The Bible in a Year: Day 49 (Deuteronomy 1-3)

I took a break from reading the KJV in Logos 4 and started doing my reading in a physical Bible (my TNIV Reference Bible to be exact) and it’s a much different experience. It’s more enjoyable to read from a physical book. I’ve been underlining and going over things that I generally don’t do when reading on a screen. Technically my reading for day 49 was only supposed to be the first two chapters of Deuteronomy, but seeing as how the first three chapters fit together so seamlessly, I thought it better to treat them together.

Moses is recapitulating everything that has occurred from the time of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt until present day when they’re about to take possession of the promised land in Canaan. It’s really a wonderful summary; certainly better than anything you’ll find in a modern scholarly publication. The only portion of Scripture that I think comes close is Psalm 78, which recaps Israel’s history from the exodus to David’s reign. It’s a good reminder to me that I need revisit these chapters from time to time just to refresh my memory.

What really stood out to me came near the end of chapter 3 where Moses pleads with the LORD. In v. 24 he asks, “For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?” (TNIV) The magnitude of this question should not go unnoticed because it sets up pretty much everything that is to follow.

Moses isn’t concerned here to deny the existence of other gods, in fact, he’s happy to affirm that they exist. What he means to show by asking this question is the utter impotence of the gods of the nations. Sure, they exist, but they can’t do anything. They’re not the kind of God that the LORD is; the LORD is unique.

This also says something about what and how we know God. It says something about our relationship to God. Moses is contrasting the LORD with the gods according to what standard? According to his deeds and mighty works. The LORD can do them; the gods can’t. But this is how we know God, i.e., through/by his works. God would be who he is regardless of whether or not he chose to reveal himself to us at all. But he has revealed himself to us. How has he done this? In word and deed. But even his word testifies to his deed. We commonly refer to Scripture as the word of God, but what is Scripture other than a written record of God’s actions?

I’ll have more to say about this in subsequent posts.



3 thoughts on “The Bible in a Year: Day 49 (Deuteronomy 1-3)

  1. Great observation Nick.
    I believe that the first two chapters of Genesis fits into this drama. Moses has told the people about God being victorious over the other gods. Notice that the Egyptian god’s were gods of what God created. There were gods of water, heavens, sea, plants, birds, animals etc. I can imagine Moses standing before the Hebrew people beginning the story of creation saying our God is the God who created all things and there fore of cause he is the victor over all those other god’s.

  2. Thanks Nick. I was having a ‘intense’ discussion with a good friend a few weeks ago. He is very much into ‘Answers in Genesis’ type theology. And during the discussion as I was arguing for the big story, I saw in my imagination Moses standing before the crowd telling them their story. And it hit me that Moses was first establishing the God over and above all else.

    Within that framework, you can see how Moses is teaching that God is in control throughout the Genesis story and that their story within the exodus is closely linked.

    It’s been something that I have been thinking through and might write a paper on for college sometime in the future.

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