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Semper Informanda: Prolegomenon
The Power of God's "Word"
The book that we know as Deuteronomy is called "Words" in Jewish tradition, which often names books or texts based on the opening word(s). "Words" opens with "These are the words Moses spoke" (v.1). The words that Moses spoke are at the same time the words "that the LORD had given him" (v. 3). Moses did more, however, than just pass on the words the Lord had given him. He also "undertook to explain" those words (v. 5). None of this is new.
In the beginning, God spoke words to create the world and then spoke redemptive words to fallen humanity (Gen. 3:15). Those redemptive words included God's promise to bless humanity through Abraham and his descendents (Gen. 12:1-3). About 400 years later, God started to fulfill the word he had spoken to Abraham, by having Moses say, "Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers" (Deut. 1:8). About 1,400 years after that, God spoke the final redemptive word "by his Son, "who is the "heir of all things," the one who "upholds the universe by the word of his power," and the one who has made "purification for sins" (Heb. 1:1-4). Now that God has spoken this final redemptive word "by his Son," we need to "pay much closer attention to what we have heard," so that we do not neglect God's "great salvation" (Heb. 2:1-3).
As a seminary community, we have the calling to learning how to listen well to God's word, so that we can live out that word and explain it to others. Reading and reflecting on the book of "Words" is a great place to start, since Jesus quoted from "Words" more than from any other book in the Old Testament and since "Words" contains what Jesus called the greatest word, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deut. 6:5).
Dr. Mark Futato
Robert L. Maclellan Professor of Old Testament
Orlando Semper Informanda | Volume 7 Issue 9