Survey of the Old Testament - Lesson 15


This is a renewal of the Mosaic covenant in preparation for entering the Promised Land. It’s an encouragement to keep the Law and a reminder of blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. Deuteronomy points us to Jesus who ultimately fulfills the Law.

Miles Van Pelt
Survey of the Old Testament
Lesson 15
Watching Now

I. Introduction

II. Outline and Contents

A. Covenant mediator

B. Historical Prologue

C. Stipulations

D. Sanctions

E. Dynastic Disposition

III. Problem of the Law

IV. Relationship of the Believer to the Law

A. How to Keep the Law

B. Different Uses of the Law

C. Civil Use of the Law

D. Normative Use of the Law

V. The Gospel Promised Beforehand

  • Knowing the purpose, structure and theological center of the Old Testament, will help you understand more accurately the character of God, and his purpose in the world and in your life. The Old Testament teaches you about Christ and describes his ministry. Colossians 3:15-16 reads, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."

  • What you decide is the theological center of the Bible will determine how you understand the Bible and apply it to your life. You can see unity in biblical authorship by the number of times the phrase, “thus says Yahweh” is used in the Old Testament.  The person and work of Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The proper nouns used in the Bible indicate the important characters and themes.

  • Jesus claims that the Old Testament finds its ultimate meaning in him. After his resurrection, Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus and gives them a lesson in biblical interpretation. The Father and the Scriptures testify about who Jesus is. In Romans 1:3, Paul refers to the Gospel being revealed through his prophets, in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son. Every book in the Bible teaches about Christ so every sermon should teach about Christ. Hebrews 11 refers to the great cloud of witnesses.

  • The Kingdom of God is the over-arching theme of the whole Bible. God governs his kingdom by his covenants. The covenant of grace is in effect throughout the Bible and has different administrations.

  • The form that our Bibles come to us in is meaningful for interpretation. The Hebrew Bible has a different order of the books than the English Bible.  

  • The order of books in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible is different because the criteria for determining the order is different. The order of the books in the Hebrew Bible reflect an emphasis on covenant, and also teaching important concepts then giving a practical example to illustrate how to put it into practice.

  • The three divisions in the Old Testament are the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Genesis and Revelation are the introduction and conclusion to the Bible and have parallel themes. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the four covenant books that record the birth and death of the covenant mediator and contain his life and teachings. The former prophets record the history of Israel. The latter prophets call people to repent and return to God.

  • Your presuppositions about whether or not the authors who wrote the books of the Bible were inspired by God will influence your position the authorship of the Pentateuch. The traditional view is that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament at about 1200 to 1400 B.C. The documentary hypothesis claims that there were four or more separate authors that wrote beginning in about 900 B.C.

  • Genesis is the covenant prologue and is both protological and eschatological. It is the most covenantal book in the Bible. One way to outline the book is into twelve parts, each beginning with the phrase, “these are the generations.” Creation is described using a theological order.

  • Chapter 2 is a detailed description of the sixth day of creation, culminating in the creation of woman. Chapter 3 describes the Fall and the consequences. Hebrew homonyms link the passages and intensify the descriptions.

  • Noah functions as a prophetic covenant mediator. God promises a remnant in his covenant with Noah and also renews the covenant of common grace. God continues his redemptive covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The book of Genesis ends with the narrative of Joseph.

  • This is the beginning of the formal documents of the covenant of God with the people of Israel. It begins with the birth of Moses and ends with the people of Israel coming out of Egypt.

  • Leviticus is primarily instructions to promote the holiness of God’s people. It provides a system that allows for a holy God to live among an unholy people. In the sacrificial system, there are 5 kinds of offerings. Jesus is the fulfillment of the observance of the Day of Atonement.

  • The book of Numbers is a record of the events of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The purpose is to contrast the faithfulness of God with the faithlessness of the Israelites. The time in the wilderness was a period of testing for the people of Israel.

  • This is a renewal of the Mosaic covenant in preparation for entering the Promised Land. It’s an encouragement to keep the Law and a reminder of blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. Deuteronomy points us to Jesus who ultimately fulfills the Law.

  • Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings describe the nature and purpose of the Sinai Covenant and the historical events of the occupation of the land. God know that the people of Israel would fail to obey the Mosaic Covenant, so he had planned from the beginning to establish the New Covenant when the time was right.

  • Joshua was the successor to Moses. The book of Joshua focuses on the Promised Land. The people of Israel enter the land, conquer the land, divide the land between the tribes and then renew their covenant with God. Holy war and covenant obedience are important themes.

  • Judges has two introductions, two conclusions, six major judges, six minor judges and one anti-judge. It can be described as the, “uncreation” of Israel. Their purpose was to judge the nations and to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors.

  • The book of Samuel provides the answer to the crisis of kingship. Samuel, as the last judge and first prophet, anoints Saul as king. The people of Israel reject Yahweh as king. Saul is anointed by Samuel and serves as king but is later rejected because of disobedience. David is anointed king because God acts according to his own will. Solomon begins well and ends badly.

  • The book of Kings is the story of the monarchy in the nation of Israel. It begins with the united monarchy under Solomon, then after his death, is divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. We can learn about God’s character and the importance of living in a covenant relationship with God.  

  • The Latter Prophets are covenant lawyers. They are executing the lawsuit of God against Israel for unfaithfulness to the covenant. Prophets use both oracular prophecies and sign acts to communicate their message.

  • Isaiah is sometimes described as the, “fifth gospel” because it is quoted so much in the New Testament. The themes in Isaiah are both timely for his generation and also point to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the end of time.

  • Jeremiah’s call was to tell the people of Judah why they were going into exile and also to give them hope for future restoration. The book contains oracles, accounts of visions and symbolic actions, prophetic laments and historical narratives.

  • One key to understanding Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. The book begins with God appearing to Ezekiel, then God leaves the temple and, in the end, God returns. Ezekiel’s oracles and signs illustrate each of these.

  • In the Hebrew Bible, these 12 minor prophets are treated as one book. Each one is a covenant lawyer that is prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the unfaithful nation of Israel and also preaching a message of hope for restoration. The Day of the Lord is the day of the king’s victory over his enemy, either to crush an enemy or to save a people.

  • These books are about how you think and live in light of the covenant. The genres include narrative, poetry and prophecy. The Hebrew Bible order emphasizes teaching then example.

  • Covenant life is a life of worship. The book divisions in the manuscripts were purposefully arranged so the book as a whole has a meaningful narrative. It emphasized the kingship of Yahweh, the Davidic line and the temple. You can use specific patterns of construction for understanding lament, thanksgiving and hymns of praise psalms. You can also use the same patterns to help you respond to God and worship him.

  • Job deals with the issue of human tragedy and suffering. Job never knows what happened in heaven that resulted in his suffering. His three friends made correct theological arguments but they were misapplied. Job speaks about suffering and hope. God challenges Job at the end of the book, and also restores his possessions and children.

  • Solomon created a collection of practical wisdom sayings. Some were for instructing children, some for instructing kings, but they all are applicable to help everyone live in the light of the covenant of grace in the context of common grace.

  • Ruth follows Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. Even though she is from Moab, she lives in Israel with her widowed Israelite mother-in-law to take care of her. She marries Boaz and is included in the genealogy of David and Jesus.

  • Marriage should be both rock solid in terms of covenant commitment and white hot in terms of sexual intimacy. If it is both, you can better resist temptation, endure hardship and promote wholeness.   

  • The message of Ecclesiastes is that true knowledge, wisdom and meaning in life begins with the fear of the Lord. The author of Ecclesiastes, likely Solomon, tests this conclusion and is unsuccessful in finding ultimate meaning in activities, “under the sun,” like wealth, relationships, power, projects, etc.

  • Lamentations is a collection of funeral dirges lamenting the fall and exile of Jerusalem. The elegant structure of the book is a contrast to the chaos and destruction of the events that are taking place. Each poem gives you a different perspective on God’s character and his covenant faithfulness.

  • Esther is a story of living a life of faith in exile. It Bringing “shalom” into a hostile environment sometimes even requires risking your life. The festival of Purim commemorates God saving his people and is still celebrated today.

  • Daniel and Esther are examples of living a life of faith while in exile. Daniel was different than the writing prophets because he is not primarily a covenant lawyer prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the people of Israel. The first six chapters are biographical stories highlighting God’s power to save and his sovereignty over the nations. The second six chapters are visions of the future.

  • The book of Ezra-Nehemiah records the last events, chronologically, in the Old Testament. Ezra returned from exile with authorization to teach the Law of the Jews and institute the sacrificial system. Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem. They fail in their human attempt to rebuild heaven on earth, which encourages you to look forward to the city built by God.

  • The return from exile is not the greater one prophesied by the prophets. We still look forward to the return from exile with them in the resurrection. Chronicles traces the seed that was promised and gives an account of the return from exile.

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give you an overall view of the Old Testament then discuss specifics about each of the books. 

For instance, you might ask, "What kind of book is the Old Testament?" The OT is a single story told three times over: once in Genesis, once in Exodus through Nehemiah, and once again in Chronicles (just like day 6 in Genesis 1–2). The OT loves to repeat itself, repeat itself, repeat itself. This is how it teaches us. The Old Testament is about 2/3 of the Bible and is the basis for everything you read in the New Testament. The better you understand the Old Testament, the clearer you will understand the message of the Bible. 

What is the Message of the Old Testament? The Old Testament points to the New Covenant. The teachings, prophecies and examples of covenant life point to Jesus who makes the New Covenant possible and inaugurates it. There are also examples in the Old Testament of how human efforts to create heaven on earth fall short, so that we will anticipate and yearn for our ultimate deliverance from exile.

What is the Structure of the Old Testament? The structure of the Old Testament, and the Bible as a whole, is covenantal. God offers to live in the covenant of grace with him and compels them to make that choice. The administrations of the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus demonstrate God's patience and perseverance to include as many as are willing.


Recommended Books

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give...

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Dr. Miles Van Pelt

Survey of the Old Testament



I. Introduction:

This is the lecture for the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of the Pentateuch or Books of Moses. The English name Deuteronomy comes from deutero second and nomos law. It suits the content because the book of Deuteronomy is a covenant renewal document, a second Torah, an updating of the Sinai covenant in preparation for entering the land. In the first instance, the covenant was given through Moses, by Yahweh in the book of Exodus. That covenant book was Exodus 20 to 24, that was the covenant code. Then they wandered around for 40 years in the wilderness, built a tabernacle, rebelled against the Lord, and died off. The second generation is being raised up and now they're preparing to enter into the land.

So they're going to renew the covenant of Exodus 20 to 24 in a very long document. This entire book is a covenant renewal document that consists of several speeches Moses gives. Its Hebrew name, not its English name, is Elu Devarim "these are the words." It reminds us of the Hebrew name in Exodus, "these are the names," [Hebrew 00:01:29]. These are the first words in the book. This time, however, the book does not begin with the conjunction "and," as in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. There is a new beginning here with the renewal of the Sinai covenant. So in some sense, Deuteronomy breaks from what was before it and says, "We're doing something a little bit new here." "We're renewing a covenant."

In terms of content, when I talk about the addresses or speeches, some commentators will just simply divide the book into three large speeches. Moses' first address in chapters 1 to 4, which is about the history of Israel so far. The second address in chapters, 4 to 28, which is a renewal of the covenant, and a third address in chapters 29 to 31, with 32 to 34 containing final matters relating to the life of Moses. So there are a couple of different ways to cut this up, but I've cut it up like this because of its covenantal nature. I'll explain that in a minute.

In terms of geography and chronology, where did this book happen and when did this book happen? Israel is now camped in the Plains of Moab, east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. It's approximately 1406 BC, 40 years after they came out from the bondage of Egypt. So remember that Numbers 10 through 36 records Israel's 40 years of wilderness wandering, and now it's come to an end. They're parked right above the Dead Sea on the right-hand side, and they're going to cross it and then take Jericho. That's how it's going to work. Then that's when they enter the promised land. There's going to be a circumcision party. Then all the manna's going to cease, and they're going to be eating off the produce of the land. So it's a stage by stage thing.

Let me just read to you the first five verses so that you can see. This is the preamble to the whole covenant document. "These are the words, Elu Devarim that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban and Hazeroth and Dizahab. It is 11 days journey," but it took 40 years, "from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadeshbarnea. In the 40th year, on the first day of the 11th month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel, according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them. After he had defeated Sihon, the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon and Og, the king of a Bashan, who lived in Astaroth in Edrei. Beyond the Jordan, inland of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law." So he's got a hortatory, explanatory thing to do, the very same thing Ezra will do. He'll give the law and then he'll explain it.

What's the purpose of Deuteronomy? It is a covenant renewal document. But what does a covenant renewal document do?. The central message, according to someone like Trempor Longman is that “the central message of the sermon is to encourage God's people to keep or obey the law in order to experience the blessings of the covenant”. Moses is now speaking to a second generation born in the wilderness. Their parents died in the wilderness because of their sin. So Moses wants to impress upon them the importance of following and obeying God's law so they too don't perish as they enter into the land. It's like a father instructing a son, saying, "You're about to leave home and you need to follow these rules in life in order not to be unsuccessful. In order to experience blessing and not cursing." In the covenant administration, you get blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience under the Mosaic economy. You receive blessings in the land or curses in exile.

In terms of genre, the book of Deuteronomy contains speeches, narrative accounts, legal material, and poetry. It was handed down in the form of a covenant document. I just want to talk about this. Let me show you this chart right here that we want to look at. Okay, this is a second millennium BC international treaty format that I'm about to show you. That is, in the second million BC, nations would enter into covenants together. Egypt would enter into a covenant with a Syria or Babylon, and the Amorites would enter into a covenant with the Hittites, or Israel would enter into a covenant with another nation.

So this is the international treaty format. It is in the second millennium BC, so in the 1000 to 2000 range. There's a different treaty format after that. This happens to be the earlier one. It consists of a preamble, a preamble, which identifies who's writing it down, anyone's titles and any genealogies. That's what it would include. It's followed by a historical prologue. The preamble really just describes who are the two parties. It's followed by a historical prologue, which is a survey of past relationships between parties, which we're going to see, a very common preamble that we'll see over and over again is, "I am the Lord, your God." So that's, "I'm Yahweh, your God," that's who's the party of the covenant. Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that's the historical prologue. See how it works?

Then we have stipulations, so the obligations that the greater king puts on the lesser king: tribute, obedience, peace, and wellbeing. That's where we get all of our laws. The document clause, you've got to store it and you've got to read it. Do you know how often it tells you that you have to read Deuteronomy or you have to read your Bible? It actually commands you to have to read it in a particular amount of time. Anyone know that number? Once every seven years. Isn't that amazing? So you only had to read the Bible, the covenant, once every seven years. The only one who read it more was the king. He had to make a copy of the law before the priests, this is Deuteronomy 17, and then read it and study it, read it and obey it. So if you read your Bible every day, you're living like a king. If you read it once every seven years, you're living like a bad Israelite.

Then you have, storage and public readings. You have witnesses. They could be the nation's gods or they can be heaven and earth. In Song of Songs, they're the gazelles and the does of the field. Then you have blessings and curses, so blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience. Then you have an oath and blood ritual to seal the deal.

So you'll notice here. If I just put this down a little bit, you don't have to copy this, that you can see Exodus 20 to 24 consists of a covenant document like that. "I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall have no other gods before me," commandment one. Then it goes down the line. "You should not make idols," bad things. "Keep the Sabbath. Honor your father and mother." Then you have a document clause, where you write it and store it. Remember where Moses wrote it and put in the Ark of the Covenant?

Then you have witnesses, God Himself was the witness, blessings and curses, and the blood ritual where Moses slaughtered the animals and sprinkled the congregation, and they entered into a covenant. That we have in shorthand. The whole book of Deuteronomy follows this pattern, which means it really couldn't have been written in the time of Josiah, like the documentary hypothesis suggests. It's a treaty format that predates it by a thousand years and more.

II. Outline and Contents:

So you can see here Deuteronomy 1:1-5, you've got your preamble. Then you've got from chapter one, after that, to the end of three is a big, long historical prologue where they rehearse basically from when they came out of Egypt, all the way to their time right there in the Plains of Moab. Then you have your stipulations. It's the 10 Commandments plus lengthy expositions on how each of those commitments are to be kept.

You've got the 10 Commandments in chapter five, and then chapter six through 26, 26 chapters, you've got, how do you love your neighbor as yourself? How do you love the Lord, your God, your heart, soul, mind, and strength? And the categories of Sabbath keeping. How do you not steal? How do you not lie? How do you not commit murder? How do you not commit adultery? All those things. And then you're going to have some document clauses where they're going to write songs of witness. We're going to have blessings and curses that they have in 27 and 28, and then oath and blood ritual in 31 and 32.

There are a couple of different ways to slice it up, but you can see now then the way in which this is done. So what that means is, this is the covenant that's going to govern the life of Israel. It's no different than the Exodus covenant. It's just bigger and more elaborate, because this covenant is now going to provide for their occupation in the land. So it'll talk about things like, "Hey, when you have a house in there, you got to build that thing on the roof called a parapet, so that when you have company over and you have too much wine, no one falls off," right? It's a safety clause. It's how you love your neighbor. You give them wine, and you make sure they're safe.

A. The Covenant Mediator:

First, we begin with the preamble where we have Moses, the covenant mediator identified as the one who's going to deliver this for the Lord in chapter one, verses one through five. That's followed by the historical prologue in 1:5 to 3:29. And the theme of this historical prologue is this: Yahweh is faithful. Israel is commanded to leave Horeb. They appoint elders. The spies report and the people's rebellion again, the desert wanderings, the defeat of Sihon, the defeat of Og, and then Moses forbidden to enter Canaan from Numbers 20. He puts that right at the end, just to rub it in and we get to that particular point.

So that's what it is. Israel's commanded to leave. They appoint elders, the spies report on the rebellion, the desert wanderings, the defeat of Sihon and Og. All of which we've encountered before, but Moses is rehearsing that, because you have to, in some sense, say, "What is the relationship between this suzerain and vassal, this greater king and lesser king?" It's a relationship of continuing faithfulness and continuing rebellion, on the other hand. That's what we need to figure out there. Yahweh is faithful.

Then we get to chapter four, and it goes all the way through 26, where we have the Decalogue. The so-called 10 Commandments. Those first appear in Exodus 20. Then they're redone in Deuteronomy five as kind of Decalogue 2.0. They're slightly revised and updated. Since they're so programmatic for the book of Deuteronomy, we're going to read those few verses that cover the Decalogue, from Deuteronomy chapter five.

Right before this in Deuteronomy chapter four, Moses is exhorting the people to obedience and forbidding idolatry, "for the Lord alone is the great king." Then we have the introduction to the law at the end of four. Then we have the 10 Commandments that kick it off. So, "Moses summoned all of Israel and said to them, 'Hear, oh Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today. And you shall learn them and be careful to do them. The Lord, our God, made a covenant with us in Horeb," a synonym for Sinai. "Not with our fathers did He make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here today, alive today, the Lord spoke with you face-to-face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire. While I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord. For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up unto the mount.'

B. Historical Prologue:

"He said, 'I am the Lord, your God,' preamble, historical prologue's next, 'who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.'" Here we begin with the commands. "One, you shall have no other gods before Me," which means in their kind of ancient near Eastern world that they lived in, when you went and conquered other kingdoms, you took their idols and you put them in your temple. Remember when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant? They took the Ark and put it in their temple in front of Dagon as a symbol that now Yahweh is a lesser god and Dagon was over Him.

C. Stipulations 

And He says, "None of that. No one comes into my temple. You should have no other gods before me." So of course, the first thing they do is they build a golden calf. "Second, you shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth below, and in the waters underneath the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, Yahweh, your God, am a jealous God, visiting the inequity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commands."

Hey, I'm sorry. I want to go back, because you said something I hadn't heard before. When you said, "No gods before me," did you mean before me in the sense of, “in my presence” or as “more important”?

“In my presence”.

Wow. I'd never heard that.

They're about to go and conquer all these nations, and normally you would take their idols and all the things in the temple, like Nebuchadnezzar did. You would put them in there before your god. He said, "None of that. There are no other competing gods for Me. I alone will be in this room."


The fourth commandment states, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." It really says, "You should not lift up the name of the Lord," which means take an oath in His name, vainly, because He will hold you accountable for it. That's what it means. It doesn't mean you can't say certain words. You're just supposed to say Yahweh and use that name. But if you do use it, you're going to be held accountable for it. So He says, "Don't use it lightly."

Then it says, "Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy as the Lord, your God, commanded you. Six days, you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God. On it, you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. Your male and female servants may rest as well as you. For you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord, your God, brought you out from there with a mighty hand and outstretched arm. Therefore, the Lord, your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day."

They struggled to take a day off of work. It's an amazing thing to think about. This is one of the places in which the Decalogue has changed from Exodus 20. In Exodus 20, the Sabbath is rooted in creation, but in Deuteronomy five, it's rooted in redemption because really redemption is a new creation. So they're tying those two things together in that pairing.

Then we get into the short ones where it says these prohibitions: "You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. And you shall not covet your neighbor's wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his male servants or his female servant, his ox, his donkey or anything that is your neighbor's." Another difference here too, just out of interest, is that in Exodus 20, it's, "You shall not covet your neighbor's house, then wife," but here it's wife then house. And there's some reasons for that.

 C. Decalogue:

There is a debate over how to number the Decalogue. I don't know if you know that. So there's three or so different numbering systems. Even Calvin recognized, "Hey, there are a couple of numbering systems and they're worth thinking about, but it doesn't matter in the long run. We can get along on this issue so we can still get along." I always tell my students, one of the exercises I have them do for Hebrew three is they've got to count the Decalogue using grammatical features. I say, "I don't want you to get upset about it because you've broken them all. Jesus has kept them all. Now we use them in a different way. It's not a law of condemnation." So we have to encourage them.

D. 10 Commandments:

These are the so-called famous 10 Commandments that represent what we call God's moral will. You could say this is written on man's heart, as those who are created in the image of God. It is because of that sin, according to Romans, when we suppress this reality, then we're given over to the darkness that ensues. So this is the way in which God wants you to love Him, by worshiping Him correctly, observing the Sabbath correctly, honoring your parents, and living as loving your neighbors in the context of the land. Not only is the Sabbath, interesting, for the Israelites, but it's for even animals and strangers. It's a really amazing thing how God cares for all peoples in that particular way. He wants them to know of His sabbatical rest.

You can see, this is from Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised, that I edited. This is the chapter on Deuteronomy by a colleague of mine, Scott Redd, who's the president of RTS, Washington, D.C. He did a great job laying this out where we see, okay, here are the commandments, first, second, third, fourth, all the way through 10th. Here they are in Exodus. Here they are in Deuteronomy. Then this is how they get expanded.

The first commandment, monotheism, how does that work? Here it is, right? So if you want to know all the different ins and outs, what to do, what not to do. So it's not just, "You shall have no other gods before me," but it's a whole way of life that is structured around that reality. What does this commandment look like in everyday life? It expands it theologically and it expands it practically. The same thing about proper worship, proper honoring of God's name, taking vows and oath, different ways of keeping the Sabbath. What happens if your neighbor's ox falls in a ditch on the Sabbath? Can you help him, can you not help him? It's kind of like case law, like how do you apply this to different situations in life? Then you have all these other commandments. So you have sexual fidelity, personal property, truthfulness, contentment, all that kind of business.


And so if you understand chapter five through 26 as really a long sermon on the 10 Commandments, so that's what Moses is doing. He's telling them how to live in light of that. It's not a negative thing, it's the way of wisdom. If you want to live in God's world, in his theocratic economy of blessing and presence, here's how to experience the blessed life. It's the way of wisdom, not the way of folly. There are only two ways: the way of life, the way of death, the way of wisdom, the way of folly. Moses is provoking Israel through these sermons to choose life. He's going to use that word life. It is your life, life in the land, prosperity in the land, fruitfulness in the land, blessing in the land.

D. Sanctions (20:38) The next section is going to be on sanctions, the covenant ratification. There's these mountains for blessing and cursing.

E. Dynastic Disposition (20:47)

There's covenant warnings in the dynastic disposition where Joshua is to succeed Moses. There is the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32, the blessing of the 12 tribes and the death of Moses that follows. I'm going to cover two issues in the time that I have left here. First, the problem of the law, and then the use of the law. In the book of Deuteronomy, it's the gospel promised beforehand.

III. Problem of the Law (21:19):

If I say from Psalm 19, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul," but then I say, "There's something wrong with the law,". What's wrong with the law? The problem with the law is this, the problem is the law is not the law. The problem of the law is the people trying to obey the law, because obedience to the law requires a circumcised heart. That's what Israel does not have yet. The problem of the law is the heart of the covenant member in an uncircumcised state.

A. Circumcision of the Heart (21:58):

Deuteronomy 24:10 verses 14-16 puts it this way, "Behold, for the Lord, your God, along heaven and the heavens of heavens, the earth with all that is in it, yet the Lord set His heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all the peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart and no longer be stubborn." Circumcision of the heart is a promise to be fulfilled after the exile and return from the exile, in the book of Deuteronomy. Now let me say that again. He commands them to circumcise their heart, but then we're going to read in Deuteronomy 30 that that's not going to happen until after the people return from exile.

The circumcision of the heart that is promised is going to be a post-exilic experience. So in Deuteronomy 30:5-6, "And the Lord, your God, will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed." He's saying what's going to happen. They're on the Plains of Moab. "The Lord will indeed bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it, and He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers."

B. Return from Exile (23:19):

He's talking about right here, the return from exile. They're going to be out and the Lord, your God, will bring you back into the land that your fathers possessed that you may possess it again, and He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. "And the Lord, your God, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring so that you can love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and that you may live." The Mosaic covenant was by design a covenant that could not be kept, and so even physical circumcision became void.

Now, for example, listen to Romans two, the book of Romans, New Testament two, verses 25 and following. "For circumcision is indeed of some value if you obey the law, but if you break the law," which they all did, "your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law," physically, "will not his uncircumcision be regarded to him as circumcision?" So circumcision is just an external sign that points to a need for an internal reality. "Then he who is physically uncircumcised, but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision, but break the law. For no one is a Jew who's merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical." See how it's symbolic, typological?

"But a Jew is one inwardly and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man, but from God." In the new covenant, gang, the heart of the believer is circumcised through the circumcision of Christ, that is his crucifixion or being cut off. So his crucifixion is the fulfillment of the curse of the circumcision side. So if you're circumcised, you're saying, "Cursed be me. May I be cut off if I don't believe and obey." Jesus' work on the cross is that circumcision event. How do we know that? We're covering all this, circumcised heart, being circumcised, not of flesh. It tells us explicitly in Colossians 2:11 to 14, that Jesus' death is our circumcision that we need to keep the law.

Listen to this, it's awesome. Colossians 2:11 to 14, "In Him, also, you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands. By putting off the body of flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith, in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven all our trespasses." How? It is by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. You see that? That is an amazing thing. So the problem with the law is not the law. The law of the Lord is perfect.

In fact, if you just turn with me quickly, as we consider this, you can look at Psalm 19, listen to what David says here. Now remember, David's the king. He's supposed to copy the law, read it every day and learn it, help the people obey it, himself obey it. Listen to what he's saying here. "The law of the Lord is perfect," verse seven, "reviving the soul."

C. Synonyms of the Law (26:35):

Then there all these synonyms for the law, "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandments of the Lord are pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired than gold, even much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb. By them is your servant warned. In keeping them there is great reward." So there is no problem with the law. The problem is with our heart, and we need to have our hearts circumcised by the spirit, through the baptism and the death and resurrection of Christ, changing all those things for us.

IV. Relationship of the Believer to the Law (27:14):

So then what is the believers' relationship to the law? What is the believers' relationship to the law? Since the law is not the means by which a believer receives or attains righteousness. You can't earn salvation by obeying the Mosaic law, right? It can only condemn us because we're, in Adam, sinful. What is the function of the law in the life of a believer? Should we just never read this stuff again and say, "These commands were for Israel only and not for us"? No. One of the things we see in this particular arrangement here is that the Decalogue is just revealing to us God's moral will. This is how He wants His world to work. This is how Genesis one and two was designed, that He alone would be God, that there'd be proper worship, that man would enter into Sabbath rest, and that he would love his neighbor as himself. That's all it’s saying there. It's the most basic kind of moral will of God, written on every person's conscience who's been created in the image of God.

A. How to Keep the Law (28:13):

Then you've got all these discussions of how to keep it. Now in Israel's theocratic economy, because it had this works principle in it, their blessing and tenure in the land was tied to obedience to this. It wasn't a law to gain eternal life. It was a law of temporary typological life in the land. Now this law has been done away. It's no longer a long law of condemnation. We have the law of Christ. So Galatians sets that all out for us. You can talk about that.

B. Different Uses of the Law (28:43):

So in reform circles, it's common to talk about three different ways or three different uses of the law. So I'll just give these to you because they might be helpful. John Calvin is the one who first formulated these three uses. It's called the first, the second, and the third use of the law. The first use is called the pedagogical use. The pedagogical use is to be a mirror. Think of it as a mirror reflecting both the perfect righteousness of God, like who He is and what He requires, and our own sinfulness and shortcomings. When we look at it, we see God has high standards. We have violated each one of those standards. It even says, "If you've broken one, you've broken them all." Augustine wrote about it, "The law bids us, as we try to fulfill its requirements and become wearied in our weakness under it, to know to ask for help." So in the law, we see what God requires and what we can't do, and it makes us so tired, we cry out to God for help. It's the pedagogical use.

The law is meant to give knowledge of sin by showing us our need of pardon and the danger of being cursed by God, to lead us to repentance and to faith in Christ. So you could say the pedagogical use shows you God's perfection, your complete broken and wretchedness, so that you'll cry out to Him. You could say it's the one that makes you despair of yourself so that you cry out for help. It's not the sixth sola of the reformation, sola bootstrapa. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. It is the cry out for God. You can't help yourself. I do use sola bootstrapa a lot in language instruction because you just have to memorize and do some hard work, but salvation is not achieved by that. So sola bootstrapa is not that.

C. Civil Use of the Law (30:30):

So the first one drives you to Christ. That's the first use, drives you to Christ. The second is the civil use, they say, the civil use. So the law restrains evil through punishment. So you can use the law to organize society in ways where you see that, "Okay. We want a society that is against stealing, that is against adultery. We want in a society that is against defiling a guy's name. And those societies work best." Right? And you can see, there's punishments, there's curses for disobeying. So we can just say, "Yeah, I want a no adultery society. I don't want anyone to steal." Why don't we have punishments against stealing, punishments against adultery, all that kind of stuff? It's the civil use.

The law can restrain evil through punishment. Through the law, God cannot change the heart, but it can inhibit sin by threats of judgment, especially when backed by a civil code that administers punishment for proven offenses. Although obedience out of the love of God is the ideal for which every Christian should strive, society can still from this restraining use of the law, build itself a better place to live. So it's not a law it’s kind of a moral theology. Theologians like David Vandrunen and Westminster deal with how that works. We can think about it in those terms of moral theology. But the first use is it drives you to Christ. The second use, it can be employed to think about how culture might work best.

D. Normative Use (31:59):

The third use is what we call the normative use and this is a common one. This is probably the most common one for the believer to engage in. The moral standards of the law provide guidance for believers as they seek to live in humble gratitude for the grace God has shown us. So what does it look like to worship God correctly and to love your neighbor as yourself? We're not under this as a means to achieve salvation, but we can use it to study the way of wisdom. That's what I think of it as, the way of wisdom.

The third use of the law, can you use the law to learn what it looks like to please God, right? "Yeah, I want to please God by not committing adultery, because God has saved me from my sin. I no longer want to be a slave to sin." I can please God by speaking the truth in love. I can please God by helping the orphan and the widow, and the alien, and the strange, because I'm not going to covet my belongings and possessions because they all belong to God himself. So those are the three uses of the law.

V. The Gospel Promised Beforehand (33:00):

So we talked about the 10 Commandments. We talked about the uses of the law. How is the book of Deuteronomy the gospel promised beforehand? A couple of things here. I have three, I believe. One, the book of Deuteronomy contains a covenant that anticipates and points to a new and better covenant. One that comes with circumcision of the heart and a true and genuine love for God. Again, this law is a shadow. It shows you what's possible, but it doesn't have what makes it possible to achieve it. In the New Testament, the one who comes to achieve it makes it possible.

Galatians 3:21 to 22 says, "For if the law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the scripture," the Old Testament, "imprisoned everything under sin." That's what the law did, imprisoned everything under sin, "so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." That goes back to Abraham, God promises he's going to do this. The Mosaic administration is the first temporary typological one, showing us that we can't do it, driving us to Christ. So that when Christ comes, we cry out to help. We cry out for help that He would do it for us and in us.

Number two, the final three verses of the book of Deuteronomy hints at the coming of another prophet like Moses. It says, "And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face-to-face. None like him, for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants, and to all of his land. For all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of Israel." And we talked about earlier, how at the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah show up and testify that he is this prophet. So Jesus mediates a better covenant. Jesus is a better covenant mediator. He is the true and better prophet anticipated in there, and a true and better king, anticipated as well in there. Just like it was at the end of Numbers, when the people were still wandering in the wilderness. And here they're on the Plains of Moab looking over.

In a very real sense, this is the state in which the church exists right now. We live on the Plains of Moab, looking over the Jordan. We can see the promised land, but we haven't had the true and better Joshua come and get us and take us over yet. He's coming back to do that. So we live like that in a life between promise and fulfillment, which will be a life of suffering. We have been delivered from slavery and death, the Red Sea and the cross. We have a new covenant relationship with God. We have the presence of God to lead us because we are the new tabernacle temples, but we are still waiting to enter into our inheritance. Canaan, just like they were in Canaan, now we are for the new heavens and earth.

 VI. Conclusion (35:46):

We're going to be living in a land flowing with much more than milk and honey, a place with houses we did not build and vineyards we did not plant. There in the middle of it all, the throne of grace, which is ours for all eternity. Here's how Psalm 84:1 anticipates the eschatological realm. "How lovely is your dwelling place, oh, Lord Almighty. My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." The life of the believer on the Plains of Moab is a life that yearns and faints for the courts of the Lord. And we cry out for the living God to bring us over the Jordan into home. That's one of the ways in which the book of Deuteronomy is the gospel, not only promised, but anticipated in a way that shows us a picture of what it will be.