Preaching on Worship and Social Concern
It has been observed that every religion must have a system of ideas, pattern of ethics, and a means to achieve the joy of salvation. All three of these factors are embedded in this chapter. We find one of the earlier theological statements on the nature of God’s relationship to Israel and a summation of what Israel believed about God’s action. (Verses 5-10)
Israel declared annually the offering of first fruits, Israel declared their faith. Israel had found in their celebration the joy of their salvation experienced though the hand of God. (Verse 8) The tithe of their produce was to be shared with the needy, (Verses 12-15) calling Israel to an ethical commitment within the covenant faith. What you believe about God, how you relate to other persons, and the way in which you celebrate the joy of salvation in worship are appropriate concerns for both the ancient Temple and temporary Church.
Preaching on Covenant Fidelity
This legal section of Deuteronomy closes with a brief exhortation to covenant fidelity. It is brief but has emphasis on the demands of covenant living. (Verses 12-26) On that day Israel declared that the Lord was her God, that she would keep His commandments and obey His voice. (Verse 17) The Lord also assumed responsibility in the covenant relationship. The Lord promised to make Israel His possession, to set her a nation above all others, and to make them a holy people. (Verses 18-19) The Lord will keep faith with His obligation to the covenant relationship and a comparable obligation rest upon the Israelite people.
Joys and Hardships of Following God
Following the legal section of Deuteronomy these chapters appropriately set before Israel the alternatives of cursing and blessing – cursing if the law was not maintained, blessing if the law was fulfilled. Such an emphasis was consistent with the twofold focus on proclamation and exhortation throughout the book. Moses proclaimed the acts of God, then exhorted Israel to respond to God’s revelation in history. So here the law was proclaimed, and Israel was challenged to respond positively to those covenant stipulations.