Read the Bible in a Year
This week, read: Deuteronomy 15-34
At Least Know This
The book of Deuteronomy controls the thinking of the rest of the Old Testament. It identifies the “Deuteronomic Code,” which means when you obey God you get wealthy and healthy, but if you disobey God, you get swatted. The prophets disagreed with this idea, but people didn’t listen to the prophets much.
Author and Date
Jesus once referred to the first five books of the Bible as the “Books of Moses” (Mark 12:26). So, through most of church history, people assumed that Moses wrote those books. Modern analysis of the ancient Hebrew text shows that there were many people (or many groups) that edited the book.
Deuteronomy was probably put in its final form during the Babylonian Exile (587-538 BC).
Moses and his people have spent forty years in the desert, and are now ready to go into Canaan, the Promised Land. The book of Deuteronomy reflects on where they have been and what they need to do in the future.
Deuteronomy 24:17-22. Take a look at some of the passages like this, where there is a wholly, holy concern for the disadvantaged. Even if you take a shear to some of your crops, and you miss something, you shouldn’t go back and cut it again—leave it for the fatherless and widowed.
Deuteronomy 27-28. Here is a list of those who are cursed (those who disobey the law) and the blessed (those who obey the law). Again, those who obey get rewarded. Those who disobey are punished. This idea flows into the Gospels in the New Testament—it’s the culture that Jesus walks into. The prophets said this idea was silly. Jesus puts down the idea once and for all when he dies and rises for all.
In the Old Testament, the priests really believed this idea of the Deuteronomic Code: Obey the law and you are blessed—you hit the lottery. Disobey the law, and you are cursed—you are punished. So, in the Old Testament, being blessed is material gain. Being cursed is being poor and sick.
Jesus changes the definition of being blessed. Check out Matthew 5:1-12. In Matthew, being blessed is being poor in spirit, mourning, being meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. In other words, being blessed is no longer about material gain. In the New Testament, being blessed is to reflect the qualities of Jesus.
If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions (or insights that you have received from the Bible reading), then please click here, and then click on the most recent reading guide. You can also feel free to email the question to me.
Our next face-to-face meeting is on March 14, 2019 at 6:30-7:45.