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Deuteronomy: The Second Law - Speech 3

A commentary on the third speech of Moses in Deuteronomy 9-13. 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 12

The Law of Love

Moses says in Deuteronomy 11:8 and 9,

8 You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it; 9 so that you may prolong your days on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Each of the laws of God are linked to all others in a whole package. For this reason one cannot violate one law without undermining all of them in some way. James 2:10 says,

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

Even a simple case of theft means that a person has worshipped another god, dishonored his father and mother, committed spiritual adultery, coveted, and hated his brother—which is the same as murder. To steal from another person means that we have not loved God or our neighbor as ourselves. To violate any of these laws is to break both of these two greatest Commandments.

The Reason Nations Fail

Any nation that sets aside any of the laws of God sows the seeds of its own destruction. Its days will be shortened accordingly. The same is true with individuals to some extent.

The seeds of America's demise were sown when they allowed a legislature to pass laws inconsistent with the divine law. A true Kingdom nation would only allow men to pass laws that were not addressed in the law of God. This happened even in the days of Moses, when he found it necessary to inquire of the Lord for a Supreme Court ruling to clarify a point of law. A good example of this is found in Numbers 9:4-11.

In the case of Israel, it took just 42 years before their first captivity to the king of Mesopotamia. Eventually, the nation itself died when they were taken into captivity by the Assyrians.

Under the Old Covenant, Israel was given a piece of land, and this was a type and shadow of the “heavenly” city and “better country” that Abraham truly sought (Hebrews 11:16). It was not the full promise that God intended from the start, because God knew that it would fail with the Old Covenant. Hence, He reserved the real promise for the New Covenant, which cannot fail, for it is based, not on the will of man, but upon God's ability to fulfill His promise in a perfected people.

The Effect of Rain on a Nation

One big reason for the decline and fall of nations was drought and famine. Moses spoke to the Israelites who were about to enter into that land given under the Old Covenant. He says in verses 10-12,

10 For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. 11 But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, 12 a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always [tamiyd, “continually”] on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.

Canaan was not like Egypt, because rain seldom fell in Egypt. They relied upon the flooding of the Nile each year. Their irrigation system often depended on their feet by which they pumped water into their vegetable gardens. Canaan had sufficient rain to support great forests in those days, although now they are mostly gone.

13 And it shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. 15 And He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied.

Take note that Moses equates keeping the commandments to loving God and serving Him. Jesus said the same in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” But if we do not truly love Him with all our heart and soul, then we will find excuses to violate His laws or to observe them in ways that do not truly reflect His heart.

The early rain was the autumn rain at the time of seed planting. The late rain came in the spring, which allowed the wheat to ripen for Pentecost.

16 Beware, lest your hearts be deceived and you turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 17 Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.

In Scripture, God always takes credit for rain and drought. He created science, after all, even if men have learned to use science to defend themselves somewhat against God's judgments. This also implies that the natural laws of science are subordinate to spiritual laws. When men violate the laws of God, it affects the weather itself. When scientists reject the realm of spirit and do not believe that spiritual laws have any bearing on scientific matters, they must work feverishly to find solutions that reverse the effects of divine judgment.

Would it not be much easier just to repent of our sin? Certainly, it would be less expensive.

Teaching the Law to our Children

The nation’s survival itself depended on whether or not the people were obedient to the word of God. For this reason it was important to teach the law to the children.

18 You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19 And you shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.

Here Moses repeats what he told Israel previously in Deuteronomy 6:7-9. The command to bind the word “as frontals on your forehead” need not be taken literally, for it merely signified pondering and meditating on the word in one's mind.

In later years religious men often wore such frontals (“phylacteries”) on their foreheads without really understanding the word. Nonetheless, if such practices are necessary to remind a person of the word, then it has some value. On the other hand, if we need such extreme reminders, it is an indication that the law is not really of interest to us, nor is it written in our hearts. Such people need to put on a show of righteousness to make up for their deficiency.

A better way would be to carry a Bible or have one nearby, so that when questions arise, we are able to search the word more quickly.

If a nation is filled with law-abiding people who know Jesus Christ, they will dwell in peace and security, and their life expectancy will be greatly increased. Under the New Covenant, this promise is extended to include immortality, for the “land” in which we dwell is a “better country,” and our mother is the heavenly city, New Jerusalem.