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Deuteronomy: The Second Law - Speech 8

A commentary on the eighth speech of Moses in Deuteronomy 27-28. 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 Yoke of Bondage

From Deut. 28:45-48 Moses pauses to speak about the root cause of the curses of the law before launching into the most serious consequence of disobedience. He says,

45 So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed [shamad, “destroyed, annihilated, exterminated”], because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.

When Moses says, “until you are destroyed,” he does not say that Israel will be fully and finally destroyed, never to rise again. The term “destroyed” just means that the nation itself will cease to exist until God raises it from the dead. This destruction occurred in 721 B.C., when God raised up the Assyrians to destroy the nation of Israel.

Yet Ezekiel prophesies that Israel would be raised from the dead, as we read in his vision of the valley of dry bones. Ezekiel 37:3-5 says,

3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, Thou knowest.” 4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life’.”

The prophecy concludes in verses 13 and 14,

13 “Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. 14 And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and done it,” declares the Lord.

Hence, even though Israel as a nation was annihilated, it was not the end, because resurrection ends annihilation. This is true also on an individual level. Scripture often speaks of those who will be “destroyed,” and some have taken this to mean that there is no resurrection for them or that they are lost forever. Such a conclusion is unwarranted. The annihilationist view of divine judgment is based upon a short-sighted understanding of the destruction of the wicked. See The Judgments of the Divine Law.

The promise of God to Israel as a nation is fulfilled by means of resurrection after the curse of the law has run its course. There is a time limit on divine judgment, because the judgment always fits the crime. This time limit is given more clearly in Leviticus 26, which is the passage that runs parallel to Deuteronomy 28, giving the curses of the law in a separate writing.

The Seven Times of Judgment

In Leviticus 26 the duration of judgment is given as “seven times.” For example, Lev. 26:23, 24 says,

23 And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, 24 then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins.

The judgment is rendered in terms of “seven times” in an ever-increasing manner. This is comparable to judging a small sin with seven days of labor, a greater sin with seven months of labor, or a great sin with seven years or even 49 years (7 x 7) of labor. Many have interpreted the “seven times” in Leviticus 26 in terms of intensity, rather than time, but Daniel prophesies of a “time” as an indefinite duration in Daniel 7:25,

25 And He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and a half a time.

This speaks of the “little horn” that was to rise up as an extension of Imperial Rome, the fourth beast empire. John takes this prophecy and interprets it in Revelation 13, telling us that the “time, times, and a half a time” is 42 months (Rev. 13:5), or 1,260 days. By this measure, we can calculate that a “time” is equal to 360 “days,” that is, a prophetic year. In long-term prophecy, where a day is as a year, it is 360 years.

This prophecy was fulfilled in the Roman Church from 529-1789 A.D. It began when the Emperor Justinian replaced old Roman calendar with the present dating system. Whereas before this time the Empire had dated events from the founding of Rome (ab urbe condita, or A.U.C.), Justinian changed it to date from the birth of Jesus Christ. He then replaced the laws of the Roman Empire with Church law. In this way Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled, saying, “he will intend to make alterations in times and in law” (Dan. 7:25).

Justinian’s actions legally established the Church as the “little horn” of Daniel. It was to last 1,260 years (“time, times, and half a time”). This beast ruled supreme until 1789, when the French Revolution eclipsed the power of the Church.

The Second Beast

In the late 1700’s a new beast arose, inspiring and financing the French Revolution through a coalition of bankers and industrialists, led by the Rothschild banking family. Out of that Revolution, the new French Republic sent its army to Rome under the command of Napoleon, the “neo-Apollyon” of his day. He took the pope captive in 1798. Hence, the bankers struck the Roman Church, giving it a “fatal blow” (Rev. 13:3, 12).

But Napoleon then needed a pope to crown him emperor, so he reinstated the papacy in 1804, essentially “healing” the fatal wound. The result was that the world came to be dominated by both beasts in Revelation 13. The second beast was financial in nature, as Rev. 13:11-18 shows, and it was the beast of modern Western banking which has ruled the West for two centuries. This beast is now collapsing as well, as we approach the time when the saints will possess the Kingdom.

Getting back to Deuteronomy 28, Moses says that the curses of the law would come upon Israel until they were destroyed. The rest of the chapter says that God would raise up a foreign nation to conquer Israel and to deport them to foreign lands to serve out their sentence. Leviticus 26 limits that judgment to a period of “seven times,” and Ezekiel 37 gives Israel the hope of resurrection by the power of the Spirit.

Signs and Wonders

Speaking again of the curses, or judgments of the law, Moses says in Deut. 28:46,

46 And they shall become a sign [owth, “sign, signature, distinguishing mark”] and a wonder [mowpheth, “miraculous display of God’s power”] on you and your descendants forever [Heb., ad olam, “for an unknown period of time”].

The “curses” of the law were not merely to bring judgment. They were to be recognized as a distinguishing or identifying mark. When we study the historical events that took place 2,520 years after the biblical events, it is clear that the prophecies of Israel’s restoration are being fulfilled in nations other than the Jewish state.

For a full study of this, see my book, The Prophetic History of the United States.

The Iron Yoke

Moses continues in Deut. 28:47, 48,

47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart for the abundance of all things, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.

To serve God with joy goes beyond mere obedience. There is joy only when one is in agreement with God. Joy is the mark of agreement. Heb. 12:2 says,

2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross….

When Judah was about to go into captivity to Babylon, Jeremiah told them to submit to the divine judgment. In other words, they were to submit to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon (Jer. 27:12). If they did this, they would show their agreement with the divine judgment, admitting that they deserved the curse of the law for their disobedience. Jeremiah said that if they would submit, He would allow them to remain in their land under the authority of Babylon. But if they refused to hear, they would be taken to a foreign land to serve their sentence for seventy years.

The prophet illustrated this by walking around Jerusalem with a wooden yoke on his neck (Jeremiah 27:2), but the prophet Hananiah broke that yoke and gave a false prophecy of deliverance (Jer. 28:10). The people of Judah believed Hananiah’s false prophecy and refused to listen to the word of the Lord. Hence they disagreed with God, and for this reason, they were given an iron yoke (Jer. 28:13).

This iron yoke was part of the curse of the law in Deut. 28:47, and it was defined by Moses throughout the rest of the chapter. Jeremiah offered Judah a lighter yoke made of wood, which he defined as remaining in their land in submission to Babylon.

The Wooden Yoke

Because of the revelation of Jeremiah, we are able to understand that all of the captivities of Israel in the book of Judges were “wooden yoke” captivities, because the Israelites remained in Canaan. Later, however, Israel was deported by Assyria under an iron yoke into a foreign land. Judah, too, refused to submit to the judgment of God, and so they were deported to Babylon for seventy years. Hence, both Israel and Judah found themselves under the iron yoke.

Judah’s sentence was reduced to a wooden yoke after seventy years, and for the next six centuries they served the beast nations within their own borders. But in the first century they revolted against Rome, refusing to submit to the nation that God had raised up to judge them. At that point God used Rome to put Judah back under an iron yoke, for they were scattered among the nations and forbidden to set foot in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Israelites remained in their iron yoke captivity, scattered like sheep on the mountains. When Assyria fell, they spread into Europe under various names, eventually forming the European nations we see today. Their captivity finally began to come to an end with the founding of the United States from 1776-1800. This 24-year period was precisely 2,520 years from the beginning of Israel’s captivity. Israel began to be deported in 745 B.C., the nation’s capital was destroyed in 721 B.C.

But still later, when America violated its covenant with God, the nation was placed under a wooden yoke and forced to pay tribute to Mystery Babylon. This wooden yoke was placed upon America’s shoulders in 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act was passed and signed by President Woodrow Wilson. The modern tax system was then set up in 1916 to allow the captive Americans to pay tribute to Mystery Babylon under the wooden yoke.

Knowing the rebellious nature of Americans and of Israelites in general, God blinded their eyes and allowed the new Babylonian bankers to set up a secret world empire. That is why it is known in Scripture as “Mystery” Babylon. The Greek word musterion means “secret or hidden.” God did this as an act of mercy, for if Americans had known they were being led into captivity, they would have revolted. And then God would have had to strengthen the yoke over them or even send them into foreign lands under an iron yoke.

But America as a whole submitted to Mystery Babylon on account of their blindness, and so their sentence is now ready to end. We await divine deliverance as He pours out His Spirit upon the whole world.