Most of you in the Legacy Reading Plan are pretty close to opening or cracking the fifth book of Moses entitled Deuteronomy. These messages of Deuteronomy were delivered east of the Jordan River on the plains of Moab at the edge of the Promised Land. Deuteronomy consists of a series of farewell messages by Israel’s then 120 year-old leader—Moses. It’s addressed to a brand new generation, a generation destined to possess the land of promise. They had survived forty years of wilderness wanderings, but now they faced the question: How would they survive prosperity in paradise?
Like Leviticus, you are going to find out that Deuteronomy contains a lot of legal detail, but the emphasis is on the laity, not on the Levitical priesthood. Moses reminds the new generation that it is important to be obedient, and if they are not, they are going to learn the tragic example of their parents. They have to remember that there is no God but the God of Israel, a God who alone is sovereign over all the nations, who rules with perfect justice, who loves His people with an everlasting love, and who has to be obeyed and worshipped according to the revelation of Himself in Scripture.
Yahweh’s covenant promises include blessings for faith and obedience, but on the other hand, judgment for unbelief and sin. In fact, Moses himself is not going to enter the land of promise as a direct result of disobedience in the wilderness—unless you count his appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration one thousand years later. However, God’s plan only becomes a tangible reality when Joshua leads the children of Israel into the Land of Promise, and then the wanderings of Adam and Abraham and Moses finally give way to rest on every side.
As Adam fell in Paradise, you are in the Old Testament going to read about the tragic fall of Abraham’s descendants in Palestine, and Joshua’s words will take on ominous reality; “But just as every good promise of the Lord your God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you all the evil he has threatened until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he has commanded you, you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you” (Joshua 23:15-16, NIV). Of course, this is the message of all of Scripture—blessings for those who follow, cursings for those who rebel. These promises are just as poignant and profound in the present as they are to those who wandered in the wilderness, which you are going to read about in Deuteronomy, particularly his message to those who would soon enter the land or promise. In short, I hope to continue this year the encouragement to get into the Word of God and to get the Word of God into you.