‘Deuteronomy’ comes from two words in the Greek language, deutero, which means ‘second’, and nomos, which means ‘law’ or simply ‘second law’.
Have you noticed that the Bible often repeats itself? I remember noticing as a new-born Christian that I kept running into the same phrases and even stories. I didn’t understand why the Bible contained so many repetitions, but now I understand (a bit more) that: God wants to remind us of the past, to teach us how to live in the present and urges us to look ahead.
Some Tips on How to Read the book of Deuteronomy
Keep this in mind as you read Deuteronomy: God wants to remind us of the past, to teach us how to live in the present and urges us to look ahead to the future. You can read this book by dividing it into three (3) sections:
Moses’ First Address : Reminders of the Past (Deuteronomy 1-4)
Moses’ Second Address : Instructions for the Present (Deuteronomy 5-26)
Moses’ Third Address : Possible Results in the Future (Deuteronomy 27-33)
You can also read it in a week:
|Monday||1 – 4|
|Tuesday||5 – 10|
|Wednesday||11 – 16|
|Thursday||17 – 22|
|Friday||23 – 27|
|Saturday||28 – 30|
|Sunday||31 – 34|
The best way to read a book is by having a big picture/idea of the whole book. So do read it in one sitting. If you never did it before, try it. On average, one can read the entire Deuteronomy in just 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours 30 mins. Find a good and quite place and stay away from your phone.
Or you can listen to audio Bible. It only takes you about 2 hours 30 mins to finish listening to the Book of Deuteronomy. It’s a good companion while exercising, walking, commuting, driving or doing the dishes.
To Remind Us of the Past
Deuteronomy was written 40 years after the Book of Exodus. Moses was addressing the new generation of Israelites when he “spoke to all Israel” (1:1) at the beginning of this book. The older generation of Israelites- with the exception of Moses, Joshua and Caleb, died and never step into the Promised Land due to their rebellion and disobedience (1:19-46). Most of the new generation might barely remember what had happened when their fathers left Egypt and Moses’ first reading of the Law at Mount Sinai. So Moses read and explained the Law a second time, perhaps also as they begin a new phase – entering the Promised Land.
Why is this important? The new generation must know where they came from- their origin and history to give a sense of meaning and purpose. In the same way, to understand and appreciate the New Testament better, specifically Jesus’ teachings – we must read the Book of Deuteronomy for its context and background. The New Testament quoted about 80 times from this book. Reading and remembering God’s people in the Bible also helps us to learn from their successes and mistakes. The past gives hopes and warnings.
To Teach Us How to Live in the Present
Israelites have been in the wilderness by themselves but now, it is time to go into the Promised Land. When I read this, I kept reminding myself that the Promised Land was not a vast empty land! There were enemies in and around it. So, another reason why Moses needed to read, repeat and explain the Law to the people was so that they might know what God required of them. God said He was giving the land to them forever but they must enter, possess and keep God’s Law. Similarly, this encourages me to ask, to go and take what God have promised according to His will.
Urge Us to Look Ahead
Moses was not going into the Promised Land with the new generation (see Numbers 20:12). So he read, repeated and explained the Law to them to ensure that they were informed about the past, to be prepared and ready to face the future.
As we read Deuteronomy, notice God’s concern that His people should not go astray. When asked about what is the greatest commandment, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Finally, God urges us to look ahead by loving God and to be strong and courageous just as Moses told Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them [the enemies], for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”