Ten Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 5: The Plague of Frogs

Exodus 7.25–8.15

Why the frogs?

Frogs were considered gods and goddesses.

The goddess Heqt was a frog. The frog was one of many sacred animals. The image of a frog was often found on amulets and statues. The Egyptian’s worship of the frogs was so profound that if a person involuntarily slaughtered a frog, he was often punished with death. [Read more…]

Ten Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 4: The Plague on the Nile River

Exodus 7:14-24

The precision of the prediction was designed to convince Pharaoh (Ex 7.17-18)

  • it will be changed into blood
  • the fish will die
  • the river will stink
  • the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water

[Read more…]

Ten Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 3: The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart

Sinful human nature can be powerfully deluding. You may have met, or know of a person, who stubbornly refuses to do what is right. He arrogantly pursues his own interests to the detriment of others including himself. Maybe you have persistently counseled your friend to obey God’s commands only to find her reject your counsel and make a complete mess of her life. [Read more…]

Ten Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 2: The Eleven Signs of God’s Sovereignty

(including the ten plagues)

Introduction: The ten plagues. That is how we know and refer to this section of the Bible. However, let’s not forget how the Bible presents the story.

The story begins with a contrast between the Israelites and the Egyptians. [Read more…]

Ten Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 1: God Foil’s Man’s Wisdom

How God used dedicated, common men to frustrate the wisest of the wise in Exodus 6.28–7.13

GOD often frustrates the “wisdom” of natural man (Isa 29.14; cf. 1Co 1.19). When man seeks to glorify himself, God may frustrate his “wisdom.” Recently I received an e-mail illustrating God’s sometimes canny frustrating work: [Read more…]

Ten Commandments: An Introduction

Introduction to the Ten Commandments

Not many decades ago, most citizens of western cultures were quite familiar with the Ten Commandments and much of the rest of the Bible. School teachers prayed and quoted from the Bible. The Ten Commandments were posted in public places—classrooms, court houses, public parks and squares, and churches. Things have changed, drastically. Public displays of the Ten Commandments are becoming rare. They have been absent from public classrooms for many years, and anti-religion groups have been successful in intimidating public officials into removing them from public property. Hence, knowledge of the Ten Commandments is no longer universal. Quite rare is the person today who can recite even half of them.

Comedian Jay Leno, in his “Jaywalking” segment, recently asked the following:

“How many commandments are there?”
“Can you name any of them?”
“Freedom of speech!”

Such confusion and ignorance may seem humorous, but it’s also revealing. Ignorance of the law leads to lawlessness. Without an understanding of basic moral expectations, everyone will do what is right in his own eyes (Jud 17:6), which will result in chaos. Further, secularized people are often unwilling to consider the idea that morality is more than personal opinion. Even those who know something about the Ten Commandments typically ignore them or think of them as mere suggestions. Standards of public morality plunge as people ignore, neglect, and dismiss biblical expectations such as those listed in the Ten Commandments. Without transcendent, eternal norms, human behavior becomes increasingly inhuman, barbaric, and savage.

Conditions are not much better within the church than they are in our secular culture. Quite a bit of page turning would be required for the average believer to find where the Ten Commandments are listed in the Bible. An even more challenging task is understanding the significance OT commandments have for NT believers. Are the Ten Commandments still in force? All of them? Why or why not? What is the relationship between the Law and the Gospel?

Why is it important for us to study the Ten Commandments? John Bunyan gives us the answer: “The man who does not know the nature of the law cannot know the nature of sin. And he who does not know the nature of sin cannot know the nature of the Savior.” 1 The OT law shows us our need for the Savior. It convinces us of sin and drives us to Christ. So we would agree with Paul when he says “the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom 7:12). We must affirm the continuing legitimacy, validity, and necessity of God’s law to guide human behavior.

The Use of the OT Law for NT Believers

Before beginning our study of the individual Commandments, we should first consider how NT believers are to understand and apply OT law. So let’s consider that issue first.

Many Christians are confused about the use of the OT Law. Do we follow it or not? Is it still in force or not? What parts of it should we follow? If we are not following it, of what value is it?

This lesson is designed to explore what the OT Law is and how it currently applies to NT believers.

I. Meaning of the word “law”

The Ten Commandments are a small portion of the OT law. We find multiple uses of the word “law” in the Bible. Some of the uses of the term:

A, God’s general moral will expressed throughout the Bible (OT and NT); divine commands in the widest sense (Rom 7:25).

B. The moral principles of the Ten Commandments did not begin with Sinai; they are as eternal and immutable as the very holy character of God Himself (1 Pet 1:16). 2

C. The OT Mosaic code (including or especially the 10 Commandments), i.e., the set of rules and regulations that God gave Moses for Israel (Rom 2:14a; 2:17; 3:21, 28; 7:12; Gal 4:21, 5:3).

D. Scripture in general (especially the OT). Thus: “the law” (Matt 5:18; 12:5; Lk 2:27; 10:26; 16:17; Rom 3:19); “the law and the prophets” (Matt 5:17); “the law of the Lord” (Lk 2:23, 24, 39); “the law of Moses” (Lk 2:22; cf. also Acts 28:23); “Moses and the prophets” (Lk 24:27). The threefold formula “Moses and the prophets and the psalms” also occurs (Lk 24:44).

E. The “law of Christ” (1 Cor 9:21; Gal 6:2)

A rule, principle, or force (Rom 2:14b, 3:27, 7:2, 21, 23, 8:2)

Various forms of human laws, those prescribed by man through human government or custom (Luke 20:22; Acts 19:38)

II. NT teaching about the OT Law

A. The law (i.e., the Mosaic code) extended “until John” the Baptist (Mt 11:13); after that comes the gospel of Christ.

B. Christ did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Mt 5:17). It is impossible that any part of the law would disappear (Mt 5:18-19). Jesus expected his audience to keep the Law. It’s important to remember that Jesus lived and ministered under the Law. The end of the law came with the death of Christ, the torn veil symbolizing the ending of the Levitical system (Mk 15:38; Heb 6:19, 9:3, 10:20). Jesus’ fulfillment of the law set the stage for the church age.

C. The law can be summarized by these two commands: Love God and love your neighbor (Mt 22:34-40). Paul states that love fulfills the law (Rom 13:10).

D. Christians are not under the OT Law. Note the following verses in this regard: Acts 15:10, 19; Rom 6:14, 7:1-6, 10:4; 2 Cor 3:7-18; Gal 3:10-13, 3:24-25, 5:1; Eph 2:15; Col 2:14

    1. What does it mean to be “under” the Law? It means to be subject to its rules and regulations, to be accountable to it, to be liable to its penalties, and to be bound to obey it.
    2. The Israelites were “under” the law in the sense that it applied directly to them; God expected them to apply it and obey it. He blessed obedience and punished disobedience.
    3. At the Jerusalem council (read Acts 15:5-11, 19-21, 29), the disciples specifically rejected the idea that Gentile believers need to observe all the stipulations of the OT Law.
    4. The book of Galatians refutes the idea that keeping the OT law is a means of salvation. Those who would put themselves under the OT law have “fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). Paul states that he is “dead to the law” (Gal 2:19) and that those who want to follow the law are under the curse of the law (Gal 3:10). Christ has redeemed the believer from the law (Gal 3:13). Believers are no longer under that “schoolmaster” (Gal 3:25). The law is a “yoke of bondage” with which we should not be “entangled” (Gal 5:1). Those who are led by the Spirit are not under the law (Gal 5:18). Paul could hardly be clearer on this matter.
    5. Some Jews, like Paul (1 Cor 9:19-23) determined to observe the rituals of the OT Law, at least occasionally, simply to be non-offensive to those they were trying to reach. At other times, Paul exercised his freedom from those same rituals and restrictions (see Gal 2:11-21).
    6. The law of Moses is a unit, an indivisible, all-or-nothing proposition. The Bible never makes a distinction between parts of the Law. People commonly recognize the different civil, ceremonial and moral aspects of the Law, but these categories do not stand individually; they are parts of the whole. You can’t just pick and choose the parts that you like and ignore the rest. This is precisely Paul’s point in Galatians 5:3-4—if you agree to be circumcised, you are agreeing to obey the whole Law, which means that you are rejecting salvation by faith in Christ.

The typical distinctions recognized in the OT law:

Ceremonial: deals with sacrifices, rituals, purifications, and other religious activities fulfilled in Christ

Civil: rules dealing with the government regulations, the Theocracy; governed national Israel

Moral: deals with timeless moral principles like the 10 Commandments

Quote: “God did away with the Mosaic law completely, both the [civil,] ceremonial and the moral parts. He terminated it as a code and has replaced it with a new code, “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Some commandments in the law of Christ are the same as those in the law of Moses (e.g., nine of the Ten Commandments, excluding the command to observe the Sabbath day).” 3

E. Christians are under the law of Christ

Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

1 Cor 9:21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;

Gal 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

What is the law of Christ? It’s the set of regulations and expectations taught by Jesus and expanded by the NT authors. It’s the Christian rule of life, essentially, the teaching of the NT epistles. In contrast to the Mosaic code, which emphasized rituals and works, the law of Christ emphasizes grace and love (cf. John 1:17, 13:34). We serve “in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6). The law of Christ covers all areas of the believer’s life just as the Mosaic code did for the OT believer.

III. Interpreting the OT Law

While we should not import NT ideas into the OT in our interpretation, we do consider NT teaching when applying OT principles. Our application of the OT should be read thru NT lenses. What principles still apply in NT times? What parts has Christ fulfilled or accomplished? What parts are mere shadows and symbols?

IV. Values of the OT Law

A. The law is “holy and good” (Rom 7:12), one of God’s gifts to Israel (Rom 9:4).

B. The law provided a standard of righteousness (Deut 4:8; Psalm 19:7-9). The law revealed the righteousness, holiness, and goodness of God (Deut 4:8; Lev 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; Rom 7:12-14).

Note the Quote: God’s Law provides the foundation and parameters for civil and political freedom. Here we find timeless wisdom that is to regulate the daily discourse and which gives significance and purpose to life and work. 4

C. The law entered “that the offense might abound” (Rom 5:20; cf. 7:8-13; 1 Cor 15:56b), and in order to “confine” men under law and sin, with no prospect of escape until Christ should come (Gal 3:22f.). The law produces the startling realization of sin which does not save (Rom 3:20; 7:7); but it calls forth a cry for help in one’s lost condition (Rom 7:24), a cry which can be answered effectively only by Jesus Christ (Rom 7:25). 5

Rom 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Rom 7:13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.

1 Tim 1:9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,…

Note: In an evangelistic appeal, one must emphasize the sinner’s sinfulness. A comparison of the person’s lifestyle to the requirements of the 10 Commandments and to Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount is often helpful in revealing the sinner’s total depravity.

Luther: The law must be laid upon those that are to be justified, that they may be shut up in the prison thereof, until the righteousness of faith comes—that, when they are cast down and humbled by the Law, they should fly to Christ. The law humbles them, not to their destruction, but to their salvation. For God woundeth that He may heal again. He killeth that he may quicken again. 6

Luther: As long as a person is not a murderer, adulterer, thief, he would swear that he is righteous. How is God going to humble such a person except by Law? The Law is the hammer of death, the thunder of hell and the thunder of God’s wrath to bring down the proud and shameless hypocrites. …. As long as a person thinks he is right he is going to be incomprehensibly proud and presumptuous. He is going to hate God, despise His grace and mercy, and ignore the promises in Christ. The Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins through Christ will never appeal to the self-righteous. This monster of self-righteousness, this stiff-necked beast, needs a big axe. And that is what the Law is, a big axe. Accordingly the proper use and function of the Law is to threaten until the conscience is scared stiff. 7

D. Perhaps the most significant purpose of the law is to lead men to Christ. The law is a paidago4gos, “schoolmaster, tutor, custodian” (Gal 3:24-25). The paidago4gos was usually a slave whose duty it was to take the pupil to school and supervise his conduct generally. The OT law served this purpose—it held authority until the coming of Christ. Paul states clearly that after faith comes, “we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal 3:25).

E. 2 Tim 3:16 All of the OT is revelation, profitable material, containing doctrine and instruction in righteousness.

F. 1 Cor 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition.

Good quote: It is possible to conclude that since it is unnecessary to keep the law to be saved, it is unnecessary to pay attention to the law for any reason. However, Paul was not urging his converts to burn their Old Testaments. The law has values, as he previously pointed out, … Under grace we are free to fulfill the law by loving one another. [Cf. Ro 13:10.] For the Christian the Mosaic law has revelatory value (2 Tim 3:16–17) even though it does not have regulatory value, controlling our behavior. 8

V. Weaknesses of the OT Law

A. The law cannot save. Salvation was never based on obedience to the Law, but on God’s grace and man’s faith in God’s promises (Rom 4:1-3). There is no truth to the assertion that under the OT system, people were saved by works (Gal 2:16).

B. The fundamental weakness of the law is that its only answer to sin is to forbid it and condemn it. Law cannot overcome sin, because it depends on the cooperation of the flesh (i.e., autonomous human nature), which is weak (Rom 8:3), incapable of obedience.

C. The law is essentially a letter that kills, a yoke the Jews were unable to bear (Rom 7:6; Acts 15:10). In contrast, the life of the new covenant is the Spirit who makes alive (2 Cor 3:6). What the law demands can be gained only by the Spirit because of the work of Christ (Rom 8:4).

D. The book of Hebrews demonstrates that the old covenant of the Mosaic law was only temporary and has been replaced by the coming of Christ whose ministry is based on (1) a better priesthood, one after the order of Melchizedek which is superior to Aaron’s, and (2) a better covenant with better promises (see Heb 7-10). The old covenant was only a shadow of heavenly things, and if it had been able to make men perfect before God there would have been no occasion for a second or new covenant (see Heb 7:11-12; 8:1-13). 9

Heb 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

VI. Why not place yourself under the Law?

Many today strongly assert that at least some of the rules and regulations from the OT are still binding for Christians. They claim that Christians should observe OT moral stipulations whenever possible. They say that although we are not saved by keeping the law, we keep the law as means of sanctification. The OT law becomes a rule of life for the believer. God gave those rules for a reason, so there must be some value in keeping them.

Examples: dietary regulations, clothing guidelines, infant circumcision, observation of the Saturday Sabbath

What is true of those seeking to place themselves under the OT Law?

A. They are violating the proper use of the law (read 1 Tim 1:9).

B. They ignore the fact that the law demands entire obedience (Gal 3:10, quoting Deut 27:26). It’s illegitimate to pick and choose those elements of it that seem “applicable.”

C. Paul says that if one has been delivered from the law through faith in Christ, to deliberately place oneself under its control results in “falling from grace” (Gal 5:4). In other words, to go back to the law amounts to a rejection of Christ.

D. To go back to the law as a way of life puts one under the control of the flesh; it nullifies true spirituality by faith in the Holy Spirit and defeats the believer. It results domination by the sin nature or the flesh (Gal 5:1-5; Col 2:14f). 10

E. To go back to the law ignores all the NT statements telling believers that they are not under the OT law.

VII. Is the Christian without law (i.e., lawless, antinomian)? No. Grace and forgiveness are not a license to sin.

Gal 5:13 For you, brothers were called to freedom; only do not use freedom for an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Gal 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Heb 1:9 [Christ] loved righteousness and hated lawlessness…

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

  1. Quoted in Philip Graham Ryken, Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2003), 8.
  2. J. Hampton Keathley III , “The Mosaic Law: Its Function and Purpose in the New Testament.” www.Bible.net
  3. Tom Constable. (2003; 2003). Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Ga 5:1). Galaxie Software.
  4. Alistair Begg, Pathway to Freedom: How God’s Laws Guide Our Lives (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003), 36.
  6. Quoted in R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2001), 95.
  7. Luther, Galatians, quoted in Alistair Begg, Pathway to Freedom: How God’s Laws Guide Our Lives (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003), 37.
  8. Constable.
  9. Keathley
  10. Keathley

Ten Commandments

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Interpreting the OT Law for NT Christians
  • Commandment #1: No Other Gods
  • Commandment #2: No Graven Images
  • Commandment #3: No Misuse of God’s Name
  • Commandment #4: Remember the Sabbath
  • Commandment #5: Honor Your Parents
  • Commandment #6: Do Not Commit Murder
  • Commandment #7: Do Not Commit Adultery
  • Commandment #8: Do Not Steal
  • Commandment #9: Do Not Lie
  • Commandment #10: Do Not Covet

Primary Resources

Written in Stone by Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway, 2003)

Pathway to Freedom by Alistair Begg (Moody, 2003)

The Law of Perfect Freedom by Michael S. Horton (Moody, 1993)

Other sources as noted

Bible Survey Lesson 7: Joshua

Bible Survey Lesson 7: Joshua

Entering the Promised Land

Content: The book of Joshua covers about thirty years of Israel’s history, emphasizing a five-year period of Joshua’s military campaigns. 1 The book picks up right where Deuteronomy left off: Israel is camped by the Jordan River on the threshold of entering the Promised Land. Joshua tells the story of Israel’s conquest of the land and of their settlement in it.

God assigned Joshua the task of destroying the Canaanite kingdoms and moving the Israelites into their land. Chapters 7 and 20 indicate that the Israelites were to totally destroy the Canaanites living within the boundaries of the Promised Land. Joshua destroyed thirty-one key cities or kingdoms in all (12:24). After that, each tribe was responsible to enter its designated territory and destroy all the Canaanites left there. Unfortunately, many of the tribes did not or could not root out the Canaanites. This failure would prove to trouble the Israelites for many years to come.

Joshua contains many well-known Bible stories: Rahab’s hiding of the spies, the parting of the Jordan River, the fall of the walls of Jericho, the disobedience and destruction of Achan, and Caleb’s determination.

Authorship: Although there is no stated author of the book, Jewish tradition assigns it to Joshua. It’s clear that he did write some of it at least (24:25-26). The author was obviously an eyewitness of the events described in the book. The date of authorship is about 1390 BC. The conquest probably occurred around 1406 BC.

Title: The Hebrew text bears the superscription Yehoshua. The word “Joshua” means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.” The title therefore suitably describes what God used Joshua to do, namely, to save his people by conquering Canaan and partitioning it to Israel as their promised homeland. 2 Note that “Jesus” is the Greek form of “Joshua.”

Purpose: to record the conquest of the land of Canaan by Israel and therefore show the faithfulness of God in keeping his promise to bless Abraham’s family line. 3 Part of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:2-3; cf. 15:12-21) includes an unconditional promise that God would give Abraham a specific land and many descendants. The book of Joshua shows that God fulfilled his promises.

Key Characters: Joshua, Caleb, Rahab

Key Words: inheritance, possess

An Outline of Joshua

I. The invasion and conquest of the land (1-12)

A. Entering Canaan (1-5)

B. Conquering Canaan (6-12)

1. Central conquest

2. Southern conquest

3. Northern conquest

II. Dividing the Land (13-24)

A. The distribution of the land to the tribes (13-22)

B. The last messages of Joshua (23-24)

Jenuine Jems from Joshua

I. God keeps His promises

God made the promises of the Abrahamic covenant centuries prior to their fulfillment. Even though so much time had passed, God was working things out to fulfill His promises.

Application: God has made NT believers many promises, one of the most noteworthy being the Second Coming of Christ. Although much time has passed since the promise was made, we can rest assured that God will keep his promises to us. God is faithful and trustworthy.

II. What seems impossible is possible with God.

According to ten of the twelve spies, conquering Canaan was utterly impossible. Yet that is exactly what Israel did. God repeatedly gave the Israelites the power to do what they could never have done by themselves.

[Israel was not exactly a military power. They were former slaves with virtually no military experience. So for them to conquer the land was impossible. ]

Application: We may be called upon to do the seemingly impossible in the service of God. Yet God will provide the necessary strength to accomplish great things in His service. We must be strong and courageous as we serve God (Josh 1:9)

III. God judges sin.

A. God judges sinful nations. God used Israel to destroy the idolatrous and wicked Canaanite civilization. The Canaanites’ measure of sin was now “full,” i.e., ready to be judged (Gen 15:16).

B. God judges sin in the lives of his own people. Achan lusted after some of the spoils of war and took some for himself. His sin caused the death of many soldiers because there was “sin in the camp.” When his sin was discovered, both he and his family were destroyed.

Application: The wicked can still expect the judgment of God. Those who are saved should expect chastisement. Further, your sin affects others. Achan’s whole family suffered the consequences of Achan’s sin.

IV. God is gracious.

Rahab the harlot became a member of the Israelite nation. Although she was a sinful person (a prostitute) living in the midst of a sinful nation, she responded to God in faith. She’s even mentioned in Hebrews 11:31 as one who lived by faith. Interestingly, she became an ancestor of Kind David, and hence, Jesus (Matt 1:5).

Application: God can take the worst sinner and make him into a saint (cf. Titus 3:3-5). No one is beyond the saving grace God offers. E.g., “Unshackled” radio program.


Joshua tells of Israel’s conquest and settlement in the Promised Land. God is continuing to show his faithfulness to his promise to Abraham to make of his family a great nation in the land of Canaan.


1. Summarize the book of Joshua. The conquest and division of the Promised Land.

2. How was Israel able to conquer the land? Thru God’s help. They were not a great military force by themselves.

3. What are some timeless principles that we learn from Joshua? That God keeps his promises; that all things are possible with God; to be strong and courageous; that God judges sin; that God is gracious

  1. Benware, p. 78.
  2. Donald K. Campbell, “Joshua” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 1, p. 325
  3. Benware, p. 77.

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.

A Survey of the Scriptures: Lesson 5 Numbers

A Survey of the Scriptures: Lesson 5 Numbers

Instructions for Israel

Like Leviticus, the book of Numbers doesn’t often show up on lists of favorite Bible books. But Numbers, although rather obscure, contains a great deal of information about the history of Israel as well as many practical lessons that we can apply today. [In fact, several well-known Bible stories come out of Numbers. ]

News about Numbers

Name: The book is called “Numbers” because of the many statistics contained in it, such as tribal populations and the totals of priests and Levites. The Greek title in the translation of the OT (LXX) was arithmoi. The Latin Vulgate picked up on the Greek title and named the book Numeri from which the English acquires the name Numbers. The book also recounts two censuses taken in Israel. Interestingly, the Hebrew name for the book is bemidbar (rbdmb), the fifth word of the book, meaning “in the desert of.”

Theme/content: Besides many statistics and lists of things, Numbers contains information about (a) how Israel as a nation was to order itself as it traveled through the desert; (b) how the priests and Levites were to function as they traveled; (c) how they were to prepare themselves to conquer the Promised Land (Canaan). The book covers a 40-year period from the giving of the Law at Sinai to the eve of the conquest of Canaan. The narrative sections demonstrate the successes and failures of the Lord’s people as they conformed or did not conform to the Law. 1 Numbers continues the account of God’s faithfulness to his promise to Abraham to make his family a great nation. 2

Key word: wandering. Israel wandered in the desert for about 40 years. Do you know why?

{Because of their lack of belief at K-B.

Also remember that Israel was about 2 million people strong. Certain organizational strategies had to be implemented in order to move people efficiently. Israel was arranged by tribes around the Tabernacle, which was at the center of the camp. There was a fixed marching and camping order. Each tribe knew when to leave as the nation broke camp and marched, and where to set up camp when the march ended. 3}

Key chapter: 14 – unbelief at Kadesh-Barnea

Key characters: Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb, Korah, Balaam

An Outline of Numbers

I. The Journey from Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea (1-12)

A. Preparation

B. The journey itself

II. Israel in the Wilderness (13-19)

A. The crises of unbelief at Kadesh-Barnea

B. Laws after the crises

C. The rebellion of Korah and its results

III. The Journey from Kadesh-Barnea to Moab (20-36)

A. Incidents on the way to Moab

B. Incidents with Balaam

C. The census

D. New laws

Purposes of the Book of Numbers:

A. to fill-in the historical period from the Exodus and Sinai revelation to the preparations in Moab to enter the Promised Land

B. to explain that the 38 year period in the wilderness was a consequence for the unbelief of the older generation (Dt 1:35ff)

C. to demonstrate God’s faithfulness and forbearance against the backdrop of Israel’s unfaithfulness, rebellion, apostasy and frustration

D. to narrate the preparation of Israel for entry into the Promise Land by describing the journey from Sinai to the region beyond Jordan, and the legal decisions made in the wilderness 4

Implicit Instruction in Numbers:

1. God hates complaining . (11:1?2)

This was not the first instance of Israel complaining about something. They grumbled at the sight of Pharaoh’s army on the banks of the Red Sea, about the bitter water at Mara, and about the lack of food and water in the desert. Such complaining aroused God’s wrath.

Application: God still hates complaining, especially complaining about providential circumstances. See Phil. 2:14-15.

[Why is complaining such a detrimental attitude/action? It evidences a lack of trust in God. It also tends to spread.

When are you most prone to complain? What could you do to prevent a complaining attitude? Try to be thankful, not blame others, say nothing instead of talk, determine if your complaint is valid.]

2. God hates rebellion . (chs. 13-14, 16)

Chapters 13 and 14 tell the story of the reluctance of the people to enter Canaan after the discouraging report of the 10 spies. What was the result of the peoples’ rebellion at this point?

[That whole generation died as they wandered thru the desert for 40 years.

What did these people base their decision on? 13:31 (on sight, appearance, size, circumstance). What should they have based it on? 14:8?9 (God’s promises). ]

Chapter 16 tells the story of Korah, who, motivated by jealousy, challenged Moses’ leadership. In response, Moses stated that this challenge was really rebellion against God, since God Himself had clearly placed Moses in the leadership position (16:11). God judged the rebels by causing the ground to open and swallow them up. Unfortunately, neither of these incidents cured Israel’s inclination toward rebellion and complaint (16:41).

Applications: We can learn much from these incidents in the life of Israel.

We can trust God no matter what the circumstances.

While it seemed that the odds were against Israel, they still should have entered Canaan when God told them to. They should have realized that the God who plagued Egypt and opened the Red Sea could conquer the land for them. In the same way, we shouldn’t be discouraged when circumstances seem to be against us. We should trust that God will make a way for us when we are following Him.

[Caution: They had something we don’t: direct revelation and a prophet telling them exactly/specifically what to do, where to go, when to go, etc.]

Don’t follow others who don’t follow God.

250 leaders of Israel with their families died in the rebellion of Korah. Watch who you follow—you may end up sharing in their same end.

[Can you think of who suffered by following false prophets? E.g., Brand Davidians-David Koresh; Jim Jones.]

It’s a serious thing to call into question or rebel against legitimate spiritual leadership.

Rebelling against God-given authority is a serious sin. If you’ve got a complaint or gripe against legitimate leadership, you’d better handle it in the right way.

[There are proper times to replace the leader: immorality, doctrinal deviation, not meeting the biblical criteria, etc. But even then you should deal with it in the biblically prescribed manner. ]

God always judges rebellion.

Korah and his followers learned first hand the high price of rebellion.

[If you are in rebellion, you can count on being chastised if you are a Christian. Remember what happened to the rebels in this case. You may experience similar results. ]

3. God hates idolatry. 25:1?4, 9

While staying near Moab, the Israelites were influenced to worship false gods. As a result, “the LORD’s anger burned against them.” This was not the first time, nor would it be the last time, Israel worshipped other gods. The Babylonian captivity (586 BC) was largely the result of idolatry.

Application: While a true Christian will never actually worship other gods, he may be guilty of substituting something in place of God, or of giving something else God’s rightful place. Further, believers must be careful who they let influence them. Limit your exposure to false doctrine.

[Remember that most of Israel were not actually believers at this point. Hence, getting them to do the right thing would be like getting a bunch of unsaved people to run the church right. ]


The book of Numbers has plenty of biblical principles that are applicable to modern believers. God hates complaining, rebellion and idolatry.


1. Summarize the contents of Numbers. Israel in the wilderness. They refuse to enter the Promised Land and start their 40 years wandering in the desert.

2. Why is it sometimes unwise to make decisions based on appearances? Doing so does not take God’s power into consideration. God can do the impossible.

3. Why is rebellion against legitimate authority so serious? Because it’s really rebellion against God, since all power comes from God.

4. Why is it so dangerous to allow the influence of false teachers in your life? Besides being a bad influence on you, you could end up suffering the same end as they do.





  1. Eugene Merrill, “Numbers” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 1, pg. 215.
  2. Paul Benware, Survey of the OT, pg. 64.
  3. IBID, pg. 65.
  4. Keathley