- Deuteronomy 6-8; 15; 18; 29-30; 34: “Beware Lest Thou Forget the Lord” (May 16-22)
“Moses Sees the Promised Land from Afar,” by James Tissot
The word “deuteronomy” comes from the Greek words deuteros (δεύτερος), which means “second,” and nomos (νόμος), which means “law.” At the end of Moses’ life, after wandering in the wilderness for forty years, he gave the children of Israel his final words of instruction to help them as they entered the promised land. He repeated and elaborated on the law he had delivered at the beginning of their journey. Thus, these final words are called the book of Deuteronomy: the second law, or the repetition of the law.
The book contains three discourses followed by the recounting of a few final events in Moses’ life:
- First Discourse (Deuteronomy 1-4): Moses reminds the people of their experiences in the wilderness and urges them to keep the commandments they have received.
- Second Discourse (Deuteronomy 5-26), in two parts:
- A recitation and discussion of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5-11)
- A new set of laws to follow in the promised land (Deuteronomy 12-26)
- Third Discourse (Deuteronomy 27-30): Moses explains the blessings the people will receive if they obey God’s law and the cursings they will receive if they disobey. The people covenant to obey the law of God.
- Final Events (Deuteronomy 31-34): Moses delivers the law to the Levites and calls Joshua to lead the people. He writes a song and shares it with the people, blesses each of the tribes, and then departs.
Here are some of the major themes in Deuteronomy, with relevant blog posts:
1. “These words…shall be in thine heart”
At the beginning of the second discourse, Moses recites the Ten Commandments, telling the people that God wants them to internalize these commandments. He wants His law to be in their hearts. (See Deuteronomy 5:28-29, 6:6.) God’s commandments don’t merely specify a minimum standard for behavior. Rather, they teach principles which help us become more like Him
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Abinadi alludes to this principle when he reads the Ten Commandments to the priests of King Noah. “I perceive that they are not written in your hearts,” he says (Mosiah 13:11).
2. “Man shall not live by bread alone”
Moses told the children of Israel that God gave them manna to teach them how He can nourish them (Deuteronomy 8:3). We can trust that His words are accurate, uplifting, and beneficial. And we should not be picky consumers of spiritual nourishment.
Jesus later referenced this teaching when the devil tempted Him to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger. (See Matthew 4:1-4.)
3. “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet…like unto me”
Moses prophesied of the coming of Jesus Christ and explained that we are accountable for our response to His words, just as we are always responsible to hearken to the words of God’s messengers (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).
Nephi referenced this prophecy at the end of his first book, indicating that the Prophet Moses referenced was the Holy One of Israel (1 Nephi 22:20-21). When the Savior visited the American continent, He also referenced this passage, testifying that He was the Prophet Moses spoke of (3 Nephi 20:23). And Moroni quoted it to Joseph Smith when he charged Joseph with translating the Book of Mormon, saying that part of this prophecy had yet to be fulfilled (Joseph Smith—History 1:40).
- Who Is the “Prophet” that Moses Promised Would Come?
- I Am He of Whom Moses Spake – 3 Nephi 20:23-24
- “Cut Off from Among the People”
Here are some other principles I’ve learned from the book of Deuteronomy:
- God has promised that we will find Him if we seek Him with all our hearts (Deuteronomy 4:29) – Seeking the Lord Diligently – 1 Nephi 10:17-19.
- Correction from God is evidence that He loves us (Deuteronomy 8:5) – Chastened.
- Your attitude in giving is as important as the action of giving (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10) – Not Grudgingly.
- The Lord cares about the vulnerable (Deuteronomy 24:19) – Widows and Orphans.
- We have all received signs, but we may not have perceived them (Deuteronomy 29:4) – Signs.
- If we trust the Lord to set everything right, then we can leave our bitterness and anger behind (Deuteronomy 32:35, Deuteronomy 32:43) – What Is the Meaning of the Phrase “Vengeance Is Mine?”
- At the end of Moses’ life, the people recognized what a blessing he had been to them. We should not take living prophets for granted (Deuteronomy 34:10-12): A Prophet
Remembering spiritual experiences and staying faithful to them doesn’t just happen. It requires intentional effort on our part. As the children of Israel prepared to enter the promised land, Moses gave them a warning: Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy… Continue Reading →
Just before the children of Israel entered the promised land, Moses shared with them a song. In the song, he expressed sorrow for the fate of future generations: But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and… Continue Reading →
Does it matter where we worship? As the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years, they carried a portable sanctuary, called the Tabernacle. Their worship was undoubtedly affected in many ways by their transient state. But as they approached the promised land, God explained to them that some things would need to… Continue Reading →
Teaching doesn’t just happen in a classroom. In fact, some of the most important teaching happens spontaneously, as a by-product of other activities. At the end of Moses’ life, he delivered three discourses to the children of Israel in preparation for their entry into the promised land. Near the beginning of the second discourse, he… Continue Reading →
A shoe manufacturer sends two employees to a remote region to evaluate prospects for expanding its business. The first employee writes, “Situation hopeless. No one wears shoes.” The second employee writes, “Glorious business opportunity! They have no shoes!” (Adapted from The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, Harvard Business School Press,… Continue Reading →
How long does it take to become spiritually mature? Answer: it is an ongoing process, and God guides us through that process by stages. The Lord led Abraham to the land of Canaan and promised that he and his descendants would live there. But immediately afterward, Abraham was forced to move south, to the land… Continue Reading →
Be careful what you wish for. And how much you wish for it. And how you allow that wish to influence your decisions. As the children of Israel traveled to the promised land, some of them “fell a lusting” (Numbers 11:4). They wanted meat, and they wanted it now! The manna, which miraculously appeared six… Continue Reading →
The book of Exodus recounts the story of Israel’s deliverance from bondage. In my study of Exodus this year, I have also discovered new freedoms. I’ve learned to adopt more flexible patterns of thought, to view personal religious practices as gifts rather than restrictions, and to let God handle things I can’t control. 1. Freedom… Continue Reading →
What exactly was Moses’ role? The people saw him performing miracles on their behalf. He gave them laws to govern their behavior, and he prescribed specific patterns of worship. Yet his goal was always to bring them closer to God, not to stand between them and God. “Enviest thou for my sake?” he asked when… Continue Reading →
While the Israelites lived in the wilderness, God instructed Aaron and his sons to offer the following blessing on the people: The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Numbers 6:24-26… Continue Reading →
The Hebrew word shalam (שָׁלַם) means to make something complete or whole. It is sometimes translated into English as “make restitution.” The word appears many times in the context of our obligation to repair the damage we do. Consider the following specific examples: Reference Action Consequence Exodus 22:5 If a man shall cause a field… Continue Reading →
The clothing Aaron wore in the ancient tabernacle had profound significance. God instructed Moses, “Thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:2). This clothing reminded everyone, including Aaron himself, of his role in bringing the children of Israel closer to God. The articles of clothing included: A blue robe, with… Continue Reading →
In the ancient tabernacle, there was a gold-plated table with twelve cakes (or loaves) of bread on it. God commanded that the bread always be there, and He called it lehem panim (לֶ֥חֶם פָּנִ֖ים), or “bread of the face,” signifying that it was continually in His presence. In the King James Version of the Bible,… Continue Reading →
To build the tabernacle, Moses needed all who were “willing hearted” to donate materials. (See Exodus 25:2, Exodus 35:5, 21-22, 29.) He also needed people who were “wise hearted” to donate labor. (See Exodus 28:3, Exodus 31:6, Exodus 35:10, 25, Exodus 36:1, 2, 8.) What does it mean to be wise hearted? You can tell… Continue Reading →
On Mount Sinai, the Lord directed Moses to request an offering from the people. He made it clear that He cared about not only what they gave, but also how they gave: Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my… Continue Reading →
In March, 2019, I studied 20 different names or titles of Jesus Christ which appear in the Book of Mormon. I was particularly interested in the way each name was used, both in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible.
In 2018, I wrote summaries of many of the sermons in the Book of Mormon. Each summary describes the setting, the purpose, an outline of the sermon’s content, and my takeaways from the sermon.
In 2019, I used the Book of Mormon to study 365 questions—one per day. Here is a list of those questions, grouped by category, with a link to the blog post for each question.