Sunday School Bible Survey:      DEUTERONOMY

Theme: Obedience

Key verses: "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known" (Deut. 11:26-28).

WRITER: The first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) were written by Moses. Deuteronomy 1:1 begins, "These be the words which Moses spake..." Deuteronomy 31:24 says, "And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished."

It has always been believed by Jews and Christians that Moses wrote Deuteronomy. The Pharisees referred to Moses permitting divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and our Lord responded by saying, "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so" (Matthew 19:7, 8). The final verses of Deuteronomy, which deal with the death of Moses (Deut. 34:5-12), were probably written by Joshua, Moses' successor.

The Greek word deutero means "two" or "second," and the Greek word nomion means "law." There are no new laws in the book of Deuteronomy. The law is repeated and reemphasized in a series of six discourses in the plain of Moab.

Date of Writing: Moses' messages were given during the period leading up to Israel's entering the Promised Land (cf. 1:3). The year was 1406 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: Because of their disobedience and unbelief, the Israelites wandered through the wilderness for forty years until the unbelieving generation died off. God had promised them victory. He told them that the land was already theirs. All they had to do was to go in and take it (Num. 33:53). They simply had to trust and obey, but this they did not do. Their failure to believe God's word kept them from entering the Promised Land. The book of Deuteronomy describes a new generation of Israelites about to enter the Promised Land. This generation had not experienced the miracle at the Red Sea or heard the law given at Mount Sinai. They were about to enter a new land with many dangers and temptations. The book of Deuteronomy was given to remind them of God's law and God's power.

"The Book of Deuteronomy is didactic rather than historic. It consists of a collection of the final utterances of Moses and is a Book of review. It commences with a discourse in which Moses reviewed the forty years. This occupies chapters 1 to 4, verse 43. The whole journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea should have occupied eleven days (Deut. 1:2). The distance was not more than 125 miles. Because of unbelief they had spent forty years in the wilderness" — G. Campbell Morgan.

From the Scofield Study Bible:

Deuteronomy consists of the parting counsels of Moses delivered to Israel in view of the impending entrance upon their covenanted possession. It contains a summary of the wilderness wanderings of Israel, which is important as unfolding the moral judgement of God upon those events; repeats the Decalogue to a generation which had grown up in the wilderness; gives needed instruction as the conduct of Israel in the land, and contains the Palestinian Covenant (30:1—9). The book breathes the sternness of the Law. Key- words, "Thou shalt"; key verses, 11:26—28.

It is important to note that, while the land of promise was unconditionally given Abraham and to his seed in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 13:15; 15:7), it was under the conditional Palestinian Covenant (28:1—30:9) that Israel entered the land under Joshua. Utterly violating the conditions of that covenant, the nation was first disrupted (I Kings 12) and then cast out of the land (II Kings 17:1—18; 24:1—25:11). But the same covenant unconditionally promises a national restoration of Israel which is yet to be fulfilled (See Scofield notes on Gen. 15:18).

Deuteronomy is in seven divisions:

  1. Summary of the history of Israel in the wilderness (1:1—3:29)
  2. A restatement of the Law, with warnings and exhortations (4:1—11:32)
  3. Instructions, Warnings, and Predictions (12:1—27:26)
  4. The great closing prophecies summarizing the history of Israel to the second coming of Christ, and containing the Palestinian Covenant (28:1—30:20)
  5. Last counsels to Priests, Levites, and to Joshua (31)
  6. The Song of Moses and his parting blessings (32, 33)
  7. The Death of Moses (34)

The time covered by this retrospect is approximately forty years.

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —