In our reading in the Old Testament for Resting at the River’s Edge we are making a transition. We finished reading Exodus on Friday. Monday we begin reading Deuteronomy. That’s quite a jump! Let me provide some background.

We’re following a plan that has us reading through the Old Testament over a two year period while reading the whole New Testament each year. Built into the plan in the second year is a second reading of a few foundational Old Testament books:

Genesis – This “Book of Beginnings” provides the creation story, a discussion of the origins of sin, reveals God’s first steps in His plan to overcome the power of sin in people’s lives, and introduces God’s covenant with His people. It provides the very foundation of all that happens after it. It also details the beginning of the history of the Israelites. At the end of the book we find that the Israelites are living in Egypt, having moved there during a famine when Joseph was the Prime Minister. The Israelites were thriving in Egypt.

Exodus – This book takes us through the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, a critical turning point in their history. At the beginning of the book, Joseph and the Pharaoh under which he served have both died. The new Pharaoh recognized that the Israelites were thriving and became afraid of losing his kingdom to them. Consequently, he enslaved them, and their treatment as slaves became increasingly harsh over time. God raised up Moses and Aaron to confront Pharaoh and ultimately rescues the Israelites out of Egypt. The book then records the process of God teaching the Israelites how to worship Him and how to live in community. In the last chapters of the book, we have God giving instructions for building the Tabernacle and the Israelites building it according to those instructions.

Deuteronomy – This book is important because it records three sermons Moses gave shortly before his death. The Israelites have wandered through the wilderness for forty years (recorded in the book of Numbers) and are now poised to enter the Promised Land. Moses will not be going into the Promised land with them. It records Moses’ wisdom and advice to the people before they embark on a tremendous adventure and challenge without him.

We’re in the second year of the reading plan, and have just completed reading Genesis and Exodus. We are skipping over the books of Leviticus (a detailed instruction manual for the priesthood) and Numbers (an account of the Israelites’ forty years of wandering in the wilderness). In chapter 27 of Numbers, the Lord begins the process of transitioning the Israelites from wandering through the wilderness to crossing into the Promised Land:

12One day the LORD said to Moses, “Climb to the top of the mountains east of the river, and look out over the land I have given the people of Israel. 13After you have seen it, you will die as Aaron your brother did, 14for you both rebelled against my instructions in the wilderness of Zin. When the people of Israel rebelled, you failed to demonstrate my holiness to them at the waters.” (These are the waters of Meribah at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.)

15Then Moses said to the LORD, 16“O LORD, the God of the spirits of all living things, please appoint a new leader for the community. 17Give them someone who will lead them into battle, so the people of the LORD will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
Numbers 27:12-17

The book of Numbers finishes with instructions about their first steps into the Promised Land.

On to Deuteronomy
Monday’s reading will be the first two chapters of Deuteronomy. You’ll find Moses on the east bank of the Jordan River. The Promised Land is on the other side of the river. He’ll begin with a history of the Israelites’ journey. He’s not just an old man telling stories. His repetition of history is meant to remind the Israelites (and us) of the goodness of their God throughout the generations and many of the lessons they have learned throughout a long history of following and rebelling against that God.

Now that you’re caught up a bit, enjoy Monday’s reading. And if you haven’t been reading along with us, Monday’s a great place to jump in and join us.

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