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Deuteronomy: The Second Law - Speech 2

A commentary on the second speech of Moses in Deuteronomy 5-8. The book of Deuteronomy is a series of 12 speeches that Moses gave just before his death at the end of Israel's wilderness journey.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 16

Being Devoted to God

God said through Moses that He would throw the Canaanites into great confusion, so that they would be destroyed from the land that Israel was to inherit. Deut. 7:24 then says,

24 And He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you shall make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them.

In Scripture, one's name is an expression of one's character or nature. I have already shown how the names of the seven nations in Canaan referred to specific characteristics or “works of the flesh” that reside within man's carnal nature. These must be cast out and eradicated as part of the process of inheriting the Kingdom. There can be no coexistence between us, for Christ in us is the natural expression of the divine law, and all flesh must submit to His authority.

The Inner Warfare

The kings of Canaan in Joshua's time were to be delivered into the hands of Israel, and their name was to “perish from under heaven.” Applied under the New Covenant, the apostle Paul tells us of the war within his own body between the Christ in Him (i.e., “Joshua”) and the old man of carnal flesh. Rom. 7:22, 23 says,

22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind....”

The mind of Christ in him concurs (agrees) with the law of God, while the old man of flesh refused to submit, waging war against Christ, even as the Canaanites warred against Joshua. Nonetheless, the promise of God is that “He will deliver their kings into your hand.” We thus have an advantage over Joshua, because under the Old Covenant this law was a command which Israel failed to perform, while under the New Covenant it is a promise that will not fail. Moses continues,

25 The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26 And you shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban [kharem, “devotion”]; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned [kharem, “devoted”].

The silver and golden idols had been devoted to false gods, and they carried a generational curse.

The Legal Meaning of Devotion

Israel was to devote all such gold and silver to God Himself, who alone could remove the curse, reclaim that which He has created, and use it for Kingdom purposes. Burning those graven images with fire would destroy the false gods, but not the gold and silver itself. Men create false gods, while God created the gold and silver.

This principle extends to all things that God has created. Man was given authority (stewardship), but not sovereignty (ownership). We are to use all of God's creation as stewards in accordance with the laws of the sovereign God who owns all that He created.

This is bound up in the principle of kharem, or “devotion.” To devote something appears to carry the idea of destruction, and so this is one of the meanings of the word kharem. However, the real question is: What is being destroyed? In the case of idols, the idols were being destroyed, but the silver and gold was being devoted and returned to its true Owner.

To “devote,” then, really means to restore to God all that belongs to Him. This includes the use of all that God owns, for whatever is devoted to God is then used to glorify God, rather than to worship false gods. Even in “secular” matters, devoting a piece of property to God means that the property is subjected to the laws of God, and using it for unlawful purposes is banned.

An example is found in the laws of devotion in Lev. 27:16-28. The passage speaks of men sanctifying (setting apart) land for God's use in verses 16 and 17. Its value was reckoned in silver and calculated in terms of its ability to produce barley. Verse 21 says,

21 and when it reverts in the Jubilee, the field shall be holy to the Lord, like a field set apart [kharem, “devoted”]; it shall be for the priest as his property.

Obviously, the field in question was not “destroyed,” nor was it even cursed. It only means that if anyone lays claim to God's land and usurps God's place as its Owner, then that person takes upon himself the usurper's curse.

The devoted property was given to the priest who served God as a steward of His government. Therefore, what was destroyed was the old manner of life in which a usurper used God's property for unlawful purposes. The purpose of devoting something to God was to put it back under His feet.

In fact, the phrase, “as a field devoted” (Lev. 27:21, KJV) prophesied of the Restoration of All Things, for Jesus said in Matt. 13:38, “the field is the world.” Thus, every act of devoting a “field” to God was a prophetic type of the entire world finally being devoted to God after all things have been put under His feet (1 Cor. 15:27).

All Nations Devoted to God

When Joshua fought against Jericho, we find that the city and all the metal in it was “devoted” to God (Josh. 6:17). Joshua then gives instructions to Israel, saying,

18 But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban [kharem], lest you covet them and take some of the things under the ban [kharam], so you would make the camp of Israel accursed [kharem] and bring trouble on it. 19 But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.

Jericho was destroyed, but the land was turned over to its rightful Owner, and the metal, which the people of Jericho had used for illicit purposes, began to be used for God's purposes. If anyone usurps what God owns, they come under the curse. This does not mean that man cannot use the things God has created; it means that man is not to treat them as if they have full ownership rights to do as they please. No, they must utilize all of creation lawfully and as the Spirit leads.

The devotion of Jericho's silver, gold, bronze, and iron foreshadowed the devotion of all the kingdoms of Mystery Babylon seen in Daniel 2:31-35. These kingdoms were portrayed in terms of these same metals. Hence, John foresaw the devotion of all the kingdoms of this world into the treasury of God. Rev. 11:15 says, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

The kingdom of the world is the image seen in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. In one sense it is to be crushed by the Stone, which is Christ and His Kingdom, but in reality it was the usurpation that was to be destroyed. It was to revert back to its rightful Owner, for Christ is the rightful Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2).

And so, when Israel took the land of Canaan, God told them to devote all the metal for God's use. The people were not to take it for themselves, lest they use it for unlawful purposes and thereby come under the same curse that had come upon the Canaanites. On the other hand, these laws of devotion prophesy of the day when all of God's creation will be devoted to His treasury, and all things will be placed under the feet of Christ.

When Scripture speaks of the “destruction” of the wicked, we must view that destruction in terms of God's ownership rights. Nothing that God has created will be lost permanently. When property has been usurped, it makes no sense to destroy the property, for that does not rectify the injustice to the true owner. So also authority over the earth has been usurped, and it is God’s intention to take back that which is rightfully His.

All of the nations are to be devoted to God, so that only the wickedness and usurpation is destroyed. Like gold and silver, all things will be burned with the “fiery law” (Deut. 33:2) in order to change its form, remove the curse, and subject it to the dominion of Jesus Christ.

All things will thus be “tried by fire,” whether it be the lawless Church (as in 1 Cor. 3:13-15) or the lawless unbelievers in the “lake of fire” (as in Rev. 20:13-15).