I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live. (Deut. 30:19)
Chapter 21: Punishment and Protection Chapter 22: Review of Sexual and Miscellaneous Laws Chapter 23: More Laws: Who's In & Keeping Clean Chapter 24: More Miscellaneous Laws Chapter 25: Even MORE Miscellaneous Laws
Chapter 26: Instruction for Giving Once Settled in the Land
Chapter 31: Leadership Transfers from Moses to Joshua
Chapter 32: Moses' Song
Chapter 33: Moses Blesses the 12 Tribes
Chapter 34: Moses' Last Look and Death
Chapter 1: A New Leader; Same Faithful God
Chapter 2: Spies in Jericho
Chapter 3: Israel Crosses the Jordan
Chapter 4: Twelve Stones on the West Side
Chapter 5: First Faithful Acts in a New Land
Chapter 6: The Fall of Jericho
Chapter 7: Greed, Theft and the Consequences
Chapter 8: Another Conquest & Renewing the Covenant
Laws of Mercy: There are many miscellaneous laws, some reiterated and some newly stated throughout the end of Deuteronomy. While many of these laws seem obscure or even cruel to us as 21st Century readers, they were established to protect the most vulnerable in the society. Female captives (Deut. 21:10-14), for instance, were spoils of war in the ancient near east. The law concerning female captives among the Israelites gave them protection under marriage, and if they were dismissed, at least they would be free instead of slaves.
Blessings and Curses: Both blessings and curses were powerful words that were believed to truly bring about prosperity or danger. The curses listed in chapter 28 treat Israel's behavior as facts rather than possible errors. Those curses in fact become reality when Israel falls to Assyria in 722 B.C.E and when Judah falls to Babylon in 587 B.C.E.
Changed Leadership: Due to Moses' unfaithfulness in the wilderness at Meribbath (Num. 20), God does not permit Moses to lead the people into the promised land. Even though the people bickered and complained against Moses, he was the only leader they had known. He was like their beloved pastor of over 40 years! Joshua had been his apprentice all along, and was even on Mount Sinai when Moses received the 10 Commandments (Ex. 24:13). Joshua was the one who trusted God to lead them into the promised land when everyone else was afraid (Num. 13-14). Joshua remained faithful throughout the wilderness. He was a natural successor. With God's guidance, Moses commissioned Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land--and yet the TRUE leader, all along, has been God.
Israel's First Acts in the Promised Land: Faithfulness and Sin: The first acts of Israel in the promised land were to build a monument (12 stones, one for each tribe to remember what God has done), circumcise those men/boys who were born in the wilderness, build an altar to offer burnt offering, review the covenant and celebrate Passover. Their first acts were faithful, but in this new land of wealth, temptation was near. Their first conquest of Jericho was to be devoted to the Lord, meaning everyone in Jericho was to be destroyed, city burned, and treasure sent to the Lord's treasury. One man, Achan (his name means "trouble"), was greedy and took gold and goods for himself. Even though he did it in secret, the next military campaign was unsuccessful. One man's sins effected the whole community. Eventually he was found and stoned to death. There was no tolerance for toxic greed.
Question for Reflection
What would it mean for you to "choose life" rather than death? Are there things in your life that are keeping you from living a life with God?