What we learnt from Deuteronomy

This coming Sunday will mark our last sermon in the book of Deuteronomy. We will have heard 42 sermons from that book and, if you include our once monthly all-age services (an interspersion into any given series), have spent an entire year here. I thought it might be worth highlighting a few of the common themes we have heard throughout our series.

God is faithful; we are not

One of the recurring themes is that God is faithful and Israel is not. God keeps his promises while Israel, even in their short history up to this point, have not always kept theirs. God remains faithful to his people even while they do not always remain faithful to him. Which is, indeed, encouraging for those of us (that is to say, all of us) who are not as faithful as we should be today. In Christ, God will be faithful to his people because of the faithfulness of Jesus himself.

The importance of remembering

Another recurring theme – which I guess given the nature of what it is, you’d expect to keep coming up – is the importance of remembering. Specifically, remembering who God is, remembering who his people are and remembering how the Lord has worked for Israel in their (recent) past. The point of remembering is not naval gazing, it is to remember that just as God has cared for them in the past, so he will care for them in future. It is about remembering he is their God and they are his people, and just like my children cannot stop being my children, so God’s people cannot stop being God’s people. Remembering who He is, and who they are in relation to him, should help them to remain faithful, particularly as they focus upon what he has done for them as a result. As a God who has instituted a New Covenant in Christ’s blood, we are reminded of the importance of remembering who we are as his New Covenant people in Jesus.

The living God is unique

One of the continuing ideas in the book is that Yahweh is unique and there is no one else like him. The gods of other nations are certainly not like him. His priorities are not their priorities and his actions are not like their actions. He is unique, not only in the sense that he is the only true God, but he – unlike any other deity – does not demand anything from his people in order to work for their good. Rather, he is committed to blessing his people and serving their good for the sake of his own glory. The blessing of God will ultimately be poured out on all nations – Jew and Gentile alike – and God is most glorified as a result, in and through the person of Jesus.

God is committed to his covenant

Because Yahweh makes promises to his people, he is committed to fulfilling those promises for the sake of his glory. Even when his people fail to live up to their commitments, Yahweh is committed to fulfilling his commitments to them for the sake of his own glory. A repeated theme in Deuteronomy is God not wanting the nations to blaspheme because they think he is weak and unable to do as he promised. Even in the midst of punishing or disciplining his own people, he insists on doing it in such as way that the nations will know it is him doing it (not them) and he refuses to do anything that would mean his commitments will not ultimately be fulfilled (like cutting his people off altogether or utterly destroying them). Such promises, as we well know, find their ultimate fulfilment in Christ.