Acts 2:6

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Acts 2:6

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verses noted the sound of the rushing wind and the speaking in tongues. They also noted that there were Jews “from every nation under heaven.” The verse now begins with, “And when this sound occurred.” It is referring to the events just mentioned, probably beginning with the rushing wind followed by the speaking in tongues, and certainly with a stress on the tongues.

This is because the word translated as “sound” is different than that of verse 2:2. There, it was the word échos. That refers to a loud or confused sound (the mighty, rushing wind). Here, the word is phóné. This refers to a sound which is inclusive of a voice, language, or dialect (the utterances of the disciples).  With that occurring, it says, “the multitude.”

That is a direct reference to those of the previous verse just mentioned, “Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.” It is the pilgrims of the pilgrim feast. The law mandated that they come, and these men (certainly with their families as the law directed), in obedience to the law, had presented themselves in the temple area. In this place, they were drawn to the spot, where the disciples had gathered, to find out what was going on. It is there and while listening to the sound – that it says they “were confused.”

The word in Greek is a compound verb coming from sun (together) and cheó (to pour). If one takes two liquids and pours them together, they intermingle, and their properties become confused. This is the thought of those who heard. They were unable to properly process what was going on “because everyone heard them speak.”

The verb is imperfect, saying, “because everyone was hearing.” They heard and they kept on hearing. It is an important part of what is being conveyed. To simply say, “they heard” is not as uncommon as we might initially think, as will be explained in a minute. However, these people heard, and what they heard continued on, as Luke says, “in his own language.”

It is the same word first used in Acts 1:19 –

“And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)”

Translating this as “language” is incorrect. In verses 2:8-11, it will mention some of the various tongues that are heard. Understanding their origin, Vincent’s Word Studies notes, “The Phrygians and Pamphylians, for instance, both spoke Greek, but in different idioms; the Parthians, Medes, and Elamites all spoke Persian, but in different provincial forms.”

Hence, these are not only unique languages, but dialects (tongues is acceptable) within various languages are noted. The point is that what is heard is completely understandable to those who heard. The next verse will explain the confusion, noting that those who are speaking are Galileans. As such, even if they spoke the language, they would certainly not be proficient in the pronunciation nor in the dialect.

What is happening may not have been confusing if they heard someone call out an expression in his own language, or even his own dialect. This happens all the time. Someone knows a word or two of Spanish, Malay, German, or Japanese, and they call it out to a person of that nation. This might be the case if someone visited a Japanese restaurant and he said to the owners as he walked in, 私は日本食が大好きです。最も良い!(Watashi wa nipponshoku ga daisukidesu. Mottomo yoi!).

This might be impressive to some extent, but such a simple phrase can be learned quickly enough. However, if the person said it in a perfect local dialect, and the owners happened to be from that area, they may be a bit surprised. If the person continued to speak in this dialect, a state of confusion would come upon the owners. “This guy has blond hair and round eyes (nice hazel round eyes!) and he not only speaks Japanese, but he speaks it perfectly in our own dialect” – 本当にすごいです(Hontōni sugoidesu!)

Remember, what is happening here is occurring at the same time of year that the law was received by the people at Mount Sinai. The difference is quite striking. The law was received from the Lord in a state of fear, quaking, trembling, and with a voice that brought terror upon the people. It was the Lord speaking to Israel in their own language. But more, it was only spoken to Israel.

At Pentecost, the sound is familiar, and it is at a time of rejoicing (Deuteronomy 12:12). In fact, no one who was in mourning could participate in this event (Deuteronomy 26:14). And further, it came not only in the language of the people, but in the language of all people “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Though these are Jews, they are Jews who came from those other nations, implying that the word is not only intended for these Jews, but for all people.

But more, what is heard is from the Lord through His people. In this, the contrast to the law is complete. The law is of fear. The giving of the Spirit is of friendliness. The law calls for works. The Spirit comes through faith. The law brings condemnation. The work of Christ brings salvation. These, and innumerable other contrasts, are seen in the law versus the gospel of grace.

Life application: There is a Jewish teaching that the Law of Moses, given at Mount Sinai, went out to all the world in the seventy known languages of the people recorded in Genesis 10. This is certainly a false teaching that began after the events at Pentecost.

This is found in a midrash, or Jewish commentary on Scripture, that was supposedly recorded by Rabbi Yohannan (30BC to AD90). If Yohannan actually said this, he certainly realized the significance of what occurred at Pentecost. He possibly made that story up in order to demonstrate that what occurred at Pentecost was not without precedent and was not something special or unique to faith in Christ Jesus. There is nothing in Scripture to justify this false teaching, and if it were so, the Bible would have recorded it.

It is just as possible that this is credited to Yohannan because he lived during the time that the events occurred, and it is a way of robbing the truth of the Pentecost experience recorded in Scripture away from its actual source.

One must be exceedingly careful when referring to Jewish commentaries. If what they state or claim is not in accord with Scripture, it is best to disregard it. There has been an agenda in Judaism to obscure the truth of Christ for two thousand years.

Likewise, it is unsound to take Jewish cultural events, such as how their wedding marriages are conducted, and to insert that into one’s New Testament theology. This is a giant problem that often confuses the truth of what is being conveyed by Jesus and the apostles, and it leads to many incorrect doctrines concerning events that have, or that will, occur.

This is especially true with modern Messianic and Hebrew Roots evaluations of things like the Leviticus 23 Feasts of the Lord, the Shemitah, the Sabbath and Jubilee cycles, and so on. These extra-biblical insertions do not help us evaluate those things. Rather, they misdirect our eyes away from what God intends for us to see, meaning Jesus Christ.

The Bible stands alone as the testament to what God is doing in Christ. If any extra-biblical teaching does not sync with what is stated in Scripture, toss it. Just because someone is Jewish and appears well-versed in the language and culture of the Jews, it does not mean he is a specialist on the Bible. It is a huge problem within the modern church, and it should not become a part of our personal theology. Stick with the Bible!

Lord God, Your word is sufficient for our knowledge, doctrine, and practice concerning our faith. May we be careful to not trust people with fine sounding arguments that do not align with Your word, even if they claim it is something that reveals secrets about You. That is what Your word is for. May we let this sink into our minds. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 2:5

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. Acts 2:5

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verses, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers and they “began to speak with other tongues.” With that noted, Luke now turns to the broader audience who witnessed these things, saying, “And there were dwelling.”

The word katoikeó, is used. It signifies to settle down as a permanent resident. Scholars generally argue against this notion though because in the coming verses Jews from many locations will be noted, and in verse 9, it uses the same word in the same present tense to indicate those dwelling in Mesopotamia and elsewhere.

There is no difficulty with this. Some of these foreign-born Jews now dwelt permanently in Jerusalem. Some were pilgrims visiting Jerusalem. In Deuteronomy, Moses says what the Lord will do to the people if they disobey Him –

“Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone.” Deuteronomy 28:64

However, the Lord also promised restoration –

“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:1-6

The people who were exiled were brought back. Many came back permanently, some would come back at appointed times, such as the pilgrim feasts, of which the time of Pentecost was one. Paul specifically returned to Jerusalem, as is indicated in Acts 18, to keep a feast –

“So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, ‘I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.’ And he sailed from Ephesus.” Acts 18:18-21

Even today in Israel, this is true. One can go to a large dancehall and see people who have returned to the land from dozens of countries gathered together. They will have learned the Hebrew language, but they will most commonly speak to family in their own native language, such as Russian, Arabic, English, or etc.

Understanding this, Luke continues with, “in Jerusalem.” As this is Pentecost, and as there are people gathered from many different areas, it makes the thought of this gathering being at the temple complex all the more certain. The disciples are gathered in one place (1:1), also called a “house” (1:2), and there are many others gathered there. This would be as directed by Moses –

“But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, 11 then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. 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.” Deuteronomy 12:10, 11

As this is certain, Luke continues, saying, “Jews.” The term speaks of any person, regardless as to which tribe the person was actually from. It is an all-encompassing term that became acceptable to speak of anyone of the stock of Israel. This is how Paul uses the term, even when referring to himself –

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews.” 1 Corinthians 9:19, 20

Despite using this term, Paul is actually from the tribe of Benjamin (see Philippians 3:5). As such, the term “Jews” as used by Luke is referring to any and all of Israel. The tribe of Judah became the predominant tribe. The designation “Jew” is the umbrella by which those of all tribes were labeled, and that has remained true to this day. Of these Jews, Luke says they are “devout men.”

The Greek word is only used by Luke. Once in his gospel (Luke 2:25) and three times in Acts. It is a compound word that literally means “‘taking hold of what is good.’ It focuses on the outward response someone gives to what they feel is truly worthwhile (worthy of respect)” HELPS Word Studies. At times, translators say, “God-fearing” which is more of a paraphrase, but it implies that a godly fear is instilled in the person.

This would be obvious as the people had followed the Law of Moses, as stated above, and had come to the temple to observe the feast as the law instructed. This description is made more pronounced by the final words of the verse, “from every nation under heaven.”

These were men who had been returned from exile and had returned to the land as the Lord promised, or they were men of the diaspora that believed the words of Scripture to some degree, and they wanted to participate in the customs of the Jews as the law stated. Thus, they were “taking hold of what is good,” at least in this respect of the law.

Of this verse, Ruckman ridiculously says, “There are no ‘Christians’ present in the chapter; no ‘Christians’ show up until Acts 11:26. Peter is addressing Jews (here; vss 10, 14, 22). The only Gentiles present are ‘proselytes’ to Judaism (vs. 10).” As such, Ruckman is trying to divide the church into two separate entities with two separate gospels.

Acts 11:26, that he cites, simply says, “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” It is an acknowledgement that the movement that began on Pentecost in Jerusalem developed into what would become its only separately identified group of people known as “Christians.” This is evidenced by Peter’s words of 1 Peter 4:16 –

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

The designation “Christian” means “follower of Christ.” In Acts 2, Peter will use the term “Christ” four times, clearly indicating in two of them that he (Peter) is a “Christian” as are those with him, even if the term had not come into common use at the time –

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

In the middle of his analysis, Ruckman switches from the subject to the object – from Peter to Peter’s audience, thus pulling a fast one in his flawed theology. Of course, Peter was only speaking to Jews. This is in the temple in Jerusalem, and only Jews and proselytes were allowed into this area. The message itself was designated to go to the Jew first and then to the Gentile (see Acts 26:23). But it is the same group of believers that spread the message, meaning Christians (aka “followers of Christ).

The doctrine of hyperdispensationalism which Ruckman teaches is heretical and insidiously divides the church established by Jesus Christ for truly malignant purposes.

Life application: For such a seemingly simple verse, much is tied up in what it says. It is important to know the rest of Scripture to understand the context of what is being conveyed. For those who spend most of their time trying to separate the testaments, covenants, and promises by dividing them into wholly separate ideas, there will be a failure in grasping the overall message being conveyed.

It is true that the Mosaic Covenant is obsolete in Christ, but one cannot have a New Covenant without there first being an Old Covenant. God is slowly and progressively revealing Himself in the stream of human existence, logically building a case for man’s need for Christ in every dispensation that arises.

In the end, the final point of everything that God is doing is to reveal Himself through Christ and to reveal our need for Christ. He used Israel, the Jewish people, to reveal a very large part of that program. Without understanding their history, as well as the promises yet to be fulfilled in them, a huge void in our understanding of God’s message will result. Hence, you are admonished to READ YOUR BIBLE.

It is in Scripture that the glory of what God has done for you is revealed. Again, READ YOUR BIBLE.

Lord God, thank You for Your precious word – the Holy Bible. Amen.

 

 

Acts 2:4

Monday, 25 October 2021

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse saw divided tongues, as of fire, rest upon each of the disciples who were sitting in the house. With that noted, Luke next records, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” It is what Jesus earlier spoke to the people about as is described in John –

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39

This is what Jesus later refers to in John 14 and John 15 –

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” John 15:26, 27

It is also what Jesus was referring to when He spoke to the apostles after the resurrection in John 20 –

“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:21-23

In these verses from John 20, the word translated as “He breathed on them” is emphusaó. It is a word found only there in the New Testament. However, it is the same word used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Genesis 2:7 –

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Jesus was making a point in John 20 that He is the Lord God who originally formed man. His breathing on them was a token that they would be born again from above with the coming of the Spirit. This is not, then, a “second-birthing” of the Spirit here in Acts as claimed by charismatics. It is an attestation that Jesus is God.

In John 14, Jesus said the Father would send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name. In John 15, Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit from the Father. And in John 20, Jesus’ breath upon the apostles is a token of that occurrence. It is the work of the Godhead that is being revealed, and it reveals the truth of Jesus’ words of John 14 –

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.’” John 14:9-11

The three members of the Godhead are working together in the redemptive process. The coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts is an outward, visible, audible demonstration of this. It is a confirmation that Jesus is, in fact, the Lord God. The new birth has come and the church that bears Jesus’ name is founded at this moment. This is based on the New Covenant that was established in Jesus’ blood only a short time before.

This is clearly evidenced in the fact that the New Covenant extends beyond the Jewish believers to include the Gentiles, as witnessed by Paul in both1 Corinthians 11:25 and 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 and then again by the author of Hebrews in Hebrews 8 and 9.

This “filling of the Holy Spirit” is that new birth. It is being born again from above because of the completed work of Christ. It is the spiritual reconnection to God that was lost when Adam transgressed the command. The outward display in Acts 2 is not normative for the church age. Rather, it was an outward display to confirm that the Spirit is now given to those who believe the gospel.

The outward display of tongues is first occurring in Jerusalem as a sign that the Feast of Shavuot (Weeks), which is Pentecost, is fulfilled. But this does not mean it is only fulfilled for those in Jerusalem. Just as Christ’s Passover sacrifice was observed as fulfilled by those in Jerusalem, it still extends to all believers (see 1 Corinthians 5:7).

Each thing must start somewhere, but that is only the beginning of the thing. The church started in Jerusalem, and it has continued to expand, as Jesus stated in Acts 1, to the ends of the earth –

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” Acts 1:4-8

In understanding these things, it next says of those who were filled with the Holy Spirit that they “began to speak with other tongues.” The word “tongues” means “languages.” In the case of what occurs in Acts 2, it does not mean gibberish, nor is it something acquired over time or improved through use. It is an immediate infusion of a new language into the person who is so filled. This is evidenced in the coming verses.

Later Paul will speak of tongues in a different way, acknowledging them as languages he already knew –

“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” 1 Corinthians 14:18, 19

These languages, given to the believers as a sign to the people, came “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Here Luke uses a word, apophtheggomai, found for the first of three times. It is seen only in Acts. It refers to a clear and plain enunciation, a declaration, and a speaking forth. The words spoken by these people were clearly conveyed, perfectly understood, and had precise meaning. Paul uses the word in Acts 26:25 and then explains it for his hearer –

“But he said, ‘I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.’”

The word “reason” literally means “sobriety.” In Acts 2:13, the people will claim the believers are “full of new wine.” Peter will correct this saying that they are not drunk. The enraptured voices of the believers were filled with reason, eloquence, power, and they were heightened with joy. What has come upon these believers in Jerusalem is solely of God, and it is an undoing of what occurred in Genesis 11 –

“And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.’” Genesis 11:6-9

Where the Lord confused the language of all the earth, He has now brought understanding. Where there was misunderstanding, there is now clarity. Though the tongues would cease in a supernatural way, languages continue to be learned in order to convey the gospel to all people on earth. In other words, the display of tongues in Acts 2, though not normative for the church age, is a token that the gospel is intended to speak to all people in any tongue, at any place, and at any time. Thus, it is the reuniting of all people on the planet into one body when the message of the gospel is accepted.

Life application: Acts 2 is a descriptive account of what occurred at the establishment of the church. It prescribes nothing. Further, it is not normative for the church age as is testified to throughout Acts and the epistles. Nothing is said that these same believers retained the tongues they spoke. Further, the epistles do not hint that what is described in Acts would reoccur later.

In this, the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement fails. They have taken descriptive accounts that refer to known languages that were given, along with temporary workings of the Spirit, and they have twisted them into something wholly unintended. Further, their supposed displays of tongues fail to adhere to the prescriptive directives for tongues given by Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit.

Secondly, the Feast of Pentecost is fulfilled because of Christ’s work, as is evidenced in Acts, just as were all of the other feasts of the Lord. The Hebrew Roots movement fails because they reintroduce these feasts, prescribing their observance when they were, in fact, fulfilled by Him. It is a heretical doctrine because it negates the work of Christ who fulfilled them. It is one thing to observe Pentecost as a memorial, and it is another thing to prescribe observance of the feasts as given in the Law of Moses, ignoring the fulfillment in Christ.

Thirdly, the church is clearly presented as being established in Acts 2. It is based on the one and only New Covenant that came through Christ’s shed blood. It is based on the one and only gospel that is to be conveyed to Jew and Gentile, and it is confirmed by the giving of the Holy Spirit of God to believers, based on the completed work of Christ. This will continue to be seen as Acts continues. Hyperdispensationalism fails because it teaches a heretical theology that separates both the gospel and the church into two separate entities.

Fourthly, Calvinism fails because it teaches that believers must be regenerated in order to believe (being born again), that people then believe, and they are then saved. This is contrary to both the descriptive and prescriptive passages of Scripture. Rather, a person hears the word, believes the gospel, and is sealed with the Holy Spirit unto salvation. This is more expressly seen in the epistles, but following the book of Acts is helpful in understanding this.

Be sure to reject such false doctrines. Just because something is described does not mean that it is normative. That which is fulfilled by Christ is to be acknowledged as such. And there is one church that began with the giving of the Spirit and continues with the giving of that Spirit to any who believe the gospel. When a person believes, he is then born again through the sealing of the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of the inheritance.

Lord God, thank You for the gift of Your Spirit. The record of Your word shows that it came among the early believers confirming the words of Jesus, and the record of the epistles assures us that we receive the Spirit the moment we believe the gospel. He seals us for the day of redemption. We have faith that it is true, even without any external confirmation of this. Believing that Christ died for us, was buried, and rose again is all we need to assure us that we are Yours. Thank you for Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

Acts 2:3

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. Acts 2:3

Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, it was noted that the sound of the rushing mighty wind filled the house where the people were sitting. It is at this time that Luke next records, “Then there appeared.”

The idea seems to be that within the house, and without any known, visible source, something new came forth. The thought is not unlike what happened as is recorded in Daniel 5 –

“In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.” Daniel 5:5

Seemingly, and out of nowhere, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared. Likewise, Luke records that to these disciples there appeared “to them divided tongues.” The verb is actually a present participle. The thought is something like “dividing tongues,” or “parting tongues.”

The word “tongues” is glossa. It signifies a tongue, a language, or even a nation which is distinguished by its language. Even before getting to the next verse, the idea is clear. A language is being presented “as of fire.”

Here the Greek is specific. It is not necessarily fire (although it could be), but that the tongues appeared and acted as if they were tongues of fire. Their appearance brought to mind how a tongue of fire would look and act as it divided from the main source. In the Old Testament, the term “tongue of fire” is found only once, in Isaiah 5:24 –

“Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes the straw, and as dry grass shrivels in the flame, so their roots will decay and their blossoms will blow away like dust; for they have rejected the instruction of the LORD of Hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 5:24

There, it signified the disapproval of the Lord towards the people of Israel and the judgment to be rendered upon them. The exact opposite is seen here in Acts. The display is one of favor upon the Lord’s people as is clearly seen in the next words, which say, “and one sat upon each of them.”

The tongues of fire came to rest individually upon those who had accepted the “Lord of Hosts,” meaning Jesus (see James 5:4 where he uses the same title and ascribes it to Jesus). Instead of judgment, as in Isaiah, it is a sign of divine favor.

Life application: It should be noted that the Day of Pentecost is held to be the exact same day of the calendar year that the Law of Moses was received at Mount Sinai. This can be affirmed by looking at the account found in Exodus. As such, there is now a contrast being made between the law which brings judgment and condemnation (as in Isaiah above) and the New Covenant which brings divine favor and a baptism (of fire – see Matthew 3:11, etc.) by the Spirit of God.

Having noted that, it must be remembered that this account in Acts is a descriptive passage. It prescribes nothing, and it cannot even be inferred that such a demonstration is normative. Rather, it is simply a confirmation that the Spirit approved of the faith of these believers and has given a manifested display of that approval. There are both similarities, and also differences, with two other accounts in Acts –

“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” Acts 10:44-46

“Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.” Acts 19:4-7

These two descriptive passages are given to complement the account in Acts, and for very specific purposes. The first was to confirm that the same gospel message that brought the Spirit upon the Jews of Acts 2 also brought the Spirit upon Gentiles in Acts 10 (Peter was the apostle who was present in both instances). The tongues confirmed the acceptance of those who were saved in Acts 10.

In Acts 19, it was Jews that received the message of Christ, but this time it was Paul who presented it. In like manner to the gospel presented by Peter, the message was received, and it was confirmed by the speaking of tongues. These are the only times that such tongues are noted as coming upon believers in the book of Acts, and the giving of the accounts is purposeful.

What is being clearly revealed is that the exact same gospel is being conveyed by Peter and by Paul, and that the gospel presented by Peter is intended for both Jew and for Gentile. Likewise, the gospel presented by Paul is both for Jew and for Gentile. The demonstration of the speaking of tongues is the surety of this fact.

In other words, the word clearly and unambiguously reveals that hyperdispensationalism – which says that the gospel presented by Peter is not the same as the gospel presented by Paul – is a heretical teaching. As there is only one gospel, the teaching is anathema –

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-8

And again –

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Be sure to avoid getting caught up in this heresy and be sure to let those know, who are caught up in it, that what they teach is anathema. There is one, and only one gospel message. That same message was proclaimed by all of the apostles, and it was confirmed by the giving of the Holy Spirit in an outward display of approval. We now have the record of that in the Bible, and such a display is no longer necessary.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the Spirit that You have graciously given to us because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Now, through the gospel, we have peace and reconciliation with You. You have given us the Promise, and we await the day when we are brought into Your presence forever. May that Day be soon! Amen.