Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Deuteronomy. We are going to begin a study of the book of Deuteronomy. We have studied the Pentateuch, which is the name given to the first five books of the Bible. You have seen this word Pentateuch in your Bible, I am sure. You may have wondered what it meant. You may have wondered how it got there, and it might be interesting to remind you. The names which are given to the books in our English translation are all taken from the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament Scripture, which is translated from Hebrew to Greek and is called the Septuagint because seventy Greek scholars did the work. They gave the names to these books that they thought were appropriate, and they gave the names to the section that they thought were appropriate. They gave the word Pentateuch as a name for the first five books of the Bible because the first part of that word is one Greek word pentad , which means “five”, and the second part of that word is a Greek word teuchos which means “tool.” They referred to these first five books of the Bible as the “five tools.”

I like that, don't you? A hammer is a tool, isn't it? You can drive a nail with a hammer, and you can drive down some precious truths with these five tools you have right here in the very beginning of the Bible. A screwdriver is a tool, isn't it? You can take a screwdriver and unlatch a lock or you can take one or more of these first five tools and unlatch a lock of precious secrets in the Word of God. Hope that is the reason we will have for studying these portions of God's Word—to use them as tools to accomplish something for Him.

We wonder why the book of Deuteronomy has the name that it has. They took two Greek words and made one word out of it and gave us the name that we have. They took the word deuteros , which means “second.” Then they took the word nomos , which means “a law,” and made the one word out of it that we call Deuteronomy . The word Deuteronomy simply means “the second law.”

You will find the reason for that as we go along in our study of the book of Deuteronomy because the book of Deuteronomy repeats the law of God. It gives the law—the Ten Commandments—and all of the ceremonial law that we see in Exodus and Leviticus. It gives it the second time, so when they realized that was true, they said, “Let's call it the second law . That is as good a name, I suppose, as we could have. However, in the Hebrew Bible, it wasn't called the second law ; it was called a name that was based upon the very first words of the first verse. It was called Elleh haddevarim , and the reason that it was called that is those are the two Hebrew words that translate, “These be the words. Elleh haddevarim.” That is the name of this book in the Hebrew Bible. It is a good name because we are going to discover before we are through that this entire book is a series of discourses, of speeches, which were delivered by Moses.

As a matter of fact, it might be wise for us to look at the natural outline of this book. Remember, I have told you when we study the Word of God together that every book in the Bible has an outline placed there by the Holy Spirit. You can outline any book in the Bible yourself, and your outline is helpful. In fact, your personal outline of any book may be more helpful than one that I would give you because of your own way of looking at things. But the secret of the real study of the Word is to find the outline which the Holy Spirit has placed there. This first phrase, “These are the words,” suggests the outline because, as I have said to you, the book of Deuteronomy is composed of three principle discourses which Moses delivered: one song, one prophetic blessing, and an obituary.

A Review of Past Failures

In the first four chapters, you have the first discourse which Moses delivered and it was a review of past failures. You may ask, “Why begin a book like that?” Well, let's think a moment. When we concluded our study of the book of Numbers, you will remember the children of Israel were on this side of Jordan waiting to go in; but they couldn't go in until the last of the old generation had died because to that generation, having been disobedient to God in the wilderness, God said, “Not one of you except Joshua and Caleb will go into the land.”

So as we begin our study of the book of Deuteronomy, only three people of that old generation are left: Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. But here was a whole new generation. They were ready to go into the land and Moses wanted them to go in with the right attitude because he himself couldn't go in. Even he had disobeyed God, and God said, “Moses, I can't even let you go in. I will let you look in, but you can't go in.”

Moses was concerned that these people go in victoriously, so in the first speech he made, he reviewed all the failures of their fathers and their mothers and their grandfathers. He said, “Don't you make the same mistakes. You profit by the way we have failed.”

We hear a lot today about the communication gap between the young folk and the old folk. Then we hear a lot of authorities (Are there such? I am beginning to wonder.) who say, “The real reason the young people are rebelling as they are rebelling is that we have made a mess out of this world that we handed to them and they resent it.” I wonder if they don't have a point. I wonder if we haven't made pretty much of a mess out of it, and I wonder what might happen if we would do as Moses did and say, “Yes, we made mistakes. We surely did, and we have missed God's blessing because we made the mistakes. Don't you make the same ones.” That is the purpose of the review of the failures and that takes up the first four chapters of the book of Deuteronomy and constitutes the first discourse.

A Repetition of the Laws

The second discourse was a rather long one. It begins with chapter 5 and goes through chapter 26, so you see, it was a long discourse. What was it? It was a repetition of the laws to which I referred a moment ago—a repetition of the Ten Commandments, a repetition of the ceremonial laws and ordinances.

We are going to discover something when we get into that section and I will emphasize it—this was more than a repetition. It was a repetition with an amplification because when some of the laws were originally given, they were given in what we might call a skeleton outline. In this repetition, Moses puts some meat on the bones.

Then we will notice something else and that is that in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses, in the giving of the law, is going to give us some reasons for things that happened in the book of Numbers that he didn't give there. He will give them in the book of Deuteronomy, so you see, it is a matter of amplification as well as repetition.

Here is something else I want to emphasize because to me it is very significant, and we will delineate it when we get to this section: Even though Moses gave the law the second time and gave some changes related to the ceremonial law because they would be in the land and not in the wilderness, he made no changes in the moral law. It was exactly the same as he gave it originally. That is significant.

Haven't your children said to you at some time or other, “Things are different now. It's just not like it was when you were growing up.”? Let's face it: That is true. Circumstances are different; situations are different. God recognizes that, but let's remember this: Sin is still sin and immorality is still immorality whether it is in the fifth century or the twenty-first century, and nothing emphasizes that any more than the fact that when Moses repeated the law, though he made changes about washing of the hands, he made no changes about sin in the heart. That does not ever change. It is a principle that is irrevocable.

A Revelation of the Future

The third discourse begins with chapter 27 and concludes with chapter 31, and it is a revelation of the future. It describes what would await the children of Israel immediately on the other side of Jordan, but it describes what even awaits them now as far as the future is concerned.

So, discourse number one: a review of past failures. Discourse number two: a repetition of the law. Discourse number three: the revelation of the future. Three discourses: These are the words that Moses spoke. You see how the Holy Spirit divides every book up naturally if you just look for the natural divisions of the book.

The Song of Moses

In addition to these discourses, Moses wrote and sang a song, and you find that in chapter 32: The Song of Moses . This song is significant because in the book of Revelation, we have a vision of a great host of people who are delivered after that period of judgment that is to come upon the earth known as the Great Tribulation . These folk are in Heaven, and you hear them singing, and what are they singing? They are singing The Song of the Lamb . That is the song that Jesus wrote. They are singing The Song of Moses , and that is what you have here in chapter 32 of the book of Deuteronomy

In chapter 33, you have what we call, for want of a better expression, the blessings of Moses . These were blessings which Moses pronounced upon each of the twelve tribes of Israel, and they were prophetic in a sense because they told how God was going to bless these twelve tribes and use them for His glory.

The last thing you find in the book of Deuteronomy is the obituary. You might say, “Doesn't the outline fail here? Didn't you say this was made up of what Moses said? I recognize the three discourses. I can understand that, and I can understand the song and I can understand the blessing, but chapter 34 is the obituary.”

You know what an obituary is, don't you? Of course you do. An obituary is the term that is given to an article that you read in a newspaper that tells when a man was born, how long he lived, probably how he died, what kind of funeral service he would have.

I have heard of a few folk writing their own obituaries. I knew a preacher who planned his funeral service. But the thing that brings a big stumbling block before the eyes of so-called critics as to the authorship of the book of Deuteronomy, because some folk don't believe Moses wrote it, is this obituary here. They say, “How could a man write his own obituary? How could he?” As we said, he could write it. He would have no real assurance of its being carried out, but the thing that folk who make a statement like that are forgetting is that Moses was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit could give him the obituary concerning his own demise and funeral and who was going to attend it, etc. As we shall see when we get there, Moses had an unique funeral. Only one person attended, and that person was God. That is something that nobody else could say.

May I say before we leave this section that though there is a problem for many people in regard to the authorship of the book of Deuteronomy, or the Pentateuch for that matter, there is no problem for me because the Lord Jesus Christ recognized Moses as the author, and if Jesus Christ lied, then He wasn't the Son of God. If He isn't omniscient, then He isn't the Son of God, so my belief in the deity of Jesus Christ rests upon my acceptance of Moses as the author of the Pentateuch, the book of Deuteronomy.

Theme of Deuteronomy is Obedience

Let me remind you that with the exception of the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis, the entire Pentateuch is given over to a discussion of the history of the nation of Israel. In the book of Genesis, beginning with chapter 12, the nation of Israel was chosen. In the book of Exodus, she was redeemed. In the book of Leviticus, she was taught to worship. In the book of Numbers, she was tested and in the book of Deuteronomy, as we are going to see, she was taught to obey.

If you want one word that will give you the theme of the book of Deuteronomy, you can use the word obedience . This is something that we can become careless about. Sometimes we can talk so much about grace, and there is no better way to describe grace than to sing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…,” but sometimes we can get so busy talking about grace that we forget all about obedience. This section of Scripture may stir up our pure minds by way of remembrance to the need of obeying.

Time Period Covered by Deuteronomy

I said that one of these discourses was rather long. It would be fitting for us, I suppose, to fix in our minds the time period covered by the book of Deuteronomy. For example, the book of Numbers covered forty years. A time period was covered by the book of Deuteronomy. I don't mean in regard to the reviews, but I mean in regard to the time that it took Moses to deliver these speeches. I never think about the time period related to the book of Deuteronomy without thinking about a protracted meeting.

Some of you are old enough to remember protracted meetings, aren't you? That was one of the meetings that began and didn't stop. As long as anything was happening, the preacher stayed and continued preaching. He didn't set his schedules so tight that he had to leave on Wednesday in order to make a meeting on Sunday. He just stayed until it looked as if the Lord wasn't going to bless any more right then. Sometimes those protracted meetings lasted three weeks; sometimes they lasted four weeks.

I would like to think of the book of Deuteronomy as somewhat of a protracted meeting because it lasted forty days. I'm not going to suggest to you that Moses stood up there and talked forty days without stopping, but there they were, gathered on this side of Jordan waiting to go in, and Moses ministered the Word of God to them for forty days. Doesn't that thrill your heart, if you stop to think about it? Wouldn't that have been a wonderful meeting at which to be and to have somebody like Moses open the Word of God to you and tell you what God expected?

You may wonder how we know this lasted forty days, and I will give you an illustration so that you will be able to determine time periods in the Scripture because usually I am asked, “How do you know it was that way?” We don't always take the time to verify a time period when we get to it, but this might be a good time to show you how you can determine time periods in the Scripture. Notice Deuteronomy, chapter 1, verse 3:

Deuteronomy 1:

3And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them;

Without regard to the Hebrew months and days and years, let us use our months just for the sake of clarity. We learn from verse 3 that in the fortieth year after they left Egypt, on the first day of November in 1940, let us say for the sake of clarity, they stood there and listened to Moses begin his message. Turn to the book of Joshua and notice chapter 4, verse 19:

Joshua 4:

19And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

Here they are in the land. When? On January the tenth. When did they stop listening to Moses? On the first day of November. Now, go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 34, verse 8, and notice:

Deuteronomy 34:

8And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

If you take Deuteronomy, chapter 1, verse 3, and Joshua, chapter 4, verse 19, and add them together, you have seventy days. If you take the thirty days in Deuteronomy, chapter 34, verse 8, which they mourned, and subtract that, you have forty days. So this was a protracted meeting which lasted for forty days.

Deuteronomy Related to Christ

By way of introduction to the book of Deuteronomy, I want to suggest to you a few interesting things about the book. We will be looking at it verse by verse and chapter by chapter, but these are just some interesting things that I trust will whet your appetite, so to speak. One thing that impresses me about the book of Deuteronomy, among others, is that it meant so very much to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was so familiar with this book.

In His greatest hour of trial in the wilderness after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, the Devil came to him to tempt Him and what did He do? Stand up and make a little speech? No, He opened His Bible, and where did He open it? Right here to the book of Deuteronomy. Look at chapter 8. Remember, the Devil had said to the Lord Jesus Christ, “Why don't You turn these stones into bread if You are the Son of God? You say You are. Why don't You turn these stones into bread?” And Jesus opened His Bible to Deuteronomy, chapter 8, and said, “I'll tell you why.” He read to him these verses:

Deuteronomy 8:

2And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness,[the children of Israel were tested forty years. Jesus fasted forty days] to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.

What was it Jesus said to the Devil? “The Israelites learned something, and I have learned it. Man doesn't live by bread alone. There is something more important than what goes into your belly.” I hope we will learn that before we are through with the book of Deuteronomy in a new and special way.

Look at chapter 6, for remember the Devil did not stop with that first attempt. He said to the Lord Jesus Christ, “Why don't You cast Yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple and show these people that You are God?” He said, “I'll tell you why.” Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verse 16, says:

Deuteronomy 6:

16Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

Jesus said, “If I cast myself down from the temple, something I have no business doing, I would be tempting God and My Bible says not to do it.” My, wouldn't we win so many more victories in our bouts with the Devil if we would learn to use our Bibles in answering? You know, the old Devil comes along and he brings a spirit of depression on us. We get all blue and disturbed and discouraged. What do we do? We try to battle it out some way or other. I wonder if we took the Sword of the Spirit if we couldn't put the Devil to rout a whole lot easier. Look at verse 13 of chapter 6. The Devil had said to the Lord Jesus Christ, “You bow down and serve me and I will give You all this stuff You are going to die for. You won't even have to die. Why don't You do that?” Jesus said, “I'll tell you why. Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verse 13, says:

Deuteronomy 6:

13Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

The Devil had to run off because he had no answer for the Word of God. If you glance over at chapter 6, verse 5, you remember something else that Jesus did with the book of Deuteronomy. Somebody came to him and tried to tempt Him, trip Him up, and said, “Say, which is the greatest law of all?” What would you have done? I suppose you would have tried to explain. That is what I would have done. I would probably have given a theological dissertation on what I thought was the greatest law. What did Jesus do? He said, “Open your Bibles to Deuteronomy, chapter 6, and read verses 4-5 and you will have your answer:”

Deuteronomy 6:

4Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord:
5And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

That is the greatest commandment. If He had given His opinion about it, then they could have been arguing with Him, but He gave the Word of God and their argument had to be with the Word.

Deuteronomy Uniquely Spoke of Christ

The book of Deuteronomy was not only related to the Lord Jesus Christ because it meant so much to Him, but it spoke of Him in a way that no other book did. Peter knew that. He used it in a sermon. Stephen knew it. When Stephen was giving what might be termed the defense for his life, he opened his Bible to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 18, and he read the paragraph that begins with verse 15. Moses said:

Deuteronomy 18:

15The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
16According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.
17And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.
18I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
19And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

God told Moses that He would raise up this prophet for this people. They had learned something already that most of us haven't learned and that is, you just can't keep the law. There is no way in the world to perfectly keep the law, and God said, “I will send you Somebody that will keep it for you. I will send you a Prophet.” When Stephen was giving a defense for his life, he quoted this passage of Scripture.

Are you familiar with those words of the Apostle Paul in Romans, chapter 10, a paragraph which begins with verse 6 and concludes with verse 10 when he was talking about how to be saved?

Romans 10:

8But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Do you know where Paul got those words? Over here in the book of Deuteronomy. Look at Deuteronomy, chapter 30. Here is another illustration of how principles don't change. The people, in Moses' day, as it is recorded here in chapter 30, were saying, “It is too hard. We don't understand and we don't know how to keep the commandments.”, just like people say today, “It is too involved. I don't know what you mean about being saved.” In verse 11, Moses said:

Deuteronomy 30:

11For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
12It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
13Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
14But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

First Book to Declare God's Love of Mankind

It is not nearly so difficult as we make it out to be. Another interesting thing about the book of Deuteronomy is that it is the first book, and this may surprise some of you when I challenge you to check it, in the Old Testament that mentions the love of God, the first book in the Old Testament that lets anybody know God loves them, as far as His actual testimony is concerned. Of course, if you wanted to talk about interest in humanity by virtue of His provision for them, you wouldn't have a difficult time proving God loves them, but this is the first book in the Old Testament that declares that God loves mankind. Look at chapter 4, verse 37. Moses said to them:

Deuteronomy 4:

37And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;

Of course that happened a long time before, but this is the first time that you are told that God did it because He loved them. Turn to Deuteronomy, chapter 7, as I suggest to you that there are many instances in our lives when God cares for us because He loves us, and then we go about wondering if He does. Notice verse 7:

Deuteronomy 7:

7The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
8But[I love this] because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

You see, these Israelites might be prone to get the idea that God chose them because they were something big. Moses said, “No, the only reason He chose you is because He loved you.”

Let me emphasize that to you. The only reason in the world that you are here enjoying the blessings of God is because God loves you. You make a list of all the good things you have done, if you want to, and you tell God, if you want to, about how important you are. Sometimes, because I am human, I find a little tremor going through me when I think, “What would we do if something happened to so-and-so? How would we carry on?” I know that nobody is indispensable, and I know that God always has somebody to replace somebody else. I know all that. I preach that, but I am human and every once in a while I think things like that. You could tell God that and it would be true because you are important, but He would say to you, “That is not the reason I saved you. That is not the reason that I am doing what I am doing for you. I am doing it because I love you.” Look at Deuteronomy, chapter 10, verse 15:

Deuteronomy 10:

15Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.

That is not as happy a translation as it might be, but the suggestion is that the only delight that God had in you and your fathers is that He loved you. Everything He said, He said because He loved you. Everything that He did, He did because He loved you. What was true of the Israelites is true of us.


Remember this, will you? As God loved Israel, He loves you, and the reason that He does what He does for you is because He loves you; and if that is true, quit begging Him to do things for you. Just believe that He will. Quit trying to sell Him on yourself about how good you are. Just tell Him what is true, what you know down deep inside. Just say, “God, you know I am sorry. You know I am good for nothing, but You love me,” then ask Him for what you want.

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