Old Testament Survey - Lesson 6

Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

Does God punish the grandchildren for what the grandparents have done? Some people read these passages (Exodus 20:5, 34:7) and assume that they mean God punishes grandchildren based on their grandparents' sins. Unfortunately, they misinterpret these texts because they fail to understand the phenomena of numerical parallelisms. The Hebrew language favors parallelism, so that numbers which are close to other numbers will often be put in parallel to exhibit literary balance.

A special emphasis in Leviticus is how the Israelites can achieve holiness in their covenant with God. This includes holiness in ritual worship and also in daily life. All of Leviticus is received by Moses at Mt. Sinai.

At the beginning of Numbers they leave Mt. Sinai. So, in Numbers, the people have received the Sinai covenant (Exodus 19-Leviticus) and now they have set out on a journey to the promised land. The book of numbers provides a number of stories about their forty year journey to the promised land. Additionally, as the occasion requires more laws are given in the book of Numbers. This is similar to the amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Sinai covenant is the original full covenant, and the laws in Numbers and Deuteronomy are amended to the Sinai covenant.

The structure of Deuteronomy is highly important. It is an overt covenant structure crafted for a new people who need to realize they are part of God’s covenant. This book is written forty years after Mt. Sinai in northern Moab to a new generation about to enter the promised land. In some ways, Deuteronomy is the final draft of the covenant God made with Israel. Deuteronomy is perhaps more important than any of the other four books of the Pentateuch.

Douglas Stuart
Old Testament Survey
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

The Law:  Numerical Parallelisms

I.  Numerical Parallelisms

A.  1 // 2

B.  3 // 4

C.  6 // 7

D.  7 // 8

E.  1,000 // 10,000

F.  7 // 77

G.  3 // 4 // 1,000's


II.  The Meaning of the Term "Love"

A.  Action, not Attitude

B.  Used in International Diplomacy

C.  Corresponding Usage of the Term "Hate"

D.  Love of Self is Prohibited


The Law:  Leviticus

I.  Orienting Data for Leviticus

A.  Content

B.  Author

C.  When and Where

D.  Emphases

1.  Five types of sacrifices

2.  The priesthood

3.  Clean and unclean

4.  Sexual purity laws

5.  Food laws


The Law:  Numbers

I.  Orienting Data for Numbers

A.  Content

B.  Author

C.  Date of Composition

D.  Historical Coverage

E.  Emphases

1.  Preparation for military conquest

2.  God's constant leadership and care

3.  Doubting God

4.  Unbelief leads to loss

5.  Pagan prophet's blessing

6.  Cultic immorality

7.  Major preparation for the new conquest

8.  Conquest begins


The Law: Deuteronomy

I. Covenant Restatement


II. Covenant Structure

A. Prologue

B. Witnesses

C. Preamble

D. Stipulations

E. Document Clause

F. Sanctions

G. Witnesses

H. Document Clause

I. Witnesses

J. Sanctions

K. Epilogue

  • The purpose of this overview of the Old Testament is to focus on the content of each of the Old Testament books, the historical events that give context to the books, and specific questions that help draw out the overarching principles contained in the Old Testament. There is also an emphasis on identifying ways to use this material that can help people in their daily lives.

  • Genesis narrates ten stories that describe origins or beginnings. These include the origin of the “heavens and earth,” and the origin of specific families that are significant in God’s dealings with Israel and the nations.

  • Themes from selected passages in Genesis about which there are interpretations that differ greatly. These include Genesis 2 regarding creation of women and their roles, Genesis 6 about the "Sons of God," and Genesis 9 about the "curse of Ham." Other themes are the story of Abraham, and God as a punisher of evil.

  • The three major themes in Exodus are Israel's deliverance from Egypt, establishment of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. Other themes are how name repetition in a sentence is significant throughout Scripture, and how humility in the Jewish culture affects the actions and responses of many biblical characters. Exodus contains both apodictic and casuistic laws. There are also paradigmatic laws which are designed to give broad guidance for specific situations that arise. The first part of Exodus is mostly stories, and the second part is mostly a record of the laws which are the basis for how they interact with God and other people.

  • In this lesson, the concept of a covenant is defined as a legal binding agreement between two parties. In the ancient world there were many covenants. There were covenants between individuals, and even between nations. For example, a superior ruling king would make a covenant with a lesser vassal king. Covenants in the ancient near east contained the following six elements.

  • Does God punish the grandchildren for what the grandparents have done? Some people read these passages (Exodus 20:5, 34:7) and assume that they mean God punishes grandchildren based on their grandparents' sins. Unfortunately, they misinterpret these texts because they fail to understand the phenomena of numerical parallelisms. The Hebrew language favors parallelism, so that numbers which are close to other numbers will often be put in parallel to exhibit literary balance.
  • The historical books--Joshua, Judges, and Ruth--are essential reading for understanding how the bible views the progress of history. These books help us understand what the basic stages are in the progress of God’s relations with humanity. There is development, and progress in history we can refer to as epochs. This lecture provides an overview of redemptive history and a summary of the book of Joshua.

  • When discussing violence in the Old Testament it is important to discuss the concept of Holy War. This lesson does not suggest that Christians are soldiers first and nothing else since Christians are also called to be peacemakers. However, this lesson does put forward the idea that God is fighting a holy war. That is, God is seeking to promote blessing for all people by eliminating evil everywhere. The final enemy is death itself, and God is resolute on destroying evil and death. Holy war is a complex set of ideas that should be interpreted in light of the entire corpus of scripture.

  • In this lesson the extent of the conquest is discussed to frame the book of Judges. The orienting data for the book of Judges helps explain how the book recounts the decline of the people of Israel. Finally, the Dueteronomic cycle which recurs in the book is explained and helps frame Israel’s history up to the time of the exile.

  • After the division of the kingdom, 40 kings reigned during this period of the divided monarchy. Only three Kings reigned during the united monarchy—Saul, David, and Solomon. We might be able to assume the time period of the united monarch to be something like 120 years with each of the three kings reigning forty years. But the term “forty” in Hebrew means something like the English expression “several dozen.” That’s why we see the idiomatic expression “forty” so often in Hebrew literature.

  • David is a man after God’s own heart. How is this possible when he made so many moral mistakes? Being after God’s own heart does not mean David is morally upright, but that he has unwavering faith in the one true God of Israel. That is unique to David in these narratives. The narratives are clear that both Saul and Solomon conjoined belief in the God of Israel with the worship of other gods. David, however, is never portrayed as worshipping other gods or setting up altars to Idols.

  • In this lesson several key elements from the lives of Saul, David and Solomon are briefly reviewed. The rejection of Saul as King is explained. The rebellions against David are highlighted. And the disobedience of Solomon is described. Although these three kings are imperfect, God keeps the Kingdom of Israel unified throughout their successive reigns.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Stuart provides an overview of the ten types of Psalms found in Scripture, a few suggestions regarding preaching through the Psalms, and addresses how we are to interact with the hystoricizing statements within the Psalms.

  • This lesson provides an overview of the structure of Proverbs, which seems to be the most secular book of the bible. Proverbs is a book of wise memorable sayings collected by Solomon. These sayings are collected from various individuals in Israel and the Ancient Near East and serve to provide wisdom for how to live in the world.

  • There is a chiastic structure to the book of Job that begins with the prologue and ends with the epilogue. In a chiasm, the middle portion is a convenient hinge of the book, it is not necessarily the most important piece of textual material. The main question the book is asking is, where do you find wisdom? The answer is, wisdom is found in the LORD. Proverbs is monological wisdom, whereas Job is dialogical wisdom. People are debating back and forth throughout the book about the nature of wisdom.

  • This lesson briefly describes existentialism as a philosophical movement in order to frame Ecclesiastes as an ancient type of existentialist literature. Existentialism tends to argue that this life is all there is. Ecclesiastes entertains these various perspectives in the first six chapters, which serve as a literary foil, before ending with a surprise for the reader—life does have meaning because there is a God who will judge our actions.

    There is a storyline to the Song. A clue is found in the term Shulamite, which in Hebrew can be translated as Mrs. Solomon. So this is a story about Solomon marrying his wife. It conveys some of the challenges Solomon and his wife face in coming together in covenant marriage. The beginning of the book outlines their engagement. In the middle of the book they get married, and the end discusses their honeymoon. What we see in the Song is the biblical ideal of a monogamous marriage, which, ironically, Solomon failed to live up to.

  • While it is difficult to preach through the prophets it can be done well if some basic views are taken regarding the prophetic books in general.

  • This lesson provide an overview concerning three contemporaries Prophets during the period of the divided monarchy at the end of the 8 th Century BCE.

  • The passage discusses a period of time when great materials are produced, including the Book of Isaiah. The rise of the Assyrian Empire becomes a significant concern, as they expand their territory across various regions. Tiglath-Pileser III, also known as Pul, leads the Assyrians into the domain of Israel, Palestine, and Syria. The expansion is driven by economic considerations, as kings seek wealth for grand projects through tribute, tax, and tolls. The cycle of conquering and resistance repeats itself, impacting the Israelites. The passage also highlights the importance of 2 Kings, focusing on Elijah and Elisha, Jehu’s massacre of Baal worshippers, the kings of Judah, the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, and the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.

  • Historical context is vital when one moves to reading the prophets. After Solomon’s death in 931 BCE, the kingdom of Israel undergoes an extended period of civil war as rivaling leaders take control of the northern and southern regions of the kingdom. Unfortunately, this split eventually becomes permanent. In the north the kings reigned for short periods and when compared with the southern kingdom of Judah this shows a tremendous amount of upheaval. This may have to do with the fact that the north is never ruled by a descendant of David. In addition, the north fails to worship at the Jerusalem temple, and decides instead to worship idols.

  • In this lesson an overview is provided for the prophetical books of Isaiah, Micah, and Nahum.

  • An overview of the revival under King Josiah, the fall of King Josiah, and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem to Babylon.

  • Jeremiah begins his ministry in 627 BCE. This is five years before the great revival under Josiah in 622 BCE. So Jeremiah spans the time from the Assyrian domination to the invasion of Judah by Babylon. Unlike other prophets who predicted a short exile, Jeremiah preached a long, though not unending exile. Because of this Jeremiah was not popular with the government establishment of Jerusalem.

  • Dr. Stuart provides an overview of Joel, Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah and how they each relate to end times and God’s eternal reign.

  • Lamentations is a massive, huge, compound, complex lament that seeks to help God’s people see God’s goodness in the midst of tragedy.

  • Dr. Stuart provides a brief overview of Ezekiel, his difficult message of impending judgment on Jerusalem and his uplifting message of the hope to come.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Stuart describes the characteristics of apocalyptic literature and gives an overview of the books of Daniel. Esther, and the latter half of Isaiah.

  • An overview of the background to the post-exilic books including the necessity of the temple and the role of the Persian empire in it’s rebuilding.

  • An overview of Haggai and Zechariah, the beginning of the rebuilding of the temple, the encouragement of God’s people to put the things of God first, God’s sovereignty, the need to be faithful, the nature of God’s covenant, and God’s promises being fulfilled.

  • A look at the latter days, the closing of the prophetic cannon, and the books of Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

Did you know that the Old Testament contains more than 2/3 of the text of the Bible? Did you realize that the Old Testament timeline covers thousands of years of history and tells us the stories of people whose lives still affect world events today? Are you familiar with the Old Testament prophets that describe in detail the characteristics of the Messiah and the events that happen when he comes, hundreds of years before they take place? Have you ever read the Old Testament books of poetry and wisdom literature that contain inspirational and instructional passages that we still use today to inspire, comfort and inform our lives during life events, and are ubiquitous in both classic and contemporary literary works?

In Dr. Stuart’s Old Testament Survey class, he guides you through each of the Old Testament books by giving you the historical background, major themes and insight into the stories, characters and teaching of the book. In the historical books, you will become familiar with Old Testament Names like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph and David. In the Old Testament prophets, Dr. Stuart will introduce you to the lives and messages of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and others. When you study the Old Testament books of wisdom literature, Dr. Stuart will give you insights into the teachings, structure and creativity in Proverbs, Psalms and other books in the Writings.

From the description of Creation in Genesis, to the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, the Old Testament contains stories and teachings that can inform, inspire and transform your life. Dr. Stuart’s years of training and his skill in communicating, provides you with this opportunity to study and learn from one of the best. Now it’s up to you!

You may download a syllabus for the class including the Course Outline by clicking on the link in the Downloads section. We do not have access to the notes or the 130 exam questions that he mentions in the lectures. The Syllabus is from the SemLink class that was originally offered online through Gordon-Conwell Seminary so you can see the class outline and suggested readings. The links are not active. If you want to participate in the assignments and tests and earn credit, you may contact Gordon-Conwell Seminary to find out if they still offer this class.

Thank you to Charles Campbell and Fellowship Bible Church for writing out the lecture notes. Note that they do not cover every lecture.

Recommended Books

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

Did you know that the Old Testament contains more than 2/3 of the text of the Bible? Did you realize that the Old Testament timeline covers thousands of years of history and...

Old Testament Survey: Genesis-Malachi - Student Guide

I. Numerical Parallelisms

Sometimes when people read the statements in the middle of the Ten Commandments about, “I the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation,” and so on, they say, “Wow! How can that be? That is totally unfair. This doesn’t make any sense. God would punish the great grandchildren for what the parents did? That is unreasonable.” I just want to show you how sometimes knowing a phenomenon that can be observed in Scripture, if you know how to look for it, can solve a question. This is just an attempt to show you a perfectly sensible, and once you see it, I think even an obvious conclusion, not original with me but I am just relaying it to you. First of all to appreciate how this works, a scholar named Gervitz at the University of Chicago, a number of years ago, published a book in which he described how the numerical parallelisms work. (Stanley Gervitz, Patterns in the Early Poetry of Israel [University of Chicago Press, 1963]). Now, we will learn more about parallelism when we study Hebrew poetry.

A. When they want to have a synonym for the number one, the closest they can come is the number two; that is what they do. (Job 33:14; Ps 62:11)

B. When they want to have a synonym for three they parallel it by four. It is a style of parallel. I am not going to give you time to copy all these down but you can generate these with a computer any time in a concordance program. (Prov. 30:15, 18, 21, 29; Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11)

C. When you want to parallel six you use seven. (Prov. 6:16; Job 5:19)

D. When you want to parallel seven you use eight. Give a portion to seven or even to eight. Seven shepherds, eight princes. There is a story in one of the Ugaritic epics. King Keret wife gave birth to seven children, yes, eight were born to her. You might say, “Which was it?” They would not have any problems with that at all in the ancient world; they knew what that meant. It meant, basically, she had a whole bunch of children. That is the way the parallelism works in some of the numbers. You get N, N + 1 parallelism. (Eccl. 11:2; Micah 5:5)

E. Here is a special case of N, 10N. One thousand to ten thousand. There are several examples of that. (Deut. 32:30; Micah 6:7; 1 Sam. 18:8; Ps. 91:7)

F. A special exception N, 11N in the boast of Lamech, “If Cain is avenged seven fold, Lamech seventy-seven,” (Gen. 4:24). Then there is an N, 70N. This is really big. Jesus says, “Not just seven times but seventy times seven,” (Matt. 18:22). That is N to 70N. That really breaks the pattern. That is a dramatic extension of the usual “numerical parallelism”.

G. But there is an even greater exception and that is the one we are looking at. Three or four to thousands. That is big. That is our passage. “Yes,” says God, “not that I punish the fourth generation for what the first generation did.” That is not the point at all. It is rather, “If generations keep sinning against me and breaking my law, I will keep punishing them. If the first generation does it, I will punish it. If the generation after that does it, I will punish them too. I’ll have to do that on to maybe the third or fourth generation, but what I want to do is to bless thousands of generations who love me.” So the parallelism demonstrates that God’s purpose is to show love, his loyalty, his hesed in the Hebrew, “to thousands of those who love me.” The contrast is between what he will do, “If the generations keep doing it, I’ll have to keep punishing, but what I want to do, which is essentially forever, to be a blessing to my people generation after generation, if only they will remain faithful.” The meaning is, “I will, if I have to, punish successive generations but not for long. I really don’t want to do this for long.” It may go on for awhile but that is why it is limited to three or four, it makes the suggestion that this is not forever. “But what I would like to do is bless my people forever if only they will keep my covenant.” What it really shows is what you might think it shows. It shows the desire of God and the invitation of God for his people to be obedient to him and enjoy his blessing. It is not really a statement about how he unfairly judges at all. If we had time I could show you how the Hebrew is applied in other passages and it really does not mean punishing X for Y, it means applying the same punishment that you applied to X also to Y. That is really what it means in terms of translation. That is a little thing, I just thought I would show it to you because it often comes up and people wonder about it and puzzle it out and try to understand its significance and it is useful, I think, to be aware of that.

II. The Meaning of the Term “Love”

A. There is another kind of thing that I would also like to show you because it helps us define terminology. William Moran back in 1963 wrote a very nice article that many scholars have referred to called “The Ancient Near Eastern Background for the Love of God in Deuteronomy,” published it in a journal called Catholic Biblical Quarterly (24). What Moran demonstrated was this—when we read the commandments “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind,” and “Love your Neighbor as yourself,” we are not reading about attitude at all. We are reading about action. To love is to do acts of love, to show love. It is not a feeling. So you do not just say, “I just love God. Oh! Oh! Oh! Yes! I love ya!” “Well, there’s that commandment fulfilled.” “I just love my neighbor. You are a sweetheart. I love ya!” “There is another one.” No, it is what I do for her that is obedience to that commandment to love her as my neighbor, as myself, and it is what I do for God that demonstrates it. Moran just showed this by showing from many ancient documents from all over the time period of the Bible, Old Testament time period, how this terminology of love really functions. Here is one king writing to another, “I’m the king’s servant and the one who loves you. Various kings, my lord, just as I love the king my lord,” he is writing to a Pharaoh in Egypt, “so do these other kings. They are all servants of my lord.” That is what it means. “Who will love if I die?” Here is Rib-Addi writing about a revolt, “Half the city loves the sons of Abdi-Ashirta; half of it loves my lord,” meaning the Pharaoh. “If you send me no answer, I’ll leave the city and go away with the people who love me.” Are these a bunch of gay people? No, that is not it; that is not what is going on. Look at this one, “You will love Ashurbanipal as yourselves,” says one vassal king about his son. “The king of Assyria, we will love.” Here is reference to David and Hiram, “Hiram had been a lover of David all his life,” (1 Kings 5:1), meaning, they were allies, they did things for each other, they were in league, they functioned as allies function. That is the usage.

B. What you really find is this, in the ancient world in referring to things like loyalty, faithfulness, decency, doing things for one another, being allies, being closely supportive, in international diplomacy they use the terminology of love, and by the way, also hate. I could show you a whole bunch of passages relating to hate. So and so hates this. So and so hates that. When you read in Malachi, “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.” Ancient people did not understand that to mean, “I just love my people and just hate those Edomites.” It rather, “I have made an alliance with my people, they are in my covenant. I don’t have a covenant with the Edomites.” That is the point. The language of love and hate is the language of international diplomacy and also of personal favor and service and so on.

C. You love your master or you hate your master. Jesus says, “You can’t serve both God and mammon and you’ll either love the one and hate the other.” He is not talking about some vicious attitude of hate as apposed to some warm attitude of love. He is talking about you will favor one and not favor the other. So, even Jesus uses typical love-hate language. The point is, when we are told to love the Lord our God, it is something we do. You do it regardless of how you may feel. You love your neighbor whether or not your neighbor is much fun to be around. You do not have to worry about saying, “I just don’t feel love, I don’t mind doing things for my neighbor but I just don’t feel this deep, pure love that I should.” That is not really part of the command at all. Your feelings are a separate issue. It is what you do that really is important. If we can learn that, I think it is very good.

D. By the way, do not also get trapped into the old flaw of saying, “Oh, it says love your neighbor as yourself, therefore, I must first love myself.” In the New Testament we have Paul describing, for example, all of the wickedness that will come in the last days and he says, “People will be lovers of self,” as wickedness. So that commandment is not saying, “Love people as you love yourself,” it is saying, “Love people as you want the reciprocation to occur, as you would like to be love, that is, treated.” Treat people as you would like to be treated. Jesus sums it up by saying in other language that makes it perfectly clear, “Do to others as you would have others do to you.” That is what it means. It does not mean you have a right to self-love. That is prohibited in Scripture.

The Law: Leviticus

I. Orienting Data for Leviticus (Starts at 11:38)

A. A special emphasis of Leviticus is the achievement of holiness. That is a wonderful thing. If you approach it that way, if you teach, preach on it, and so on, and say, "Look, we are going to study this because it has as its goal the achievement of holiness." There is a lot of good that will come out of that. It is not just holiness, maybe in ritual or something, it is holiness in all areas of life including worship but also including daily life.

B. Moses is the author again.

C. We are at Mount Sinai, so that is when this is happening.

D. All of Leviticus is received by the Israelites at Mount Sinai. They are still camped right there and they get part of Exodus and the remainder of Leviticus.

E. What are the emphases?

1. It starts with five types of sacrifice. You can read about them in the first five chapters. If you wanted a sixth type it would be the Day of Atonement sacrifice, just in case you are puzzled over why it might say "What are six types of sacrifices?" Because that is a special category; the atonement sacrifice on Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement. There is a desire that people properly worship because worship is the first thing you owe to the god you believe in. Naturally, when people say, "Yeah, I’m a Christian, I just don’t go to church." They are something really weird. It is like saying, "I’m a great athlete. Yeah, I weigh 516 pounds but I really am a great athlete. I’m in shape. I don’t exercise. Why would I exercise?" It is just nonsense, it is not true. If a person says, "I follow Christ but don’t worship Him," they are saying something that does not connect. How could it be? People need to appreciate that, it is important. Leviticus is partly pushing in that direction.

2. You also have the priesthood. God wants to connect to those people, the priests help make that happen. Of course, if it can happen by God dwelling in us, wow! What a connection, eliminating the need for human priesthood at all. The new covenant, indwelling of Christ through his Spirit, really is a dramatic elimination process with regard to things like the priesthood, the tabernacle, the sacrifices, and so on.

3. [God's insistence on worship according to his standards.]

4. How uncleanliness can happen and how to correct it is a very big thing. You constantly get in Leviticus advice about how to be pure and how to be clean. There is a lot of clean, pure stuff going on. This makes you unclean, this makes you clean. Much of it simply teaches the principle that you need to be clean. In the New Covenant the cleansing takes place in other ways from what it does in the Old. There are mechanisms for cleansing in terms of forgiveness and trusting in Christ. In the Book of Acts, several times the disciples say, "Our hearts are made pure." They really do talk about, "We’re ritually clean. We are as clean as the high priests could get in the Old Covenant before God, worthy to be in his presence, not because we’re good but just because Christ has accomplished so much." That is a big theme. As you teach Leviticus and preach it, you can help people see how important it is for them to be pure and holy before God. It really does, it almost whets your appetite for the New Covenant when it can be done for you by God’s grace rather than the Old Covenant when you have to struggle to try to accomplish it. It is very powerful material that way.

5. [Atonement (including the Day of Atonement)]

6. There are also laws about proper eating and about sex and other things and whether or not these are specifically to be renewed or not in the New Covenant, and I would say no, they are not specifically renewed, they do tell you God cares very much about your sex life. He wants it to be pure and holy. That gets defined for us in the New Covenant with the statement, for example, in Hebrews, "Let the marriage bed be undefiled." It is a real, clear thing how you have sexual purity. But you can see how important it is in Leviticus, Leviticus 18, for example.

7. So it is with the food laws. Then you might say, "God cares what I eat, really?" The answer is yes, because he cares that you should be one of his people who is disciplined enough that you eat properly and try to live in a manner that is healthy. It is the top priority of all these? No. It is not the top priority in the Old Covenant, it is not the top priority in the New but it is an issue. If you think that somehow what you eat or how often you eat or whether you eat or whether you eat well is of no relevance to you as a child of God, a book like Leviticus can help really correct that. It is very useful in that way.

8. [Blessings and curses accompanying the covenant]

9. [Vows]

The Law: Numbers

I. Orienting Data for Numbers (Starts at 16:57)

A. What is especially interesting about Numbers is this—at the beginning of Numbers they leave Mount Sinai, so now they have received the covenant. They have really received what we call the Sinai Covenant. What is the Sinai Covenant? From Exodus 20 to the end of Leviticus, that is the Sinai Covenant. It is a great big thing. It is a book and a half of what we call books of the Bible. With Numbers, however, the reception of the law does not cease, rather, the Israelites now set out for the promised land and we get a mixture of stories about their travels on the way to the Promised Land which take thirty-nine years, it is rounded off to forty, but technically take thirty-nine years, along with a mixture of laws on issues that come up as they travel. So what God, in his mercy did, was to give them a covenant, get them all settled enough to leave Sinai. “Okay, you’re a people. That is your basic constitution.” Then very mercifully and graciously gives them some further laws in Numbers as the occasion requires. As they raise questions, as they encounter problems, as things happen, he pronounces those laws. He has given them a pretty heavy bunch in the first place and so giving them a little time to assimilate those and get new ones is useful. If you want a rough analogy, it certainly did not come about the same way, you can think of the United States Constitution. You have the constitution but then you have the long list of amendments. Those amendments became part of the constitution, they are very important, they are relied on all the time, they are just as if they had been written there in the first place. As the years went by, and the need was seen for those amendments, they were added. God did something like that for the Israelites. Showing that, not so much that he had forgotten to include stuff in the first place, there is no hint of that, no need to even think that way, but rather, it is the way he works with us now. It is the way that he has always worked. He gives you enough information to get started and he keeps teaching you and you keep learning and you keep growing in grace and so that is exemplified for us in the way that God continues to teach his people as they wander in the wilderness and partly because of their sins.

B. Again, Moses [is the author.]

C. Date of Composition: basic same time except that it goes over a period of time.

D. The coverage is that forty-year period between getting to Sinai and getting to the Promised Land.

E. Emphases

1. Preparation for military conquest. In Numbers you will notice the Israelites are described as moving “by divisions”. That is a military term. They camped by divisions. They are starting to think of themselves as an army. This is a new thing to them. They were not in the army in Egypt. They could not fight, God had to fight fort them as they left Egypt but now they are beginning to think that way.

2. Constant leadership and care. When you preach Numbers that is a great theme to preach and teach.

3. The people’s tendency to doubt God. So they have a lack of confidence. Again and again they demonstrate that.

4. They demonstrate it so severely when they have a chance to enter the promised land and will not because they are afraid, they are afraid of the Canaanites, that God says, “Okay, you don’t want to go into the promised land? I’ll let another group go in.” And He says, “You adults will die off, it will be your children that go into the promised land.” That is the forty year time period to let most of the adults die off and let the younger people and little children grow up and enter the promised land as the new generation. That new generation, by the way, is going to need a whole new statement of the law to them and that is what Deuteronomy is. They are going to need that.

5. [Reception of additional laws as conditions described in the narrative lead to the need for those laws]

6. [Alternation of law and narrative]

7. The blessing of Israel through a pagan prophet. That is the story of Balaam. Fascinating how God, if he needs to, can use some pagan, use an idol-worshiping pagan. Can God do that? Sure, if he wants to he will do it.

8. Israel’s committing cultic immortality. That is informative. Sadly, even in Numbers 25 you have examples of the way the Israelites get into full-blown, cultic prostitution and all the miseries that it brings about. The Israelites got suckered into a lot of bad stuff.

9. Major preparation for the new conquest.

10. Finally, actual, initial, what you might call token, conquest of the promised land because they do, by the end of the book of Numbers, get into what we call the Transjordan, the area to the east of the Jordan River, not the heartland of Israel yet but certainly the area to the east of the Jordan.

I know that came fast but these materials are also available to you in a lot of places. This is not some mysterious thing. Most study Bibles will have many of these same bits and pieces of data. Certainly, any Bible dictionary, you just look up Numbers and one way or another it is going to give you these themes.

The Law: Deuteronomy

I. Orienting Data for Deuteronomy (Starts at 22:44)

II. Covenant Structure in Deuteronomy

Here I have done something different. I have not said what is the overview and what are the main themes and so on because I wanted to have you see the structure, especially how carefully a book like Deuteronomy is structured relative to the six elements of the covenant—the preamble, prologue, stipulations, document clause, witnesses, and sanctions. They are all there, they are very visible in Deuteronomy and it is a very overt structuring as a covenant because this is a new people, and they need to realize they too are part of God’s covenant. They are getting a covenant relationship. This is not Mount Sinai, this is forty years later. They are now in northern Moab ready to go into the Promised Land, but they need to know they are God’s covenant people. All the essentials of the covenant that was originally given in Exodus and Leviticus, the Sinai Covenant, and all the amendments, as it were, added on during the days of the Numbers, wandering in the wilderness are now reorganized, reformatted, in some cases summarized, in some cases expanded, and put together as a restatement of the covenant. But many people then think, "Well, that means Deuteronomy is kind of throw-away stuff. Who needs to learn Deuteronomy?"

On the contrary, it is like something that is the final draft as opposed to the first draft. I do not mean it is really that way with God and he says, "Gee, I can write a lot better that than if I thought long enough; I just need more time, a little more sleep, I’ll be fine." No, that is not so. Deuteronomy really is a kind of a culmination law and some people have said it is the most important book in the Bible for understanding the big picture and overview. There are many people who will say you need to know Deuteronomy far more than you need to know the other four books of the Pentateuch. Let me commend to you the importance of the things that are said, the themes, the topics, how crucial they are to appreciating the rest of the Old Testament and the New Testament as well. We will talk about how the prophets relate to Deuteronomy, how the historical books relate to it. Deuteronomy, once it is stated, really kind of gets a little bit pride-of-place even over Exodus and Leviticus. So do not underestimate the significance of this book just because it has kind of a dull name like "second law." It is really pretty important.

A. You have got a very long prologue this time, long summations of what it is God did for His people. (1:1-5:5)

B. You have got a brief mention of witnesses, in this case heaven and earth. (4:26)

C. You have got a solid preamble. (5:6)

D. Lots of stipulations. (5:7-26:19)

E. Extensive document clause. (27:1-8)

F. Extensive sanctions. (27:9-30:20)

G. Again, a mention of witnesses, heaven and earth. (30:19-20)

H. More document clause. (31:1-29)

I. Then both the Word of God and a poem are witnesses. This is very interesting. Now by this time the Bible is beginning to be formed, Moses has written Genesis and so on and he is writing Deuteronomy for them. Now there is a Bible. So it, the Word of God, functions as a witness to keep you on track. So you begin to get the concept of a scripture and how it works in connection with God’s covenant. What does the Bible do for you? Does it help you get Sunday School pins? Does it help you answer questions in Bible trivia quizzes or something? Well, yes, but that is pretty unimportant compared to the fact it is there to help you know how to be God’s people, how to belong to him and how to serve him and how to fulfill his covenant. Part of that Bible, the Song of Moses itself, which is a poem in chapter 32, function as witnesses. It is very nice, it is a very important and useful phenomenon. (31:19-26)

J. More sanctions in musical poetic form. (32:1-33:29)

K. Then finally an epilogue, a brief twelve-verse epilogue of transition. How do you get from Moses, the great leader, the first leader of the people, what is going to happen after he dies? The answer is God has a way of bringing about successors. God has a plan for his people on into the future and that is the position that Joshua occupies. So he gets introduced at the end of the book of Deuteronomy in order to prepare us for what will now come in the history of the people including the conquest of the Promised Land. I have said the things that I wanted to get across in this lecture. As you can tell by now, it is obviously sampling. There are certain things I want to be sure you hear that I hope are helpful. I am trusting that you are doing the reading and thus getting the balanced picture because I do not give a balanced picture in these lectures. Some people would say I am unbalanced. That's alright. (34:1-12)

Let us close in prayer.

Thank you Father for the time we have had together tonight. Our greatest joy would be that we take your word and really use it, first upon ourselves so that it guides us but also that we take what we have learned and always pass it on to others because we believe that everybody who is converted is hungry for the Word of God and we know that everybody needs the Word of God converted or not. So we pray to be good stewards of whatever information we learn about your truth. In Jesus' name, Amen.