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The New Covenant, as revealed by Moses in Deuteronomy 29, does not eliminate God’s corrective judgment, which is necessary to bring justice to all victims of sin (crime) and also to uphold the holiness of God. Neither does the New Covenant eliminate the divine law as the standard of God’s character, for this is also the prophetic model for the New Creation Man that He is forming in His own image.
The Old Covenant, as seen in Exodus 19, concerns itself mainly with establishing justice when a man sins against God or his neighbor. The New Covenant, as seen in Deuteronomy 29, shifts the focus to God Himself and asks, How will God create the New Creation Man out of mortal, corruptible men on earth?
Will God lower or eliminate His righteous standard and allow men to be corruptible for eternity? No, for we have already shown that under the New Covenant the law is a promise that prophesies the condition of all men in the end. They will not have false gods, they will not steal, kill, commit adultery, or bear false witness. That righteous standard cannot change, because it expresses the very character of God. Neither does God intend to make His job easier by using a lower standard as His model for the New Creation Man.
Further, He has reached down from heaven to draw humanity upward to the level of His own perfect character and will not tolerate anything less. Jesus was sent to earth as the perfect Son of Man, without sin, to provide us the living model for the New Creation Man. And God has absolute confidence in Himself that He is able to do what He has vowed to do—to transform us into His image.
The Old Covenant was not evil; it was only inadequate. The Old Covenant revealed the path of justice and peace, but it could not change the hearts of men, because those same corruptible men were given the responsibility to effect such change in themselves by their own ability to be obedient.
The essential feature of the New Covenant is that it shifted this responsibility to God Himself, who is the only One capable of changing the hearts of men. The justice feature remained intact, as did the law itself. And so Deuteronomy 29 does not shrink from warning Israel about the judgments of God. In fact, this is probably why most people have not understood that Deuteronomy 29 is about the New Covenant and that it differs from the Exodus covenant.
One of the key provisions of the New Covenant, as revealed to Moses, is that God has taken an oath to root out the foolishness of men’s hearts, when they say, “I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart” (Deut. 29:19). The primary idol of man’s heart causes us to believe that we should assuage our conscience so that we can be at peace while continuing to sin.
I know men who have advocated this very teaching. The problem, they say, is not the carnal condition of our hearts, nor our rebellion against God’s laws, but rather our “guilty feelings.” Their solution is to cast aside the law so that it can no longer make us feel guilty when we sin against God or our neighbor. But “guilty feelings” are twinges of conscience, which God Himself created to let us know when we have wronged someone. To suppress or destroy the conscience is to have a “seared” conscience. Paul speaks of this in 1 Tim. 4:1, 2,
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience with a branding iron.
The “doctrine of demons,” in this case, is equivalent to the doctrines that come from the idols in the heart. These idols produce spiritual opium, causing men to say, “peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). The prophet presents Israel with an alternative to this spiritual opium. He metaphorically calls it the balm of Gilead (Jer. 8:22), the oil from the balsam tree that was known for its healing power. We need true healing, not pain reduction and disease management that come from drugs.
Moses makes it clear that poppies were the main crop of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that its way of life was based upon a life of opium. The prophets tell us that their opium-based way of life was the result of a problem with spiritual opium coming from idols of the heart.
Moses understood the problem. He knew that the Israelites were subject to the same human nature and heart idols that afflicted the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. And so he prophesied that Israel would fall under the same judgment. Deut. 29:22, 23,
22 Now the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a distant land, when they see the plagues of the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it, will say, 23 “All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.”
Moses knew that God would expel Israel from the land, for he wrote of it in Deut. 31:29,
29 For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and the evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.
For this reason also Moses prophesied of their deportation and captivity in Deut. 30:1-3. Israel’s expulsion from the land and the destruction of Samaria, its capital, in 721 B.C. today serves as our main example and warning for America and all other nations. If we persist in following the commands of the idols in our hearts, we too will become like Sodom and Gomorrah, inviting divine judgment upon the whole land. The simple solution is to hear the word of God and to cast out the idols of our hearts. Let us agree with Him and adopt His ways, His culture, and His standard of behavior.
More important, though, is the fact that God Himself has taken an oath to change our hearts. This is the only factor that gives me comfort during the Sodomization of the West.
We are extremely fortunate that we live in the latter days when the New Covenant is being implemented to fulfill the divine oath. This gives us true hope to replace the hopium dispensed by idols of the heart.
Yet the present danger is very real, for the nations will continue to fall under the curses of the law as long as God allows them to continue in their moral degeneration. In fact, if God were not to intervene, we would indeed become like Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaiah tells us this in Isaiah 1:9,
9 Unless the Lord of hosts had left us a few survivors [the Remnant], we would be like Sodom, we would be like Gomorrah.
It is the Remnant of Grace that prevents, even now, the destruction of nations. This is seen in the fact that God would not destroy Sodom until Lot had been removed (Gen. 19:22). Today, however, there is no country where the Remnant might escape. I believe that God will use the Remnant to bring a baptism of fire to Sodom, the saints are pictured as fire in God’s right hand. Deut. 33:2, 3 says,
2 … At His right hand a law of fire went forth to them. 3 Yes, He loves the people; all His holy ones are in Your hand, and they sit down at Your feet… [The Interlinear Bible]
Here we see the “law of fire” in God’s right hand. The KJV renders it “a fiery law.” We are told that the “holy ones are in Your hand.” These holy ones, or “saints,” are the carriers of the fire of God, for they are in His right hand. The Remnant of Grace is called to bring the Holy Spirit, the presence and glory of God, and the fiery law (character) of God to the nation, for this is the only remedy to heart idolatry.
Under the Old Covenant, where Israel was destroyed for its sin, men could observe how the judgments of God destroyed the nation as with Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:28). But under the New Covenant, when God fulfills His oath, the fire of God will have a positive outcome. The fire of God will burn the idols of men’s hearts by the power of the Spirit. Men will repent when the foundations of their way of life are shaken. This is what men will see and observe in our time.
Moses continues in Deut. 29:24-28,
24 And all the nations shall say, “Why has the Lord done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?” 25 Then men will say, “Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. 26 And they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them. 27 Therefore, the anger of the Lord burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book; 28 and the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land. [Notation from a scribe many centuries later: “as it is this day.”]
Today, even under the New Covenant, God has seen fit to allow us to taste the curse of the law before intervening to fulfill His oath. Israel of old was placed under an iron yoke (Deut. 28:48), which brought them into captivity. That yoke lasted 2,520 years until 1776-1800 A.D. Since that time, America has again come under judgment, but it has been under a wooden yoke. This sentence is lighter, but we must still feel the sting of divine judgment until He intervenes to fulfill His oath.
Moses then concludes this section of his speech in Deut. 29:29,
29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
Some portions of the mind of God are revealed to us, while other things are hidden. There is, of course, a progressive revelation throughout history. For example, when Moses spoke of the New Covenant in Deuteronomy 29, it is not likely that anyone really understood it in Moses’ day. The light of Pentecost has given us greater understanding of the words that Moses spoke.
And now, at the dawn of the Age of Tabernacles, God is shedding still more light on these words, so that we will understand what is happening today and have hope in what God has vowed to do in the earth.