Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Glory of Christ in Deuteronomy

A few years ago I was in a discussion with a pastor-friend over his next preaching series. He was expressing to me his ideas of certain topics or books of the Bible that he was considering preaching about or through. I threw out this question "Why don't you preach through Deuteronomy?" He laughed. It was almost unthinkable for him to do that. Matthew, John, a Pauline letter - sure. Deuteronomy - no way. Maybe it was too much material, maybe he didn't know how to tackle that genre of literature, or maybe he didn't think his congregation would receive it well. Whatever the reason may have been, he didn't choose Deuteronomy. He probably went with I Peter or something of the like. 

Deuteronomy is not a book that we hear quoted from often (much less preached from), but interestingly enough, Jesus did. When tempted by the devil, Jesus answered the temptations with Scripture from Deuteronomy. 

What is this book about? The title (deutero - second, nomos - law) implies the second giving of the law and it would be possible to sum the book's content up in that way, but the book is about more than that; it is about the glory of Christ. We can be sure of this because of the words of Jesus who said that the Old Testament spoke of him, that Moses wrote of him, and in his Emmaus hermeneutics class he took two disciples through the Old Testament declaring from the law and the prophets the things testifying of the Christ who was to come (Luke 24). Why should pastors preach through a book like Deuteronomy? Because it is about Jesus Christ. Consider the following outline.

I. Moses speaks of Israel's history (1-4)
II. Moses speaks of God's law (5-26)
III. Moses speaks of blessing and cursing for covenant obedience/disobedience (27-33)
IV. Moses dies (34)

This book is divided into sections of Moses speaking as God's prophet. In the midst of speaking as God's prophet we are told of a greater prophet who was to come (18:15), fulfilled by the Lord Jesus who comes as our prophet, priest, and king.

I. Moses speaks of Israel's history (1-4). Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel's history. He is the true Israelite, brought up out of Egypt, passing through waters of baptism, and taken in the wilderness to be tested. Only, where Israel failed and wandered for forty years, Jesus withstood the temptations for forty days as a faithful son. 

II. Moses speaks of God's law (5-26). Jesus did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it, and he did just that. Like Moses, he speaks as God's prophet the law of God from the mountain (Matt 5-7). He is also the faithful covenant keeper who loved the Lord his God with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength and who loved his neighbor as himself.

III. Moses speaks of blessing and cursing for covenant obedience/disobedience. Inaugurating the kingdom, Jesus dispenses covenant blessings and curses as the king ("Blessed are" or "Woe to you"). He is the one who deserves to hear the blessings from Mt. Gerazim for his obedience, but was the cursed man hung on the tree receiving the curses from Mt. Ebal in order to bring blessing upon his people. 

IV. Moses dies (34). Moses could not bring Israel into their inheritance. According to the author of Hebrews, Joshua could not give them rest either. Yet Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath (rest) comes to bring Israel into the promised land of the new heaven and new earth. Like Moses, Jesus died, but he rose from the dead on the third day assuring his people of what he accomplished. 

This book is glorious, for it testifies of the glory of Jesus Christ.