Deuteronomy – Oration

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Regarding Scriptures: Deuteronomy 1.1-3

This month we come to the final book of Moses – Deuteronomy. It may be possible that we are familiar with Deuteronomy because it records Moses’ final addresses to Israel, or because it records Moses’ death, or because the book of Matthew records Jesus quoting from Deuteronomy in His defeat of Satan.1 One item that may not be as evident to us is that Deuteronomy records Moses addressing a new generation of people.

This generation consisted of two groups: those who were not punished with death in the wilderness, and those born in the 40 years of wilderness travels.2 Knowing that Moses is basically addressing a different group of Israelites than those addressed at Sinai in Exodus 20, we can understand why the word Deuteronomy means Second Law. But as one commentator stated, “Deuteronomy … is not a second law but an adaptation and expansion of much of the original law given on Mt. Sinai.”3 Perhaps, one wonders how this has anything to do with 21st century Christians?

Something that is common, yet unique to each culture that arrives on the planet is the necessity of the new generation to come face-to-face with the consequences of their progenerates (their ancestral heritage). While a child is not accountable for the sins of their parents4 the fact of the matter is that the child lives in a world that the parents, grandparents, and all past generations have established and influenced. What then becomes necessary is for the youngest of the lineage to learn of God, to live as Christ, and to face the challenges of the failings and successes of ancestry. This is what the younger Israelite nation faced in Deuteronomy.

For them, history had yet to be written. Moses was still living and Jericho had yet to be taken. These Israelites were the children of the emancipated, but would they become the fathers of the Conquerors of Canaan? They had experienced failure,5 the trauma of sin,6 and God’s blessings of manna and clothing.7 But the question was – would they allow the failures of their ancestry to influence them into their own failure of conquest? Or would they make faith their own?

Each generation needs proclaimers of God and His righteousness and hearers that are learners and doers of God’s law. It is no different for 21st century believers. Sons and daughters must accept the failures and/or successes of their parents. The youngest generation of children must decide for themselves whether or not they are going to follow or reject God’s directions, even when doing as God commands flies in the face of ancestral tradition.

1 Matthew 4.4 Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8.3; Matthew 4.7 Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6.16; Matthew 4.10 Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6.13, or 10.20
2 Numbers 14.28-34
3 Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts; p. 57
4 Ezekiel 18.20
5 Numbers 13.25-28
6 Exodus 32.1-35; Numbers 16.31-32
7 Deuteronomy 8.3-4