The book of Deuteronomy

If you’ve made it this far in our Bible reading plan don’t let anything stop you from completing it! Well done so far. We hope this has been deeply meaningful to you.

“Deuteronomy”, translated into English, simply means “repetition of the law”. The book is a series of final addresses given by Moses on the plains of Moab. If Moses wrote a ‘last will and testament’ this would be it. Moses was preparing and reminding the people to obey the covenant way of life they promised to live by. It is essentially a repetition of the Law from Leviticus and Numbers but is concerned more with the ‘spirit’ of the Law than the definite details.

Therefore it tends to be less technical than the previous books. You can hear Moses ‘preaching’ and applying the Law to the people. It contains reasons and encouragement that the other accounts leave out. If you listen carefully you can hear Moses saying, “Come on! Please obey the Lord with your whole heart.” He was doing this especially because they were about to come into the Promised Land.

Moses’ final address starts with four chapters of him reminding Israel about the key issues they faced in the desert. The failure at Kadesh Barnea, skipping past the Edomites and Moabites on their way north. He recalls God giving them victory over the Amorites. Moses summarises their position in 4:40: “You shall keep His commandments, that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land God is giving you forever.”

Chapter 5 to 30 is taken up with Moses detailing and pressing the Sinai covenant upon the people. The explanation is long and rich. Moses moves from details and pleas (5-26) to explanation of the blessings and curses in store for them (27-30). Bear in mind that the people who were now to go into the Promised Land were small children when they came through the Red Sea. They needed to be well acquainted with the Law of God. It was their ability to obey that meant success or failure.

The last four chapters are a final goodbye from Moses. Joshua is declared the new leader. The book ends with the death of Moses. Thus Deuteronomy is a grandiose view of Israel’s life at a key moment. Moses warns of the past errors, tells them how to live now, and reminds them of the glorious future they can have.

We can see ourselves so clearly in the big scope of the book. We need to know what to do with our past – mostly break from its mistakes and forget it. Then we live out our present responsibility and live for God with all our energy and passion. Then remember the future – forever in the heavenly Promised Land!

Picture: Moses Smashing the Tables of the Law (illustration by Gustave Doré)

The Power of Forgiveness

by Marcus Herbert
29 March 2015 at Bedfordview AM

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The “Power Of” miniseries

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” – Romans 1:16.

God’s gospel is powerful and cannot be shaken. His kingdom is everlasting. His reign is eternal. He is the beginning and the end. As we wrap up our My Heart // My Love series we will be looking at the powerful aspects of the gospel that change our hearts and challenge the hearts of all who hear it, bringing everlasting salvation to those who come to faith in Jesus.

The “Power Of” miniseries will culminate on Good Friday (3 April) and Resurrection Sunday (5 April) as we celebrate our Lord’s once-for-all victory over sin, death, and the devil.

The Power Of Christ

by Marcus Herbert
22 March 2015 at Bedfordview AM

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Making Room For God

by Mike Hanchett
22 March 2015 at Bedfordview PM

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The book of Numbers

We’re now on the book of Numbers in our Bible reading plan. If you haven’t started the Bible reading plan, it’s not too late to start! Pick it up here. If you’re lagging behind, don’t worry – getting through is what’s important, even if it takes you more than just this year!

Numbers is really important in our story of the people of God. We end the book with the new people of God on the brink of getting into the Promised Land because the generation who left Egypt failed to get into Canaan. It tells us what happened in the wilderness. Don’t forget that the whole journey of Israel is an example of our journey with God. God’s people have to learn to persist in faith to get to the Promised Land. We too will have to learn to persist in faith in order to come to achieve all we have to for God. We will all face what Israel did.

Numbers is a great example of what not to do with God. Half of the book need not to have been written, if Israel did what it should have. Israel spends 40 needless years waiting for about two million people to die so a new two million plus two from the old generation (Joshua and Caleb) can go into the Promised Land.

Scholars break the book up in different ways. Remember at the end of Leviticus God’s people now had a sacrificial system, a way of living, a priesthood, a book of covenant and a tabernacle. Now they needed to get their army and organise themselves before heading into the Promised Land. Here is one way to break up the book:

Experiences of the older generation in the wilderness: Numbers 1-25

  • Preparations for entering the Promised Land from the south: 1-10
  • The first census and the organization of the people: 1-4
  • Commands and rituals to observe in preparation for entering the land: 5-9
  • The departure from Sinai: 10
  • The rebellion and judgment of the unbelieving generation: 11- 25
  • The cycle of rebellion, atonement, and death: 11 -20
  • The climax of rebellion, hope, and the end of dying: 21- 25

Prospects of the younger generation in the land: Numbers 26- 36

  • Preparations for entering the Promised Land from the east: 26 – 32
  • The second census: 26
  • Provisions and commands to observe in preparation for entering the land: 27—30
  • Reprisal against Midian and the settlement of the Trans-jordanian Tribes: 31 -32
  • Warning and encouragement of the younger generation: 33 – 36
  • Review of the journey from Egypt 33:1-49
  • Anticipation of the Promised Land 33:50 – 36:13

Like all Old Testament writings there are many different teachings and elements on which you could focus. Just reading through Numbers to get through it is boring. Try looking at the characters. There is a lot to learn from Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Try listing their strengths and weaknesses. You could focus on the people. Notice their grumbling, willingness to follow, and grumbling again. Examine yourself in the light of them.

Primary lessons from Numbers

1. God’s people only move forward when they trust his promises and lean on his strength. The census at the beginning and the end are there to prove this. Their size and strength wasn’t keeping them out of Canaan, it was their lack of trust in God.

2. We learn that God is faithful and stern. The New Testament reiterates the kindness and sternness of God in Romans 11:22. God is patient and kind. He bears up with our sins and troubles. But God also makes sure to deal with those same troubles. He will discipline us out of them.

3. The lessons on holiness continue.

4. We see God’s promise of Jesus wonderfully in Numbers.

In our Life Groups we’ll be unpacking questions and discussing the points above. For now, as you go through Numbers, consider these points. And think about Jesus’ ministry and life and how it relates to the book – there are a lot of exciting insights here!

How do you facilitate the gifts of the Spirit in the Church?

by Greig Garratt
18 March 2015 at NCMI School of the Prophets

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