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GBC Bible Reading Plan Mar 31–Apr 6

GBC Blog (18)

Week 14, March 31–April 6: Deut 28–34; Joshua 1–13

  • Sun      3/31     Deut 28–30
  • Mon     4/1       Deut 31–34
  • Tue      4/2       Josh 1–2
  • Wed     4/3       Josh 3–5
  • Thu      4/4       Josh 6–7
  • Fri        4/5       Josh 8–10
  • Sat       4/6       Josh 11–13

At first it might seem the message of Deuteronomy is contrary to the message of the gospel, that it teaches we can and must earn the Lord's favor by obeying his laws perfectly. Throughout Deuteronomy, Moses has been giving the Israelites laws, added to the other stipulations given earlier in the Pentateuch (in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers). The people were instructed to keep these laws diligently; if they do, they will receive God’s blessings and enjoy a prosperous life in the Promised Land. But by the time we get to the end of Deuteronomy, we read what is ahead for the Israelites, and it is not good news.

As Moses brings to a close all he’s been saying in Deuteronomy, and in the whole of the Pentateuch, we see a bleak future in store for Israel. Chapter 28 catalogs all the horrible things that will come upon them if they disobey God’s commands, and as we will see in our reading of the rest of the OT, these are the exact things they will eventually experience. Then chapters 29–31 include predictions of Israel’s future, most of which are quite pessimistic. We see this most clearly in the Lord’s words to Moses in Deut. 31:16–18:

“Behold, you are about to lie down with our fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land they are entering, and they will forsake me and break m covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide my face in that today because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.”

Nevertheless, even in the context of this gloomy forecast, Deuteronomy also includes a glimmer of hope. There is a way for God’s people to enjoy his presence and blessing, beyond their failure to keep the commandments of the Old Covenant.

A New Covenant is coming!

God says, if they return to him, he will restore their fortunes and have mercy on them. He will gather them to himself from where they have been scattered in exile. He himself will circumcise their heart and they will obey the Lord and turn to him with all their heart and with all their soul. (Deut. 30:1–10). This is the promise of the New Covenant, a promise that is reiterated and expounded upon throughout the rest of the Old Testament (Jer. 31:31–34: 32:37–41; Ezek. 36:22–32; 37:24–28).

The Old Covenant was the covenant God made with the people of Israel, which we’ve been reading about in the Pentateuch. But the Old Covenant is not the same as the Old Testament. The message of Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch, and the whole Old Testament is that the Old Covenant was not ultimately going to work; it wasn’t going to produce in God’s people the righteous requirements of a holy God. The Old Covenant laws God gave to Moses and the Israelites were gracious gifts to them, but they were temporary, never given with the expectation that the Israelites would be able to keep them perfectly. A new and better covenant was always the plan. The Old Testament anticipates the New Covenant.

And praise God the New Covenant has come. When we read the Old Testament, we can read it with joy that Christ has come, and his blood is the blood of the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). As Christians, we have been made new and we are being made new. Through the saving work of Christ and the sanctifying work of the Spirit, God has given his people the new, circumcised hearts we read of in Deuteronomy. Just as the Old Testament promised, the Old Covenant has been done away with, and the New Covenant has come (Heb. 8:6–13; 9:15).


As we turn from Deuteronomy to Joshua, the Israelites are preparing to enter the Land. Moses has died and Joshua is now tasked with leading the people. He is instructed to pay attention to the Torah, to meditate on the teaching the Lord had given through Moses. Similar exhortations to read and meditate on the Torah are given both at the end of Deuteronomy and at the beginning of Joshua (Deut. 32:44–47; Josh. 1:8). These form a sort of literary seam that ties the end of Pentateuch together with the narrative of Israel’s subsequent history, which goes from Joshua through 1–2 Kings and Chronicles. The same kind of emphasis on Torah meditation occurs at the beginning of Psalms as well (Ps. 1:1–1). The way they were to love God and walk with him was to read his Torah and meditate on it day and night, and then to live in light of its instructions for life with God in the Land.

The same applies to us too. This is why we are doing this read thru. We too have been given God’s word, and we too have the great privilege and responsibility to seek the Lord through Scripture. The difference for us is that we are reading the Bible as New Covenant Christians. We have the full canon of Scripture, the rest of the story that shows how Christ fulfills all the Old Testament pointed to and accomplishes the righteousness of God that the Old Covenant laws were never able to achieve. As we read both the Old and New Testaments we come to understand and appreciate more fully what Christ accomplished. As Christians we read Scripture from the vantage point of the New Covenant, with new, circumcised hearts and with the Holy Spirit to guide us.