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Keys to Teaching Christ in Deuteronomy



Deuteronomy harmonizes the whole Law of God into a cohesive center of life with God. Christopher Wright states, "Deuteronomy has been aptly described as the heartbeat of the Old Testament. Feel the pulse of ‘Deuteronomy’ and you are in touch with the life and rhythm of the whole Hebrew Bible.”[1] Daniel Bock echoes the significance of its influence in the Old Testament when he says that it “compares to Romans for theological significance or gospel of John for recording God’s grace.”[2] And the significance of understanding our salvation cannot be lost in the thrust of our mission. Wright records, “Mission was not a matter of going but of being; to be what they were, to live as the people of God Yahweh in the sight of the nations.”[3] No other single book covers the breadth and depth of content to bring practical application for obedience like Deuteronomy, as it establishes that the thrust of our missional living be propelled by the new identity of our salvation as God’s people; we are saved to live sent.

Deuteronomy’s impact derives from the fact that it is both concise and comprehensive, standing “at the headwaters of biblical theology, life and practice.”[4] Its influence is evident through its frequent appearances as the most cited book in the New Testament, with 437 quotes, citations and references. Jesus himself drew from Deuteronomy when faced with Satan’s temptations in the desert. Daniel Bock may illustrate this best, though, by showing its reach by use. “The book of Deuteronomy is the heart of the Torah, which the priests were to teach and model (Deut 33:10; 2 Chr 15:3; 19:8; Mal 2:6, 9; cf Jer 18:18; Ezek 7:26 Ezra 7:10), psalmists praised (Psalm 19:8-15; 119), prophets appealed (Isa 1:10; 5:24; 8:20; 30:9; 51:7), by which faithful kings ruled (1 Kings 2:2-4; 2 Kings 14:6; 22:11; 23:25), and righteous citizens lived (Psalm 1).”[5] The true impact of Deuteronomy is that it takes the corpus of God’s Law and forms it into a training manual for missional living out of our new identity as God’s people.

Key Texts:


There are numerous ways in which one can point to Christ, especially by the simply used of Deuteronomy references in the New Testament. However, three critical passages include.

  • Deuteronomy 6:4 – This passage introduces Jesus by use of the covenant name of God, YHWH, through whom the covenant will come.

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-22 – This is the most obvious portrayal of Christ by Moses promise from God to raise up a new prophet.

  • Deuteronomy 21:22-23 – This passage is quoted in Galatians 3:13 to show how Jesus became our curse for us.

Key Themes:

  • Covenant (10:12-13; 30:19-20) – God establishes His covenant with His people by a three-part outline; “I will be your God. You will be my people. I will dwell among you.”

  • Obedience and Blessings; Rebellion and Curses – Loving God means to live in obedience to His commands and receiving His blessings on life. Rebelling against God brings curses that show life without Him. This cycle of rebellion is demonstrated by the Israelites repeatedly, so God can show His love and how He will provide the perfect Son to forgive their rebellion and sin.

  • Love for God is the connection between Law and obedience.

  • Commands – Moses commands the people to inspire their obedience to God. (1:1; 4:44; 12:1; 29:1)

  • Mission – God’s purpose for His people is to demonstrate the blessing of His love to all nations on the earth as His people live distinctively to Him in covenant.

Key Resources:

  • Christopher J.H. Wright. Deuteronomy, New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996.

  • Daniel I. Block. The Gospel According to Moses: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Book of Deuteronomy. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012.

  • Sydney Greidanus. Preaching Christ From The Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1999. This resource is recommended due to the diversity of literature in Deuteronomy that demands multiple approaches to preaching Christ, and Greidanus’ method provides and excellent strategy.

  • Ajith Fernando. Deuteronomy: Loving Obedience to a Loving God. Preaching the Word Series. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.

Conclusion:


Missional living occurs when the Gospel pervades every part of a person; identity, influence and impact in the world. Deuteronomy is the original missional handbook that teaches Christians how to live missionally by demonstrating what it means to serve the Great Commission by living out the Great Commandment. As we grow an all-consuming love for God through Jesus Christ, we live to make His love known to the whole world. Christians have been loved so powerfully in Jesus Christ that we are compelled to love others. Christians are God’s people who live as we’ve been loved.


Endnotes:

[1] Christopher J.H. Wright, Deuteronomy, New International Biblical Commentary. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996) 1. [2] Daniel I. Block, The Gospel According to Moses: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Book of Deuteronomy (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012) 1. [3] Christopher J.H. Wright, Deuteronomy, New International Biblical Commentary. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996) 13. [4] Joshua N. Moon, “Preaching Deuteronomy as Christian Scripture", Southeastern Theological Review, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Summer 2011) 50. [5] Daniel I. Block, The Gospel According to Moses: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Book of Deuteronomy (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012) 51.

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