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Deuteronomy 32:7 1
7 Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.

Background

Before we start our study, it is a good idea to reflect for a moment on the “The book of Deuteronomy,” and exactly what it is. Deuteronomy is the last of the books of the law, the set of five being called the Pentateuch. It is part of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The five books are traditionally ascribed to Moses as the author. However, the modern view now held by scholars is that the five books are a compilation from texts of the 9th to 5th centuries named  the Torah. Being the last book, the Jews sometimes called it “five-fifths of the Law.” The name Deuteronomy means “spoken twice”. Some have called it the “second law” or more appropriately, the second rendering of the law. The entire book is a reminder of the truths of God. Deuteronomy does not offer Israel a “new law,” but it gives us a reminder of the established law of God that was given in the previous four books.

Verse 32:7 has been called by some the key verse to the book. This verse commands Israel to do exactly what the entire book is about, that is to REMEMBER. Deuteronomy is a book about remembrance. The word remember or remembrance appears 16 times in Deuteronomy. Furthermore, if you consider the various derivatives of these words and consider the many translations we have of the Bible, you will find typically over 300 references to remembering in the average Bible. Not only is Deuteronomy a book about remembrance, but the whole Bible is a book about remembrance. Much of the work of the Church is to get us to remember.

Much of God’s interaction with the world and our lives are all about getting us to remember. God allows people and trials, pain, heartbreak, and difficulty in our lives many times for the sole purpose of pressing us to pause, remember, and consider. If there ever was an example of a failure to remember, it would be the New Testament and Christ Himself. How He was treated in His time on earth clearly was inconsistent with everything the Jewish nation had been taught. In Deuteronomy, specifically, the author was trying to summarize what was important for the people to remember. To start with, the history of the Jewish people begins in Egypt. Enslaved, God led them to freedom and through the wilderness, and into the land of Canaan. Why? So they might they be led on to higher and better things. They were originally led to the provision and occupation of a good land for them in the times of Noah and his sons, which they are referred to in Deuteronomy 32:8. Later, their rejection of God’s Law and the prophets resulted in their captivity in Babylon. They would be led by Isaiah and others, and  by David, and Solomon his son. Time and time again, generation after generation, their failure to remember would result in their pain and suffering. There goes that “free will” thing again!

God’s point in this verse is really that He created the first government of the world, his own people. Everything else was mapped out after He had set them apart and provided a place for them. The PLACE was sufficient, large, fruitful, and in an admirable position, that there they might multiply and enjoy all the good things which God so freely gave them. In one of God’s strongest assurances, God promised His people that while  dynasties rise and fall and kings would reign, they would be scattered by defeat. God’s church, however, would be upheld in the world.  His one and only purpose and the spread of His glorious truth would go on for ever.

Items for Discussion

  • What do you see as the benefits of knowing history, of remembering the past? Name all the benefits you can.
  • Why do you think that is it so hard to pass the lessons of history from one generation to the next?
  • What do you think God wants us to remember?
  • How does the narrative of history get corrupted by the world? What are the negative influences that seem to change history?
  • What do you remember about the history of your church(s) that is of help to you today?
  • How does history, “remembering,” give us evidence of God’s existence in our world?
  • There are many things we are called to remember in Scripture. Can you think of some that are important to us now in the current COVID-19 crisis?
  • Why should remembering an accurate history sustain a person’s hope?

Discussion Challenge

  • Besides the Law, the author of Deuteronomy is reminding Israel of all God’s goodness to them. How does an honest and accurate reflection of history bring a greater conviction of sin and remembrance of God’s love and grace? 

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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