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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
Deut. 6:17-19 tells us,
17 You should diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you.
We are well informed as to the Commandments of the Lord, and our readers by now will know that the specific laws defining those Commandments are known as Statutes. Deuteronomy gives many of those Statutes. But what are God's testimonies? Why is this word used to describe the law? The Hebrew word is edah, which means “a witness.” In other words, it is the heavenly witness, which we are called to establish on earth as a double witness.
I have often taught that heaven and earth are the ultimate two witnesses. God has ordered the universe by the law of the double witness, making man an important part of establishing the Kingdom. When God speaks, someone on earth must hear and respond in order to establish God's testimony. This is why Amos 3:7, 8 says,
7 Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets. 8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
The voice of God demands a response, an earthly witness. Even as one responds in fear to a lion's roar, so also when God speaks, the prophet cannot help but prophesy. What does He prophesy? That which he hears God say. The prophet does not initiate the prophecy, but speaks only the testimony from heaven that he has heard.
Moses says that the law itself is God's testimony. A true prophet (and the entire five-fold ministry today) will treat the law as God's testimony and bear witness to it.
18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, 19 by driving out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has spoken.
The law is “what is right and good in the sight of the Lord.” In other words, it is God's revelation of “right and good.” It is His standard of righteousness that expresses His character. It was designed to make us prosper in “the good land” that we are to possess.
There are those who over-focus upon that tiny strip of land in the Middle East, as if that were the final promise of God. It was not. That original land was the type and shadow of something much greater.
Since faith comes by hearing, it is plain that Abraham heard the revelation of something much larger and greater than the small land where he lived. Hebrews 11:9, 10 says,
9 By faith he lived in the land of promise as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
This brings in the difference between a tent and a house with “foundations.” A tent is a temporary dwelling place. A house signifies a final resting place. Hebrews tells us that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all dwelt in tents, because they were looking for something else—a spiritual “city” and a heavenly “country.” So verse 16 says,
16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
It is clear that this “city” is the New Jerusalem and not the old physical city. It is clear that inheriting the heavenly “country” is “the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). We are made of the dust of the ground, which was pure and glorified at the time of creation. Adam's sin caused him and his entire estate to be sold into bondage. The story of the Bible is about how we may regain that lost estate.
God fully intends to regain far more than one small strip of land in the Middle East. He is the God of the whole earth (Is. 54:5). Christ's blood was shed to purchase all that was lost in Adam (1 John 2:2). And because we ourselves are made of the dust of the ground, we are part of creation that God has redeemed. His payment was made on the cross, and He is now in the process of claiming all that He has purchased.
Abraham is said to have understood this by faith. In fact, the book of Hebrews points to this very revelation as Abraham's point of faith. We, as Abraham's children, must believe the same thing that Abraham believed—if, indeed, we have received the same revelation. The old land was a prophetic type of a much greater inheritance. The old land was sufficient under the Old Covenant, but it is insufficient to encompass God's plan under the New Covenant.
In fact, that old land would be insufficient to house all of the physical Israelites living today. Keep in mind that the Israelites were deported to Assyria from 745-721 B.C., and they were thereafter known by other names, such as Beth-Khumri (House of Omri) and Beth-Sak (House of Isaac). After Assyria fell, these Israelites began to migrate by covered wagons into Europe. There they became a great multitude.
The point is that there is no way that hundreds of millions (or billions) of those physical Israelites could ever pack themselves into such a small land, even if the land were greatly expanded. But in the New Testament we find that God's intent was to bring forth sons in the image of Christ, not just more physical Israelites.
Furthermore, Isaiah and other prophets understood that in the regathering of Israel, others would have equal opportunity to be gathered with them (Is. 56:8). In fact, when God cast Israel out of His house, He first divorced them (Jer. 3:8) according to the law (Deut. 24:1).
From a legal standpoint, this put Israel on an equal standing with all the other nations. The only way an ex-Israelite could regain Covenant standing would be through the New Covenant, which was available for all men equally.
This regathering of Israel and “others” is not a regathering back to the old land, but to the “better country” that is a heavenly country. The old land was a temporary fulfillment of the promise of God until such time that the greater purposes of God would be fully developed.
Our mother is therefore the New Jerusalem (Sarah) and not the old city (Hagar), as Paul explains clearly in Galatians 4. Those, then, who claim the old city to be their mother and the mother of their “kingdom” will soon find that they are to be cast out with the bondwoman and her son (Gal. 4:30).
And so, Moses' words in Deut. 6:18, 19 (quoted earlier) may be applied in two distinct contexts. In the Old Covenant context, it applied physically to the land of Canaan, where God helped them to drive out the Canaanites. In the New Covenant, however, it applies to our own bodies, our “dust of the ground,” where the enemy is the old Adamic man with its carnal nature. These are our real “kings of Canaan” that must be driven out in order to fully inherit the Kingdom as God intended from the beginning.
God testifies that this is “the good land,” thereby bearing witness to His statement about creation itself. At each stage of creation, God saw that it was good, and in the end He pronounced it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Sin entered later, corrupting that which was good, but God's redemptive plan is designed to reverse the curse and make our bodies “good” once again, along with the rest of creation. These good bodies are begotten by the Holy Spirit as the New Creation Man.