Date: c. 1400 B.C. or c. 1200 B.C.
Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Pentateuch. It is something of a bridge between the earlier events of Israel’s (and the whole world’s) existence, and what follows after Israel’s entrance into the promised land of Canaan. As such, it looks in two directions. It looks back to the events that brought Israel to the point of going in to the land to claim their inheritance, and it looks forward to what life will be like when they are there. It also shows us how Moses, the great leader of Israel, finished his years of leadership and then passed from the scene, handing over the reins to Joshua.
For the most part, Deuteronomy is a rehearsing of the laws and regulations given to the people while they were in the wilderness. Most of what is said can be found in the earlier books of the Pentateuch.
Theological Themes in the Book of Deuteronomy
Theologically, three things stand out in Deuteronomy. First, the importance of our remembering our past is emphasized. We need to look back to see where we have come from in order to know where we are going. If we have made mistakes, we should not make them again; if we have done the right things, we need to keep on doing them.
Second, the importance of God’s laws stands out. These rules were not given to be a burden to us, but to help us. God is an orderly Person and has planned things so that our lives run best when they are ordered too. It makes sense to obey God. He knows what is best for us and has shown us how to live.
Third, the importance of knowing God and worshipping him is stressed. There is only one God over all the heaven and the earth. He is to be worshipped. The wonder is that God not only allows this, but desires it. The highest act a person can perform is to find himself or herself in worship of God. Following directly upon our worship is service to those around us. Worship and service are two sides of the same coin according to Deuteronomy.
Outline for the Book of Deuteronomy
- Review of Israel’s wilderness wandering Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43
- Review of Israel’s laws Deuteronomy 4:44-26:19
- Final acceptance of God and his covenant Deuteronomy 27:1-30:20
- The last days of Moses Deuteronomy 31:1-34:12