Deuteronomy 27:1-10 (An Altar of Stones)

Deuteronomy 27:1-10
An Altar of Stones

The day for typing this sermon started with some problems between a couple folks that I have some influence over in my life. Fortunately, by the time I got up, they were resolved. It’s good, because you probably know what a disciplinarian I am. Oh my.

Well, the sermon passage today shows a problem exists among the people as well. It isn’t perfectly evident. More than anything, it just looks like something Moses has planned for the people when they were to enter into the land of promise.

But that is just it. The first time the people didn’t go in, way back in Numbers 14, it was specifically stated that they did not enter because of unbelief. That is confirmed in Hebrews 3 –

“For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:16-19

As this is so, it must be that entering this time would be because of faith in the Lord. But because the author of Hebrews clearly indicates that Israel did not receive what Canaan only anticipated, meaning entering into God’s promised rest, what we will see when they do enter is only typical of what will happen to them someday future to us now.

This is certain from today’s passage, because they will build an altar containing the words of the law on it, and they will sacrifice on it. But they already have a tabernacle and an altar to sacrifice on. Thus, this is a clear note that what we are seeing today is given in typology.

Sacrifices imply a need for a sacrifice. And words of law mean the imputation of sin for violating the law. Thus, there is a problem that needs to be corrected.

God is quite a disciplinarian. He will not tolerate sin. And so, He must judge and punish it. How will that be done? It depends on how one approaches Him. For His redeemed, it is anticipated in this passage today.

Text Verse: “Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.” Psalm 43:4

Though the psalmist’s words are referring to the altar in Jerusalem, the altar of God is ultimately wherever God meets with His people in sacrifice. As far as the passage, it is very complicated – even extremely so. I had to lay it out on a separate document to make it understandable to me just to keep track of what is going on.

As I put the extra time into that, I hated to just delete it with the completion of the sermon, so I included it in this introduction. That will make my introduction typing much easier as I will have to think of less after typing the sermon to fill up a page. Bonus.

Keep all the commandment (ha’torah) which I command you
* When you (p) cross over the Jordan
You (s) shall set up large stones and you shall plaster them with plaster
You (s) shall write on them all the words of the law
* When you (s) have crossed over
That you (s) may enter the land which the Lord your (s) God is giving you
A land flowing with milk and honey
Just as the Lord God of your (s) fathers promised you
* When you (p) have crossed over the Jordan
On Mount Ebal you (p) shall set up these stones which I command you (p) today
And you (s) shall plaster them with plaster
* And you (s) shall build an altar to the Lord your God
An altar of stones
You (s) shall not use iron on them
You (s) shall build with whole stones the altar of the Lord your (s) God
And you (s) shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your (s) God
You (s) shall offer peace offerings and you (s) shall eat there and rejoice
Before the Lord your (s) God
* And you (s) shall write very plainly on the stones all the words of this law (ha’torah)

As you can see, there is repetition in the passage, there are changes from the singular to the plural, and so on. Along with these, there is not much agreement by scholars on what several of the verses are saying. Oh my.

Monday started with a problem that was thankfully resolved, and it then continued on with problems that needed to be resolved. I hope and pray that the evaluation you will be given is correct, in line with what the Lord intends for us to see, and not stretching or abusing any point or precept. May it be so.

Great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. You Shall Set Up These Stones (verses 1-10)

Now Moses, with the elders of Israel, commanded the people,

v’sav Mosheh v’ziqne Yisrael eth ha’am – “And commanded Moses, and elders of Israel, the people.” The words are unique in Deuteronomy. It is the only time that the elders are specifically said to join with Moses in commanding the people. The zaqen, or elders, will be mentioned five more times in Deuteronomy, but never again in this particular way.

The reason for including them now is that what will be presented in the coming verses are words that do not include Moses in their performance, only in their direction. He will not accompany Israel into Canaan. As such, the elders are included to ensure that the duty will be performed accordingly.

It appears that these “elders” are referring to the priests as will be seen in verse 9. In this united manner, together they are…

1 (con’t) saying: “Keep all the commandments

The translation is incorrect. It is singular: lemor shamor eth kal ha’mitsvah – “to say ‘keep all the commandment.’” The verb is stated as an imperative. In essence, “You are certainly to keep all the commandment.”

Of this, John Lange states, “The whole commandment is the following command for the erection, plastering, and inscribing, etc., in all its compass.” Keil agrees with this, saying the imperative verb “indicates at the very outset the purpose for which the law written upon stones was to be set up in Canaan.”

I disagree, as will be explained as we continue. Rather, this is the same thought as has been repeatedly stated by Moses in Deuteronomy, such as –

“For, if keeping you keep all the command, the this, which I command you to do.” Deuteronomy 11:22

Those words were in their own imperative form as well. It wasn’t just speaking of what he was about to state, but of everything he had and would continue to state in Deuteronomy. What is to follow now is a command, but it is only a part of the entire command that is to be kept. As such, it is a command…

1 (con’t) which I command you today.

asher anokhi matsaveh etkem ha’yom – “Which I (singular) command you (plural: all) the day.” It is the first reason why it is referring to the entire command, and not just what is about to be commanded. Only Moses speaks to all of the people. As such, the words ha’yom, translated as “today,” refer to the entire time of Moses giving out this body of law on the shores of the Jordan as they so often have in Deuteronomy.

Included in that body of law comes another requirement which is set forth, along with the elders because Moses will not be present to see the task completed…

And it shall be, on the day when you cross over the Jordan

v’hayah ba’yom asher taavru eth ha’yarden – “And it shall be in the day you (all, plural) cross over the Jordan.” It reads, “in the day,” not “on the day.” It is referring to the timeframe, not a specific day.

Israel was to cross the Jordan. But the act of crossing the Jordan doesn’t mean that they will be able to perform the actions commanded in the words to come. In fact, this will not come about until after the destruction of both Jericho and Ai, as is recorded in Joshua 8.

2 (con’t) to the land which the Lord your God is giving you,

Now, the pronouns turn to the singular – “you, Israel.” Here, speaking of the general timeframe of crossing the Jordan, not the exact day that they cross, Moses again notes what he has repeatedly said in Deuteronomy. It is the land the Lord is giving to Israel (the pronoun is singular) as a united people.

As always, the implication is that what the Lord gives, He has the right to take away, meaning the right to use it, as has already been clearly explained to them, and as will be explained again, quite clearly, in Chapter 28. The land is Israel’s. When they are obedient, they may dwell in it. When they are not, they may not. But the land is given to Israel. To ensure that continues, Moses says to Israel…

2 (con’t) that you shall set up for yourselves large stones,

va’haqemota lekha abanim gedoloth – “and you shall set up to you stones large.” Again, the words are in the singular, “you, Israel.” The purpose of this is explained in the next verse, but the idea here is that a structure is to be built, and the stones should be large enough to endure and not simply fall apart with the changing of the seasons. Thus, they were to be large. After that…

2 (con’t) and whitewash them with lime.

v’sadta otam ba’sid – “and plaster them in the plaster.” Both the verb and noun form of the word are introduced here. The verb form will only be seen here and in verse 27:4. The noun will be in both verses and also in Isaiah 33:12 and Amos 2:1.

In Isaiah and Amos, it refers to burning, as by lime or into lime. Thus, many translations say, “whitewash them with lime.” That may be the case, but it seems more likely that the rocks will be plastered over to make a smooth surface.

To simply whitewash them would make the accomplishment of the words of the next verse much harder, and also less noticeable. That verse now says…

You shall write on them all the words of this law,

All of verse 3 is in the singular, “you, Israel.” As far as the words here, there are various views on what this means, such as –

“i.e. all the purely legislative parts of the Mosaic institute.” Cambridge

“i. e. all the laws revealed from God to the people by Moses, regarded by the Jews as 613.” Barnes

“It might be, as some think, the Decalogue; but a greater probability is that it was ‘the blessings and curses,’ which comprised in fact an epitome of the law (Jos 8:34).” JFB

“Not the whole book of Deuteronomy, as some think, at least not the historical part of it, only what concerns the laws of God; and it may be only a summary or abstract of them, and perhaps only the ten commandments.” Gill

“I am fully of opinion that the (תורה torah) law or ordinance in question simply means the blessings and curses mentioned in this and in the following chapter; and indeed these contained a very good epitome of the whole law in all its promises and threatenings, in reference to the whole of its grand moral design.” Clarke

The words ha’torah, or “the Law.” Can be construed in various ways. The Ten Commandments are a short summary of the Law. Deuteronomy is called the Book of the Law of Moses in Joshua 8:31. However, “the Law,” is a phrase that includes all five books of Moses at times. This is perfectly evident from Paul’s words –

“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.” Galatians 4:21, 22

What Paul refers to is found in Genesis, and yet he calls it “the law.” I would personally favor the meaning to be “The five books of Moses,” but that does not mean this is correct. However, without understanding what is said in Genesis and Exodus, the rest of the law lacks cohesion.

In understanding how sin was introduced, the consequences of a world living in wickedness, the grace of God towards Noah, the call of Abraham, and so on, one can then begin to understand what the law was intended to do, as least in the short term.

3 (con’t) when you have crossed over,

b’averekha – “in your (singular, Israel) crossing over.” Compare the words of this and the previous verse –

“in the day you (all, plural) cross over the Jordan.” (2)
“in your (singular, Israel) crossing over.” (3)

The idea is that as soon as it is possible, they are to do what they are instructed. It isn’t that they can just set a future day and plan on it, but they are to make a concerted effort to do it as soon as possible. This is so…

3 (con’t) that you may enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you,

l’maan asher tavo el ha’arets asher Yehovah elohekha noten lekha – “to end purpose which you (s) may enter into the land which Yehovah your (s) God gives you (s).” There is an end purpose, a designed intent, for doing as they are instructed. It is so that Israel may enter the land.

And yet, they are already in the land at the time they are to accomplish the task. This, then, is the second reason that what Moses said in verse 1 is referring to all of the Law of Moses, and not just to the command to build this edifice and inscribe the words of the law on it.

They are being told that in order to enter the land, a land that they have already entered, they need keep all of the commandment that Moses commanded. It would make no sense to have them build an edifice and write out the laws that they were instructed to obey if it were only a part of the commandment.

The words are instructional: “You have crossed over the Jordan. You are in the land. Here is what you need to do in order to enter the land.” It is…

3 (con’t) ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the Lord God of your fathers promised you.

This is now the fifth of six times this particular phrase is used in Deuteronomy, but the last time it is actually spoken by the Lord to Moses. This time, Moses adds in the words “just as the Lord God of your fathers promised you.”

This takes Israel all the way back to Exodus 3 where twice in that chapter the Lord told Moses to speak to the people of Israel about how He would deliver them from Egypt and bring them into the land (Exodus 3:8 & 3:17). This was at the time of his commission, and since that time, the anticipation has been this land.

Therefore it shall be, when you have crossed over the Jordan,

v’hayah b’averekem eth ha’yarden – “And it shall be in your (plural) crossing over.” Again, the words should be compared –

“in the day you (all, plural) cross over the Jordan.” (2)
“in your (singular, Israel) crossing over.” (3)
“in your (plural) crossing over.” (4)

4 (con’t) that on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones, which I command you today,

In verse 2, it said, “you (singular, Israel) shall set up to you (singular).” Now, it says, “and you (plural, you all) shall set up stones, the these, which I command you (plural, you all) today.”

As far as Mount Ebal, the name Ebal comes from an unused root meaning to be bald. Probably signifying the bald appearance of the mountain. Thus, it means something like Bare or Heap of Barrenness.

4 (con’t) and you shall whitewash them with lime.

The words are identical to the final clause of verse 2, except the word otam, or “them” is spelled with an additional letter, a vav, even though it is pronounced the same. The words are in the singular, “you, Israel.” It is the last time the verb form of this word, whitewash, is used in the Bible.

And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God,

It is not agreed whether or not this is the same structure as has been described in the previous verses. Many scholars adamantly state they are not the same. However, Joshua 8 appears to combine the two as one –

“Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.” Joshua 8:30-32

It is hard to see how the two could not be the same based on these words from Joshua. But, because of seemingly different terminology now to be introduced, some find it to signify two things, not one. To them, that is seen in the next words…

5 (con’t) an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them.

Nothing is said of the size of the stones as in verse 2. And these stones are specifically spoken of in accord with the law previously set forth by the Lord in Exodus 20:24-26 –

“An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you. 25 And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. 26 Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.”

The words of this verse, and the words they are based on from Exodus 20, do not negate that this is one thing rather than two. In Moses’ instructions, he specifies “iron.” In Exodus, it simply spoke of a cutting instrument. Moses, however, defines that with the word barzel, or iron. Rather than using any such instrument…

You shall build with whole stones the altar of the Lord your God,

The translation is not correct. It says “altar,” not “the altar.” By including “the,” translators will cause the reader to assume it is, in fact, a separate thing from what was previously stated. Without the article, it could just as easily be referring to the same edifice.

Either way, it is an altar, and it is therefore not to have the work of human hands to defile it. Rather, the stones are to be whole, meaning uncut in any way. As such…

6 (con’t) and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God.

v’haalita alav olot l’Yehovah elohekha – “And you shall cause to ascend burnt offerings to Yehovah your God.” The idea here is that of appeasing for sins. Though not at the tabernacle, the words of law written all over the stones are enough to demonstrate this.

The burnt offerings are those that are wholly burnt to the Lord. The instructions for them are predominately found in Leviticus 1. No part of them is eaten, but the entire animal ascends in smoke as an offering of appeasement to God. Only after the burnt offerings are noted are the next offerings then mentioned…

You shall offer peace offerings,

The law of the peace offering is predominantly detailed in Leviticus 3. It is an offering where a part is offered to the Lord and then the offeror participates in it as well. Thus, it signifies peace is established between the two. This is why it is also translated as “fellowship offerings.” It is also why Moses next says…

7 (con’t) and shall eat there, and rejoice before the Lord your God.

In the eating, there is a sense of fellowship and participation with the Lord God. Thus, there is to be a state of rejoicing before Him. These peace offerings are made for exactly this reason – communion and fellowship between the Lord and His people.

And you shall write very plainly on the stones all the words of this law.”

The words “very plainly” are baer hetev. They are very specific and direct. The first is a rare word, baar. It is a verb meaning to make distinct or plain. It comes from a primitive root which signifies to dig, and so by analogy, it means to engrave. The word was seen only once before, in Deuteronomy 1:5. It will only be seen one more time, in Habakkuk 2:2 –

“Then the Lord answered me and said:
‘Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.’” Habakkuk 2:2

The second word, yatav, gives the sense of doing well, being good, pleasing, and so on. Both verbs are infinitives, and thus are being used adverbially. And so, “very plainly” will satisfy the translation. Though this has already been stated, it is restated at the end in order to highlight the importance of what is said.

The law is to be presented in a perfectly open, clear, and easily identifiable manner. With that stated, the account next says…

Then Moses and the priests, the Levites, spoke to all Israel, saying,

The words simply say, “And spoke,” not “Then spoke.” As such, it seems that the “elders” mentioned in verse 1 is now explained as, “the priests, the Levites.” It is these that jointly convey the words of the people, saying…

9 (con’t) “Take heed and listen, O Israel:

Here is a word found nowhere else in Scripture, sakath. It comes from a primitive root meaning to be silent. Thus, by implication, it signifies to observe quietly, and therefore, to take heed.

Literally, it says “Be silent and listen.” Mouths are to be closed; ears are to be open. As such, attention is to be directed to what is said, and obedience is to be the result. Understanding this, they next say…

9 (con’t) This day you have become the people of the Lord your God.

This takes us back to the end of Chapter 26 where the two thoughts were expressed by Moses in verses 17 and 18 –

“Today, you have caused Yehovah to say to you that He will be your God.”
“And Yehovah has caused you to say that you will be His special people.”

In this, they have become the people of Yehovah. Hence…

*10 (fin) Therefore you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.”

Again, the thought returns to verse 17 of the previous chapter –

“…and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice.”

This verse also explains the thought expressed in verse 1. The commandment (singular) is to be kept. Moses’ words now, the commandments and the statutes, are the makeup of that commandment. Israel is to do these in order to keep the commandment.

An altar of stone you shall make for Me
You shall make it according to My word
Large stones and plaster, so shall it be
Follow the instructions just as you have heard

Make it on the mountain of the curse
And set it up just as I have commanded you
Not a point I have stated shall you miss, that would be perverse
Everything I have said, you are certainly to do

The typology must be maintained carefully
So that what it anticipates will be clearly understood
Do just what you have been instructed by Me
And you will have done just as you should

II. Pictures of Christ

Moses makes a point of three times saying, “when you have crossed over.” Twice, he specifies this as “the Jordan.” The words ha’yarden, or “the Jordan,” mean “the Descender.” It is consistently used as a picture of Christ. He descended from heaven to earth, and then even to death. He then rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven.

The Jordan is typologically a picture of Christ’s incarnation in His first advent. When one crosses over (or through) the Jordan, it is typologically a picture of passing through Christ from death to life. The words “cross over” are closely associated with the word Hebrew, or, one who crosses over.

There were carefully alternated uses of the singular and the plural in the passage. It is instructive in itself. This is to show that the same people (all) are the collective (Israel) that are being referred to. This is then a typological foreshadowing of the time when Israel as a people come to Christ, rather than as individual Jews do.

There is a time when the nation will realize who Christ is and will individually and collectively pass through Christ unto life. As an anticipatory picture of this, they are shown what that means in advance by building this altar.

I would argue, especially based on Joshua 8, that the stones set up with plaster, and inscribed with the law, are one and the same as the altar on which the offerings are made. To understand the significance of the altar, one should return to the Exodus 20 sermon entitled “The Earthen Altar.”

Quite clearly, that altar pictures Christ in its every detail. The reason for building this altar without any tool is because the unhewn stone is something that God created.

If man were to shape the stone, then it would include man’s efforts in it. Thus, it would lead to either idolatry of the altar which man had made in order to fellowship with God, or it would lead to idolatry of self because the man had erected the place where God and man fellowshipped.

Either way, it is a picture of works-based salvation. It is man attempting to reconcile himself to God by his efforts rather than accepting God’s provision in the process of reconciliation.

Obviously, Israel had to build the altar, or no altar would be built. But the hewing of the stones provides the typology – it is God’s work, not man’s effort, that is the basis for the altar.

God made the stones. For man to add his effort into what He had made would then be contrary to the premise of the Bible. Man is saved by grace, not by works.

The erection of the altar itself cannot be equated to a work any more than the compilation of the Bible can be. God gave the words, man recorded the words, and through the words man meets with God. Likewise, God made the earth and the stones, man simply arranges them into an altar, and God then meets with man.

And more, that altar anticipates Christ in that God made man (the building block of humanity) without any human efforts, and humanity has then moved itself around in order to reproduce, eventually leading to Christ. The fact that Israel assembled the stones does not in any way damage the picture of Christ. Rather, it enhances it.

Using even, or stone, provides its own picture of Christ’s humanity. He is the fulfillment of this altar where man comes to fellowship with God. Stone is used to speak of the Lord and of the Messiah in Scripture, such as –

“I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:21-24

This verse is then cited six times in the New Testament when speaking of the Messiah by Jesus, or by Peter when referring to Jesus as the Messiah. In Isaiah 28:16, Isaiah says –

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.” Isaiah 28:16

That is cited by both Paul and Peter when referring to Christ as well. It is God who fashioned Christ’s humanity. Thus, to shape a stone for this altar would typologically be to fashion a false “christ” of one’s own choosing. This is the reason for the specificity in the command. The earthen altar, or one of stone, pictures Christ who was alone fashioned by God.

To hew the stones would then say that the people were fashioning their own salvation, rejecting the only true Lord who is willing to meet with man.

The use of “large” stones provides its own picture. There are many stones, large and thus heavy. It anticipates the weight and burden of the law, of which Christ is the fulfillment. No person can carry that burden. Christ speaks of that several times and in several ways, such as –

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

John speaks of the same thing when he says of Christ that “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). With that, we see that the plastering of the stones with plaster unites them as one, thus it is an altar of stone, even if it is an altar of stones. It is one law, even if made up of many.

Israel, meaning the people at the time of Joshua, will be in the land. They will build an altar while already in the land, and yet they are being told that the intent of the altar is “that you may enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Therefore, and as I noted, the words are instructional. They are intended for Israel, the people individually, and they are intended for Israel collectively once Messiah has come: “You have crossed over the Jordan. You are in the land. Here is what you need to do in order to enter the land.”

In this, the type, crossing the Jordan, entering the land, and building the altar, all anticipate the Antitype – coming through Christ and accepting His work in order to enter the true land “flowing with milk and honey.”

To further this, Moses again notes crossing over the Jordan, after which they were to set up the stones on Mount Ebal. Mount Ebal was noted in Deuteronomy 11 where its significance was described.

As a refresher to that, the name Ebal comes from an unused root meaning to be bald. Probably signifying the bald appearance of the mountain. Thus, it means something like Bare or Heap of Barrenness.

Of the two facing mountains, which will be noted again in next week’s passage, Gerizim is to the south and Ebal is to the north. Or, in reference to the layout of directions in the Bible, Gerizim is to the right, and Ebal is to the left. Thus, it matches the scriptural pattern of the right hand of blessing and the left hand of cursing. For example –

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:31-33

Ebal is the mountain of curse, the bald mountain. Thus, there is metaphor being conveyed. After noting the name of the mountain, Moses again said that they are to set up the stones and to plaster them with plaster.

As I noted, the second time he says this, the words were identical to the final clause of verse 2, except the word otam, or “them” (meaning the stones) is spelled with an additional letter, a vav.

If that is what Moses truly penned and not a scribal error that crept in, I would suggest that this letter anticipates Christ as well. Vav is the sixth letter of the Aleph-bet. The number six is the number of man, fallen man. But it can form its own picture of Christ in that He took on the sins of fallen man, becoming sin so “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

This is what occurs in the atonement process. A Substitute takes the place of the sinner, and the transfer is made. Thus, the act of plastering the stones, on Mount Ebal – if the spelling reflects the original – appears to make its own picture of Christ.

So, the name and the location of the mountain, as well as the act of plastering the stones on the mountain, all anticipate Paul’s words of Galatians 3 –

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:10-14

And more, on this altar, Israel is then instructed to offer burnt offerings first. It is a typological representation of Christ as our sacrificial offering as was minutely detailed in the book of Leviticus in regard to this type of offering.

The altar of the law, meaning the altar of the curse, on the mountain of the curse – and everything else associated with this location and altar that we have seen so far, is the place where the sin is dealt with, anticipating Christ. Every single detail of it is so.

Once that sin is dealt with, and the transfer of the penalty of the law is made, only then are the peace offerings to be made. Restoration has been effected, peace between the warring parties is made, and fellowship through the meal is realized.

With this all stated, Moses then returns to the writing of the law very plainly on the altar. It is its own stress in the repetition, and it is its own stress in the use of the two verbs in an adverbial manner.

It is, in type, anticipatory of Christ who is the embodiment and fulfillment of the law. He clearly and plainly is shown to be this in the gospels. Thus, the altar pictures Christ in its makeup. It pictures Christ in the means it is fashioned. It pictures Christ in what is inscribed on it. It pictures Christ in where it is located. And it also anticipates Christ in what is offered on it.

Everything about the passage today is given to alert Israel to their need for Christ. Someday, they will pass through the Descender, they will put their faith in Him, and they will find that the law was only a tutor to bring them to Him.

What is being conveyed here is then summed up in the final two verses we looked at. The very fact that an offering had to be made upon the altar of the law tells us that the law has been violated and that a sacrifice is needed to atone for it.

Therefore, when Moses says that they are the people of the Lord God, and that they are to obey the Lord and keep His commandments and statutes, it is telling them that they will do so only through Christ’s perfect obedience to the law. In every way, in Israel’s building of this altar, it is an anticipatory type of their coming to Christ who fulfills the law for them.

As such, it is important for us in the church to remember the same lesson, and to not fall back on the law as a means of pleasing God. If you are saved, you are saved. But if you go back to law observance, you are setting aside the work of Christ.

How displeasing to God it must be when someone starts well and then trips up in his race to the end. Not only does he stop growing in Christ, he disgraces the very work of Christ that saved him in the first place!

Let us be wise and simply trust in the finished, final, and forever work of Christ on our behalf. When we are told to obey His commandments by John as we noted a few minutes ago, John was not speaking of the Law of Moses. He was referring to our obligations under the New Covenant.

It is a covenant that came at a high price to initiate. Christ gave His life up under the Old and in fulfillment of it so that we could have new life in Him. Let us remember this and be observant to His commands out of gratitude for such a great salvation.

Closing Verse: “… knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Galatians 2:16

Next Week: Deuteronomy 27:11-26 Remember all that you heard and you saw (and then do All the Words of This Law) (76th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

An Altar of Stones

Now Moses, with the elders of Israel
Commanded the people, saying
“Keep all the commandments which I command you today
So to you I am relaying

And it shall be, on the day
When you cross over the Jordan to the land
———-which the LORD your God is giving you
That you shall set up for yourselves large stones
And whitewash them with lime, so you shall do

You shall write on them all the words of this law
When you have crossed over, so you shall do
That you may enter the land
Which the LORD your God is giving you

‘A land flowing with milk and honey, yes it is true
Just as the LORD God of your fathers promised you

Therefore it shall be, when you have crossed over the Jordan
That on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones at that time
Which I command you today
And you shall whitewash them with lime

And there you shall build an altar
To the LORD your God, can I get an “Amen?”
An altar of stones
You shall not use an iron tool on them

You shall build with whole stones
The altar of the LORD your God, so you shall do
And offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God
Just as I have instructed you

You shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there
And rejoice before the LORD your God
And you shall write very plainly on the stones
All the words of this law, as an acknowledgment nod

Then Moses and the priests, the Levites
Spoke to all Israel, saying (words by which to applaud)
“Take heed and listen, O Israel:
This day you have become the people of the LORD your God

Therefore you shall obey
The voice of the LORD your God, as to you I say
And observe His commandments and His statutes
Which I command you today

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Moses, with the elders of Israel, commanded the people, saying: “Keep all the commandments which I command you today. And it shall be, on the day when you cross over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, that you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. You shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have crossed over, that you may enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the Lord God of your fathers promised you. Therefore it shall be, when you have crossed over the Jordan, that on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones, which I command you today, and you shall whitewash them with lime. And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them. You shall build with whole stones the altar of the Lord your God, and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God. You shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there, and rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write very plainly on the stones all the words of this law.”

Then Moses and the priests, the Levites, spoke to all Israel, saying, “Take heed and listen, O Israel: This day you have become the people of the Lord your God. 10 Therefore you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.”

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 26:12-19 (The Third Year – The Year of Tithing)

Deuteronomy 26:12-19
The Third Year – The Year of Tithing

The passage before us details the final uses of the concept of the tithe to be found in the books of Moses. The first mention was in Genesis 14:20 where it says Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe of all. The passage prescribes nothing. It simply describes what occurred, and nothing more.

Further, it must be noted one last time that there is no proper doctrine known as “the law of first mention.” The reason that term was made up was certainly because some studious soul went to his pastor and said, “Why are we tithing as we are? We are a New Testament church and are not bound to the Law of Moses, are we?”

In a panic at being called out for his transgression of putting his New Testament congregation back under the law, thus being called a “heretic,” while at the same time not wanting to lose out on beating ten percent out of his congregants every chance he could get, he immediately conjured up a non-existent law, the “law of first mention” in order to justify continuing with “tithing.”

In the same chapter of Genesis where Melchizedek is mentioned, Abram’s nephew – Lot – was captured. It then says that Abram armed his servants and pursued and overtook Lot’s captives attacked them, and rescued Lot and all his goods.

If the law of first mention were true, we would then be obligated to do exactly the same for any relative of ours who found himself in a similar pickle. We would also be obligated to circumcise our male children on the eighth day of their lives, to have a party for a child on the day it was weaned, to slaughter a calf when strangers showed up at our door, to offer our virgin daughters in place of guests in our house if the guests were threatened with being raped, and so on.

Each of these, and countless other precepts predate the Law of Moses, and they could arguably be put on the exact same level as that descriptive passage about Abram giving a tithe to Melchizedek. The thinking is perverse, and it is unsound theology – all designed to impose upon people something that would then violate other precepts found in the New Testament, such as…

Text Verse: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Mandating tithing does not lead to cheerful givers, trust me on this. For every cheerful tither, there are one thousand more that cheat on the precept, ignore the precept, feel overwhelmed by the precept, are angry about the precept, and so on.

If you are in a church where tithing is mandated, it is your responsibility to talk to the leadership and provide the proper instruction to correct this horrifying abuse of Scripture that is pounded into the heads of people who are supposed to be free in Christ from the demands of the law, and who are not to be duped into the false teaching known as “the law of first mention.”

If your pastor holds to the law of first mention, ask him if he had his son circumcised on the eighth day, because ONLY on the eighth day is it allowed. If he doesn’t have a son, ask if he has preparations for his daughter to be wedded to her husband’s brother if her husband dies. That is a precept that predates the Law of Moses.

If he doesn’t have any children, there are plenty of other things you could ask if he is doing that are recorded in Genesis and early Exodus that he should be doing. It is unsound, it is hypocritical, and it should not be tolerated within the church.

As for tithing under the law, we will briefly evaluate that one last time in our passage today. If a pastor is adamant in shoving his congregants back under the law to tithe, then he needs to abide by what the law says. We’ll see if that is a tenable option for him today as well.

Great things such as “NO TITHING FOR NEW TESTAMENT BELIEVERS” are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Holiness (verses 12-15)

12 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase

ki tekaleh laser eth kal masar tebuatekha – “When you complete to tithe all tithe of your increase.” Notice the lack of any article before “tithe” – “all tithe.” The use of the article has been precise and meticulous in all of the tithing verses found in the previous sections that dealt with this issue.

Moses is instructing the people concerning “tithes.” It is a precept that was mandated for the people of Israel. Every year, the people of Israel were to set aside a tenth, a tithe, of their increase. That was first noted, within the law, in Leviticus 27 –

“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30

In that verse, no article is used. “And all tithe of the land.” It is this that is “holy to the Lord.” Nothing was said of what should be done with it. It simply says that tithes were holy to the Lord. Numbers 18:21-32 then details how tithes, the tithes which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord (Numbers 18:24), are to be apportioned to the Levites, and from that a portion (a tithe of the tithe) is to be given to the priests.

The use of the article, or the lack of it – in each instance – is expressive of what is to occur. Tithes are to be set aside as holy to the Lord. Those offered as a heave offering are to be given to the Levites. But Numbers does not say what is to happen to those not offered up as heave offerings to the Lord. That is only explained later, in Deuteronomy.

It is in Deuteronomy 14:22-29 that the disposition of those not offered up as a heave offering is noted. For a bit of comical relief and as a poke at “tithing” pastors, we will journey there one last time and read that passage –

“You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.” Deuteronomy 14:22-27

It is clear and precise – party time has arrived, and the tithes are the means by which it will come about. The Lord provided the tithes, and it is His will that they be used to glorify Him through rejoicing in His provision. With that stated, the chapter closed out with these words –

“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.” Deuteronomy 14:28, 29

It is that final passage of Deuteronomy that Moses now readdresses one last time, hoping that in the dispensation of grace that was to come in Christ, pastors wouldn’t make the galactically huge error of reimposing tithing on their congregation, but if they did, they would at least do it in accord with the law and not in accord with their own corrupt agenda. As he next says…

12 (con’t) in the third year

ba’shanah ha’shelishit – “In the year, the third.” Now, there is a distinction being made between the first two years and the third year. All tithes are to be laid aside, but in the third year, there are specific provisions to be adhered to. It is this third year that is…

12 (con’t) —the year of tithing—

Almost all translations state it this way, and such a translation would cause a contradiction to occur. Every year is a year of tithing. That has already been made explicit. A tithe was to be set aside every year as holy to the Lord. The Hebrew says: shenat ha’maaser – “year the tithe.” The article is again expressive.

This clause and the previous clause are in apposition, restating and explaining the other. The Greek translation adds in the words, “the second tithe,” which are not found in the Hebrew. This was certainly translated by rabbi Reuben who didn’t want to lose out on milking his synagogue of any of his desired portion. The word “second” cannot even be inferred in the Hebrew.

Even Cambridge notes that, saying, “a reading which even after the vocalic changes which it involves in the Heb. results in an impossible construction.” Rather, the text has been very clear with each stage of the development of the tithing guidelines.

Of this tithe, the third-year tithe, Moses next says words that are in accord with the words of Deuteronomy 14, repeating them to ensure clarity concerning the precept so that it is understood…

12 (con’t) and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow,

The thought is substantially repeated from Deuteronomy 14:29, saying, “And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates…”

Moses is taking care to make it understood that these people, who had no ability to otherwise take care of themselves, would be tended to according to the riches of the blessings of the Lord upon the people of Israel. They were in deprivation, and the year of the tithe was given…

12 (con’t) so that they may eat within your gates and be filled,

Again, the words follow after verse 14:29, where a blessing is included for the people when they observe the precept. There it says, “may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”

In this, they will be observant of the command already set forth. And they are then to acknowledge that the reason was for exactly that purpose. It is not a single purpose, as has already been defined, but for the purpose of the tithe in general, meaning all three years of the tithe. That cannot be misunderstood when the next verses are properly considered. As Moses first notes…

13 then you shall say before the Lord your God:

This would be at the pilgrim feasts.

13 (con’t) ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house,

biarti ha’qodesh min ha’bayit – “I have burnt away the holiness from the house.” The word ba’ar is used. It is the same word used when speaking of purging away evil and purging away guilt. The tithe is holy and thus it is to be considered as such. It would be evil to use it for non-holy purposes.

The words “from my house” are clear. The tithes were kept there until they were to be dispensed with. Two years it was for magnificent partying in the presence of the Lord, and the third year it was to be transferred to the storehouses for the care of those to whom it was set apart for. The latter of those two uses is again stated by Moses…

13 (con’t) and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow,

It is the explicitly stated and now repeated mandate for the third-year tithe. But it is not the whole mandate for the three years of tithes. This third-year mandate is for the care of those to whom it is designated. With that again understood, the proclamation of the Israelite continues with…

13 (con’t) according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me;

The translation is exactly correct. What is notable, is that the commandments for the tithe are almost all given by Moses, and yet the acknowledgment to the Lord is that they are commands asher tsivitani, or “which You [the Lord] have commanded me.” It once again speaks of the process of divine inspiration. What Moses has put forth is, in fact, the revealed word of God.

13 (con’t) I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.

lo avarti mimitsvotekha – “no have I passed over from your commandments.” The word avar is closely associated with the word ivrim or Hebrew, and this is certainly why Moses says this. A true Hebrew would not cross over the laws of the Lord, but would stay on the side of them that he belonged. He would remember them and not forget.

With that stated, we come to the words of the next verse which clearly and unambiguously reveal to us that there was not a “second” tithe, and that the “holy tithe” mentioned here is the same as that referred to in Leviticus 27:30, the one tithe of Israel which is said to be “holy to the Lord.” The Israelite continues, saying…

14 I have not eaten any of it when in mourning,

lo akalti b’oni mimenu – “No I have eaten in my affliction from it.” The very fact that Moses brings up eating the tithe in affliction (mourning) means that, at times, the tithe was to be eaten by the individual. If it was not ever to be eaten, Moses would have simply said, “I have not eaten any of it.” What he is referring to is what it says in verse 14:26 –

“…you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.” Deuteronomy 14:26

They are commanded to rejoice in the presence of the Lord. This clause now acknowledges that the person has done so. If he were in mourning, he would not be allowed to eat of the tithe. This is what is alluded to in Hosea 9 –

“They shall not offer wine offerings to the Lord,
Nor shall their sacrifices be pleasing to Him.
It shall be like bread of mourners to them;
All who eat it shall be defiled.
For their bread shall be for their own life;
It shall not come into the house of the Lord.” Hosea 9:4

The bread of mourners is that of eating at a funeral. It is a time of loss and despondency. The tithe was not to be used for such a purpose because the tithe anticipates Christ.

The tenth is the Lord’s claim on the whole. To eat this holy portion in mourning would be equivalent to a Christian being in mourning over being saved. The thought would be confused, contradictory, and quite possibly Calvinist – but there is no place for it in the faith. Christ is the Victor over death. In His presence is to be joy and rejoicing forevermore. Next, he is to say…

14 (con’t) nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use,

v’lo viarti mimenu b’tame – “and no have I burnt it in unclean.” It is the same verb just used in verse 13, ba’ar – to burn away. This is still referring to the person using his own tithes in the first two years. An unclean person was not to enter the presence of the Lord. If he were unclean according to Levitical law, he could not legally participate in the festivities where the tithes were consumed.

14 (con’t) nor given any of it for the dead.

It does not say, “the dead.” It says: v’lo nathathi mimenu l’met – “and not I give from it to dead.” This is not speaking of offering it to dead people as some scholars claim. That would always be forbidden, and it is unnecessary to be stated here.

Rather, it is referring to providing it for those who are in mourning for the dead, such as is seen in Jeremiah 16 where no article is used before “dead,” despite the translation –

“Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother.” Jeremiah 16:6, 7

The tithe is not symbolic of a consolation for dead people. It is representative of Christ, the Victor over death, and of His claim upon those who come to Him. The typology must be maintained. In all of this, the Israelite is to acknowledge…

14 (con’t) I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me.

The tithe was to be used two years in a row at times of thanks, rejoicing, holiness, and purity in the presence of God. In the third year, it was to be presented to those to whom the Lord, through Moses, designated. In obeying these rules, the Israelite could then be satisfied that he had met the commandments accordingly, and could then petition the Lord for blessing…

15 Look down from Your holy habitation,

hashqipha mimeon qadshekha – “Look down from habitation your holy.” Here is a new word, maon, or “habitation.” It signifies a dwelling place. It can refer to the dwelling place of the Lord, the home of a man, the den of an animal, and so on. The words of this clause are then explained by the next…

15 (con’t) from heaven,

min ha’shemayim – “from the heavens.” The Lord is above, even if his tabernacle is among Israel – be it in Shiloh, Nob, Gibeon, or Jerusalem. He dwells in the heavens, and the request is for Him to look down from there and notice the obedience of His people and to respond…

15 (con’t) and bless Your people Israel

The way the words are structured, it both unites the two objects while having one define the other: u-barekh eth amekha eth Yisrael – “and bless [in the direction of] Your people, [in the direction of] Israel.” Thus, it is affirming that “Your people” are, in fact, “Israel.” And more…

15 (con’t) and the land which You have given us,

v’eth ha’adamah asher nathatah lanu – “And [in the direction of] the ground which You have given to us.” This is a specific request for blessing upon the ground, meaning the soil.

In other words, “You have blessed us with the produce of the ground. We have divided out the holy portion, and we have handled the holy portion according to the instructions You have provided. As such, we ask that you bless the ground from which it came, so that we can then repeat the process according to Your goodness…”

15 (con’t) just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.”’

This is now the fourth of six times this particular phrase is used in Deuteronomy. The word here is different than the preceding clause. There, it spoke of the ground. Here it speaks of the land, meaning the territory, which comprises Israel’s inheritance. The petition is for the ground to prosper in the land in which the Lord said it would prosper.

The Lord promised a land of blessing and abundance, that has been received, and in their obedience to the word, it is petitioned for continued blessing from the land. With that, the long, detailed, and meticulous words concerning the tithes of Israel come to a close. If you missed the previous sermons which built up to this section, it would be worth your time to go back and watch each in order.

So now, you are fully versed on the matter. If you have a pastor (Chinsy Chadwick) who pushes tithing, you are to tell him it is an Old Testament, Law of Moses, precept. If he says, “But tithing predates the law and thus falls under the law of first mention,” you are instructed on how to correct his thinking.

And if he still insists on tithing, then tell him that he must only expect ten percent every third year, and you will think of him and toss him a bone while you are partying with your other two years of tithes. Or, better, find a church where grace is taught in all matters and forget those who pick and choose what they will and will not teach that is in accordance with proper doctrine.

I will rejoice in the Lord my God
I will bless His holy name at all times
Giving thanks to Him along life’s path I trod
Blessing Him in my heart, with songs and rhymes

I will offer my offering as is just and right
And I will do so without compulsion, but with joy in heart
My hand will be open, not shut up tight
Praises and blessings and honor to Him, and that is just the start

How the Lord has blessed my soul
And I shall forever be grateful to Him for this
Towards Him shall I all of my praises roll
And never a chance to praise Him shall I miss

II. His Special People (verses 16-19)

16 “This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments;

The words are more precise, saying, “the statutes, these, and the judgments.” He has carefully set forth the two as being required but being different things.

As far as the term, “this day,” Moses has used it numerous times already in Deuteronomy. Each speaks of the timeframe of the giving out of the laws he set forth, not necessarily any single day.

The words now sum up the body of law that has been given so far by him. A new flavor of words, and a new direction in what is stated will come forth starting in Chapter 27, and so what Moses says here serves as a closing thought to this section.

In saying, “This day the Lord commands you,” it is not merely saying, “Ok, today the Lord is telling you these things.” Rather, it is a way of saying, “This is your law. Each day that you live under it, you are commanded to observe what is herein stated.”

Taken from the hearer’s perspective, it isn’t just, “Moses told us while we were by the Jordan to do these things.” Rather, it is “Moses is telling us, right now, to do these things.” This is why the prophets could speak of the law as “right now” when they spoke to Israel. And this is why Jesus spoke to the people in the same manner –

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28

The law was given, and it continued to be given from itself to the people. As such…

16 (con’t) therefore you shall be careful to observe them

The words now refer back to “the statutes, these, and the judgments” of the previous clause. Moses says, “and you shall keep, and you shall do.” The statutes are to be kept, and the judgments are to be obeyed.

But, as seen elsewhere, this is not just rote observance that Moses is calling for. There is to be both an appreciation of who gave them, and a willingness to observe them because of who He is. As such, Israel is to keep and do them…

16 (con’t) with all your heart and with all your soul.

One can love in varying degrees. What the Lord calls for is to love Him entirely, both with the intellect and reason, and also with that which animates the person in his walk before the Lord.

To be fully obedient to the law with one’s intellect (meaning the heart) but without the soul (that which animates him), reveals a person who sees the law as a means to an end. “I will obey the law as it is written, and it will be my means of salvation, even if I don’t excel at it. I will just do what is necessary.”

To be obedient to the law with one’s soul (that which animates the person in deed and action) but not with the heart (the intellect) reveals a person filled with pride concerning his accomplishment of the law, even without any true regard for the Lord. His deeds are rote observance and legalistic. He crosses every i and dots every t… wait, switch that. And because he is so good at doing it, he can look down on others. He is like the Pharisee.

A person who observes the law with the heart and the soul is a person who is both in love with the law, and who desires to live out the law because of the One who gave him the law.

Such a person, because he both wants to do the law, and who aggressively tries to do the law, will also be the person who knows he fails in fulfilling the law. But, in his knowledge of this, he knows that his efforts are not futile because the law provides for his failings.

17 Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God,

The translation by the NKJV is possible, but more likely the words are causative: eth Yehovah he-emarta ha’yom lihyot lekha l’elohim – “Yehovah you have caused to say today to you to be to God.” In other words, “Today, you have caused Yehovah to say to you that He will be your God.”

This doesn’t mean they actually caused it, but by agreeing to the covenant, it has brought them into a legal standing with Him to be their God. As a consequence of this, the obligation then rests on Israel to meet their obligations to Him…

17 (con’t) and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice.

It more precisely reads in three successive thoughts, “[1] and to walk in His ways, [2] and to keep His statutes and His commandments and His judgments, and [3] and to hear His voice.” To walk in His ways is to emulate Him, e.g. – “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45).

To keep His statutes, commandments, and judgments, is to be obedient to Him, e.g. – “You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again” (Deuteronomy 22:4).

To hear His voice is to hearken unto what He says, e.g. – “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place’” (Jeremiah 7:3).

Each aspect is a part of the expected whole. The covenant begins with Moses, but it does not end with Him. Thus, the words here are wholly dependent on the coming of Messiah. The Lord has spoken the words wholly in the singular – “you Israel.”

Because of this, and because the word is new every day to the people, the words must be fulfilled every day. Any day they are not so fulfilled is the failure of Israel to meet the demands of this verse – meaning they never could, ever. As such, the anticipation is the True Israel – Messiah – who would do what Israel is unable to do.

That is more assuredly evidenced in the next words…

18 Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people,

Again, the words are causative: v’Yehovah he-emirekha ha’yom lihyot lo l’am segulah – “And Yehovah has caused you to say today to be to Him to people possession.” In the agreement of the covenant, the people are caused to agree to the Lord – “We are your special possession.”

The word is segulah. It signifies possession or property, coming from an unused root meaning “to shut up” as in wealth. One would take something precious, like treasure, and shut it up and keep it close by. Thus, it is variously translated as peculiar treasure, possession, jewels, special possession, and so on.

As far as the translation, the Lord “caused” you to say, it’s not that the Lord actually made them say it, but in the offer of the covenant, and in its acceptance, the statement is affirmed. This idea of being His possession was first promised in Exodus 19 –

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.” Exodus 19:5

It was then restated in Deuteronomy 7 –

“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6

To get what is being said, and it is complicated, you would need to review the Deuteronomy 7 sermon. Israel is a holy people, even if they act in an unholy manner. God has set them apart as holy, that does not change. But they still must be holy, a state that is dependent on their actions. That is then seen in the next words…

18 (con’t) just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments,

More precisely: “According to which He spoke to you, and to keep all His commandments.” The covenant was made, Israel was caused to be His people, just as the Lord spoke to him, which is based upon 1) His declaration of them as a holy (set apart) people, and 2) the keeping of the commandments.

But Israel consistently failed to keep the commandments, even to this day they fail to do so. In order to be set apart as holy, and to be actually holy, Israel must keep the commandments. But in failing to do so, there is a disconnect.

That disconnect remained and remains without Messiah. But in Messiah, that disconnect no longer exists. This is not because of their keeping of the commandments, but because of His. That final and glorious state is seen in the final verse of the Chapter…

19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made,

u-l’titekha elyon al kal ha’goyim asher asah – “And He will set you uppermost above all the nations which He has made.” It is not that Israel will just be above the nations, but at the very top of them.” The word Moses uses, elyon, is used to describe the Lord God at times, el elyon, or “God Most High.”

As this has never been fulfilled, then it is a messianic verse which anticipates what lies ahead, even now. Its fulfillment is prophesied by Isaiah –

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:2-4

The fact that Christ has come, and that He has called for Himself a special people in the church, does not negate a literal fulfillment of these prophecies. The promises are to Israel, and they will be fulfilled. This is not for their sake, but for His toward them…

19 (con’t) in praise, in name, and in honor,

lithilah, u-l’shem, u-l’tipharet – “to praise, to name, to beauty.” Jeremiah uses these same words, saying –

“‘For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the Lord, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.’” Jeremiah 13:11

The covenant was made, and the Lord bound Israel to it, like a sash upon Himself. But despite His efforts, they would not do exactly as is conveyed in these words of Deuteronomy.

Thus, there is the need for something new, something better, in order to resolve the dilemma. Israel could not help but to fail. The infection of sin is too deep. But the promises will be fulfilled, not through their effort, but through His. We can look back on this and know it now, but for them – even to this day – it is all about them…

*19 (fin) and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.”

Jeremiah shows that Israel failed in this. Peter, speaking to the Jews who have come to Christ, cites a combination of the words of verses 18 and 19 in his first epistle, saying –

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9, 10

Paul uses the same word in Ephesians 1:14 concerning the Gentiles who have been brought into the commonwealth of Israel. We have become a possession of the Lord through obedience to, meaning calling on, Christ. More directly, however, Paul uses the phrase in Titus 2 –

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14

These words of the New Testament clearly show that the church fills a special role, but it does not necessarily follow then that the church has replaced Israel. The church – those of Jews and Gentiles – are received as a people, but Israel – the nation – has been selected as a special people.

The church has a mission to perform during this dispensation, but Israel still has the right to the prophecies spoken to her that will come to pass in their due time. The Gentile-led church is grafted into the commonwealth of Israel, but it does not replace the nation in the process. We simply share in the good that has been promised to them.

When Israel, as a nation, calls out to Christ, that promised day will come, and the words of these verses, and of the prophets to come, will come to pass. As far as when this will take place, that is at the Lord’s discretion and the matter belongs to Him alone. But because the people have been rejoined with the land, that day is closer than most probably realize.

Those who understand the times in which we live can look to Israel and know that God has it all under control. Christ Jesus is the key to the entire scenario, both the current state of things as well as the prophetic scenario that is waiting to be unfolded and realized in its fulness.

The wonder and marvel of both sections of our verses today is that God is doing something wonderful in the world – reconciling man to Himself through the offering of His Son. The types, patterns, covenants, and promises are all based on this thought.

The glory of God in Christ is the glory of God above, in, and through creation. All of the glory of God that we can, or ever will perceive, is because of what He has done through Him. Praise be to God for Jesus Christ our Lord.

Closing Verse: “‘At that time I will bring you back,
Even at the time I gather you;
For I will give you fame and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I return your captives before your eyes,’
Says the Lord.” Zephaniah 3:20

Next Week: Deuteronomy 27:1-10 To build this is a lot of work… grunts and groans (An Altar of Stones) (75th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Third Year – The Year of Tithing

“When you have finished laying aside
All the tithe of your increase in the third year
———-the year of tithing, so it is billed
And have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless
———-and the widow
So that they may eat within your gates and be filled

Then you shall say before the LORD your God:
‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, as told to do
And also have given them to the Levite
To the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow too

According to all Your commandments
Which You have commanded me
I have not transgressed Your commandments
Nor have I forgotten them, as you can see

I have not eaten any of it when in mourning
Nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use
———-nor given any of it for the dead
I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God
And have done according to all that You have commanded me
———-just as You have said

Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless
Your people Israel and the land which You have given us
Just as You swore to our fathers
‘A land flowing with milk and honey
———-blessings and blessings and plus, plus, plus

“This day the LORD your God commands you
To observe these statutes and judgments, not in part but in whole
Therefore you shall be careful to observe them
With all your heart and with all your soul

Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God
And that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes
———- such has been your choice
His commandments, and His judgments
And that you will obey His voice

Also today the LORD has proclaimed you
To be His special people, just as He promised you
That you should keep all His commandments
So you are to do

And that He will set you high above all nations
Which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor
———- such shall be the token
And that you may be a holy people to the LORD your God
Just as He has spoken

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, 13 then you shall say before the Lord your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. 15 Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’

16 “This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. 18 Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (The First of the Fruit)

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
The First of the Fruit

A friend of mine emailed me a few days before typing this sermon and found the words of a Christian author that he normally liked hard to understand. He was sure that the guy taught eternal salvation, but he wasn’t syncing on what the guy was saying in one particular point. The author is AW Tozer and he said –

“We are saved by accepting Christ as our Savior.” “We are sanctified by accepting Christ as our Lord.” “We may do the first without doing the second.” What a tragedy that in our day we often hear the gospel appeal made in this way: “Come to Jesus! You do not have to obey anyone. You do not have to give up anything. Just come to Him and believe in Him as Savior!” The fact that we hear this everywhere does not make it right! To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is bad teaching – for no one can receive a half or a third or a quarter of the divine Person of Christ!”

Tozer is right, but it does not negate that some people are saved and are not obedient to Christ. Belief in the gospel saves. Obedience to Christ comes at a different level for every person who has ever been saved. My response was –

1) We are saved by believing the gospel. It is done (1 Cor 15:3, 4 / Eph 1:13, 14 & so on).
2) After salvation we should live as if we are saved because Christ is our Lord. (Eph 4:1 / 1 Thess 2:12 & so on).

I concluded the email with the words, “When we don’t believe the gospel, we have not been saved. When we are saved and don’t live for Christ as Lord, we are not being obedient to the word.”

With that understood, we will talk about confessing Jesus as Lord today. That is a different issue than being obedient to Jesus as Lord. One is referring to His deity – Jesus is the Lord, Jehovah. The other is referring to His position of authority over us. Jesus is the Lord (Master) over us.

It’s an important distinction because people tend both to under and overthink Romans 10:9, 10. As such they misunderstand what Paul is saying, and they can get off on some odd tangents in doing so.

Text Verse: “The Lord has made bare His holy arm
In the eyes of all the nations;
And all the ends of the earth shall see
The salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:10

The words of Isaiah are relevant to today’s passage as well. The arm of the Lord signifies what the Lord is reaching out to do. In the end, what God does in Christ is what the Lord is reaching out to do. Keep that in mind.

As far as our passage today, one of the verses refers to a confession made about the Israelite’s father. One clause of that verse is quite widely translated, and I thought I would give you a few of the different possibilities as to what is being said –

My father was a wandering Aramean. NIV
My father was a Syrian, about to perish. NKJV
My father was led to Aram. Aramaic
My father abandoned Syria. Brenton Septuagint
My ancestor was homeless, an Aramean. CEV
The Syrian pursued my father. Douay-Rheims
My ancestor was a wandering Aramean. GNT
My ancestors were wandering Arameans. GWT

These, and several other possibilities, have been given for this clause. The Hebrew is just three words, and yet there is this much disagreement on what is being conveyed. If you ever wonder why translations vary so much, it is because the Bible is a big, complicated book.

Not only the words themselves have to be evaluated, but what the words may be referring to do as well. Remember this as you do your studies, and don’t just go with the first translation. And, also, don’t just go with the first commentary. There is a lot involved in what the Bible is telling us

If we can have such a divergence on three seemingly simple words, just imagine how difficult the greater doctrines set forth in the word can be argued over. Hence, we have 8 billion different denominations – all claiming they have the answer. Be careful what you accept and be sure to have the basics right.

We will see the very basic of the basics, the first of the fruit of our life in the Lord, referred to in today’s passage. Great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. I Declare Today to the Lord (verses 1-11)

“And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you 

The words of this first verse are not unlike many other verses already seen in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In Leviticus and Numbers, the Lord repeated the words in the first person again and again –

“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you have come into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving to you.’” Numbers 15:2

Moses gives the same general thought in Deuteronomy 18:9, stating it in the third person –

“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.”

Introducing this expression at the beginning of the chapter sets the tone for everything that follows. Israel is not yet in Canaan, and yet they are promised that they will enter the land, a land being given to them by the Lord.

They were brought out of bondage, they were given the law, they were conducted to the door of Canaan and yet they faithlessly turned away from it, they were sentenced to exile in the wilderness because of their faithlessness, and yet they have been cared for by the Lord through the many years of exile for disobedience.

Now, at the end of their time of exile, right on the banks of the Jordan, they are promised they will – in fact – enter the land. The inheritance was promised to their fathers and to them. They will possess the land, and the Lord will see them through to the satisfactory completion of His promise.

In this, and because it’s been a while since the typology has been considered, all of what occurred has been a picture of Israel’s rejection of Christ. In Numbers 14, Israel refused to enter Canaan. It was a perfectly clear picture of Israel’s rejection of Jesus.

From there, they were led into exile in the wilderness. All of that time in the wilderness has been typical of Israel’s exile over the past two thousand years. And just as He brought Israel through the years of wandering and to the door of Canaan once again, so He has brought Israel back to the land in preparation of their coming to their Messiah.

Through their constant faithlessness towards the Lord, He has remained steadfastly faithful to Israel – both in the historical account recorded in the Pentateuch and in the historical account of their time since the Roman exile.

The words now spoken by Moses are reminding them that entrance into the promise is not because of anything they have done. Rather, it is based on the granting of it by the Lord – “And it shall be, when you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” It will be the land given…

1 (con’t) as an inheritance,

nakhalah – “an inheritance.” One inherits an inheritance. Thus, it is given by another and not earned. This is the state of the land in which the Israelite is to live, and it is in this state – and from this reference point – that the rite to be explained is mandated.

As for Israel as a nation, they have not yet come to Christ who is the anticipated true inheritance. He is what Canaan only anticipates. That life is still ahead of them. Someday they will enter, just as Moses says Israel will enter. It is this time that is being anticipated. Understanding this, Moses says…

1 (con’t) and you possess it and dwell in it,

v’rishtah v’yashavta bah – “and you possess and you dwell in it.” Again, Moses speaks of these things as a certainty. They shall inherit the land, they shall possess it, and they shall dwell in it. For Israel on the banks of the Jordan, the anticipation is Canaan. But for Israel without Christ, the anticipation and the promise is Christ.

As surely as they rejected God’s offer and turned from Canaan, they rejected God’s offer and turned from Christ. And as surely as they will enter Canaan, they will – someday – accept Christ.

The denial of both the Jews who still reject (and many curse) His name, as well as the denial of those in the church who say God is finished with Israel, are both denials that ignore the typology clearly seen in the words of Moses.

But more, they reject the words of the prophets, and they continue to reject the words of the apostles and of Jesus Himself that assure us reconciliation is yet ahead for Israel.

Regardless of that, the typology is set, the promises will come to pass, and Israel will both enter Canaan as stated by Moses, and they will come to Christ as noted in Scripture. As such, Moses has a word for the people when they enter and possess the land. It is…

that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground,

v’laqakhta m’reshit kal peri ha’adamah – “and you shall take from first all fruit the ground.” Because of the use of “from” the words are a bit confusing. This is not referring to the Feast of Firstfruits, but rather of the first of all the produce. In Exodus 23, we read –

“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); 16 and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.” Exodus 23:14-16

That is then further defined saying –

“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.” Exodus 23:19

The bikkurim, or firstfruits, signifies the first of the harvest cycle, and it is the time when the second pilgrim feast was conducted. Of that harvest of firstfruits, a portion was presented to the Lord. That is the reshit bikure, or “first of the firstfruits.”

It is that, and any other firsts, that are certainly referred to here. In other words, that was one harvest, but there will be harvests of barley, wheat, figs, grapes, olives, pomegranates, and whatever else is grown by the people. Deuteronomy 8:8 gives a good summary of such things. But these “firsts” would also include that of the fleece of the sheep as well. This was stated in Chapter 18 –

“The firstfruits of your grain and your new wine and your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever.” Deuteronomy 18:4, 5

The first from each of these, whatever they may be, was to be brought forward…

2 (con’t) which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you,

The repetition concerning the land is not unnecessary. It is an added reminder that not only did He give them the land, but he also is the One who gives them what comes from the ground in the land.

Therefore, just as He can give them the land and remove them from it, He can also provide from the ground or withhold what comes from it. They will be explicitly reminded of this, in minute detail, in Chapter 28.

As this is so, they are obligated to give of the first of the fruits that come from the ground. No amount is stated, and thus it is according to the generosity of the heart of the giver to decide. Whatever amount it is, they are to collect it…

2 (con’t) and put it in a basket

Here is a new and rare word, tene. It signifies a basket, coming from a root probably meaning “to weave.” Thus, it is a woven basket of willows or the like. It will be seen four times between now and Deuteronomy 28:7.

2 (con’t) and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.

In other words, the presentation is to be brought to the place of the tabernacle at the times of the pilgrim feasts. This would probably be something that happened at all three of the feasts, bringing forth whatever crop came ripe at that time.

And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days,

This simply refers to whatever priest is on duty at the time, be it the high priest or whatever priest was in attendance. The number of people coming to the pilgrim feasts would make it impossible for the high priest alone to meet and then accept the offering of every family that came. Thus, they were to come to one of the priests…

3 (con’t) and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God

The word nagad is used. It is variously translated as declare, profess, acknowledge, testify, show, and so on. It is a general word that gives the sense of “to be conspicuous.” One might say, “I openly proclaim today…”

In saying “today,” it has been passed on that this proclamation would be made only once a year. That does not logically follow. If one is to bring the first of the fruits, it would be much more logical for them to be presented as they became ripe. Hence, one would expect this to be done at each pilgrim feast, despite what Jewish commentators state.

By saying, “l’Yehovah elohekha,” or “to Yehovah your God,” it is demonstrating that the priest is acknowledged as the mediator between the people and the Lord. The profession is to be a constant reminder before the Lord. As such, he is to then say…

3 (con’t) that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’

The Hebrew more specifically says, “swore to our fathers to give to us.” It is not to all of Israel, but that a particular generation would receive the promise. The rest could only anticipate what these people, standing before the priest, would actually receive.

Thus, in saying this, and in providing the fruit at this time, it is a tangible proof that the Lord had fulfilled His oath. The Lord had sworn, and the Lord fulfilled. And more, the presentation of the fruit not only proved they possessed the land, but that the land was productive and fruitful.

Therefore, it is to be understood by them that even the fruit from the land, meaning their continued existence, was from the hand of the Lord. The presentation was to then be considered an offering of both thanks and praise for what it represented in the greater harvest they had received.

Whatever work they did to bring forth the fruit was only possible because they had been given the land, and the land itself was productive enough to bring forth from their labors. This is all tied up in the presentation of the fruit. As such…

“Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.

The priest, as the mediator, takes the offering and transfers it to the place before the altar, meaning the altar of sacrifice in the courtyard. Thus, the offering is considered as a sacrifice. In placing it before the altar, it is then representative of having been received by the Lord. As such, an acknowledgment of the Lord’s hand in this is to be proclaimed…

And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God:

The translation is right, “answer and say.” The first statement was made, the basket was taken from the hands and placed before the altar. It is as if the Lord (through the priest) has said, “I accept your offering.” With that accomplished, the person responds to the acceptance of the offering, saying…

5 (con’t) ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish,

arami oved avi – “Aramean, wandering, my father.” Translating as “Syrian” is for our benefit. Although there are several unique ways of translating these words, the reference is surely to Jacob. He was born in Canaan, but he was not a Canaanite. Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldeans, and thus considered under Syria.

And more, his mother Rebekah was an Aramean. He also lived for twenty years in Paddan-Aram, his wives were from there, and his children were then reckoned as such as well.

Concerning the word avad, it can mean perishing, wandering (as in a lost animal), and so on. If “perishing” is intended, that would indicate the many times in his life when his existence was threatened, such as when Esau was of a mind to kill him, when he toiled under his father-in-law, Laban, when he feared being killed by the Shechemites of Canaan in Genesis 34, and when the great famine came which caused them to go to Egypt.

If “wandering” is intended, it is because he owned none of his own land but remained a nomad and a pilgrim throughout his life. As the word signifies both thoughts, it is probably intended to mean both, as a pun. He was a perishing and wandering Aramean.

The reason for this is because of the proclamation now being made by the presenter of the fruits. He is neither perishing nor wandering. He has both a possession and he has abundance – testified to by the basket. What the Lord promised this Aramean in his humbled state has been realized for his descendants.

5 (con’t) and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number;

Again, both thoughts, perishing and wandering, fit the narrative here. There was no food in Canaan, and they thus wandered from Canaan to Egypt. There was nothing firm or stable in their existence, and they were a small clan, as Jacob himself acknowledged in Genesis 34:30.

The family number at the time of entering Egypt was 70 souls…

5 (con’t) and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.

That was recorded first in Exodus 1:7 –

“But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.”

But in their massive growth, affliction, not prosperity, resulted…

But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us.

Again, it is seen in Exodus 1 –

“Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; 10 come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. 13 So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.” Exodus 1:8-14

Each thing that is being answered by the presenter of the basket is to remind him of his own state before the Lord. “This is where I have come from, and without the Lord, this is where I – as an Israelite – would still be.” Such is evidenced in the next words…

Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression.

This is referring to the words of Exodus 2 & 3 (and elsewhere) –

“Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. 24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.” Exodus 2:23-25

“And the Lord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’” Exodus 3:7-10

In their affliction, labor, and oppression, the Lord heard their cry and acted accordingly, demonstrating his power and sovereign authority over Egypt. As Moses says…

So the Lord brought us out of Egypt

v’yosienu Yehovah mimitsrayim – “And brought us out, Yehovah, from Egypt.” Israel was in bondage. Israel cried out to the Lord. And the Lord brought Israel forth from the bondage of Egypt…

8 (con’t) with a mighty hand

b’yad khazaqah – “in hand mighty.” It is the same words spoken to Moses in Exodus 6:1 –

“Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

It speaks of the Lord’s effectual power to accomplish what was necessary to bring the mighty nation of Egypt to its knees in order to bring about the release of Israel.

8 (con’t) and with an outstretched arm,

u-bizroa netuyah – “and in arm outstretched.” Again, it is a repeat of Exodus 6:6 –

“I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Exodus 6:6

This speaks of the effectual reach of the Lord to accomplish the delivery. When a man desires to show His strength or to defeat an enemy, he will stretch his arms out. In this one stance, he will both defend some and work against others.

8 (con’t) with great terror

u-b’mora gadol – “and in terror great.” The effects of the Lord’s powerful workings against Egypt can only be described as terrifying.

8 (con’t) and with signs

u-b’othoth – “and in signs.” The othoth, or signs, are things given to represent something else. The Lord gave Moses three signs to give to Israel – the rod which turned into a snake, the leprous hand, and the water which turned to blood. He also gave signs to Pharaoh concerning what would come upon them as the Lord accomplished His work. Also…

8 (con’t) and wonders.

u-b’mophtim – “and in wonders.” The mopheth, or wonder, comes from yaphah, or beautiful. Thus, it speaks of that which is conspicuous and amazing. The word “wonders” gives us the right sense. It speaks of the plagues which came upon the land. And yet, it also speaks of the fact that Israel was spared at the same time. While Egypt was destroyed, Israel survived through the plagues – each time it was a wonder in itself.

The Lord fought the battles, it was His strength that worked against Egypt, it was His reach that devastated them while Israel remained safe, and it was His actions that brought terror upon the foe.

The words of this verse are a general summary of what occurred in the time of the plagues upon Egypt and during the exodus from there. They are a close repeat of Moses’ words of Deuteronomy 4:34 –

“Or did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?” Deuteronomy 4:34

And in bringing Israel out of Egypt, the Lord safely conducted Israel through the many years of disobedience, right to the shores of the Jordan. As such, he is to next acknowledge…

He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, 

In acknowledging the Lord’s power over Egypt, it is an acknowledgment that their possession of the land was only because of the Lord. There would have been no exodus without the effectual working of the Lord’s power, and there would, thus, be no land for Israel to receive the abundance from what they now possessed. Everything is tied up in what the Lord has done, and what the Lord has given them, it is…

9 (con’t) “a land flowing with milk and honey”;

This is the third of six times this particular phrase is used in Deuteronomy, this time speaking as if he were an Israelite standing before the Lord. The abundance and blessings are realized and confirmed in his words. The word for “land” is eretz. It speaks of the land as a whole, of which he is a partaker of.

Jacob was a wandering (and ready to perish) Aramean, and this Israelite now avows that he is the recipient of a land of fertility – all because of the Lord’s care of him. In acknowledgment of that…

10 and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’

v’atah hineh heveti eth reshit peri – “and now, behold, I have brought the first fruit.” As in verse 2, it is not the bikurim or “firstfruits,” but “the first fruit.” Unless the distinction is made, actual points of theology concerning Christ can be easily confused.

This is the first ripe fruit of whatever the land produces. As such, the Israelite is standing before the Lord acknowledging that. For it to not be what is claimed would then be tantamount to lying to the Lord. Also, the word translated as “land” here is the same as in verse 2, ha’adamah. It should be translated as “the ground.” It is what the ground produces that is being referred to.

10 (con’t) “Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God.

v’hinakhto liphne Yehovah elohekha – “And you shall set it before the Lord your God.” What happens here seems confusing. In verse 4, it said that the priest was to take the basket out of the hand of the offeror, and to then place it before the altar. Since then, nothing has been said of the basket, and yet it says he is to set it before the Lord.

Some take this as the priest setting the basket before the altar, signifying it is a sacrifice to the Lord. From there, it was then returned to the offeror, who would then make his proclamation before the Lord over the sacrifice. After that is done, he then sets the basket before the Lord, meaning it is the priest’s portion who is the representative of the Lord.

Others see this as simply a continuation of verse 4. But that doesn’t seem to fit because the priest is said to have taken the basket. Rather than the word “then” which is used in verse 4 and verse 10, both times it simply says “and.”

What may be the case is that the words, “And you shall set it before the Lord your God,” are speaking of the entire process. One might paraphrase it for understanding as, “This is how you are to set it before the Lord your God.”

While that is being accomplished, he is also bowing and making his proclamation, here called “worship.” The whole process is then summed up in this verse. It is one act of presentation that includes bowing as it is conducted. When this is complete, Moses says…

*11 (fin) So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.

This builds upon what has already been said several times in Deuteronomy, such as –

“There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord. 12 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you.” Deuteronomy 12:11, 12

In other words, this is a part of the same process that is referred to for each of the pilgrim feasts. Though it is mentioned later, this is an integral part of what the people were to do at each such feast.

Once this rite is complete and the first of the fruit has been presented, only then would the people go about eating their tithes and offerings and rejoicing before the Lord. There would be relaxing, eating of meat, and drinking of wine – feasting and celebration.

There would be meeting up with old friends and making new ones. The intent of the pilgrim feasts was for the people to rest in the presence of the Lord, acknowledge His goodness toward them, and to praise Him for each and every blessing they had received.

The annual marking of these pilgrim feasts was a rite that was only failingly observed by the people, and even when they were observed, they were quickly forgotten again. As such, the words of Jeremiah – words that closely mirror much of our passage today – speak of the judgment upon the people for their failings –

“Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. 18 You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them—the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts. 19 You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings. 20 You have set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, to this day, and in Israel and among other men; and You have made Yourself a name, as it is this day. 21 You have brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terror; 22 You have given them this land, of which You swore to their fathers to give them—“a land flowing with milk and honey.” 23 And they came in and took possession of it, but they have not obeyed Your voice or walked in Your law. They have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have caused all this calamity to come upon them. Jeremiah 32:17-23

What will I proclaim, what will I profess?
What will I declare to the Lord my God?
Is there an exalted name, one I can confess?
One that the heavenly host will applaud?

And when I make my solemn profession
Will it be about something I have done?
Or will my mouth’s holy confession
Be about what God had done in Christ, His Son?

It is He who brought about the victory for us
And so, it is His name alone that I will confess
I shall proclaim “The Lord is Jesus!”
Yes. This is what my mouth shall profess

II. Life in Christ

Like the Feasts of the Lord, because this is a part of the conduct of those feasts, the passage today looks to life in Christ. The land the Lord promised is typical of our life in Christ. Israel was given the land; the church is given Christ. Israel was to inherit the land; Christ is our inheritance. Paul speaks of life in Christ as such –

“For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” Galatians 3:18

Paul shows that the inheritance is of God and is not obtained through works of the law. As we noted, one inherits an inheritance. Thus, it is given by another; not earned. Further, Paul expressly states that the inheritance is obtained already by faith in Christ. It is also something promised with a guarantee in Christ –

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14

It is this guarantee that fulfills the words of our passage today “and you possess it and dwell in it.” We, even now, possess the inheritance and we have obtained the inheritance, even if it is not realized in us yet.

In this state, we see a reflection of Paul’s word of Romans 10 in the next verses. The Israelite is told to take the first of every fruit and put them in a basket and take them to where the Lord is.

Good fruit in the New Testament is that which is pleasing to the Lord. It is the outworking of the faith that is possessed. What is the first of the fruit of the Lord? It is to acknowledge the Lord. As we saw in the passage today, the word nagad was used.

It is variously translated as declare, profess, acknowledge, testify, show, and so on. It is a general word that gives the sense of “to be conspicuous.” One might say, “I openly proclaim today…” The first of the fruit of our salvation is what Paul refers to in Romans –

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9, 10

People try to claim that “confessing” is a work and that Paul has it all wrong. That is nonsense – as is seen right here in Deuteronomy. It is an acknowledgment of the work of the Lord – an open declaration.

Just as Israel was to declare “l’Yehovah elohekha,” or “to Yehovah your God,” the Christian is to profess the Lord Jesus. The priest of Israel was the mediator who only anticipated Christ the Lord, our Mediator.

With the profession made by the Israelite, the priest was to take the basket and set it before the altar of sacrifice. That is typical of our profession of Christ, acknowledging Him as our sacrifice. “I was born of Adam, like him, I am set to perish and to wander until my days are ended. In that state, I was in Egypt, in the bondage of sin, but as the redeemed of the Lord, we called out in our agony, and You looked on our affliction and delivered us.”

This is all implied in 1 Corinthians 15. Christ died for our sins. Christ was buried. Christ rose. He did all of the work with His mighty hand (His effectual power to accomplish what was necessary to redeem us from the devil), and by His outstretched arm (His effectual reach to accomplish the delivery).

He stretched out His arm, He died on the cross, He accomplished the victory! In Him death is defeated. He worked against the powers of darkness, and He worked for His people.

This is what is being pictured in the passage today – a reminder of a person’s first moments in Christ. How can anyone say that to confess the Lord is a work? Who can BUT confess the Lord! He did the work; we are asked to simply acknowledge that.

Confession is more than the audible words which occur with the mouth. To “confess” is almost synonymous with to “profess.” However, one can confess a lie; one only professes the truth.

The audible confession stands because of the inward profession. This is why Paul says in Romans 8 that “the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” It is as close to us as the air which enters and exits our mouth and fills our lungs, and it is both audible in tone and truthful to the heart.

The reason for the audible profession is obvious. No one would hide their true belief in the Lordship of Jesus. If He is, in fact, Lord, then He is alive. If He is alive, then He triumphed over the cross. If He did this, then He was without sin because “the wages of sin is death.” If He is without sin, then He is God because “all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God.”

As you can see by logically thinking this through, the incarnation of Jesus Christ – being the God/Man – is inextricably tied up in the confession of “the Lord Jesus.” One cannot deny His Lordship, meaning His deity, and be saved. This is the heart of what God has done in the stream of time for the redemption of mankind.

Therefore, confession “with your mouth” is the making of an open profession that Jesus is God, thus denying all other gods. One must make the confession which is a true profession as is seen in the words “and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.”

Paul directly ties the resurrection to Jesus’ Lordship. One cannot honestly call on a dead savior and so acknowledging His resurrection returns us to the thought that He was sinless in His life and death.

The priest, taking the basket out of the hand of the Israelite is also a picture of Christ’s deity. Just as the first of the fruit of Israel was taken by the priest and placed “before the altar of the Lord your God,” meaning the altar of sacrifice, the first of the fruit of the believer is taken by Christ, our Mediator, who places it before the altar of the Lord, meaning His own sacrifice.

Everything is tied up in what Christ has done – everything. With that understood, the passage ended with the thought of rejoicing in every good thing that the Lord has given to the person, and to his house, and which is to also include “the Levite and the stranger who is among you.” The entire thought is beautifully reflected in the words of our closing verse today.

For now, let each of us be thankful for what God has done. We were wandering through life. We were perishing and destined for a bad end, we were kept in the shackles of sin, and it is Christ who delivered us from those things. By His mighty hand, and by His outstretched arm we have been brought home to God’s heavenly inheritance.

Let us rejoice in this. Let us be grateful to God for this. And let us, now and forever, magnify that great and exalted Name which is above every name. Let us exalt JESUS!

Closing Verse: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Hebrews 13:15, 16

Next Week: Deuteronomy 26:12-19 Properly explaining these words will leave many pastors a’writhing… (The Third Year – The Year of Tithing) (74th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The First of the Fruit

“And it shall be, when you come into the land
Which the LORD your God is giving you as
———-an inheritance all around
And you possess it and dwell in it
That you shall take some of the first of all the produce
———-of the ground

Which you shall bring from your land
That the LORD your God is giving you, where you will reside
And put it in a basket and go to the place
Where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide

And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days
And say to him, ‘I declare today to the LORD your God thus
That I have come to the country
Which the LORD swore to our fathers to give us

“Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand
And set it down before the altar of the LORD your God
And you shall answer and say
Before the LORD your God (with an acknowledging nod):

‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish
And he went down to Egypt and dwelt there
Few in number; and there he became a nation
Great, mighty, and populous – so you shall declare

But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid
———-hard bondage on us
Then we cried out to the LORD God of our fathers –
———-calling out our confession
And the LORD heard our voice and looked on our affliction
And our labor and our oppression

So the LORD brought us out of Egypt
With a mighty hand, after our Egyptian plunders
And with an outstretched arm
With great terror and with signs and wonders

He has brought us to this place and has given us this land
“A land flowing with milk and honey
And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land
———-in your hand
Which you, O LORD, have given me

“Then you shall set it the LORD your God before
And worship before the LORD your God
———-worship and praise, and so much more

So you shall rejoice in every good thing
Which the LORD your God has given to you and your house
You and the Levite and the stranger who is among you
And be sure to bring along your spouse

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’

“Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God: ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”; 10 and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’

“Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God. 11 So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.

Deuteronomy 25:11-19 (You Shall Not Forget)

Deuteronomy 25:11-19
You Shall Not Forget

The passage today is actually divided into three separate sections of law and of what is expected of and from the people of Israel. But each deal in typology as well.

The first section probably seems a bit bizarre and unrelated to anything else, but it is actually closely related to the verses from our sermon last week. The second section is a close repetition of earlier words given in Leviticus, and its principles will be cited several times later in Scripture.

And the final section suddenly comes forth without any seeming connection at all to what comes before it. And yet, they all follow a logical and orderly path in how Israel is instructed, and thus how we are to be instructed.

As I said, these are also given as typological hints of that which will come later in redemptive history. In them, there is the underlying truth that Christ is the fulfillment of the law, and that we are obligated to come to Him in order to be right before God.

Once we are right with Him because of our relationship to Him in Christ, we are then given the ability to conduct ourselves properly before Him, advancing on and destroying the enemies of the Lord’s people as we go.

Text Verse: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:1-4

Only the third passage in our verses today really anticipates warfare, but for the believer in Christ, all three are to be understood from the perspective that we are in a war, and that we must use the implements of our warfare properly in order to win the battles we are to face.

In all, the verses and words before us are interesting, and they continue to confirm positive truths for Israel as well as us. Also, they are to be taken as warnings for Israel as well as admonitions for us. The Lord does not waste words, and when He can convey two or three or even more ideas in a single passage, He will do so.

Thus, going through the law is to be an exciting adventure where we learn words of law while at the same time we can learn about the grace of God in Christ in relation to the same law. It is a marvelous journey we are on.

On the day I typed this sermon, my friend Sergio emailed me that he had been to an excavation site to record something for one of his YouTube videos. I told him I had been excavating as well. With that, he sent back a question mark, asking what I meant. I told him I had been digging out treasures – excavating – from the word.

That is what we are to do. Dig, search out, and bring forth treasure. And there is so very much treasure to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Your Eye Shall Not Pity (verses 11 & 12)

The previous section, detailed last week, dealt with the issue of raising up a son for the name of a dead husband by a brother of the husband. In that, he did not want to fulfill the duty and thus he denied her dead husband the right to have his name continue.

In this, she was allowed to openly rebuke him and publicly disgrace him for his unwillingness to act as the law provided. The first verse of the passage today will now take that precept and move it from the man who is the wrongdoer to the woman. This is evidenced with the first words of the passage…

11 “If two men fight together,

ki yinatsu anashim yakhda ish v’akhiv – “When fight men together, man and brother.” This then could be referring to two Hebrew men, herein called brothers, and this is how most translations state it – “one and another,” or “a man and his countryman,” or such.

But, if it meant any man, that could just as easily be said in the Hebrew. Both the Aramaic Bible and the Greek translation stick with “brother.” Based on the fact that the previous section dealt with interactions with a brother, it seems that is probably the intent of the Hebrew. Two men, brothers, are striving together…

11 (con’t) and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him,

This would be a natural reaction for a wife. Her husband is getting pounded on, and she wants to protect him. But being the weaker sex and knowing that she has a limited ability to do so, she looks to gain an advantage in the matter…

11 (con’t) and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals,

Nothing is said of the woman defending her husband in some other way. If she were to hit the man over the head with a broom, the law is silent on that. But in her actions, she reaches out and grabs what the Hebrew calls the mabush. It is a word coming from bosh, meaning to be ashamed. Thus, it describes that which is hidden.

The reason for highlighting this is twofold. First, this is where the life of man is transferred from. To act in such a manner then is to threaten life itself, even if not his personally. This is similar to the principle seen in Exodus 21 –

“If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Exodus 21:22-25

In such an instance, life is threatened. What happens to the child is to also be the penalty imposed upon the man. Likewise, for simply attempting to subdue the man in such a way, it was a threat against the life that issues from him and it was not to be tolerated.

But secondly, the word itself provides another reason for the prohibition. It is the hidden, or shameful, part of the man. She has no right to pry into what is his in this way, even in the protection of her husband. Therefore, if she presumes to act in such a manner…

12 then you shall cut off her hand;

v’qasotah eth kappah – “And you shall cut off her hand.” Two words are used to describe a hand, yad and kaph. Yad indicates the arm/hand, while kaph refers to the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot. It is thus the part of the arm reserved for describing that which has the fingers and the palm.

The specificity is probably to ensure that only the hand is cut off and no extra liberty, such as cutting off up to the elbow, is taken by the one detailed to carry out the punishment. But even chopping off a hand is a stiff penalty to inflict on another. Thus, Moses says…

12 (con’t) your eye shall not pity her.

To modern senses, this probably seems like an intolerant set of verses and an archaic and unacceptable way of handling the situation. However, if it is not taken as a stand-alone, but is taken in the context of the previous verses that spoke of the brother who would not fulfill his duty to raise up a son in the dead husband’s name, it no longer seems that way.

Such a man was publicly disgraced for his actions, and his house was to continue on in that disgrace. Here, the woman has purposed to attack the very part of the brother that was to be used to raise up his children, or – ostensibly – her children, if such a need arose.

It doesn’t matter whether that right would ever be needed or not. In principle, because of the law of the yavam – or “husband’s brother” – seen in the previous verses, she was as much attacking the authority of her own husband as anything else.

As far as what this is typifying, if the typology is to remain the same as the previous passage, as it certainly does, then you have the wife representing humanity, and the brother (her brother-in-law) represents life under the law.

It is typologically representative of humanity reaching out to grasp life under the law at the point where life issues from. In other words, we are seeing a picture of humanity attempting to obtain life through the law. One could look to Leviticus 18:5 to understand this –

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

However, though life issues through a man’s private parts, so does sin. And Paul explains that in relation to the law –

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20

That this is dealing with the law, and the transfer of sin, the terminology of the passage makes it perfectly clear. The Hebrew word indicates that the man’s private parts are being highlighted as the spot of shame. This is evidenced in Genesis 2:25 where the word bosh is first used, saying, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

After the fall, the shame was introduced. In grabbing for the law, one grabs for shame. It is Christ alone who is sufficient to bring life without shame. Hence, Paul says in Romans 10 –

“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’” Romans 10:10, 11

In reaching out for the law one will only find shame and being cut off. But in reaching out to Christ, who is the fulfillment of the law, one finds righteousness and no shame. It is in Him alone that this can come about.

There is shame of face before the Lord in what we do
We who have turned and done wickedly in His sight
And yet, the Lord remains Faithful and True
And He has promised that He will make all things right

Will we reach out and grab that which brings shame?
Or will we reach out for the Offer He has made?
Will we look to exalt our own name?
Or will we look to Christ, and accept the offered trade?

We must choose which way we will go
What we reach for will reveal our heart
The Lord has made His offering, and so…
Let us choose the good path; let us choose that better part

II. Differing Weights and Differing Measures (verses 13-16)

13 “You shall not have in your bag differing weights,

lo yiyeh lekha b’kisekha even va’aven – “No shall you have to you in your bag stone and stone. The KJV translates this as “divers weights.” Nowadays, “diver’s weights” refer to the lead that divers use to keep them weighed down while under water. A newer translation is always a giant help in understanding meaning.

In these words, there is a new word, kis. It is a bag or purse, coming from kos, a cup. Hence, it is a bag for money or measuring weights, or even a cup. In such a container, the measuring weights were not to be…

13 (con’t) a heavy and a light.

Here it says, “a great and a small.” The idea is that of a dealer who pulls one weight out of a bag to make something look lighter than it is, and then pulls out another to make something look heavier than it is. He is a scam artist.

As such, he would use the greater weight for purchases – “See how small this is! I’ll give you two shekels for it, and I’m getting jipped on the deal for sure.” He would then use the small stone for sales – “Look at how much you are getting! And this is at the low, low cost of 7 shekels. Such a bargain for you. I’ll go broke at these rates!” Such is deceitful and is to be rejected because it is contrary to what is just and right. This is expressed in Proverbs 20 –

“Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord,
And dishonest scales are not good.” Proverbs 20:23

Having a standard measurement has already been seen in Exodus where the “shekel of the sanctuary” is mentioned in relation to silver. But merchant weights were often made of stone according to a set standard. Such a standard is noted in 2 Samuel 14:26 –

“And when he cut the hair of his head—at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him—when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king’s standard.”

As there was a set standard, the weights of those who conducted business were to be compared to that set standard. But anybody can make their own false stone that looks close enough to the standard to pass as genuine and yet be far enough off to enrich its owner. It is comparable to today’s loading of the dice.

Along with that, another closely related concept is next conveyed to Israel by Moses…

14 You shall not have in your house differing measures,

lo yiheh lekha b’betekha ephah v’ephah – “No shall you have to you in your house ephah and ephah.” The idea is the same as before, but instead of weights, it is measures of volume – an ephah. This is also mentioned, along with weights, in Proverbs 20:10 –

“Diverse weights and diverse measures,
They are both alike, an abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 20:10

As the ephah is a set measurement, it was not to be falsified to cheat those who came to one’s house to buy or sell grain. It was to be the standard size only and not…

14 (con’t) a large and a small.

It is the same words as in the previous verse. Having a large ephah would benefit when buying. If a standard ephah was worth 10 shekels, but he used a larger ephah, then he could get 11 shekel’s worth for the set 10 shekels. Having a smaller ephah would benefit when selling. Using the smaller ephah would mean the buyer would get 9 shekels worth for the 10 he paid.

It is not a good thing that has taken place, but observant Orvie knew that crooked Craig uses a dishonest ephah, so he filed off the edges of his shekels enough to offset the loss. Such is life under the law. Neither should occur. Rather…

15 You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure,

In contrast to what has just been said, Moses commands what is full, perfect, friendly, and just. The positive command is to counter the negatives –

* “You shall not have in your bag differing weights.”
“You shall not have in your house differing measures.”

~~~

* “You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure.”

And, as always, there is a reason for Moses’ words. It is the constantly repeated promise and warning…

15 (con’t) that your days may be lengthened in the land

l’maan yaariku al ha’adamah – “to end purpose may be prolonged your days upon the ground.” Moses ties in longevity upon the ground with doing what is right in this regard. The implication is that in not doing what is right, Israel’s time there will not be prolonged. This is because it is the ground…

15 (con’t) which the Lord your God is giving you.

It is the Lord who is giving the land to Israel. In giving it, there are conditions and responsibilities that must be met and maintained. If they do not uphold their part of the bargain, they can expect nothing less than exile from the land to which they have been brought. These commands are based on the same sentiment spoken directly by the Lord in Leviticus 19 –

“You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. 36 You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Leviticus 19:35, 36

The Lord noted that it is He who brought Israel out of Egypt. As such, Israel was brought from bondage and was to be delivered to freedom, at least freedom from Egypt.

In His justice in keeping His promise to the patriarchs, He expected the same justice of those who descended from them. They were to be a holy people to the Lord, and to reflect His just, perfect, and truthful character.

In not acting in accord with the law of just weights and just measures, they would prove they were not worthy of what He had bestowed upon them. In this, they would receive the same measure as they used against one another.

And this is a precept that Jesus continued to relay to them when He came. While speaking to Israel, under the law, He said just this –

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Matthew 7:1, 2

The Lord, in His relationship with Israel under the law, dealt to them what they dealt toward others. Their punishment and exile resulted in a perfectly just sentence against their unrighteousness. This wasn’t something hidden from them. Rather, it is that which was spoken forth, in advance, as a warning by Moses…

16 For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously,

The Hebrew is more precise, repeating the word “do” and using a noun rather than an adjective: kal oseh eleh kol oseh avel – “all who do these; all who do unrighteousness.” It is the works that define the person. And it is the law that judges the works.

Thus, it is the sentiment repeated several times by the Lord to Israel. Though speaking of false prophets, it is the idea of the fruits of one’s deeds that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 7 –

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:15-20

He then speaks in similar words to the leaders of Israel concerning the fruits of their doings –

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37

The issue is the heart, whether the outward display is found in unjust weights and measures or in what is spoken forth with the mouth. A measure is set forth which determines the fate of the one who acts in such a way, or the nation that acts in such a way. The unjust heart is revealed in the unrighteous doing. And all who act in such ways…

16 (cont) are an abomination to the Lord your God.

The words are actually the first clause of the verse: ki toavat Yehovah Elohekha – “For the abomination of Yehovah your God” are such people. In a literal fulfillment of these words from Moses, and in the same vein as those who Jesus referred to whose words reflect the state of their hearts, Micah says this concerning Israel –

“Are there yet the treasures of wickedness
In the house of the wicked,
And the short measure that is an abomination?
11 Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales,
And with the bag of deceitful weights?
12 For her rich men are full of violence,
Her inhabitants have spoken lies,
And their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.” Micah 6:10-12

Though these verses may hardly seem Christological to you, they bear the same stamp of Messiah as does the rest of the law. Here we have verses that speak of honest weights and honest measures. Jesus then noted (thus confirming Moses’ words concerning their living in the land being dependent on their conduct) that the measure they used under the law, so it would be measured to them.

However, there is another measure that is handed out for those who are no longer under the law. It is Christ who fulfilled the law, and who not only fulfilled it, but who took the full measure of the penalty of the law upon Himself. In this, a new measure is given to those who trust in Him and what He has done. Paul explains it in Ephesians 4 –

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s giftTherefore He says:

‘When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.’

(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:7-16

What Christ offers is not a law of works in an attempt to be righteous, nor a law of works that says, “When you fail, you are unrighteous.” In the law, there are set standards – weights and measures – that must be maintained.

Rather than that, what Christ offers is a gift of righteousness. And that then provides what He measures forth in order to bring us to the measure of the stature of the fullness found in Him.

The contrast is complete. One approach says, “Do this to be righteous,” even though it is not possible to do it. The other says, “Because I have made you righteous, do this to demonstrate it.”

This is the marvel of what God has done for us in Christ. He has taken away the law that stood opposed to us, and He has given us what the law could not bring to us. Thank God for Jesus Christ through whom God has done these things.

A perfect and just weight, this is good in the Lord’s sight
A perfect and just measure, this is good in His eyes
Let us strive to do that which is right
And let us fix our eyes upon the Prize

May our actions be open for all to see
And may we deal justly with others always
A perfect measure and a perfect weight shall be
The standards by which we fill our days

To the glory of the Lord who watches over us
And to the glory of Him who is pleased in what is right
May we always emulate the Lord Jesus
In this, we will be pleasing in God’s sight

III. Blot Out the Remembrance of Amalek (verses 17-19)

From noting those who are an abomination before the Lord for their conduct towards others in the misuse of weights and measures, Moses next turns to those who acted unrighteously against Israel when they were in a weakened state.

In both, there is the knowledge that the Lord is aware of the wrongdoings, and that He will take corrective action. The transition between the two then is evident and made smooth because of this.

17 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt,

Just as in Deuteronomy 24:9, and using the same construction of the sentence, Moses jumps from the singular to the plural: zakor eth asher asah lekha amaleq ba’derek b’tsetekhem mimitsrayim – “Remember what did to you (singular) Amalek in the way in your (plural) coming out from Egypt.” Notice the two side by side –

“Remember what the LORD your (sg) God did to Miriam in the way in your (pl) coming out from Egypt!”
“Remember what Amalek did to you (sg) in the way in your (pl) coming out from Egypt.”

One can see that Moses is referring to Israel as the Lord’s people here without saying it. The Lord (Israel’s God) took action against Miriam as the people were coming out of Egypt. Likewise, Amalek came against Israel (the Lord’s people) as they were coming out of Egypt.

Miriam offended the Lord and was punished. Amalek has harmed Israel, and they are to be punished. Both are being used as examples for Israel to see and to learn by. Thus, what will be stated about Amalek is as much of a warning to Israel as it is a command to act by Israel.

18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks,

Using a new word, zinev, the Hebrew reads “How he met you in the way and tailed in you.” The verb zinev means “to extend or to tail out.” Thus, the phrase means that Amalek attacked the tail of the people, cutting them off. The words are comparable to the English when we “skin an animal.” The noun, skin, is made into a verb that describes the task of removing the skin.

What Moses says here is not recorded elsewhere, but he states it as a fact that is to be remembered. While Israel was going forth, Amalek took advantage of the weakest of them who were at the rear of the formation which he notes were…

18 (con’t) all the stragglers at your rear,

kal ha’nekheshalim aharekha – “All the enfeebled behind you.” Here is a word used only once in Scripture, khashal. It refers to those who are weary or enfeebled. Thus, it speaks of those who just couldn’t keep up. They languished behind, resting and trying to recover, and Amalek took advantage of them. This was…

18 (con’t) when you were tired and weary;

There is an emphasis in the words: v’atah ayeph v’yagea – “and you, faint and weary.” Another new word is given, yagea. It signifies to be wearisome.

The entire congregation was in need of water (see Exodus 17) which the Lord provided, and they were worn out and depleted. In this state, Amalek was able to take full advantage of those at the rear ranks. It would be probable that this occurred before the Lord provided Israel water.

Not knowing they had been given water and were refreshed, Amalek thought they could come and defeat all of Israel. Instead, they were defeated in battle at Rephidim. What was evident from their conduct is that…

18 (con’t) and he did not fear God.

The general term for God, Elohim, is used here. It neither says, “the Lord,” nor is there an article before God, as in “the God.” What this means is that Amalek had pushed away even the general understanding of God that is written upon the heart of man.

They had suppressed the knowledge of Him to the point that there was no fear of Him in any respect at all. In such a state, there could be no remedy for them. As such…

19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest

It reads, “And it shall be, in resting Yehovah your God to you.” In other words, Israel was on a journey, and they were weak and weary. Their journey is not yet complete, nor will it be until the land before them is subdued. But there is a time coming when the Lord will have given them rest…

19 (con’t) from your enemies all around,

The word “all” is stated twice – “from all your enemies all around.” In other words, all of their enemies in every direction around them will have been pushed back or defeated enough to allow them rest. There will be nothing to distress them when they are called to the action at hand, which is…

19 (con’t) in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance,

The land is the promise, it is to be given to Israel by the Lord, it is to be their inheritance, and it will be possessed. These are all stated as axioms by Moses. These things will come to pass. When the state promised in that land, meaning being given rest, is realized, it is then…

19 (con’t) that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

This is Moses’ reminder to Israel of what was stated in Exodus 17:14 after the battle at Rephidim –

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’”

If you noticed, in Exodus 17, the Lord said that He would utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek. However, here Moses tells them that they are to do so. They are to be the instrument of the Lord’s judgment upon Amalek.

It is the synergistic (working together) relationship that is so often seen in Scripture, be it in the conduct of warfare by Israel, or in the process of salvation where God does the work to procure salvation, the church does the work of carrying the message forth, and the sinner accepts what God has done.

The Lord uses His people to accomplish His purposes. As such, Israel has a responsibility to fulfill the Lord’s will. Understanding this, Moses emphatically states…

*19 (fin) You shall not forget.

lo tishkakh – “No shall you forget.” Israel was to remember their responsibility and to perform it according to the Lord’s will and directive. This mandate was slowly and carefully carried out. Gideon faced Amalek along with the Midianites.

Saul faced them, but disobeyed the Lord in his encounter, thus causing him to lose the kingship. David faced Amalek several times during his reign as well. And the book of Esther describes the destruction of Haman who descended from Amalek also.

But Amalek is used in Scripture in typology as well. Their name is derived from the word am, or people, and from the word malaq which gives the sense of wringing off the head. They are The People who Wring Off.

In type, and as was seen in the Exodus 17 passage, they are those who are disconnected from the body and strive to disconnect the body. Thus, they represent false teachers, heretics, and other unregenerate people who are constantly attacking the weakest of the flock. They are those Paul warns of in Colossians –

“Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Colossians 2:18, 19

The Lord promised that He would destroy Amalek, but Moses then said that Israel would do so. In type, the Lord has given us His word to stand on and to use both offensively and defensively. He has commissioned His people to be the means of destroying the doctrine of those who attempt to wring off His people from the body.

This is the reminder that Moses now emphatically gives to Israel – “You shall not forget.” And it is the admonition that we too are given. We are to remember proper doctrine, and we are to continue to fight against those who come against the enfeebled of the body.

But we cannot fulfill this calling if we do not know and rightly apply the word that has been given to us. The lesson of Amalek is brought forward by Moses to remind us again that doctrine matters.

The word is about Christ and what He has done. If we keep that in its proper place, and if we trust in the grace of God without trying to add to it or lead people away from it, we will do well.

This word is far too valuable a gift to allow it to be twisted, manipulated, or distorted by others. And we should hold it in such high value that it is placed as our highest priority to search out each day. We cannot know God without knowing Jesus Christ, and we cannot know Jesus Christ without this precious gift that speaks of Him.

And so let us be responsible stewards of the trust placed into our care. May it be so, to the glory of God.

Closing Verse: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:13, 14

Next Week: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 It’s more important than showing up in a three-piece suit... (The First of the Fruit) (73rd Deuteronomy sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

You Shall Not Forget

“If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near
To rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him
———-if this does occur
And puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals
Then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights
A heavy and a light
You shall not have in your house differing measures
A large and a small; this wouldn’t be right

You shall have a perfect and just weight
A perfect and just measure too
That your days may be lengthened in the land
Which the LORD your God is giving you

For all who do such things
All who behave unrighteously
Are an abomination to the LORD your God
Such things as this shall not be

“Remember what Amalek did to you
On the way as you were coming out of Egypt
How he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks
All the stragglers at your rear; the ranks he stripped

When you were tired and weary on the path you trod
And he did not fear God

Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God
Has given you rest from your enemies all around
In the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess
As an inheritance – that wonderful bit of ground…

That you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek
From under heaven. You shall not forget. You shall give him heck

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 “If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, 12 then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.

13 “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 16 For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord your God.

17 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 25:1-10 (A Brother In Israel)

Deuteronomy 25:1-10
A Brother in Israel

When I started typing this sermon on Monday morning, I had the same thought I have every Monday – “How am I ever going to get anything out of this passage that will be edifying to the church?”

The first verses seem very lawish, and other than knowing that they are directly or indirectly referenced in the New Testament, I wasn’t sure how doctrinally edifying they would be for you. The last six verses are obviously typologically anticipating something, but I had no idea what.

Eight plus hours later, I still had no idea. I had to sit and really try to think things through. Unfortunately, the phone rang – right on Monday when I wish people would leave me alone – and I lost 20 or 30 minutes of thought.

It was getting time to walk the dogs and so I did that. In coming in, I got back to thinking and eventually developed what I feel they are telling us. It is a lesson said many times already in various ways. And that should not be surprising. Paul explains this lesson many times and in various ways as well.

And yet… people still do not get it, and they keep trying to merit God’s favor apart from what He has done in Christ. What a sad place to be! God does the work, God offers the reconciliation, and we keep trying to do better than what He has done. Indeed, what a sad place to be.

Text Verse: “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Galatians 2:16

Along with some thoughts about the law and grace, a couple other rather incredible doctrines are seen in our ten verses today. Maybe some of you, hopefully all of you, know what imputation means. There is another similar, but lesser-known, subject that we will mention today as well, impartation.

Do you know the difference between imputation and impartation? Is the difference that substantial? If so, how and why? Trust me on this, people will write volumes about which they believe Paul is referring to at times in his writings.

Just a little bit off in one’s analysis, and all of a sudden you are heading down the completely wrong theological path. When that happens, everything else goes askew as well. We won’t go into any great detail on this, but it’s good to be aware of the difference, so pay heed.

The Bible is a wonderful treasure filled with the most precious of doctrines for the faithful student. So, pick it up and read it! Learn to love this beautiful masterpiece of God’s wisdom. Great, great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Forty Blows He May Give Him (Verses 1-4)

“If there is a dispute between men,

The NKJV rightly places this first verse as conditional. Verse 1 is the condition, while verse 2 is the concluding matter based on the condition – In other words, “If this, then this.”

The word riv, or dispute, comes from a root signifying “to toss,” as in grappling. Two people are contending or quarreling over a matter as people do. If such is the case, and no remedy has been found, then the matter is elevated…

1 (con’t) and they come to court,

v’nigesu el ha’mishpat – “and they come unto the judgment.” The idea here is that of seeking out a set and recognized tribunal for a decision. This would first be at the gates of the city where such matters were to be judged.

Wherever the case ultimately is decided though, the point is that there is a disagreement. Either both think they are right, or one knows that he is wrong, but he thinks he can effectively win the case. As in any such matter, to know you are wrong and to know that you could not win such a case, it would be pointless to go to the judges. Jesus speaks of such a situation in Matthew 5:25, 26 –

“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”

Such is not the case here. Neither side will budge, and so the matter is taken to the judgment to be settled. This is so…

1 (con’t) that the judges may judge them,

u-shephatim – “and they have judged.” The condition of the first verse continues. The dispute was taken to the judges, and the judgment has been rendered upon them by the judges. When this occurs…

1 (con’t) and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked,

The translation is correct. The word ha’tsadiq, or “the righteous,” and the word ha’rasha, or “the wicked,” are terms referring to the state of the individuals in relation to the case. One is just in his case while the other is not. Charles Ellicott is thus right when he says –

“It should be noticed that justify is here used forensically, not meaning to make righteous, but to treat as righteous.” Charles Ellicott

It is what the Lord said in Exodus 23 concerning judgment –

“You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.” Exodus 23:6, 7

This may be more clearly seen in the Proverbs –

“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 17:15

It is obvious from Solomon’s words that he is speaking of treating a wicked man as righteous. Thus, it cannot mean “making righteous,” even if the person who is justified deludes himself into believing this.

This is an important point for us to consider. In Christ, we are justified before God. We are “treated as righteous,” but that does not mean that we are now righteous in and of ourselves, even if the arrogant Christian acts as if he is.” Adam Clarke then rightly evaluates this in relation to Paul’s words in his epistles –

“The word צדק tsadak is used here precisely in the same sense in which St. Paul sometimes uses the corresponding word δικαιοω [dikaioó – to show to be righteous; declare righteous, C.G.], not to justify or make just, but to acquit, declare innocent, to remit punishment, or give reasons why such a one should not be punished; … using the same word with St. Paul when he speaks of a sinner’s justification, i. e., his acquittance from blame and punishment, because of the death of Christ in his stead.” Adam Clarke

This highlights the difference between imputation and impartation. To be imputed righteousness means to ascribe as righteous. To be imparted righteousness means to bestow the quality of righteousness. The difference is worlds apart for the believer.

We are treated (imputed) as righteous by God because of what Christ has done, we are not righteous (imparted) in and of ourselves now because of Christ. Hence, we cannot look down on others because of our own righteousness. We can only pity them in relation to Christ and strive to bring to them what we have now been granted.

In such a case as is being evaluated now, whoever is decided in favor of the case is righteous while the one who lost the decision is unrighteous – in a legal, not necessarily a moral sense. Such is the case with humanity before God. When a decision is made for those in Christ, we are deemed legally righteous. When we are not in Christ, we are legally unrighteous.

As for the one not justified, in this case in Israel…

then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten,

The Hebrew bears an idiom: v’hayah im bin hakot ha’rasha – “and it shall be if son of beating, the wicked.” In other words, it is as if he is a son deserving of being beaten. In such a case, it shall be…

2 (con’t) that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence,

The Hebrew reads l’phanav – “to his face,” and thus before the face of the judge. The GNT incorrectly translates this as, “If the guilty one is sentenced to be beaten, the judge is to make him lie face downward and have him whipped.”

In other words, they take the words “to his face” as meaning, “with his face to the ground.” That is not the intent, even if that is what the man does. The words “to his face,” mean “before him,” or “in his presence.”

The judge was to personally watch over the beating to ensure that it was carried out as determined. Otherwise, he could be overbeaten, mistreated in how the beating was given, not punished enough, and so on. With it conducted before him, and because he was the one who made the judgment, it would be…

2 (con’t) according to his guilt,

kede rishato – “according to sufficiency of his wickedness.” In other words, enough to punish but no more and no less. One might say, “exactly as he deserves.”

2 (con’t) with a certain number of blows.

b’mispar – “in number.” This is the “sufficiency” of the previous clause. The number is to be in accord with his wrongdoing. However, the judge was to be limited in how much he determined what “in number” could be…

Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these,

The Hebrew is very precise, saying, “Forty blows he may give him, no he add lest he add, to beat him above these blows great.” In other words, anything beyond forty would be considered too great a punishment for any offense.

It obviously became an accepted rule in Israel to take away one blow as the maximum penalty in order to ensure the law was never violated. In other words, if the maximum of forty was the sentence, and the punisher miscounted, he would violate the law. Hence, the maximum number of thirty-nine was set to avoid this ever occurring.

Although this precept is not stated explicitly in Scripture, it is to be inferred from Paul’s words of 2 Corinthians 11:24, where he says, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.”

With this stated, and with the precept understood from the New Testament, we find hints of the work of Christ. Forty, according to Bullinger is the number associated –

“…with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement… It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).” EW Bullinger

This is obviously the case with the man being punished. He is chastised. The maximum number set by the law is grace, and it is intended to lead to his renewal within the community for justice served. The removal of one blow would then be the maximum punishment, leading to renewal.

And this is what the Bible reveals in the coming of Christ. The body of law, the Old Testament, is thirty-nine books. That leads to the fortieth book where Christ is introduced.

The law, with its provisions for reconciliation to God, is grace leading to revival and renewal in Christ. Thus, the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, meaning the law, are as blows to Christ in His fulfillment of them.

God gave Him that, and no more, to complete His work. If one adds in the fortieth book which first reveals His completion of them, then He has perfectly fulfilled the period of probation, trial, and chastisement. It is a beautiful picture of God’s grace, leading to and ending in revival and renewal.

As far as the law itself for the disobedient man, any more than what the law prescribes would result in something quite negative…

3 (con’t) and your brother be humiliated in your sight.

v’niqlah akhikha l’enekha – “and dishonored your brother in your eyes.” The idea of calling him a “brother” here is that of shared humanity. This is a person and to beat him beyond a set measure would be comparable to treating him like an animal. It was not to be condoned.

Before going on, it needs to be noted that this precept of the law is not the punishment given to Christ during his Passion. The scourging He received was at the hands of Romans who were not bound to the precepts of the law. He would have been beaten relentlessly by them before He was led to the cross.

So, in a sense, Christ took much more of the humiliation spoken of here for His people than God would ever have allowed for them under their law. What God was willing to do for us in Christ goes far beyond that. Thank God for Jesus.

And more, it must be remembered when looking at the typology that Christ did no wrong. The wicked one in this passage is us, and yet Christ is the one who took the blows on our behalf. Our guilt; His punishment. With that, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. Thank God for Jesus.

With this matter now complete, Moses turns to a new precept…

“You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.

lo takhsom sor b’disho – “No you shall muzzle ox in his treading.” Two new words are found here, khasam, to stop up or muzzle, and dush, meaning to tread or thresh.

A question arises as to why this is stated here at all. A friend of mine sent me an analysis of this verse quite some time ago from Justin Taylor of the Gospel Coalition. I saved that until arriving here. The title was, “Do Not Muzzle the Ox: Does Paul Quote Moses Out of Context?

The reason this is an important matter to settle is because Paul does, in fact, quote this verse two times. In his quoting, he says –

“Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.’ Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?” 1 Corinthians 9:8-12

“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’” 1 Timothy 5:17, 18

Paul says that this was written for our sakes. If this is so, then as the analysis notes, it brings up all kinds of questions. They give examples –

  • Is Paul saying that Moses never meant this to be applied to literal oxen?
  • Is he merely referring to the ultimate intention of the passage?
  • Is he focusing on contemporary application rather than original meaning?
  • Is he quoting this verse out of context?

Based on this, and in order to show that the law is still to be taken literally, and yet also to justify that Paul is right as well, Mr. Taylor goes into lengthy analysis of showing that this must be speaking of a borrower of an ox.

To simplify the entire article, my friend brought it down to its basics, and then he paraphrased the intent, saying –

“In the case of an owned ox, it would be in the interest of the owner to have the ox eat some of the grain as it’s threshing the floor — so that the ox stays healthy and well fed.

But in the case of a borrowed ox — the borrower might not care for the ox as much, and wants to have maximum grain yield. So, he might put a muzzle on the ox so that it does not eat his grain. But in such a case the ox might get weaker and will not be in a good condition. But the borrower wouldn’t care because it’s not his ox.”

As my friend neither agreed nor disagreed with the analysis, but simply sent it on, I am sure I won’t offend him by disagreeing with it. The logic from that analysis is that all of the surrounding verses deal with human rights, and as this suddenly introduces the care of an ox, it doesn’t fit. Therefore, Paul must be right.

As he is, then it must be speaking of the rights of the owner of the ox, and hence, the ox is owned by another. As such, the passage is still referring to human rights – meaning, taking care of the owner’s property.

I disagree, and that does not logically follow. And, if it was the case, Moses would have identified it as a borrowed ox, just as the law speaks of such things elsewhere like in Exodus 22 –

“And if a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it becomes injured or dies, the owner of it not being with it, he shall surely make it good. 15 If its owner was with it, he shall not make it good; if it was hired, it came for its hire.” Exodus 22:14, 15

If one has to infer a precept in the law of Moses in this manner, then the law is not clear. But clarity of the law is the absolute intent for the people. We have seen that time and again. Things are both repeated and restated to ensure there is nothing vague or ambiguous in the law.

Having said that, the precept is set. It is for the protection of the ox. And yet, it is still a precept dealing with human rights, just not the rights of an owner of an ox that the law never refers to.

Rather, the reason it is placed here is because it adds importance to the law just stated in the previous verse. If an ox is to be tended to, even though it is an ox, how much more should a man not be degraded as if he were an animal by beating him beyond what is decent.

Understanding that, and then understanding the context of Paul’s words, both the law as written, and what Paul says in the epistles, come into clarity of focus.

Paul takes an actual verse about an ox, a matter of law – but which is placed carefully after a passage about human dignity – and he then says that it is not the ox that God is concerned about, which is true. It is the state of the brother of the previous verse that He cares about. Paul then elevates the precept of the ox to that of human dignity in his epistles, exactly as the passage about the ox intends.

You shall beat Him with forty blows and no more
It is sufficient to the offense at hand
Anymore and everyone knows – ‘forshore’
He will be dishonored more than I had planned

And you have done right by making it forty minus one
It is proper to not go beyond that, so I say
There are thirty-nine blows laid upon My Son
Thirty-nine books filled with debt that He would pay

And in the fortieth, there is now fellowship so sweet
The grace leading to revival and renewal is found
In Him, all that was necessary is now complete
In Him restoration with Me is found

II. To Raise Up a Name to His Brother (verses 5-10)

“If brothers dwell together,

The stipulation here does not necessarily mean “in the same house.” This is evidenced from the same use of the term in Genesis 13:6 and 36:7 where it refers to dwelling together in the same land. The matter is one of what is reasonable concerning proximity. As such is the case…

5 (con’t) and one of them dies and has no son,

The translation is literally correct, son. But the passage is cited in the New Testament and there it refers to offspring –

“The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 24 saying: ‘Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. 27 Last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.’” Matthew 22:23-28

The son is the one to carry on the name of the father, but a provision was made in Numbers 27:1-11 for it to continue through daughters as well in a certain circumstance. Regardless of this, it is generally the son that carries the name of the father.

For now, the man died having no offspring, therefore…

5 (con’t) the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family;

The word zur, or stranger, means anyone who is another. In other words, the brother has already been identified in the first clause, and thus anyone else is “another.” The focus is on this brother and the widow of his brother. In this case…

5 (con’t) her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife,

Here is a new noun, yavam, meaning a husband’s brother. It is only to be found here and in verse 7. The verb form, yavam, was seen in Genesis 38:8 and it is then only seen again here in Scripture (in the next clause) and in verse 7. This was a cultural precept as carefully detailed in Genesis 38 and which is now being written into the Mosaic code.

The code is silent on whether this brother is already married or not, and so reading into it that he must be single is therefore not a reliable thought. It simply states as a point of law that a brother in such a matter is to perform this function.

Although there may be an exception, such as is found in Ruth concerning a near kinsman, it appears that the wording here refers to an actual brother in this passage. No matter what, it next says…

5 (con’t) and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.

In this, there is the requirement that such a brother is to perform the duty (yavam, the verb) of a husband’s brother. This is with the explicit intent of giving her a child.

As this same verb was used in Genesis 38, it shows that the precept was already a custom in Israel, but it is now being codified into the law to ensure it would continue. The purpose of this rite is next stated…

And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother,

The Hebrew reads that the firstborn son: yaqum al shem akhiv ha’met – “shall rise over name brother, the dead.” The verse says nothing of a female child. It is certainly referring to a firstborn son who will rise to be over the name of the father who had died, thus being in charge of (over) his inheritance.

The same general phrase is used in Ruth 4:10, saying l’haqim shem ha’met al nakhalato – “to raise name the dead over his inheritance.” All of this is so…

6 (con’t) that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.

This is the purpose of the rite – the perpetuation of the name of the dead. Thus, it is the genealogical record that is being highlighted. The estate of the dead would obviously be involved, but it is the name that is given first consideration.

Despite this being a precept of law, Moses does not make it mandatory. On the other hand, he does make the consequences for not following through with it repugnant enough so that a person in such a position would carefully consider the repercussions…

But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife,

Here is another new word, yebemeth, meaning a sister-in-law. It will be seen three times in this passage and only twice more, in Ruth 1:15. As can be seen, the law clearly makes this a voluntary action. He can turn down the duty he is called to according to the law.

The brother has no delight to take her as his wife. The word used, khapets, means to be pleasing or to delight in. He is not so inclined to fulfill this law. If such is the case…

7 (con’t) then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders,

It is the place of judgment. She will argue for a judgment against him because he is unwilling to perform the duty as directed by law. There at the gate, she will come to the elders…

7 (con’t) and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.’

In this, she uses both the noun and the verb form of the word yavamyevami (my husband’s brother) will not yavemi – (perform the brother-in-law’s duty).

In other words, there is a responsibility attached to who he is in relation to the dead. The reason why he won’t fulfill the duty is irrelevant. He may not like her, he may not want the child she bears to have his brother’s name, or whatever.

This is similar to what Judah’s son Onan did in Genesis 38, but not the same. He did take his brother’s wife, but he didn’t allow his seed to pass onto her. The proposition set forth here is that he simply will not take her as his wife. She wants this, but he refuses it. And she has a right to this, even if it cannot be forced. As such…

Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him.

The law is written, the culturally accepted norm has been codified into the law, and the terminology given to describe him in this fashion lays weight on the matter that this is his obligation, even if he can turn it down. This is what they convey to him, asking him to be reasonable in the matter…

8 (con’t) But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’

He uses the same word as was just described of him, khaphets. He does not delight to take her. In refusing the taking of her, he is refusing to take delight in the law which instructs him to do this thing. As such, the law now gives her a right to humiliate him…

then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders,

The man has been counseled by the elders, he still refuses to agree to accept the responsibility of the custom, and thus he has disgraced both his brother and her. Therefore, she is given the right to bring disgrace upon him for failing to accept his responsibility. In this, she is to…

9 (con’t) remove his sandal from his foot,

The sandal is a symbol of authority over the place where it rests. This is seen, for example, in Psalm 60 where David claims authority over Edom –

“Moab is My washpot;
Over Edom I will cast My shoe;
Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me.” Psalm 60:8

In the casting of his shoe (it is the same word translated as sandal here) David was demonstrating that he delighted in taking possession over Edom. In Ruth, the near kinsman handed his shoe to Boaz as a resignation of the right to take possession of Elimelech’s estate.

However, here the woman is given the right to forcibly take off his shoe, demonstrating first that her hand now has the power over his right. Secondly, it is a contemptible way of saying that he no longer has any claim to, or right in, the matter henceforth.

And more, to be unshod is a sign of a miserable and shameful existence. This is seen several times elsewhere –

“In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it, at the same time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, ‘Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.’ And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

Then the Lord said, ‘Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.’” Isaiah 20:1-4

“So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up.” 2 Samuel 15:30, 31

Along with this degrading act, she will…

9 (con’t) spit in his face,

The word is yaraq, to spit. This is its third and last use. It was used twice in Numbers 12:14 where it is clearly recognized as a sign of derision –

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘If her father had but spit [spitting, had spit] in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.’”

Due to his unwillingness to perform his duty, he would thus be degraded before the elders by a woman. Along with that is one more note of unworthiness…

9 (con’t) and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’

The actions speak for themselves, but after performing them, she then has the right to make him a comparative form of execration. In essence, “What I have done to him is what any person unwilling to perform this duty deserves.” Upon completion of this, the man would never be released from the shame of that act. As it says…

*10 (fin) And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.’

v’niqra shemo b’yisrael beit khaluts ha’naal – “And shall be called his name in Israel house him who had removed the sandal.”

The word shemo, or “his name,” is explained by the words “the house of him.” In other words, his house and his legacy are together one of disgrace. It is both a symbol of his disgrace, and it is also a continuous reminder of it. The idea is, “Because he would not build up his brother’s house, his house is one of disgrace.”

It is your job and your duty to perform this law
Without it, there will be no heir for the name of your brother
Don’t shirk your responsibility; don’t have such a flaw
Don’t pass on what you should do to another

You are counseled to perform as is expected of you
And if you will not, your authority you will lose
Do that which is your responsibility to do
But… you also know that you can refuse

What woman would ever want something of you
When you would fail to act as you are told
By the woman, you will be rejected – so she will do
Any integrity of yours will be forever sold

III. The Unwilling Brother

The precept here predates the Law of Moses. A brother was to step in and to perform the duty of the yavam, the brother-in-law. What we have here is a short review of the inability of the law to bring forth children.

Man, once connected to God, is the dead husband, typified by Adam. The woman represents humanity. A son in this, would indicate a spiritual reconnection to God. Adam, the man who was once spiritually alive, died and left her no such children.

Even prior to the law, the precept of the yavam was already seen. The purpose of Genesis 38 was to set that idea as a precedent. The story there is one which anticipates the restoration of this spiritual connection to God. That is presented in a manner as clearly as it could be, as was shown in that particular sermon.

As this is so, life under the Law of Moses is typologically given as this brother. It is, ostensibly, available to give children to the woman as a yavam, or brother-in-law. As it says in Leviticus 18 –

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

However, “being under law” does not delight in the woman, and is – in fact – a state that is at enmity with her. Paul states that explicitly in Ephesians 2 –

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.” Ephesians 2:14, 15

In this case, life under the law typologically will not perform the duty to give the woman a son. Hence, she performs the rite of disgracing him and stripping him of any authority to ever have right to her again. However, Christ is of the woman, meaning humanity. And of Him, it says in the law itself –

“Then I said, ‘Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight [khapets] to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.’” Psalm 40:7, 8

Because life under the law would not perform the duty, as is evidenced in the 1400+ years of it bringing no one to restoration with God, Christ came to do it. He delighted to do the will of God, and He performs what life under the law was unwilling to perform.

In this, He – as a member of humanity – took away the authority of the law and brought it to its end. Thus, life under the law is “The house of him who had his sandal removed.”

This is certainly indicated in Paul’s words to those at Corinth, saying, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). God in Christ is the nearer brother who could, and who did, give a Son, His Firstborn, to the barren woman. From there, life is restored to any who come to Him.

The lesson: There are no born-again children in humanity through life under the law, not before, nor will there ever be. Only in Christ is there a delight in bringing children to God through humanity. In this Son then comes a new family, among whom Christ Jesus is the Firstborn.

It is a beautiful passage, found in the law, that conveys to us the insufficiency of the law, apart from Christ, to do what it was given for. That thought is perfectly expressed by Paul in Romans 3 –

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Romans 3:21, 22

The law itself witnesses to what God was going to do in Christ. Righteousness is now imputed to those who simply reach out to God through Him, by faith, and accept what He has done.

If you have friends or family stuck in some law-observant church, keep pecking away at them. Their time is short, and they have an infinitely high hill to climb going that route. They won’t make it. For anyone listening today, I ask you to trust in Christ, rest in Christ, and put away your futile attempts at pleasing God through any other avenue except Jesus Christ.

He is the answer to the problem that separates us from God. And surprisingly, the law itself testifies to that fact. Thank God for Jesus Christ.

Closing Verse: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:32

Next Week: Deuteronomy 25:11-19 Use your brain cells; be sure they are set… (You Shall Not Forget) (72nd Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

 A Brother in Israel

“If there is a dispute between men
And they come to court, that the judges may judge them
And they justify the righteous
And the wicked they condemn

Then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten
That the judge will cause him to lie down; ground facing nose
And be beaten in his presence, according to his guilt
With a certain number of blows

Forty blows he may give him and no more
Lest he should exceed this, something not right
And beat him with many blows above these
And your brother be humiliated in your sight

“You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain
How does this law fit with the other laws? Can I ask again?

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son
The widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger
———-outside the family
Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife
And perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her; so shall it be

And it shall be that the firstborn son
Which she bears will succeed to the name, as to you I tell
Of his dead brother
That his name may not be blotted out of Israel

But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife
Then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say
“My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother
———-in Israel
He will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother
———-to this very day

Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him
But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her
———-so he does convey
Then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence
———-of the elders
Remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face
———-and answer and say

“So shall it be done to the man
Who will not build up his brother’s house; so he shall be reproved
And his name shall be called in Israel
‘The house of him who had his sandal removed

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows. Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your brother be humiliated in your sight.

“You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.’