By Robert Krumrey
Over the past few weeks, I've been asked this question several times - "What are you preaching on this Fall?" It's hard to know how to make small talk with the pastor, but this question seems as good as any. When I say, "Deuteronomy", they usually respond with a bewildered look or blurt out "Why". While I don't recommend Deuteronomy as a first sermon series to launch your preaching career, I can think of several reasons why we, as a church, should be digging into Deuteronomy.
Here are three:
#1 - It's in the Bible
Christians like to say a lot of glowing things about the Bible. It's God's word. It's inspired. It's the ultimate authority that we turn to for understanding our faith and the practice of that faith. When they say those things, I'm pretty sure they're including books like Deuteronomy and Leviticus. If we believe that every word of the Bible is important and placed there by God for the building up of his church, then I'd say at some point we need to get around to Deuteronomy.
Here's what the Apostle Paul says about the Bible in his letter to Timothy:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16,17)
When Paul is writing this, the New Testament books have yet to be gathered up by the church and officially sanctioned. When Paul says here that scripture is useful and can equip the Christian, he's talking about the Old Testament. He's talking about Deuteronomy!
#2 - It reveals Jesus
One of the startling things about our experience so far, is that we've met Jesus in the text every week. Actually I've not been startled because I know that Jesus is the interpretive key for every scripture in the Bible, both Old Testament and New. Jesus himself teaches his disciples to study the Bible this way after he rises from the dead.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (Luke 24:44,45)
Jesus teaches the disciples that the Law (first five books of Old Testament) and the Prophets (minor and major Prophetic books) and the Psalms (sometimes known as the "writings" which also include books like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) are all about him. This is Jesus' way of saying that the Old Testament should be interpreted through a Christ centered lens to get the ultimate meaning out of each passage. This means that the more we study Deuteronomy, the more we see Jesus and that leads us to a deeper knowledge of Him!
#3 - You'll learn how to talk to your friends about Jesus
We are dealing with some tough passages in these sermons. The annihilation of whole groups of people is no laughing matter. Topics like God's unconditional election of Israel and his temporal punishment of people for their sin are not usual Sunday morning fare in America. Honestly, in our academic context, these tough passages are the first place that many people go to try and undermine the authority of the Bible. We can ignore these, or we can dig in and try to think well about these passages in light of their context and God's larger plan for redemption. These "crazy" passages that people bring up, as if they are a silver bullet that undermines all of Christianity, can become a jumping off place for talking about God's love and justice displayed most evidently at the cross.
So don't give up. Dig in! And we'll see you on Sunday for Deuteronomy Chapter 5.