Deuteronomy: Modern Readers

For modern readers plagued by a negative view of the Old Testament in general and Old Testament law in particular, the book of Deuteronomy offers a healthy antidote. Through the work of Christ not only is Israel’s relationship made possible but also the church, the new Israel of God, is grafted into God’s covenant promises. As with Israel, access to these promises remains by grace alone, through faith alone. However, having been chosen, redeemed, and granted covenant relationship, Yahweh’s people will gladly and without reservation demonstrate their allegiance to him wholeheartedly and with full-bodied obedience (Rom. 12:1–12).

For Christians today Deuteronomy remains an invaluable resource for a biblical understanding (1) of God, especially his grace in redeeming those bound in sin; (2) of the appropriate response to God, entailing love for God and for our fellow human beings; and (3) of the sure destiny of the redeemed. More than any other book in the Old Testament (if not the Bible as a whole), Deuteronomy concretizes the life of faith in real life. In the New Testament Jesus Christ, the incarnate God of Israel’s redemption summarizes the spiritual, moral, and ethical pronouncements of Deuteronomy with the Supreme Command: to demonstrate covenant commitment to God with one’s entire being (love) and covenant commitment to one’s fellow human beings (Matt. 22:34–40). Christians who live by this “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) will have their feet firmly on the ground and will resist the temptation to retreat into the interior and subjective understandings of the life of faith so common in Western Christianity.