Deuteronomy Series: An Introduction


At the start of the year I set out to work my way through the whole Bible chronologically [via the ReadingPlan app] by the end of 2018. To give you any idea of how that's been going, I just finished Deuteronomy around a month ago. Whoops! There have been many-a-day where I've been distracted, forgetful, or have switched things up by studying another book of the Bible.

I didn't intend for this chronological reading plan to be any sort of in depth study, but rather to simply read through it to gain a better understanding of the Bible as a whole and to grow in my Biblical literacy. Like many other things in life though, even this is panning out to be different than planned.

I've been fixed on the book of Deuteronomy and have been loving every minute. It's jam packed with many different themes and lots of repetition about who God is, the promises He's made, the disobedience of the Israelites, the blessings that come from obedience, and an emphasis on the importance of God's Word.

A resource that really helped me as I started the book was The Bible Project. In addition to study Bible notes and commentaries, The Bible Project offers visual storytelling to help aid in your overall understanding of what you're reading. Check it out!                     [@thebibleproject]

Back in Genesis 12, God made a promise to Abraham that was threefold:

  • God would make him into a great nation
  • He would make Abraham's name great
  • And other nations of the world would be blessed through him. Blessed in order to be a blessing.

Fast forward to Deuteronomy and we've seen a lot from the Israelites that points to the human condition: intended to do right but broken; at times wanting to please God, but at other times straying far away. Even though you can read from Genesis to Deuteronomy fairly quickly [if you make it through the exile that is Leviticus, amiright?], the amount of time it actually encompasses can be easily missed. These people have been in slavery in Egypt for four. hundred. years. Moses comes along and delivers them, they make the long journey toward the Promised Land, but then end up wandering through the wilderness for four decades because they were such a wreck.  They even mention on multiple occasions that they think it'd actually be better for them to go back to slavery in Egypt. Moses recaps a lot of this in the opening chapters of the book. Through the course of his long speech he talks about the blessing and the curse, alluding to the fact that these people aren't going to keep up this "love the Lord your God" command. But this never started with the Israelite people; this inability to perfectly obey points to our fallenness as humans. It points to the beginning of time. I love the way the Bible Project video communicates this point. (3:35-4:40)

If we're being honest, it is frustrating. We follow the story of this people group who just can't get it right. How can you continue to turn your back, be angry, make false idols to worship, complain, not listen, wish you were back in slavery, etc. etc. - after all God has done for you and all you've been able to witness? Listen. We can have all the beef we want with the Israelite people (and the same goes for the disciples in the New Testament), but if we're being honest, can't we relate? We can't deny it.

Aren't we the same?

How often do we dilly-dally and potentially delay receiving God's promised goodness, all because we won't trust and obey?
How often do we question if God's plan or the journey He's taking us on is actually the best way?
How often do we say we'll obey God's Word and hide it in our hearts but then decide, "mmm nah"?
How often do we cause our own weariness and anxious thoughts all because we're a forgetful people who don't understand the character of our caring, merciful, and present Father?
How often do we have such a false view of who He is solely based on what we can only see right in front of us, instead of the bigger picture?

These questions are just as much directed to myself as they are to you.

But. (is that the best word in Scripture or what?) Don't let the former questions make you weary. Guess what?

There's hope for us.

Moses knows this too. I mean the guy has lead these wayward people for so long, he knows their tendencies. 
But he also knows who his God is. Who their God is.

After Moses predicts how they'll continue to forget, do evil, and turn away from God, he says this:

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey His voice. For the Lord Your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them.
— Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Moses reminds them of God's character and the things that are true about Him, even when those same things aren't true about them. They are forgetful. God is not. They are faithless a lot of the time. He is faithful to bring about what He promised. They turn their backs. He will not leave them.

Even though this is a specific story that follows a specific journey of a specific people group, don't we have the same God? Doesn't He also promise us that He'll complete what He started in us? (Philippians 1:6) Hasn't He also shown us His unending mercy? (Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3) Doesn't He also promise us that He will never leave us? (Matt. 28:20; John 14:18). We are wayward, but He is faithful.

More and more reasons to keep singing his grace.

Join me on this journey in the following five weeks as I take you through some of the main points God has been teaching me while reading this book. It certainly won't be exhaustive, and I'd love to invite you to dive in with me and take note of some of the themes that jump out for you. Be sure to follow @singinghisgrace on instagram and we can have some ongoing conversations over there about this series!

Jocelyn Hepler