moses’ Leadership to Joshua (31-34)

Dynamic Direction from Deuteronomy

I. God Desires Genuine Commitment.

Deuteronomy stresses the importance of a genuine love for God (6:4-6; 10:12; 11:13; 30:6). Interestingly, the previous four books of the Pentateuch focus more on external obedience rather than internal attitude. Deuteronomy emphasizes the heart: God’s Word must be in their hearts (5:29; 6:6); discouragement begins in the heart (1:28); and they must love and serve God from the heart (4:29; 10:12).

[This was the means of salvation in the OT—to love God from the heart. One was not saved thru participation in the ritual alone. Those who were saved participated in the ritual, but that’s not what saved them. Most of Israel was not truly saved.]

Application: Outward religion is not acceptable to God. We must have a genuine relationship with Him and serve Him out of a heart of love.

II. God Expects His People to Obey His Word.

Moses repeatedly emphasizes the importance of obeying God’s Word (11:27-28; 13:4; 27:10). The Israelites had been guilty of forgetting His Word, turning to idols, and neglecting the Law. Now, on the threshold of entering the Promised Land, they must return to God’s Word and commit themselves to obey it.

Application: We must obey God’s Word.

III. God is Good.

Moses reminds the people of God’s goodness to them in delivering them from slavery in Egypt, how He had sustained them through the wanderings in the wilderness, and how He is preparing them to enter the Promised Land (cf. 2:7). He urges them not to forget the LORD and the great things He has done for them. Israel had a privileged position with God, and Moses urges the people to serve God faithfully and be holy because of it. 5

Application: God has been good to us. He has delivered us from the power and penalty of sin, he sustains us through our lives, and he has promised us a place with him. Because of God’s goodness toward us, we should be grateful and committed to Him.

IV. God Blesses and Provides for His Obedient People

Even though Moses and the men of the exodus will not see the land, Caleb, Joshua and the nation’s next generation will see, enter and inherit the land (1:34-40). God intends to bless his people with the possession of the land (1:6-8a) if they will obey the Law (5:29, 32-33).

Application: Blessing follows those who trust God and obey Him. Obedience yields blessing.

V. God Judges Evil

As Moses recounts the history of the nation, it becomes very evident that God chastened them for their sin and lack of faith. When they should have entered Canaan, they refused to trust God and ended up wandering in the wilderness for nearly 40 years (2:1). Even Moses does not enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience (32:51-52). The Lord does promise to deliver his people from judgment if they turn again to him (repent) and listen to Him (4:29-31).

Application: God has not changed–He still judges evil. Those who sin will experience God’s hand of chastening. Cf. Heb 12:5-7. We should repent when we sin.

+ Obedience results in blessings (28:1-6).

+ Disobedience results in cursings (28:15-19)

One of the clearest themes in the entire book is the idea of blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience (points IV and V above). Chapters 27-30 are largely given over to explaining how God intends to bless the Israelites as they obey Him or how God intends to curse the nation if it disobeys Him (28:1-2f cf. 15f). Unfortunately, the rest of the OT shows how Israel decided to disobey (for the most part).

Note that the nature of the blessings and curses were physical. That is, the Israelites would prosper financially, militarily, and politically if they obeyed God. Likewise, the curses: if they disobeyed, God would strike them with poverty, let other nations overtake them, and disperse them from the land.

Can NT Christians expect the same sort of blessings and cursings? Why or why not?

[No. Remember the nature of this agreement: it was between God and Israel. The same cannot be said of the relationship between God and the church. Israel is not the church. There is, however, a spiritual parallel of sorts. We will be blessed in a spiritual sense as we obey, and we will experience chastisement when we disobey. But we shouldn’t expect political or financial gain to be the result of obeying God (contra health and wealth/prosperity theology).]


Deuteronomy has many lessons for modern believers. The blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience are still in operation today. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, but God chastens those who sin. God displays His goodness and His patience with His people every day. And above all, God is pleased with those who seek after Him with all their hearts.


1. Summarize the book of Deuteronomy. Review of the Law, Commands and Warnings, Covenant Renewal, Blessings and Cursings

1. What are some of the primary themes in the book? Obedience, blessings and cursings, God’s goodness and power.

2. Why was it important for Moses to explain the Law and renew the Covenant with the people? Because it was a new generation; because they were on the verge of entering the Promised Land.

3. What are some important applications modern readers can make from Deuteronomy? That God desires genuine, heart-felt commitment; that God expects us to obey his word; that God is good; that God blesses obedience and judges sin.

  1. Jack S. Deere, Deuteronomy in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 259.
  2. IBID, p. 260.
  3. Earl S. Kalland, Deuteronomy in Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 10.
  4. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.
  5. Benware, p. 72.


  1. Della Powell says:

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