Christopher Wright’s 1994 editorial in Themelios holds up Deuteronomy as a missions work for the contemporary world. Two things are striking in his observations. First, the utter lack of creativity when it comes to sin. The twists of sin in the human heart follow the same windings irrespective the time or place:
Once that living God and his claims are rejected, then the resulting vacuum is filled with gods that are destructive and cruel. The Baalism of Canaan which, through its fertility cults, sacralized sex and sacrificed babies (Deut. 12:31), is alive and well in our society, with its commodification of sex and the suffering of children in so many ways. (3)
He continues: “Yet it seems to me that the west is now well into the process of reaping the bitter harvest of the rampant idolatry of generations, of consumerism, individualism and privatism. With idolatry comes injustice, arrogance (Deut. 8:17) and self-righteousness (9:4ff.).”
The connection between Old Testament history and the modern [it is always the “modern”] world is precisely how God structured the Bible; as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”
8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.
9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,
10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Second, is how the banality of sin seems invisible when experienced. He gives the example of laws restricting Sunday trading. Such laws seems quaint or positively restrictive from this distance. But not how Wright structures the issue:
Not only has the British government abolished virtually all restrictions on Sunday trading, in the interests of big business and to the detriment of the most poorly paid section of the workforce—shopworkers (it is noticeable in the OT how rejection of the sabbath principle went along with exploitation and profiteering: Isa. 58:3, 13, Amos 8:4–6