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 (4:44 – 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 25 continues Moses’ exposition of the Ten Commandments. It concludes the discussion generally flavored by the ninth commandment (“Don’t bear false witness”) and then moves to examples of how to obey the principle behind the tenth commandment (“Do not envy”). Moses wants to make sure the Israelites behave in a way that pleases the Suzerain God who has rescued them from Egypt and plans to continue His ongoing care and protection for them in the future.
To obey God’s ways is to gain blessing, as God knows what is for our best. God set up Israel as a self-governing society based on the principles of rule of law (the first five commandments) and loving one’s neighbor (the last five commandments). But God left it up to Israel to choose who to follow, whether to follow the idolatrous pagan ways of the strong exploiting the weak, or His ways of loving and serving one another.
Deuteronomy 25 can be outlined as follows: