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)
Chapter 29 concludes the description of the covenantal ceremony, then begins Moses’ final address to the people of Israel. In Chapters 5-26, Moses set forth the basic agreement between God and Israel in a format familiar to the time, which is now known as a Suzerain-vassal treaty structure. Then in Chapters 27-28, Moses provided the blueprint of a ceremony to be conducted once they entered the Promised Land, citing the blessings and cursings contained in the covenant. Now in this last address, Moses exhorts Israel to make good choices. He also addresses future generations, exhorting them to follow the covenant and inherit the blessings, as well as addressing a future time when Israel will break the covenant, along with an assurance that God will never abandon Israel.
After a review of the LORD’s faithfulness to Israel in the past, Moses calls on Israel to commit themselves to Him so that they may be blessed in the Promised Land. He tells them that every generation of Israelites must refrain from idolatry. Failure to do so will result in curses which would ultimately lead to Israel’s destruction.
Moses concludes the chapter by telling Israel that the secret things belong to the Suzerain (Ruler) God, but the things revealed belong to them and their descendants and must be obeyed carefully.
Deuteronomy 29 can be outlined as follows: