• Ross Lankford

Overview of Deuteronomy

OVERVIEW OF DEUTERONOMY (“Second Law”)

Author: Moses was the author. The book itself (1:1, 4:44, 29:1), JJoshua, Moses’ successor (Joshua 1:7), and Jesus and the rest of the New Testament, all affirm Moses’ authorship of Deuteronomy, except the final chapter concerning Moses’ death, which was most likely written by Joshua.

Date: Deuteronomy was written at the end of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness just before entering the promised land around 1405 B.C.

Audience/Purpose: To prepare the next generation of Israel to be faithful to the Lord who brought them out of Egypt, brought them through the wilderness, and about to bring them into the Promised Land.


Content/Layout

1:1-3:37 - Moses reviews Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness

  • 1:1-8 - Israel left Horeb and established godly leaders to successfully pursue promised land

  • 1:19-46 - Spies were sent to promised land but unbelief and rebellion resulted in disaster and wandering

  • 2:1-23 - The Lord guided and protected them from Kadesh Barnea to the land of the Amorites

  • 2:24-3:11 - The Lord gave Israel victory over King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan

  • 3:12-29 - New land divided among Israel and Moses began preparing Joshua to courageously lead Israel

4:1-11:32 - Moses challenges Israel to faithfulness to the only true God

  • 4:1-43 - Faithful obedience to God is what set you apart and made you great

  • 4:44-5:33 - Make the 10 Commandments God gave you at the mountain central to your lives

  • 6:1-25 - Loving, fearing, obeying the Lord who delivered you in every generation will be most important

  • 7:1-26 - Remain holy unto the Lord who loves you from the nations you go in to possess

  • 8:1-10:11 - Don’t let victory, blessing or prosperity make you proud and forget the Lord

  • 10:12-11:32 - Choose to hold fast to the Lord and His commands as your success

12:1-26:19 - Moses instructs Israel for personal and social holiness according to God’s laws

  • 12:1-28 - Worship must be in the place and ways God prescribes, not like the surrounding nations

  • 13:1-18 - Resist and destroy anyone or anything that seeks to lead you to worship other gods

  • 14:1-21 - Be holy with what you do to the outside of your body and what you put in it

  • 14:22-15:23 - Give a tenth to God every year, a tenth every three years for the Levites, aliens, fatherless, and widows, and cancel debts every seven years to be generous to the poor

  • 16:1-18:22 - Leaders must preserve worship, justice, and words of God in face of other nations

  • 19:1-21 - Protect those accused of crimes until justice is determined, then exact justice

  • 20:1-20 - Trust the Lord in war, destroy nations in the promised land, plunder the others

  • 21:1-25:19 - Maintain justice and purity in unsolved murders, marrying captive women, rebellious children, capital punishment, economy, business, enemy nations, and caring for neighbors, animals, marriages, families, entrance to worship for all citizens, the poor, fatherless, widows, disadvantaged

  • 26:1-19 - Again, be devoted to tithe to the Lord and for the Levites, aliens, widows, fatherless, and poor

27:1-28:68 - Moses presents future blessings or curses of the covenant to Israel

  • 27:1-8 - Set up stones on which to write down all of God’s commands with their blessings and curses

  • 27:9-13 - Six tribes on Mt. Gerizim to pronounce blessings, six tribes on Mt. Ebal to pronounce curses

  • 27:14 -28:68 - You will be cursed if you violate God’s law but blessed if you keep it

29:1-30:20 - Moses pleads with the new generation to be faithful to God as they enter the promised land

  • 29:1-8 - Remember God’s faithfulness to you from Egypt to the present

  • 29:9-29 - All of you be faithful to the covenant with God or you will be exiled and become a mockery

  • 30:1-10 - God will bring you back if you repent and return to faithful devotion to Him

  • 30:11-20 - Your choice is life or death, so choose life!

31:1-33:29 - Moses prepares and blesses Israel to go into the promised land

  • 31:1-29 - You will backslide but follow Joshua and remember my words to make it to the promised land

  • 31:30-32:47 - Remember this song of God’s faithfulness in spite of your unfaithfulness

  • 32:48-52 - The Lord reminds Moses he will die and why

  • 33:1-29 - Moses prays for God’s blessing on the twelve tribes of Israel

  • 34:1-11 - Moses, God’s servant who knew Him face to face, sees the promised land, dies, and is replaced by Joshua as the new leader of Israel


Three Practical Purposes of Deuteronomy

  1. REVIEW their history of the Lord’s faithfulness to choose, deliver, guide, protect and bless them.

  2. REHEARSE the commands and laws the Lord gave them to live by.

  3. RENEW the commitment of the next generation to their covenant with the Lord.

The goal of these was to encourage Israel to faithfully love, trust, obey, and follow the Lord’s leadership under Joshua into the Promised Land and not be lured away by the influences of surrounding nations. Faithfulness would be their success. Unfaithfulness would be their downfall.


Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophetic picture of Deuteronomy. Some of those ways are…

  • Became Prophet of God and Leader of God’s People

  • Deut. 18:15-20 - “The Lord will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him…

  • Acts 3:19-26 - “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

  • Deut. 34:9-12 - “Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses. Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”

  • Jn. 20:30-31 - “Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

  • Heb. 3:5-6 - “‘Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,’ bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

  • Became Our Curse of Sin on the Cross

  • Deut. 21:23 - “You must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.”

  • Gal. 3:13 - “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’”

  • Became Our Life

  • Deut. 30:20 - “Love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life.”

  • Jn. 6:35 - “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

  • Jn. 6:63 - “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

  • Jn. 14:6 - “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”


So now as Christians, we should continually review how God has been faithful to us through Christ, rehearse how the Lord has revealed Himself and His words in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, as to how we are to now live as Christians, and renew our commitment to love, trust, obey, and follow Him as our Lord and Savior to the place He’s preparing for us in heaven. Deuteronomy provides a pattern that can be applied to us as New Covenant people to encourage our understanding, worship, faith, and commitment to God the Father, through God the Son, Jesus Christ, by the presence and power of God the Holy Spirit.


SHEMA and GREAT COMMANDMENT: Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

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