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Lesson 1: Preamble to Deuteronomy *

Introduction: We start a new series of studies on the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is the last of the five books (the Pentateuch) written by Moses. In Hebrew the name means “Words,” and Moses wrote it as his last words before God’s people entered into the promised land of Canaan without him. In Greek the name means “Second Law” or “copy of this law.” Moses knew that he would not be realizing the goal of his life. Someone else would lead God’s people into Canaan. Moses dealt with this rebellious people for a very long time. Deuteronomy is his last effort to remind the people to be loyal to God. Let’s dive into this book to see what we can learn as we potentially stand at the edge of entering into our promised land - Heaven!

  1.         Background to Moses’ Farewell

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 1:1. Where is Moses when he gives the words found in this book? (God’s people and Moses are on the wilderness side of the Jordan river. They can see the promised land, which is on the other side of the river.)

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 1:2-3. We have two time periods mentioned; “eleven days,” and “the fortieth year.” What point is being made? (“Horeb” refers to Mount Sinai, where the Ten Commandments were given. Kadesh-barnea is the place where the people received the discouraging report given by ten of the twelve spies (see Numbers 13 & 14), and then failed to trust God to enter into the promised land. It has now taken them forty years to get back to Kadesh-barnea!)

  1.         Read Exodus 19:1. How long did it take God’s people to travel from Egypt to Mt. Sinai? (Commentators suggest that this three month period was actually fifty days - corresponding to Pentecost.)

  1.         Put all of these time periods together and tell me your reaction? (It took God’s people about two or three months to go from Egypt to the edge of the promised land. However, because of unfaithfulness, the people actually ended up traveling forty years. It is a very discouraging time table.)

  1.         Put yourself in the place of Moses. How would this impact the “Words,” the second statement of the law, that you would make as your final address to the people?

  1.         Logical Background to Moses’ Farewell

  1.         Read 1 John 4:7-8. What does this say about the nature of our God? (That He is love.)

  1.         What does this say about God’s followers? (They, too, should love.)

  1.         Read Numbers 14:11-12.  The people are at Kadesh-barnea the first time, and they have refused to trust God. Is God’s reaction consistent with what we just read from 1 John 4:7-8?

  1.         Read Numbers 14:20-23. Moses talks to God about God’s reaction, and this is what God decides in the end. Is this consistent with being a God of love?

  1.         Recall that Moses was not allowed to enter into the Promised land (see Deuteronomy 32:51-52) because he failed to properly trust God. Read Jude 1:9. What does this reveal? (God raised Moses from the dead and took him to heaven!  He allowed Moses to enter the ultimate promised land.)

  1.         I’ve been asking you these tough questions about God’s love and His reaction to those who fail to trust Him. Can you find love in this? (God freed His people from slavery. He gave them freedom of choice. He gave them numerous proofs of His power. He showed love by providing proof of who He is and what He can do. And He did it without coercion.)  

  1.         Unreliable Humans

  1.         Read Genesis 2:15-17. There are lots of things that you and I are not supposed to do. Why did God give His perfect creation only one thing that they were not supposed to do?

  1.         Read Genesis 3:1-3. Why did the serpent so badly misstate the one thing God told humans they were not supposed to do? (He wanted it to be clear that humans understood their obligation to God.)

  1.         Look again at Genesis 3:3. Did Eve correctly answer? Or, did she add something? (She added the touching part.)

  1.         Why would she do that?  Is this an error endlessly repeated among followers of God?

                                        

  1.         Read Genesis 3:4-6. Were Adam and Eve absolute fools?

  1.         They were created perfect. They had no inclination towards sin. They had one simple prohibition and they were not confused about it. What does this suggest about those who argue that Christians can perfectly keep the law today?

  1.         If you were God, how would you react to this disobedience?

  1.         What does God’s decision say about His love?

  1.         Read Genesis 6:5-8. Humanity gets worse. Why doesn’t God simply destroy humanity?

  1.         Read Genesis 6:13 and Genesis 7:1-4. Let’s consider this a moment. You just told me why you thought God did not destroy all of humanity. If you answered that God did not want to appear to be unfair, explain why He destroyed almost all life on earth?

  1.         I run into Christians who largely deny that God executes judgment on humans. They argue that is inconsistent with His love. What does the account of the flood say about the tension between God’s love and God’s judgment?

  1.         What does God’s approach to Moses and the those in the Exodus from Egypt add to your answer about God’s love?

  1.         Read Genesis 11:4-7. Why would they aspire to build a “tower with its top in the heavens?” (They wanted to be able to survive a second flood.)

  1.         Read Genesis 9:11-13. Why would they believe they needed to build this tower given what God had promised? (They did not believe God. They did not trust God.)

  1.         Are you beginning to see a pattern with early humans?

  1.         God’s Reaction

  1.         Read Genesis 12:1-3. What is God’s reaction to the general unfaithfulness of humans at this point?

  1.         Read Genesis 12:4-7. Where would the “great nation” of Genesis 12:2 be located? (Canaan.)

  1.         Read Exodus 19:1 and Exodus 19:3-6. What is God promising to those who left slavery in Egypt? How does that fit with God’s prior promise to Abraham? (They would fulfill the “great nation” promise of Genesis 12:2.)

  1.         Read Exodus 19:8 and Exodus 32:1-4. God has now picked a special people to be His nation. He has delivered them from slavery. This is their reaction.  How would you react if you were God?

  1.         Have you tested God like this?

  1.         All of this history stands behind Moses’ final comments to God’s people recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. If you were Moses, what would be your final message?

  1.         How confident would you be about the future of God’s people?

  1.         If you traded places with God, would the people be at the border of Canaan? Or, would they long ago have been destroyed?

  1.         Friend, how does God view you? Would you like to encourage God with your life? Why not ask Him right now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to help you be someone in whom God delights?

  1.         Next week: Moses’ History Lesson.
* Copr. 2021, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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