Saturday, March 19, 2011

Leaving the Pentateuch

Today we mark a significant transition within the biblical narrative as we complete our reading of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). The book of Deuteronomy is the final book of the Pentateuch and although it is rather tedious to read, the book of Deuteronomy is the "interpretative key" to the Pentateuch as a whole as well as the succeeding historical books (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings). The book of Deuteronomy contains the record of the Mosaic law that is to guide the people of Israel as they enter the Promised Land. Since Moses himself cannot enter the land, the record of the Mosaic law will serve a constant reminder of how the people of God are to conduct themselves in the land they are about to occupy. Moreover, the theological themes that are introduced in Deuteronomy will continue to be developed in the succeeding books. In fact, the the sequence of books of Joshua to 2 Kings as been referred to by scholars as the "Deuteronomistic History" (try saying that 10 times fast!). In all of its complexity and tedious repetition, the book of Deuteronomy is fundamentally about the people of God seeking to be faithful to the God who has called them and established his covenant with them. God desires a holy people, a people faithful and obedient to his word.

Now we turn to the book of Joshua, which recounts the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham and Moses. The book recounts both the conquest and settlement of the Promised Land. Under the leadership of Joshua, the successor to Moses, the people of Israel cross over the Jordon River in order to possess the land that had been promised to Abraham so many years before. As we begin our reading of Joshua, pay attention to the following themes:

The Strength of God's Presence: Joshua is exhorted by the Lord to remain strong and courageous, because the Lord will be with him always (1:5,9).

The Faithfulness of God's Promise: The people of Israel have been waiting several generations for the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. The book of Joshua powerfully describes how God remained faithful to the covenant with his people.

The Importance of Obedience: Over and over again, Joshua will call God's people back to a place of obedience (i.e."choose this day whom you will serve" 24:5).

The Importance of Unity: Throughout the book of Joshua, the people of Israel will gather as the "whole congregation" to prayer & commit themselve to the ways of the Lord.

The Importance of Faithfulness: Finally, Joshua will continual exhort the people of Israel to remain faithful to Yahweh, the One True God, and not to turn to false idols. As we will see, it does take long for the Israelites to become destracted by "other gods."


  1. I am finding it helpful to come back and go over the themes listed above. The gore is overwhelming and it is easy to miss the point.

    BTW is anyone else out there reading this blog? I'm behind a bit but would like to know what others feel as we take this walk together and yet apart. I've never read the Bible straight through; I find some a big surprise and not always in a good way. Hope to read your comments soon.

  2. interesting to me that in Joshua 24:25 Joshua made a covenant to the Lord FOR the people. No wonder it didn't work and hooray for the new testament.

  3. The role of Moses and his successor Joshua was that of a mediator. Therefore, Moses and Joshua represented the people before God and spoke to God on their behalf. In the New Testament Jesus is identified in a similar manner. The "new covenant" was established by Christ on our behalf. He is our perfect and mediator and advocate.

  4. I am so thankful Jesus is our mediator both for me individually and for all mankind. I feel blessed to be allowed to my personal committment to the Lord without others telling me what I can and can not do.