Why did God give us the book of Deuteronomy?
So we would understand why every generation needs to know God, and why we need new hearts to love Him.
In the book of Numbers, the generation God rescued from Egypt failed to believe God, and so rather than enjoying the promised land, they died in a desert. God said to them, “your little ones, who you said would become prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected” (Numbers 14:31 ESV).
Deuteronomy is addressed to those little ones, all grown up, as they prepare to enter the promised land their parents rejected. The book is a long sermon where Moses reminds them how their parents were rescued from Egypt by God’s awesome power. Moses tells them about God’s law—the ten commandments are repeated and explained again. It’s here, in Deuteronomy that the whole law is summed up with the commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV). They’re instructed to teach their little ones. Forgetfulness is one of the greatest dangers God’s people have ever faced; we still face it. When we forget what God has done, our hearts grow cold towards God, and we become unfaithful. And when we do not instruct our children in the greatness of God, they find other things to worship and reap the terrible consequences of idolatry.
At the end of the book, Moses reminds the people of all the blessings and joys that come from obedience, and all the curses that flow from unfaithfulness. And then, shockingly, he warns the people that their unfaithfulness is inevitable. He prophesies that they will fail, be dragged off to a foreign country, where they cry out to God, and God will rescue them again. When that happens, God will give them a new heart so that they will love God as they should (Deuteronomy 30:6).
This is so critical for us as believers: we can’t keep God’s law through our own effort. We’re powerless to do so, and even as Moses was preparing a generation for victory in the promised land, he warned them that their hearts would be unfaithful.
As Christians, we believe that through Jesus we receive the new heart Moses talked about. But that means that we cannot save our kids just by teaching them. They also need new hearts; so we teach them as we’re commanded, and pray that they will respond to the gospel by faith. The Church never has grandchildren, only children, born again by faith in Jesus in every generation.
This is why prayer is so critical in ministry. We depend on God to change hearts. Do you pray for your neighbors and friends? Do you pray for your family? Do you pray for the ministries of our Church? Let me urge you to call out to God asking him to do a work that only He can do.