The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth and last book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of the first 4 books and picks up exactly where the book of Numbers ends (with the people on the plain of Moab). Therefore, as we set the context for the book of Deuteronomy, it is important that we briefly summarize the theme of the previous books to see how the story of God unfolds.
Genesis describes God’s plan to bless the Israelites and the world through one man named Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Exodus focuses on God’s loving act by which He rescued the Israelites from Egypt in order to have a covenant relationship with them. Once the children of Israel are redeemed, Leviticus instructs them to live a holy life that reflects the life of their covenant redeemer (cf. Lev. 19). Since the first generation of the Israelites failed to obey God wholeheartedly, the book of Numbers displays a strong contrast between God’s faithfulness and the nation’s failure. That is why the book of Deuteronomy reiterates and expands on the covenant to a new generation of Israelites poised to enter and conquer the Promised Land. The message of the book is centered around two key terms: love and loyalty (Deut. 6:4-5).
Outline of Deuteronomy:
I. Introduction: Moses will explain the law (1:1 – 5)
II. Moses’ First Sermon – a Recounting of the LORD’s Faithfulness (1:6 – 4:43)
III. Introduction to Second Sermon on expositing the Law (4:43 – 49)
IV. Moses’ Second Sermon – an Exposition of the Law Given at Mt. Sinai (5:1 – 26:19)
V. Script for Covenant Renewal Ceremony Once they enter the land (27:1 – 29:1)
VI. Moses’ Third Sermon – a Call to Obedience (29:2 – 30:20)
VII. The Last Acts of Moses (31:1 – 34:12)
Deuteronomy 18 deals with three subject matters and can be divided into three sections: Levitical priesthood in Israel (vv. 1-8), superstitious practices (vv. 9-14) and prophecy (vv. 15-22). In the first section, Moses instructs the Israelites on how to provide for the Levitical priests who minister before the LORD at the central sanctuary. As ministers, the Levitical priests are not supposed to do any secular job. They are to depend solely upon the dues of the other tribes. In the second section, Moses forbids the Israelites from following the detestable practices of the surrounding nations in order to live blamelessly before the Suzerain (Ruler) God in the Promised Land. In the last section, Moses commands the Israelites to reject the sorcery and witchcraft of the surrounding nations, and instead to listen to God through godly prophets.
Deuteronomy 18 can be outlined as follows:
-Concerning the Priests and Levites (Deut. 18:1 – 8)
-Concerning Prophets (Deut. 18:9 – 22)
—Illegitimate Practices of Prophets (Deut. 18:9 – 14)
—Legitimate Practices of Prophets (Deut. 18:15 – 22)