Preamble to Deuteronomy
By Elder Dr Masimba Mavaza
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8, NKJV).
The book of Deuteronomy, of course, did not arise in a vacuum. As with everything in life, Deuteronomy exists in a context; and, as with everything in life, that context plays an important role in understanding what the book means and what its purpose is.
A lot of history came before it—a history that explained the circumstances, not only of the book itself but also of the world and environment that created its context. Just as it would be hard to understand the purpose and function of a windshield wiper outside the context of a car, it would be hard to understand Deuteronomy, especially in light of our theme (Deuteronomy and present truth), outside the context in which it arose.
SABBATH: Deuteronomy (which means “second law”) is a rehearsal of God’s dealings with the Israelites in their wilderness journey. It has in it the “present truth” & is believed to be the “Book of the Covenant” used to spark reformation by king Josiah (2 Kings 23:2). To grasp it, context is key. It might be hard to know the use of a windshield wiper outside a car. Few historical points are given to set a tone for the book.
SUNDAY: Pen fails to tell & human language is inadequate to explain these simple words; “God is love”. Thus, God is the exact definition of love (1 John 4:8). His love is spread to every aspect of life/the cosmos, more than gravity. All God bid us to do is to love Him back, not by force (Deut. 6:5, Mark 12:30). Love must be freely given. Sin came from angels who chose not to love God (Isa. 14:12-14, Ezek. 28:12-17, Rev. 12:7).
MONDAY: Newton per se did not discover gravity. He rather showed to the millennial era that the same force (gravity) that dropped apples from trees also kept the moon in orbit around the earth, & the earth in orbit around the sun. This natural law principle holds for God’s moral law too. The same freedom, rooted in love, that led to Lucifer’s fall also led to the fall of man (Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:1-7; 6:5; 11:1-9, see PP, p. 119).
TUESDAY: Amid the dispersion from Babel, God had a faithful man in the person of Abraham (formerly Abram). There was given to him the promise of a blessing for the entire world (Gen. 12:1-3). This promised was fulfilled in Christ. Before that, Moses held to this promise. Paul would later point the Galatians to the call of Abraham to inspire them to spread the gospel (Gal. 3:7-9). Stephen said same (Acts 7:20-36).
WEDNESDAY: From the Passover in Egypt & the parting of the Red Sea, Israel found in God a Savior & a fair judge (Exod. 19:4). God wrought the saving miracles out of love & for Israel to trust Him. He redeemed a nation out of a nation (Deut. 4:34). Israel was the apple of God’s eye & His treasure (Exod. 19:5). Israel was to obey God in their covenant with Him (Exod. 20). Their specialness was only by grace (Exod. 24:7).
THURSDAY: In the Sinai covenant, the Israelites were quick to say; “‘all that the Lord has spoken we will do’” but were slow to obey (Exod. 19:8, 24:3, 24:7). Central to the Sinai covenant was the moral law but Israel continually broke it (Exod. 19:4, 5). Obedience is not legalism (Matt. 7:24-27; John 14:15; James 2:20; Rom. 6:11, 12). Israel failed to obey & had to wander for 40 years (Exod. 32:1-6, Num. 13, 14:28-35).
FRIDAY: God as the essence of love is a sufficient reason why evil is in this world. His love comes with “free will” & “mercy”. He does not force His love upon man. At the same time, He shows mercy even to the evil man to win his heart. God operates on “covenantal rules of engagement.” He’ll one day judge the world & do away with evil. Israel disobeyed God & wandered.
—John C. Peckham, Theodicy of Love: Cosmic Conflict and the Problem of Evil, p. 4 & Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 392.
PP- Patriarchs and Prophets
SUNDAY- Love, To Be Loved
MONDAY- The Fall And The Flood
TUESDAY- The Call Of Abram
WEDNESDAY- The Covenant At Sinai
THURSDAY- Apostasy And Punishment
📌 Discuss the question of free will and love. Why must love, to be love, be freely given? Given all the suffering in the world, some would argue that love was not worth it. How would you answer that challenge?