Sabbath School Lesson for October 9-15, 2021

There are two other short articles by Teresa Thompson on Deuteronomy this quarter, if you haven’t seen them… and the latest

Overview of Lesson 3

The covenant is a constant theme in Deuteronomy. Therefore, we review several aspects of God’s covenant this week, such as…

  • its relationship to the everlasting gospel (Sunday)
  • Israel’s part in the covenant (Monday)
  • the renewal of the covenant, as expressed in Deuteronomy (Tuesday)
  • what it means to be God’s special people of the covenant (Wednesday)
  • other imagery used in explaining the covenant (Thursday)

Deuteronomy has been called the “Second Law”, the “Book of Remembrance”, and even the “Book of the Covenant”, because of the covenantal language and structure of Moses’ fifth book.

Our lesson reviews some of the covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and how we relate to those promises today. Both the covenant and the gospel are said to be everlasting. That means they have no beginning or end. See Isaiah 24:5, Ezekiel 16:60, and Hebrews 13:20.

Memory Text: ” ‘And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.’ ” Genesis 17:7 NKJV

As we uncover what the covenant does for us, we see that the gospel and the covenant are speaking about the same grace of God and offer of salvation. We are told to preach the everlasting gospel in Revelation 14’s three angels’ messages, and that gospel must include the covenant promises of God, which give us hope for a future home in heaven with Him.

Moses was doing more than remind them of their earthly inheritance in Canaan, promised to their forefathers. He was pointing all of us to our heavenly inheritance, promised to God’s people for all time. It was intended for “your descendants after you.” That would even include those who are “in Christ” (Galatians 3:29) right up to the end of the world and beyond.

Sunday: The Covenant and the Gospel

God’s promises have existed since “before time began” (Titus 1:2). We know that before our earth took form, God’s plan of salvation was established. We can be justified through our faith in God, just as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and all God’s followers have always been justified.

God has promised that He will be our God and we shall be His people (Leviticus 26:12). This special relationship, offered to us through the covenant, is expressed throughout Scripture, not just in Deuteronomy. But we see it clearly here, through Moses’ last sermons. He pours his heart out to the Hebrews, imploring them to stand firm in their commitment to God.

Later, Paul implored Gentle believers to cling to these same promises. The gospel of justification by faith is also a blessing to us today. See Galatians 3:8, 9. By obeying God’s commandments, when done as an expression of our love for Him, we, too, will be God’s special people and instruments in spreading the gospel to the world.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Leviticus 26:12 and Jeremiah 31:33

  • How does He become our God and we become His people?

Galatians 3:7-9

  • Who are the sons of Abraham?
  • How are we justified?
  • Who is blessed as a result of our being God’s people?

Monday: The Covenant and Israel

God’s purpose was for Israel’s righteousness to stand out in contrast to the wickedness of the nations around them. They made many mistakes, but God still worked with them because of the covenant He had with their fathers–with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. See Deuteronomy 9:5, 27.

The covenant was formally presented to them at Sinai, in the form of the Ten Commandments. Obeying His law out of love would seal their relationship. It would make their unique love relationship mutual.

There is a direct link between the Law and the gospel. God’s love and the faith of His people would lead to Israel’s obedience and make them a righteous people with a special relationship with their Creator. Other nations would be blessed, as they witnessed how the gospel worked for them.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 9:5, 27

  • Why did God work so hard with Israel?

Exodus 2:24, 6:8 and Leviticus 26:42

  • Why was it important for them to possess the land of Canaan?

Tuesday: The Book of the Covenant

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses repeated the Ten Commandments that were given to them on Mt. Sinai. He wanted to make sure they understood their obligations to return the love God had so mercifully shown them through their forty-year detour before reaching Canaan.

The fourth commandment about the Sabbath was the only one that was worded slightly different from Exodus 20’s version. This deviation simply draws more attention to the importance of Sabbath observance. It deserves its special place in the center of the decalogue. Remembering to observe this holy time would keep God’s people close to Him, something Satan has always tried to prevent from happening.

Deuteronomy 5:3 may seem puzzling by saying that the Lord did not make the covenant with their fathers, but with them. Perhaps Moses was pointing out again that their fathers did not keep the covenant, but those standing before Moses then were blessed with another opportunity.

Moses’ greatest desire was for them to keep the covenant this time by first loving God with all their heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). The  promises of God, motivated by His love for us, were there, but so also were their obligations, motivated by their love for God.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 5:3 and Hebrews 8:9

  • Why did God’s people so many times miss out on the covenant promises?

Exodus 20:8-12 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15

  • How were these versions of the fourth commandment different?
  • Why do you think Moses “went off the script” briefly here, as he was preaching this sermon?

Wednesday: His Special People

Moses reminded the Hebrews of the “abominations” of the nations they were about to encounter as they approached Canaan (Deuteronomy 18:9). These abominations consisted of cruel worship practices, involving priestly prostitution and even human sacrifice. God’s people would stand out from these pagan, idol-worshiping people. And God would stand with them. It was God’s intention to make His special people an example of a better way to worship.

In Deuteronomy 25:16-19, Moses brought to their remembrance the destruction of the Amalekites. This happened before their Mt. Sinai experience. God had provided for their needs with the manna and even water coming from a rock, but they were then attacked from behind by a tribe of Amalekites. See Exodus 17.

Moses, standing on a hill during the battle, found that when his arms were raised in prayer, the Hebrews would have success in beating off their attackers. Aaron and Hur then supported Moses’ arms, so they would eventually have victory over their enemies. Moses used this event to remind them that, as God’s special people, they would have God’s special help in their efforts to take back Canaan from God’s enemies.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 25:16-19 and Exodus 17:8-16

  • How might this story have encouraged the Hebrews about to enter Canaan again?
  • What does it teach us about God’s people today?
  • What kind of battles can God give us victory over, and how do we get His help?

Thursday: Other Images’

The book of Deuteronomy follows the structure of covenant treaties between groups of people in ancient times. This was a pattern they were familiar with. But our relationship with God is so complex that other imagery is used in Deuteronomy as well.

For example, Deuteronomy 8:5 speaks of the relationship of a father who disciplines (chastens) his son. And Deuteronomy 32 18-20 confirms God as our Father and we as His children. The idea of family and inheritance would also describe the covenant relationship and be terms understood by all people throughout history.

The family has ideally been seen as a tight, loving relationship. Parents and children, and even husbands and wives, have found frequent use as biblical imagery of our relationship with God. We easily relate to the language of family. Even those who don’t enjoy close family ties recognize the merit of having the support of a loving family. This helps inform us about the kind of relationship God desires with us, His children.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Deuteronomy 4:20 and Exodus 19:5

  • In what way, and for what reason, are we God’s inheritance? Doesn’t He already own everything?

Friday: Final Thoughts

“The spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today, through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the Author and the Finisher of our faith.” Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1077.

This everlasting covenant, so often mentioned by Moses, is truly the same as the everlasting gospel, preached by God’s servants throughout the scriptures. God’s desire is for His creatures to come to Him, to rely on Him, and to have hope in the final, full restoration of our relationship. He has been sending us loving promises since the beginning of mankind’s history.

His grace will continue to flow out to all who ask to be covered with His righteousness. The covenant really does cover us. It not only covers our worldly, sinful ways, but also our attempts to be righteous on our own. Legal religion, as Ellen White called it, continues to be one of our most difficult sins to detect and erase. Legalism comes from and thrives on pride, and Satan loves to see us fall under its oppressive rule.

The covenant frees us from the demands of keeping the law without God’s help. Keeping the law out of love for God is the only way to keep from behavior that keeps us from God, even legalistic behavior. It is truly the gospel, in every sense of the word. Good news about the covenant that we long to share with the world.

Next Week: To Love the Lord Your God

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