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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 6

The Law of Phylacteries

Speaking of “these words,” Moses says in Deut. 6:8 says,

8 And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

The “frontals” are from the Hebrew word towphaphah, which, in the New Testament, is the Greek word phylakterion, or “phylacteries” (Matt. 23:5). Jews were accustomed to write four passages and bind them on their forehead or left hand during prayer. Dr. Bullinger tells us in his notes on Exodus 13:1,

There are two pairs of Phylacteries, so called (in Greek) from their use = a prayer-fillet or band worn today on forehead and hands during prayer. First pair here, Exodus 13:3-10 and 13:11-16. Second pair in Deut. 6:4-9 and 11:13-21.

This was a “sign” that their thoughts and the works of their hands were bound by the word of God and was obedient to the word. One pair of frontals was taken from the first law (Exodus), and the second was from the second law (Deuteronomy).

The Mark of God

In Ezekiel 9:3, 4 we receive the witness of the prophet as he shows us its prophetic application:

3 Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case. 4 And the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark [tav] on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.”

The mark put on their foreheads was to protect them from divine judgment on Jerusalem, when the presence of God left the city (Ez. 10 and 11). In other words, when God's presence left the community as a whole, His presence would not leave those few who had the law written in their foreheads. These were protected, and their place in God was secure.

The “mark” on their foreheads is from the Hebrew word tav, “a sign or signature,” which is also the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It was originally written in the shape of a cross, prior to the Babylonian captivity when they adopted the Aramaic way of lettering. The tav spoke specifically of the cross and the death of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb.

The Exodus Frontals

The first two frontals were the passages of Scripture found in Exodus 13:3-10 and 13:11-16. These are the instructions for keeping Passover. Hence, without realizing it, every time they bound those passages to their foreheads, they were testifying of Jesus Christ and how He fulfilled the prophetic type of the Passover Lamb. Without recognizing this, however, their frontals were just pieces of paper, for they were so focused upon the literal observance of this command in the law that they missed what God was actually saying.

For this reason, when they rejected Jesus as the Messiah, they did not fulfill the law as God intended, for the law of Passover was not truly written on their hearts. When Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12), He took the glory of God with Him. That glory, or presence of God (Shekinah), had left Jerusalem in Ezekiel 10 and 11, with the last “sighting” on the Mount of Olives (11:23). God's presence lingered there outside the city until Jesus ascended to heaven, and ten days later, that presence returned to the children of the New Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

In other words, God put tongues of fire on the foreheads of the disciples as His “mark” and promise of divine protection in view of the coming disaster when Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.

Historically speaking, the Church of Jerusalem left the city in late 66 or early 67 A.D. prior to the city's destruction. The fourth-century bishop and historian, Eusebius, tells us in Ecclesiastical History, III, 5 that the Christians moved to Pella, a town in Perea along the Jordan River. I wrote of this in Vol. II of my Lessons from Church History, chapter 2.

Those who merely wore frontals with Scriptures about Passover, but who did not actually keep the feast by accepting the true Passover Lamb, remained vulnerable to the death and destruction in the Roman War.

The Deuteronomy Frontals

Today we face a different problem, represented by the second set of frontals—the Deuteronomy frontals. This second set was taken from Deut. 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. These command us to listen and hear His voice in order to avoid the judgment in our own time. Recall that Deuteronomy is The Second Law, and it therefore applies first to the establishment of the New Covenant and secondly to the time of the second appearance of Christ.

Because Deuteronomy was read during the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles, it applies to the Autumn feasts, which prophesy of the second appearance of Christ. So we can view the Exodus frontals as applying specifically to Passover, and the Deuteronomy frontals as applying specifically to Tabernacles. The rejection of Christ, the Passover Lamb, resulted in disaster for Jerusalem. The rejection of Christ as the fulfillment of Tabernacles likewise will result in disaster for Jerusalem and will affect much of the Church as well, which knows little about Tabernacles.

The Mark of the Beast

Revelation 14:9-11 speaks of the “mark of the beast,” which is the opposite of the mark (tav) of God.

9 And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger....”

In other words, those who serve the beast system and live according to the laws of Mystery Babylon have received the mark of the beast, even as those who live in accordance with the laws of God have received the mark of God.

I do not believe that either the “mark of the beast” or the “mark of God” is a literal mark in one's forehead or hand. It is a spiritual mark, even as Ezekiel 9:4 tells us. When we compare the two marks, we see that it is a heart issue. Either the law of God is written on the heart, affecting our minds (forehead) and our labor (hand), or the mark of the beast is already written upon us, whether or not we are aware of it.

The mark of the beast is lawlessness (anomia) which is manifested in a number of ways. I have already shown how it involves the rejection of Christ, the true Passover Lamb, making them ineligible to receive the mark of God, the tav, or the cross.

In Revelation 13 it also involves the love of money, which is the life blood of modern Babylon. That chapter speaks of two beasts, the first from the sea, and the second from the earth. These are two halves of the “little horn” of Daniel 7:20.

The first beast was given power for 1260 days (years) from 529-1789 A.D. It is the religious beast of Rome, whose power was eclipsed by a second beast during the French Revolution of 1789.

This second beast was the great money power of banking that emerged at that time to rival the religious beast. Its “mark” was money, without which no man could buy or sell (Rev. 13:17). Those who worship money are those with the mark of the beast, for the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10).

And so Moses instructs us to bind the word of God to our foreheads and hands, lest we receive the mark of the beast in its place.

The Law Applied to Government

Having seen the prophetic implications of the law of frontals, or phylacteries (Deut. 6:8), and how this law commands us to have the law written in our hearts, we can now see a second side to this law in the following verse:

9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

This law broadens the application of the principle from the personal to the family and the community's government.

In other words, the law must be written on the hearts of individuals, but also of the family (“house” or “household”) and of the government (“gates”). In those days the public court was held at the gates of the city, as we see, for example, in Ruth 4:11.

When we apply the law in an Old Covenant manner, this law commands us to hear the word and apply it personally, within the family, and in the community and courts.

The New Covenant makes the change from a command to a prophecy or promise. Hence, the Ten Commandments become the Ten Promises under the New Covenant. Whereas the Old Covenant commands us to do something that is contrary to human nature (i.e., the fleshly man of the first Adam), the New Covenant promises that we (the New Creation Man) will indeed do these things when the law is written on our hearts.

And so the New Covenant is the fulfillment of the promise of God to Abraham and all who are (and will be) of the household of faith. The promise is that the Holy Spirit will beget Christ in us who is as perfect as Jesus Christ, because we all have the same perfect heavenly Father. It is only the man born of Adam or of his household who sins.

To the New Creation Man that is Christ in you, the law is a statement of his character. The New Creation Man cannot violate the law, because God is his Father. This New Creation Man will never have any gods before his Father. He will always honor his Father. He will never steal, murder, commit adultery, or covet.

The New Creation Man will have the law written on his heart. The law will be bound on his forehead, taking “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). The righteousness of the law will be manifested in every work of his hands.

This is not only to be the condition of the individual, but also the condition of the family and government on the face of the earth. This is the promise of God and the goal of history. It is not dependent upon the carnal will of Adamic man, but upon the ability of God to fulfill His promise and the purpose of creation.

Is God powerful enough to accomplish His goal? Or is the will of man able to subvert God's purposes and cause God to lose most of creation? Was God not wise enough to devise a plan that would give Him the overwhelming victory in the end?

Yes, he is all power, all wisdom, and all love. And when He spoke the Ten Commandments, along with the rest of the law, He turned them into His Promises through the New Covenant. This took the burden off man to accomplish His will and put it upon His own shoulders. That is, in fact, the only way that His will would ever be accomplished, for it is the only guarantee of success. The New Covenant promises, “I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts” (Heb. 8:10).

How different this is from the Old Covenant which said, “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession” (Ex. 19:5). The Old Covenant put the responsibility upon the will of man to obey the law. The New Covenant put the responsibility upon God to work within our hearts by the Holy Spirit in order to make us His people.

The law in Deut. 6:9 applies the New Covenant to the family, community, government, and the entire judicial system. This shows the extent of the New Covenant promise, for the government of God extends to all that He created. Hence, in the end, when His work has been completed, all things will be under His feet (dominion), and God will be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).

If anyone doubts that the Scriptures actually teach this, I suggest reading my book, The Restoration of All Things.

Another book that focuses upon the judgments of God and shows how the purpose of judgment is to correct and restore the sinners is The Judgments of Divine Law.

The holiness of God demands judgment for sin, but the love of God demands that all judgment eventually should correct and restore the sinner. The wisdom of God finds a way to do this. The power of God ensures the success of God's will and plan.

The law reveals God's will as well as His plan for creation. One must understand these things if a person really wants to have the law written on his heart.