Deuteronomy is the final book written by Moses and a fitting conclusion to the Pentateuch (the first five books of Scripture). Genesis is the book of beginnings. Exodus advances the story from Egypt to the wilderness and ends with the construction of the tabernacle. Leviticus furnishes Israel with laws concerning the tabernacle and sacrificial system. Numbers deals with life and death in the wilderness. The older generation that left Egypt dies there because of their unbelief. However, the younger generation will go on to live in the promised land. The book of Deuteronomy contains Moses’ messages to this generation to prepare them for life in the land.
In terms of historical narrative, Deuteronomy begins where Numbers concludes—on the plains of Moab just outside the land of Canaan (Numbers 36:13; Deuteronomy 1:1, 5). It begins on the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year since Israel left Egypt (1:3). Moses gives the messages contained in Deuteronomy to Israel over a period of about forty days (Deuteronomy 1:3/Joshua 4:1/Deuteronomy 34:8).
At first glance, Deuteronomy seems to read like a simple travelogue, but it is more than that. While it certainly reflects Israel’s travels, it more importantly traces their spiritual journey. Moses wants the younger generation to learn from the failures of the previous generation. So, open up Deuteronomy and try to hear it as one of the generation about to enter Canaan would have heard it.
Jesus and Deuteronomy: Keep and eye out for passages in Deuteronomy that are quoted by Jesus during His temptations in the wilderness and in answering a question about the greatest command.
Here’s an outline of Deuteronomy from J. Vernon McGee:
1. Reviewing the journey (chapters 1-4)
2. Restating the law—love and obedience (chapters 5-26)
3. Regarding the future of the land/blessings and curses (chapters 27-30)
4. Requiem to Moses (chapters 31-34)