Key Verse: “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.”
DEUTERONOMY IS ONE OF the most important books of the Bible. From it David and other prophets of the Old Testament drew considerable inspiration, and our Lord Jesus and the apostles made reference to its words.
In the Book of Deuteronomy several public speeches given by Moses are recorded, that great prophet of God, leader of Israel, and the mediator of the Law Covenant. The writing of this book may have been a gradual work on the part of Moses. However, its delivery to the people of Israel was apparently reserved until shortly before his death, when the Israelites would soon pass over the Jordan River under the leadership of Joshua to take possession of the land of promise. One of the objectives of this book was to impress upon the Israelites the important lessons of their past and to inspire them toward reverence for God.
Through Moses, God had entered into a covenant with the children of Israel, in harmony with his promise made to Abraham their father. Four hundred and thirty years after his promises to Abraham, Jehovah called Israel out of their bondage in Egypt, and made them a nation in the wilderness. (Exod. 12:40,41) God had proposed to them that if they would keep his laws and statutes, he would make them a great people, above all other nations of the earth. They entered this covenant with the Lord and declared that they would accept his divine arrangement, which would give them the opportunity in due time of carrying God’s blessings to all mankind.—Exod. 19:3-8
As the Israelites prepared to cross over the river Jordan and enter the land which God had promised, Moses explained to them that it was not enough that they had accepted the conditions of the Law Covenant and had become the Lord’s chosen people. God would “prove,” or test, them. (Deut. 8:2) Moses reminded the people of all the lovingkindness of the Lord on their behalf and repeated to them the commandments and statutes of the Law by which they were to be governed. He also gave solemn warnings of the consequences of forgetting God and breaking their covenant.—vss. 3-20
In like manner, God is now proving the church, spiritual Israel. (I Cor. 3:13) He is testing all those who have made a covenant with him as to whether they are fully devoted to the doing of his will. Thus we ask ourselves: Is our life dedicated to self first, or to God first? Are our goals chiefly those of success in the present life, or the honor of God and the doing of his will? In these ways the Heavenly Father is testing us to determine who will be counted worthy to reign with Christ in his coming kingdom.—Heb. 12:6-11; Rev. 3:21; 20:6
God’s dealings with us go beyond how he dealt with natural Israel. Our responsibility is much greater. The heavenly phase of the kingdom will only be for those who shall, in heart and character, become like the Master. They must love God with all their heart and with all their present capacity in thought, word and deed. They must be able to say to the Heavenly Father, as Jesus did: “Not my will, but thine, be done.”—Luke 22:42