The original title which the Jews first used for Deuteronomy was “These Words”. Titles typically were drawn from the opening line/s of the book and Deuteronomy begins, “These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan…” (Deut. 1:1) Deuteronomy is about words spoken that would prepare the people to enter the Promised Land. “These words” would remind the people of God’s grace with them in the rescue from Egypt, the deliverance through the Red Sea, and God’s initiative to unite with them in the Covenant of the Law. The Ten Commandments were a gift to guide the people. The Law guided the people in the faithful way of responding to God’s love (Commandments One through Four); they guided the people in the faithful way of living with each other –(Commandments Five through Ten).
Deuteronomy 5 contains Moses’ review of the Ten Commandments. The people are on the border, preparing to enter the Promised Land. In Chapters 1 – 3, Moses reminded them of God’s faithfulness in their escape and their journey, in Chapter 4 Moses called the people to equip themselves appropriately so that they could not only enter the Promised Land, but occupy it, i.e., live in it fully. Now, in Chapter 5, Moses holds up what is most needed to be appropriately equipped.
The Law that is given,was given not as just something that they might be able to recite, it was given as direction for something that they were to do. Moses tells the people that God had said to him, “I will tell you all the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you shall teach them [the people], so that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.” (Deut. 5:31)
In class today, we discussed what the Commandments command us to do today. We examined the Commandments through the manner taught by John Calvin:
In each commandment we must investigate what it is concerned with; then we must seek out its purpose, until we find what the Lawgiver testifies there to be pleasing or displeasing to himself. Finally, from this same thing we must derive an argument on the other side, in this manner:
If this pleases God, the opposite displeases him;
If this displeases God, the opposite pleases him;
If he commands this, he forbids the opposite;
If he forbids this, he enjoins the opposite.
[The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, II.VII.8, 1541]
Join our discussion by make a list of the Ten Commandments. Think about what each commandment not only prohibit us from doing, but what does it also call us to do. For example, Commandment #3, “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain,” – the positive action is “You shall do things that bring praise to God’s name”.