Text: Deuteronomy 1:1-8

The title in our English Bible comes from the Greek word Deuteronomion, which means “second law”. Some allege that it is an unfitting title as the book actually deals with the same law that God had earlier given in Exodus and Leviticus. Nevertheless, this title is most appropriate if we regard the book to be the second “pronouncement” or “declaration” of the law by Moses (c.f. Deut. 1:5).

Why is there a need for a second declaration of the law by Moses? We need to consider the historical context of the book. The first pronouncement of the law was given about 39 years ago at Mount Sinai (otherwise known as Horeb). However, that generation which first received the law have now passed away, save Caleb and Joshua. A new generation is about to enter into the Land of Promise. They must be reminded of the law which God had given to them, lest they forget!

However, it is a mistake to regard Deuteronomy simply as a repetition or regurgitation of the law that was given at Sinai. The verb “declare” in verse 5 is not the usual Hebrew term nāgad that is used in the Scriptures. Instead, the verb is bā’ēr, which means “to make distinct or plain”. Moses did not just pronounce the law, but also proceeded to preach and exposit the Word of God. Moses wanted them to have a full understanding and grounding in God’s Truth before they began their military campaign to occupy the land of Canaan. He was not satisfied with the children of Israel knew only the form of the words,. He wanted them to understand the doctrines, principles and applications of God’s law. To our Sunday School teachers, what can we learn from this example?

The book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ last words to the children of Israel before his death. The last words of a person are precious because they reflect what the person regard as most important in his life. Moses wanted this new generation to understand that the way to a successful conquest and occupation of the land is not reliance on human intellect or military tactics, but by obeying the Word of everlasting life. The journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea should have ordinarily taken eleven days by foot, but the children of Israel took 40 years to finally reach this stage of con-quest. Why is this so? It is because the previous generation failed to obey God’s Word but chose to rebel against the LORD! Therefore, the children of Israel were prevented from entering into the Promised Land, and had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Now that the 40 years of wandering has ended, the new generation must make sure that they do not repeat the mistakes of the previous generation. Moreover, after occupying the land, the law of God will serve as the constitution of the nation of Israel. They must obey God’s Word as they dwell in the land to fulfil the role as God’s spiritual witness to the neighbouring nations. This is exactly God’s command to Joshua in Joshua 1:8-9:

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:8-9)

Deuteronomy is thus not only a book of remembrance, but also a book on obedience. In this book, we are taught the following:

1. The object of our obedience (Deut. 6:1-2)
2. The motive of our obedience (Deut 6:4-5)
3. The way of obedience (Deut. 5:1-21)
4. The consequences of obedience and disobedience (Deut. 28-29)

If Israel took heed to the teachings of this book, the LORD will use them powerfully to bring the gospel of salvation to the surrounding nations.

Similarly, we all have a specific calling from God to be a spiritual witness for Christ in this sinful world. We are deficient in our service to God, not because God is unfaithful, but we are disobedient just like the children of Israel.

The purpose of Deuteronomy is to teach the children of Israel that obedience is the key to success. The same applies to us today. Let us bear in mind the words of the well-known hymn – “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey”.

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew



Recently, I was directed to a short note that was addressed to the congregation in a Presbyterian church regarding children in worship. In a large church, children may sometimes leave the sanctuary for their own worship service. In the Children’s Worship Service, the messages are pitched at a level where the children can easily understand. However, in Tabernacle BPC, due to our constraints, the children attend the full worship service with the adults. What then are some of the things we ought to take note of with regards to this matter ?

I hereby submit the short note (with some editions) for your kind consideration:

To the parents of the children and congregation, may we suggest . . .

Children are naturally fidgety. Parents do not need to feel embarrassed when they fidget. Let us welcome the children and be patient with them!

Parents with older children are recommended to sit in the front or in a position where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what is going on.

Parents ought to explain the order of worship to the children. Children should be taught lovingly and patiently what it means to be quiet and disciplined in the house of the Lord.

Parents ought to participate actively in every aspect of the worship service. Children learn liturgical behaviour by modelling parents. If parents are not serious in the worship service, they will follow suit!

If parents have to leave the service with your child in events of necessity, please feel free to do so, but please come back.

Remember that the way we welcome children directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, and to one another. Let them know they are at home in the house of worship.

The presence of children is a gift to the church, and they are a reminder that God’s church is growing. It is our responsibility to teach them the Word of God. Do also give a smile of encouragement to their parents!

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
Luke 18:16

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew