Just a portion of a recent sermon I delivered prior to Thanksgiving this year:
The book of Deuteronomy derives its name from a word meaning “a second” or “a copy” of the law. Meaning that this book is a copy of the law given to Moses from Mount Sinai. Deuteronomy is a book that is set in time before the people enter the promised land.
Deuteronomy takes seriously the reality that people do NOT innately know how to build relationships, how to build a healthy sense of self and how to be in right relationship with God. Deuteronomy assumes that even those the people have been living together for 40 years in the wilderness, they need help in order to be in right relationship with others, self and God.
The text expresses that when the people enter the promised land there are some basic things that you need to do in order to not lose your way and become like the Egyptians that oppressed them.
It is easy to think that just because you won the battle for your freedom or just because your side is the victor you know how to govern and how to build a society built on the things that last such as justice, mercy and love.
God saw what happened when a society grew powerful and did not practice the foundations of humility and love. They were the Egyptians and they enslaved a whole group of people based upon their religion. Then the leader of the nation had such an irrational fear of the numbers of these people with an odd religion that the Pharaoh called for the death of all baby boys of the group.
What we see in Egypt is that if power is left unchecked by love, mercy and justice then power becomes oppressive and sacrifices others for the benefit of the few. Scripture tells the story of God’s displeasure with such a way of living for instance the prophet Hosea said, God desires mercy and not sacrifice.