The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ
by Paul R. Van Gorder
The name ''Deuteronomy'' means '' second law'' or ''second law-giving.'' Let's get a picture of the scene. The desert wanderings of Israel are almost over. Moses is near the end of his life. And here on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, Moses speaks to the children of Israel about their future.
The key words of Deuteronomy are ''thou shalt'' and ''thou shalt not.'' If we were to write one word across this book to state its theme, it would be ''obedience.'' The significant promise and ominous warning are seen in Deuteronomy 11:26-28, which sums it all up:
Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse:
A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day;
And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
The book of Deuteronomy may be comfortably divided according to the addresses of Moses.
  1. Forty Years of Wandering (Deu 1-4)
  2. Promise of Blessings for Obedience and Curses for Disobedience (5-28)
  3. The Palestinian Covenant (29,30)
  4. Joshua Appointed Moses' Successor (31)
  5. The Farewell Song of Moses (32)
  6. Final Blessings for the Tribes; Moses' Death (33,34)
Deuteronomy shows with unmistakable clarity the inflexibility of the law and the necessity of complete subjection to the Word of God. As Romans 3:19 declares, ''Now we know that whatever things the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.''
Christ is the fulfillment of the law. He is the only Israelite to obey God totally in the promised land. He alone kept the letter of the code that was set forth in Deuteronomy.
The Lord Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy three times in His temptation in the wilderness [cp. Mat 4:1-11; Deu 8:3; 6:16; 6:13,14; also 10:20]. Surely, a book so valuable to the Savior in such a time must also be valuable to us!

But where do you find Christ pictured in the book of Deuteronomy? Ada Habershon, in The Study of Types, lists 67 types and 13 contrasts between Moses and Christ. The Lord Jesus is seen in a twofold way in the book of Deuteronomy: by prophecy and by type.

These words of Moses are recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15, ''The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken.'' After the Lord Jesus fed the 5,000 in Galilee, the people said, ''This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world'' (John 6:14).

Shortly before the stones were hurled that crushed out the life of Stephen, that godly believer [quoted Moses] about Jesus. ''This is that Moses who said unto the children of Israel, A Prophet shall the Lord, your God, raise up unto you of your brethren, like me; Him shall ye hear'' (Acts 7:37). Stephen indicated that Jesus Christ is the One of whom Moses spoke.

The Scripture says that our Lord was a prophet ''like unto Moses.''
Please consider the following points as you study Deuteronomy.
-- Both Moses and Christ...
Six cities were appointed in Israel as cities of refuge: three on the east side of Jordan and three on the west (see Deu 4:41 and ch. 19). It may be that Hebrews 6:18 refers to this procedure. Highways led to the cities and the gates were always open. Jewish tradition says that signs with the word ''refuge'' on them were posted along the way. Runners were stationed along the highways into the cities. The cities of refuge were havens for those who committed murder unintentionally or through ignorance. Whenever that happened in Middle Eastern countries, an avenger would soon be on the track of that man.

What a wonderful picture of Christ's work! All mankind stands guilty. The avenger is on our trail, for ''the wages of sin is death.'' We need a hiding place.

The cities of refuge were evenly placed thoughout the land. Therefore, if a slayer fell into the hands of the avenger, it was not because a provision had not been made. But he had to make the choice to flee. Those cities were of Divine appointment, and the moment the slayer crossed the threshold, he was safe. The avenger might brandish his sword at the gate, but he could not get in. The offender was tried by judges inside the city. Likewise, the believing sinner will not be tried by the world. We are judged in the courts of heaven.

The one who fled for refuge was allowed to stay until the death of the high priest. We have a High Priest who lives forever; therefore, we are eternally safe. The avenger can never lay his threatening sword upon us.

The last chapter of Deuteronomy records the death of Moses. This man was a prince in Egypt for 40 years, a shepherd in the desert for 40 years, and the leader of Israel for 40 years. Did he make mistakes? Yes, but how faithfully he directed Israel! In his death (except that he was kept from entering the promised land because of his act of disobedience [Deu 32:48-52] ), we see striking similarities to the death and resurrection of our Lord.
  1. Moses went up to die (Deu 34:1). Christ ascended to Calvary [John 19:17,18].
  2. Moses was alone, except for God (34:6). Christ's followers forsook Him [Mat 26:56].
  3. The Lord talked to him (34:4) [Heb 1:8-12].
  4. Moses' faculties were unimpaired (34:7). Christ remained in control until His death [John 10:17,18].
  5. What a funeral! Moses died ''according to the word of the Lord'' (34:5); literally, ''at the mouth of the Lord.'' Christ dismissed His own spirit when the work was completed [Mat 27:50; Joh 19:28-30].
  6. This is not the last we see of Moses. He stood with Christ and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration, 1500 years later [Mat 17:1-3]. Evidently, the devil tried to hold the body of Moses so that he could not appear with the Lord Jesus (Jude 1:9). Death could not hold our Savior [Acts 2:24].
Satan may also wish to hold the bodies of believers in the ground, but his power is broken. The resurrected Christ has gained victory over him. Just as Satan could not prevent the appearance of Moses on the mount of transfiguration, so he cannot prevent the resurrection of those who have died in Christ. ''When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory'' (Col 3:4).
The concluding four chapters of Deuteronomy contain the farewell words of Moses. They celebrate the righteousness and grace of Jehovah in the history of Israel from the flood to the second coming of Christ. F.W. Grant, in The Numerical Bible, says, ''But as a prophet in the nearness to God to which he [Moses] was called, he had no successor until He [our Lord Jesus Christ] came who in His own Person stood alone, in life, in death, filling all the mediatorial types, and transcending them by the full measure of His infinite glory, in whose light indeed alone they shine.''

Return to table of contents for ''The Old Testament Presents... Reflections of Christ,''
written by Paul R. Van Gorder, Copyright 1982 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Used by permission [within The Book from].
Further distribution is not allowed without permission from RBC.

For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in Christ in All the Scriptures, by A.M. Hodgkin.

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