11/24/13: The Greatest Story Ever Told – DEUTERONOMY (Part 1)
At three different points this year, the 12:13 class will set aside an entire month to study a specific type of biblical literature through the lens of one representative book. During November and December we will study the Book of Deuteronomy, one of the five books of the Law.
It’s safe to say that no other part of Scripture has gotten such a bad rap. With over 600 commandments — most of which seem totally obsolete — the Law sabotages our best intentions to read through the Bible. It’s difficult to understand…it seems so irrelevant. But within these first five books of the Law are hidden treasures of insight into the character of God and his redemptive agenda for the world. It is well worth our study!
We began Sunday’s class by reviewing ten types of biblical literature and introducing two important terms: hermeneutics (the science and art of biblical interpretation) and exegesis (the use of hermeneutics to reach a correct understanding of Scripture).
Next we considered two hermeneutical principles that guide our study of the Law. First, the Old Testament is not our testament. New Testament believers are no longer obligated to keep the law — the perfect Lamb of God, our Savior, has fulfilled all the demands of the law and atoned for our sins by his death. “Unless an Old Testament law is somehow restated or reinforced in the New Testament,” write Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, “it is no longer directly binding on God’s people” (How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth, pp. 151-52). Second, all of the Old Testament is still the Word of God for us even if not still the command of God to us. Though not bound by its legal requirements, we benefit immensely from its truths.
The Law was a blessing to the Israelites. It protected them from disease and false religions. It showed them how to live in order to enjoy the favor of God. The Law is a blessing to us as well. It describes in detail the mercy, kindness, and steadfast love of a holy God. It crushes all striving to earn God’s approval through our own works…and then lifts our head to see the perfect One who has earned God’s approval for us. Apart from the Law, we would fail to see how dependent we are on Jesus.
While Deuteronomy may lack the action that Genesis and Exodus contain, it is a powerful collection of sermons by Moses as he reviews and renews God’s covenant with Israel. Having wandered in the wilderness 40 years after failing to enter the Promised Land the first time, a new generation of Israelites is now assembled at the Jordan River and ready to try again. With beautiful imagery and urgent appeals, Moses reminds them of the God who has chosen them — and calls them to choose this God for themselves.
If that doesn’t convince you that Deuteronomy is worth studying, here’s one more incentive… Do you know which book of the Old Testament Jesus quoted more than any other? Exactly! And if Deuteronomy is good enough for Jesus, I think it’s good enough for us.
The 12:13 class will get to demonstrate their knowledge of this wonderful book in our “Bible Bowl” on Sunday, December 15. Students will compete in teams of three or four. All answers will be based on the ESV translation…and big prizes await the winners!
FOR DISCUSSION WITH PARENTS
- What are the benefits and limits of Old Testament law?
- Read Deuteronomy 4:32-39 and be amazed at God!