In preparation for Sunday’s sermon on worship, here are ten observations from Deuteronomy 4:1–14.
1. Deuteronomy 4 is the last chapter of Deuteronomy’s covenantal introduction.
In Deuteronomy Moses follows (and reformulates) a covenant structure identifiable by anyone living in the ancient Near East. Just as covenants made between kings and their servants (i.e., Suzerains and their vassals) followed a standardized pattern, so does the book of Moses.
|Ancient Near Eastern Suzerainty Treaty||Deuteronomy as a Covenant Document|
|Preamble (“These are the words . . .”)||Preamble (1:1–5): “These are the words of Moses addressed to all Israel . . .”|
|Historical Prologue: a survey of the relational history between covenant partners||Historical Prologue (1:6–4:49)|
|General Stipulations||General Stipulations (ch. 5–11): general commands to love, serve, fear Yahweh|
|Specific Stipulations||Specific Stipulations (ch. 12–26): an exposition of the Ten Words|
|Divine Witnesses: various deities called to witness the treaty||Blessings and Curses (ch. 27–28)|
|Blessings and Curses: relating respectively to the maintenance of breach of the covenant||Divine Witnesses (see 30:19; 31:19; 32:1–43)|
From this outline, we see where Deuteronomy 4 is situated. It is the final word of the covenantal introduction (i.e., the historical prologue). Moreover, in a way that deviates from the classical ANE treaty formula, it adds covenantal instructions that anticipate the next sections—namely, the general and special stipulations given in chapters 5–26. Continue reading