This morning we conclude our series in Deuteronomy. In the last chapter, we read the last recorded words God spoke to Moses. Moses was a prophet unlike any other in the Old Testament. He was a flawed, sinful man yet, God worked mightily through him. And though God denied him entry into the promise land, we learn God brought him into an even greater promise land.
In his final act, Moses beseeches God's favor upon Israel and blesses them. In doing so, he reminds Israel that God has redeemed them and forged them into a nation and he assures them that God will go with them into the Promise Land. The path forward is fraught with danger, but God shall be with them, his everlasting arms underneath them and He shall be their shield.
Moses references a detail that modern people find shocking and strange. Israel’s God gave the nations and their “gods” to each other as a judgement for their collusion in disobedience. More than just a quirk of the ancient world—this dimension of the gospel narrative shows us that God has dealt with rebellion in multiple frames: individual, corporate and divine.
We are delighted to welcome Pastor Jason Smith of Martha Lake Baptist Church as our guest preacher this morning.
Moses warns Israel that if they break the covenant with the Lord and continue on in unrepentant sin, that He shall remove them from the Promise Land. And more than that, they shall incur the wrath of God. But if they choose to honor the Lord and keep the covenant, they shall receive an abundance of blessing from God. Yet we know, that no one is righteous and can be justified by the law. Therefore, God in his great mercy, sent Jesus, his Son, to bear the curse for us and win us eternal blessing.
As Moses concludes expounding and applying the Decalogue to all areas of life, Israel is reminded of why they should demonstrate generosity and compassion to one another. Out of remembrance and gratitude for all God has done on their behalf, they are to honor the Lord in their dealings with one another. Having received mercy and generosity from God, they are to be merciful and generous.
The laws found in Deuteronomy 21:15-23:14 cover a wide range of specific topics and many of these laws seem quite strange to modern ears. As a result we are sometimes prone to disengage from the text. As we study these verses we will see that through these laws God was reminding Israel of His lovingkindness and holiness and through obedience to these laws Israel would reflect God's character more accurately to the peoples around them. Perhaps most importantly we will see that these laws were always pointing to Jesus: The perfect reflection of God's lovingkindness and holiness.
This morning we examine God’s continuing instructions to Israel concerning justice and judgment. Justice is a subset of a higher value, righteousness. Righteousness is demonstrated first and foremost by an unreserved love for God and it is reflected in how we treat others, especially in our respect for human life. And we see how the Israelites were the instrument of God’s judgment upon the wicked nations in Canaan. As we read of God' judgment of their sin, we should never forget that God judges all sin. And God will judge our sin. But thanks be to God, that in the gospel there is hope for sinners like us. Deuteronomy 19 takes us to the cross of Christ where we see the justice and judgment of God meet so that sinners can be reconciled to God.
Deuteronomy is Moses' final message to Israel. In our text today, Moses outlines how Israel shall receive a king and what that king will be like. Additionally, Moses encourages Israel with the news that God is going to continue to speak to Israel after he is gone. God will raise up prophets to communicate his divine revelation to the nation. Both God's instruction about a future king and a future prophet like Moses find their fulfillment in Jesus the Christ.
In God’s divine providence, our study of DT leads us to study the topic of justice. Right now, our nation is experiencing a great deal of anger and outrage as a result of injustice. Justice has been denied and it’s created a national crisis. In DT 16:18-17:13, God proclaims through Moses laws concerning the leaders of Israel and charges them to be and rule justly because God takes justice seriously. He is just. It is his character. And his people must not accept perversions of justice. Indeed, God demands that his people do justice.