Deuteronomy 32:15-22 (The Song of Moses, Part III)

Deuteronomy 32:15-22
The Song of Moses, Part III

My dad mentioned to me many years ago that when typing a book, the less references there are to a specific period, the more likely the book will be relevant at any time. If one refers to Ronald Reagan in the book, the material becomes dated. As such, it will only be relevant to those who are looking into that specific era or topic.

I’ve tried to remember that lesson and have attempted to make things I write more useful to any generation. However, there is also the truth that when writing things, there is often more of an appeal to the audience if a lesson from “right now” is included.

It is hard to get away from “right now,” because it is our reference point to gauge the past and compare it to our own circumstances. This can be especially relevant in a sermon where people need to wake up to what is happening around them.

It may be helpful to make a comparison of Israel as Moses describes him in today’s passage to some other point in time, like ancient Rome that also grew fat and complacent, but if that is all that is stated, it ignores the obvious connection to us today.

This sermon will refer to our circumstances in the US as we become the latest example in the history of the world to follow the same pattern since creation. Society is formed, society develops until man increases and has ease, man forsakes God and grows in wickedness, and man is judged, reaping what he has sown.

Text Verse: “Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant,
And Israel whom I have chosen.
Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. Isaiah 44:1, 2

The Lord formed Jacob His servant, and He chose Jeshurun, meaning Israel. As such, there should have been a resulting appreciation for what the Lord had done, a clinging to Him, and an ever-increasing bond between them.

But that is not human nature. Instead, people, communities, nations, and indeed the entire world tend to move away from God as they prosper and develop. The more prosperous the city, the more liberal and wicked the people become.

This is why a nation, such as the United States, may have massive areas of conservative voters that are spread out across the nation, but the cities and populated states quickly turn left and take on a distasteful shade of blue. There is a joining together of those who are prosperous, and the result is discussions about new, inventive, and exciting ways of doing evil.

With the global prosperity that has arisen in the past century, the entire world is heading down the same path as the pre-flood world. Only when real calamity arises will people turn back to the Lord. Unfortunately, when real calamity arises, it is often too late.

When a nuke detonates over Rome, for example, there won’t be much time to think on how to get right with God. Only those on the outskirts of the blast zone will have time to maybe humble themselves and reach out to Him before the radiation consumes what is left of them too. And those further away may, if they are wise, see and turn.

But it all started with a life of ease. When things are going well, we forget our God and find other things to chase after. Let us be wise and pay heed to Him now, before things devolve, not after.

Such lessons as this 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 Rock of His Salvation (verses 15-18)

We have been following the progression of the Song of Moses as it develops. There has been an introductory call. Moses then proclaimed the perfections of Yehovah. He then provided a contrast by noting the imperfections of Israel. Next, he spoke of the calling, establishment, and exalting of the nation. Verses 15-18 will tell of Israel’s abandonment of Yehovah because of prosperity and ease, leading to apostasy from Him and to false gods…

15 “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;

As was the case previously, the verbs are imperfect, giving the sense of the events happening right before our eyes: va’yishman Yeshurun va’yivat – “And he grows fat, Yeshurun, and he kicks.” Jeshurun is a proper noun and is a play upon the name “Israel.” One can see the similarity when written in Hebrew:

Yisrael:  יִשְׂרָאֵל
Yeshurun: יְשֻׁרוּן

It will be seen only four times – here, in 33:5 & 33:26, and in Isaiah 44:4. It is derived from the word yashar, which means straight, level, or upright. Some see it as a diminutive and thus a term of endearment, which is then something like “Child of the Upright,” or “Blameless Little People.”

Others say it is a descriptor: “Upright One.” But if you look at the other times it is used, it is given synonymously for the name Jacob. As such, it is a proper noun: “Upright” –

“Moses commanded a law for us,
A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.
And He was King in Jeshurun,
When the leaders of the people were gathered,
All the tribes of Israel together.” Deuteronomy 33:4, 5

Of this name for Israel, Moses describes his state as “he grows fat.” It is a new verb, shamen, meaning to grow fat. It is always used in conjunction with Israel. The idea is that of having plenty and thus being at ease.

In such a state, there is a resulting lack of reliance on the Lord. In essence, “All is good and I have no needs. I can do as I want without a care.” The other three uses of the word show the process by which Israel departed from the Lord. The first to note is found in Isaiah, prior to any thought of exile –

“And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull, [lit: make fat]
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.’” Isaiah 6:9, 10

From there, Moses’ words are fulfilled in the people as described by Jeremiah –

“‘They have grown fat, they are sleek;
Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked;
They do not plead the cause,
The cause of the fatherless;
Yet they prosper,
And the right of the needy they do not defend.
29 Shall I not punish them for these things?’ says the Lord.
‘Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?’” Jeremiah 5:28

And then, after the exile, Nehemiah recalls the state of the people –

“And they took strong cities and a rich land,
And possessed houses full of all goods,
Cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves,
And fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate and were filled and grew fat,
And delighted themselves in Your great goodness.” Nehemiah 9:25

One can see how ease (growing fat) leads to a growing fat of the heart, meaning the understanding, and that then leads to a rejection of the Lord and a need for His corrective measures. If one can’t see that in our nation today, he is not looking very hard.

Moses says that in this state of growing fat, “and he kicks.” It is another new and rare verb, baat. It will only be seen one more time and the sense of the meaning is understood from it –

“Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?” 1 Samuel 2:29

The idea is “to despise.” In Jeshurun’s growing fat, their attitude towards the Lord and His goodness towards them is to despise Him. As before, it is exactly what is seen in our nation today. Next, Moses again uses the word signifying to grow fat along with another new word…

15 (con’t) You grew fat, you grew thick,

It is correct: shamanta avita – “You grew fat! You grew thick!” The aspect of the verbs is now in the perfect. Note the change –

“And he grows fat, Yeshurun, and he kicks.”
“You grew fat! You grew thick!”

From the action of growing fat, the result is realized. Along with that, a new word, avah, or “to be thick,” is seen. One can see Upright, no longer upright. He is a blob that has grown out instead of up. So much so that…

15 (con’t) You are obese!

kasita – “You are bulging!” The verb kasah is found only here. It comes from the cognate noun kasah, meaning to cover. A literal translation would be, “You are covered.” But the unstated meaning is being covered with fat. Yeshurun has gorged himself so much and so often that he is nothing but a roly-poly blob. As such…

15 (con’t) Then he forsook God who made him,

va’yitosh eloha asahu – “And he deserts God who made him.” Explaining the verb natash will clarify the action. It comes from a root meaning to pound. As such, when something is pounded, it spreads out and the edges move farther and farther away.

What is evident is that as Israel grows, there is a resulting movement away from God. It just happens. It is the inevitable result of prosperity. The same has been the case in the US. We have grown fat, really fat.

We have “kicked” in our obesity, and the disdain we have shown for God has only grown as the prosperity has increased. This is so much the case that to even speak of Him in public is considered objectionable by the left. They literally hate Him and want Him erased from every public meeting place.

Israel was there before we were, but many of Israel are still here. The halls of our government are inclusive of Jews who literally hate the thought of God, but they are only a part of the left’s machine of this hatred. They are just more practiced at it after all of this time…

15 (con’t) And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.

vay’navel tsur yeshuato – “And he humiliates Rock his salvation.” The verb navel speaks of being foolish or stupid. As this is used causatively, the action is toward the Lord, and it is hard to come up with a suitable word to convey the intent, but I would liken what they do to how Christ was treated on the cross. He was mocked and humiliated. In this, the sense seems to come through appropriately. Verse 15 has a particular parallel structure to it –

(a) And he grows fat, Yeshurun, (b) and he kicks.
– (a) You grew fat! You grew thick!
– (a) You are bulging!
– (b) And he deserts God who made him.
– (b) And he humiliates Rock his salvation.

Israel looked around and saw that life was good. There is no need for anything and no care for life with the Lord, and so they looked down on Him instead of looking up to Him. Yeshurun humiliates the Rock of His salvation. On to the next verse…

16 They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods;

yaqniuhu b’zarim– “They move Him to jealousy in strangers.” Notice how the words have gone to the plural. Israel forsook the Lord, and all of the people go astray in their own unique way. One after this, and one after that.

The words themselves are reminiscent of the man in Numbers 5 who is jealous of his wife who has strayed. There it says, “if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself” (Numbers 5:14).

The people go after strangers, meaning gods other than the Lord. In this, they move Him to jealousy. It is the US today, ten thousand false gods – wood, stone, digital, sexual, powerful influence, financial, religious… it goes on and on. There is time for anything and everything except for the Lord. As such, it is…

16 (con’t) With abominations they provoked Him to anger.

b’toevot yakisuhu – “In abominations they are provoking Him to indignation.” The jealousy leads to the anger. Their false attitude towards Him is the grounds for His anger. This is perfectly seen in the record of Jeroboam, where the same verb is used –

“because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he had sinned and by which he had made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he had provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger.” 1 Kings 15:30

Jeroboam had set up the golden calves in Bethel and in Dan for the people to worship, but even more offensively, he ascribed to them the people’s deliverance from Egypt –

“It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” 1 Kings 12:28

But this is what the people had already done, even from the very moments after they had accepted the terms of the covenant –

“And Aaron said to them, ‘Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” Exodus 32:2-4

But Aaron went further by then stating that what they had just made was, in fact, the Lord, saying, “A feast to Yehovah, tomorrow!” (CG). In these things, the people not only prostituted themselves to others, but they did so while claiming that what they were worshipping – something which is a part of what He created – is actually the self-existent Creator, Yehovah.

It is like watching the pope kiss the feet of a plastic model of baby Jesus or a wooden image of Jesus hanging on a cross and calling it a good thing, as if that is somehow connected to the Lord who actually came and walked among us and who was then crucified for our sins. There is no reasoning as to the true nature of their actions before the Lord. In this verse, we see reverse parallelism –

(a) They move Him to jealousy (b) in strangers
(b) In abominations (a) they are provoking Him to indignation

It is future, but it is assured. The charges against them are laid out, in advance. But more indictment against Israel is ahead…

17 They sacrificed to demons, not to God,

yizbekhu la’shedim lo eloha – “They are sacrificing to the demons, not God.” It is a rare and difficult word, shed, found only here and in Psalm 106:37. Some say it is of foreign origin, like the Arabic word for Satan. As such, and being plural, it would be “to the Satans,” and thus demons.

It may also come from the Hebrew shud, signifying waste. This would still refer to demons, as something malignant. Moses was aware of them, in advance, and the Psalm bears out that Israel did exactly this, even with their own children –

“They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.” Psalm 106:37, 38

The horror of their actions cries out from the pages of their own Scriptures, testifying against them both in advance and after the fact. This is what Paul later warned the church of –

“Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” 1 Corinthians 10:20-22

This is a practice often seen in Roman Catholicism where the false gods of the nations are actually incorporated into the church through what is known as syncretism – the merging of different religious expressions.

Just two years ago, a statue of Pachamama (Mother Earth) of Amazonian worship was incorporated into a Vatican display during prayer services. As praise and prayers are considered sacrifices to God, this is perfectly akin to what Israel was charged for. Their allegiances were directed…

17 (con’t) To gods they did not know,

elohim lo yedaum – “‘Gods no they knew.” The Lord was God to them. He had removed them from a land of gods to be their only God, but they didn’t just go back to the old gods of Egypt. They actively went seeking after new gods to serve…

17 (con’t) To new gods, new arrivals

It is a plural adjective: khadashim miqarov bau – “Newbies, from near they came.” The word qarov, or near, can mean in time or in vicinity. Due to the structure of the verse, it is probably referring to time. They are newbies…

17 (con’t) That your fathers did not fear.

lo searum avotekem – “No have they dreaded, your fathers.” One gets the sense of appeasement with these words. The word sa’ar doesn’t mean to just fear, but to be terrified of. It comes from a root signifying “to storm.”

Thus, it speaks of being terribly afraid. We can imagine the false gods conjure up by people when telling stories. Eventually, like in a Hollywood movie, the people become terrified of them. In order to pacify them, sacrifices are made to them.

This is unlike their fathers who were close to the Lord. Their relationship was not of terror, but of awe that indicated a right fear of Him. Instead of trusting in and fearing the Lord (we’ll say, “Take a chance on Me!”), they feared the demons and sacrificed to them (to the Lord they said “So long!”). Hence the abba structure –

(a) They are sacrificing to the demons, not God.
(b) ‘Gods’ no they knew. (previously unknown)
(b) Newbies, from near they came. (previously unknown)
(a) No have they dreaded, your fathers.

Enough pop music for now! Of the false gods, they were mindful, but of the Lord from whom they issued, however…

18 Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful,

The second verb is a jussive: tsur yeladekha teshi – “Rock brought forth you; may you forget!” It is also a word unique in Scripture, shayah. It comes from a root signifying to keep in memory; be unmindful. Being a jussive, however, it is as a command to forget.

Also, the words are all in the singular: You, Israel. Therefore, it is a play on words. There is the Rock, stable and unchanging, who brought Israel forth, and then there is Israel being practically commanded by Moses to forget Him because of their actions toward Him…

18 (con’t) And have forgotten the God who fathered you.

va’tishkakh el mekholelekha – “And you have forgotten God in travail with you.” The idea conveyed is the process the Lord went through in order to establish Israel. It is as if He brought them forth as a woman in labor. All of His efforts were expended to do so, and yet Israel has forgotten Him. Moses uses the same term to describe the formation of the world itself –

“Before the mountains were brought forth,
while Thou wast yet in travail with earth and world,
and from eternity unto eternity Thou art God!” Psalm 90:2 (Ellicott)

Again, we see here reverse parallelism –

(a) Rock brought forth you; (b) may you forget!
(b) And you have forgotten (a) God in travail with you.

The Rock of our salvation is not like any other God
He is steadfast and mighty to save
To Him alone do the redeemed shout and applaud
A marvelous thing He did when His Son He gave

Let us refrain from provoking Him
By following after that which is less than bubbles
That will set us on a path, dark and grim
And set our feet on a way filled with troubles

In Him alone, let us find our rest
And to Him alone, let us direct all of our praise
He is worthy of it all, even our very best
And He is worthy of it all, even to eternal days

II. I Will Provoke Them to Jealousy (Verses 19-22)

With Israel’s abandonment of the Lord noted by Moses, he will now bring out Yehovah’s rejection of them, His turning from them, and His judgment upon them. However, in verse 21 it will allude to His plan to lure Israel back to Himself through His active turning to another group of people.

19 “And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them,

va’yar Yehovah va’yinats – “And saw, Yehovah, and spurned.” The words are of Moses beholding the results of Israel’s actions. They are direct, comprehensive, and unambiguous. Israel’s doings are completely open and exposed before the Lord. In seeing what they have done in spurning Him, He in turn snubs them. We cannot help but see the ultimate spurning of Him in the Person of Jesus.

It’s not that they just rejected Him and nailed Him to the tree, but they continued to do so, even after the innumerable evidences that He had resurrected and that in His name healing came to the people through miracles being performed. And so, He spurned them…

19 (con’t) Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters.

mi’kaas banav u-benotav – “From provocation His sons and His daughters.” Here, the idea of the previous verse continues. The Lord brought them forth and He was in travail with them.

Taken with the previous verse, one can see an additional parallelism where the forgetting of the people leads to the spurning of them by the Lord and how the forgetting of their Father is equated to provocation of the children. It is an a/b/a/b pattern –

  1. a) Rock brought forth you; may you forget!
  2. b) And you have forgotten God in travail with you.
  3. a) And saw, Yehovah, and spurned.
  4. b) From provocation His sons and His daughters.

They are His sons and His daughters, but they are disobedient and unfaithful to their Father…

20 And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them,

va’yomer astirah panay me’hem – “And He said, I will hide My face from them.” This is the result of His spurning them. Moses speaks on behalf of the Lord: “I will hide my face from them.” This thought was first expressed in the previous chapter –

“And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, “Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?” 18 And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.’” Deuteronomy 31:16-18

When the expression “I will hide my face from them” is used, one can get the sense of the Father not allowing his disobedient children to come into His presence. Cambridge stupidly says the words “And He said” are a gloss that overloads the rhythm. A gloss is added only to highlight the rhythm, not overload it.

The words are perfectly placed to draw out the thought of the Lord for us to consider. The people are cast off and left to their own devices as a form of discipline against them. The Lord is curious how they will fare…

20 (con’t) I will see what their end will be,

ereh mah akharitam – “I will see what their end.” For sure, the Lord knows their end. It is an ironic way of saying it, just as a parent would say when a child threatens to run away – “Go ahead and go then! We’ll see how far you get.” The Lord knows that without Him, their end won’t be a happy one…

20 (con’t) For they are a perverse generation,

ki dor tahpukoth – “For generation contrariness.” It is a new noun to Scripture, tahpukah, coming from haphak, meaning to turn or overturn. Hence, it refers to them as those who are contrary, always turning things around. This word will be seen nine more times, all in the Proverbs. A good example of it is –

“A violent man entices his neighbor,
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30 He winks his eye to devise perverse things;
He purses his lips and brings about evil.” Proverbs 16:29, 30

Like the violent man whose facial expressions give away the things of his heart, so is Israel as they devise things that are perverse and mull over doing evil. They are…

20 (con’t) Children in whom is no faith.

hemah banim lo emun bam – “They children no trustworthiness in them.” It is a new noun, not an adjective, emun. It is derived from aman, to confirm or support. Thus, it speaks of the state of being established or trustworthy. Israel is being equated to children that are asked to do the chores while dad is away, and when he comes home, he finds that nothing was done.

Instead, the house is sloppier than before, the animals all ran away because the gate was left open, and the day’s vegetables have bugs in them because they weren’t taken inside and washed. And instead of memorizing their daily Bible passage, they have torn out the pages and made paper airplanes.

One can see the a/a/b/b structure of the verse when it is set forth as a whole –

And said,

  1. a) I will hide My face from them.
  2. a) I will see what their end.
  3. b) For generation contrariness.
  4. b) They children no trustworthiness in them.

In their untrustworthiness, He says…

21 They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God;

hem qinuni b’lo el – “They provoked me jealous in ‘no-god.’” Israel worshipped anything and everything that they could set before them. Not one of the things they set before them was God. The singular is used to describe all of the various things as one. Cumulatively, they are all a “no-god.” The Lord contrasts Himself to them, giving the reason for His jealousy. But there is more…

21 (con’t) They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.

kiasuni b’havlehem – “They have moved Me to indignation in their bubbles.” The word hevel signifies vapor or breath. To give the sense of something that can be seen but has no substance, I said bubbles. They look like something, but they are nothing – like your breath that you see on a cold morning, and then it is gone.

Because of worshipping something so ridiculously stupid, they have moved the Lord to a state of vexation. As this is so, a plan has been devised to bring them back to their senses…

21 (con’t) But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation;

There is an emphasis in the words: va’ani aqniem b’lo am – “And I, I will provoke them to jealousy in no-people.” One can almost hear the Lord call out as He contrasts what He will do to what they have done. “They have done this, and I, I will do that.” He then contrasts their “no-god” to His “no-people.”

It is the call of the Gentiles. Israel’s gods were many and thus they are no-god. The Gentiles are many peoples and thus they are “no-people.” The contrasting thought continues with…

21 (con’t) I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.

It is a brilliant statement forming a play on words between two clauses and an alliteration between two different clauses. The words go naval, or nation foolish, are set against havlehem, or bubbles, forming a play on words. The words naval and hevel are spelled with only one letter difference in the Hebrew.

The alliteration is seen in the words aqniem  (provoke to jealousy) and akisem (move them to anger). Moses is speaking for the Lord in a unique and remarkable way. Great structure can be seen in the verse –

(a) They provoked me jealous (b) in ‘no-god.’
(a) They have moved Me to indignation (b) in their bubbles [הבל].

(a) And I, I will provoke them to jealousy [אַקְנִיאֵ֣ם] (b) in no-people.
(b) In nation foolish [נבל] (a) I will move them to indignation [אַכְעִיסֵֽם].

This verse is carefully used by Paul as he makes his case for the gospel of justification by faith alone through the calling of the Gentiles in Romans 10 –

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
“Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.”
19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”
20 But Isaiah is very bold and says:
“I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”
21 But to Israel he says:
“All day long I have stretched out My hands
To a disobedient and contrary people.” Romans 10:14-21

Israel failed to find Christ and the Lord turned to the Gentiles to provoke them. But His anger was also to be brought to bear against them…

22 For a fire is kindled in My anger,

ki esh qadekhah b’api – “For fire kindled in My nostril.” Here is a new word qadakh. It signifies to kindle. The Lord spoke through Jeremiah of this using the same word –

“And you, even yourself,
Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you;
And I will cause you to serve your enemies
In the land which you do not know;
For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever.” Jeremiah 17:4

The idea of the burning nostril is that of fire shooting forth from it. His anger and hot displeasure burn forth as such…

22 (con’t) And shall burn to the lowest hell;

va’tiqad ad sheol takhtith – “And shall burn even to Sheol lowest.” The word sheol can signify various things: the pit, the underworld, the grave, and so on.

The word “hell” is an archaic word used to refer to Hades, the underworld. Today, hell takes on the thought of the place of eternal damnation. This is not the intent. The fire will burn to the lowest places, even the realm of the dead. One can think of Jesus’ parable about Lazarus and the rich man.  Nowhere will be safe from the burning anger of the Lord. As such…

22 (con’t) It shall consume the earth with her increase,

va’tokal erets vibulah – “And consume land and her increase.” This is specifically referring to the land of Israel at this time. The judgment being referred to is solely upon Israel. As far as the connection to the corresponding clause, it says in Genesis 3:19 –

“In the sweat of your face [literally: nostril] you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19

Man tends to the ground as the sweat rolls down his nostril to bring forth the increase of the earth. The fire of the Lord’s nostril shoots down upon the earth and consumes all that Israel has worked for. Nothing will be left; everything in the land will be devoured…

*22 (fin) And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

va’telahet mosde harim – “And enflame foundations mountains.” Moses uses another new word, lahet. It is derived from a root meaning to lick. Thus, by implication, it means to enflame as tongues of flames lick up everything.

This is a poetic way of speaking of the strongest fortifications, even those set directly into the base of mountains, being utterly consumed by the fire the Lord kindles. There would be flames and burning until nothing was left.

(a) For fire kindled in My nostril.
(b) And shall burn even to Sheol lowest.
(a) And consume land and her increase.
(b) And enflame foundations mountains.

The marvelously structured and worded verses are given to excite the imagination and provide an anchor for remembering the content. But the contents are based on an actual meaning. They were given by Moses as a warning of what lay ahead for Israel.

Unfortunately, they failed to pay heed, and the terrors that were prophesied came to pass. Their failure continues to this day, and greater terrors lie ahead in the contents of the poem. But more, what lies ahead also includes the world at large.

Thus, the poem, along with the rest of Scripture, is given as a testament and a warning to the world. But the big question is, “Does anyone think the world will pay heed when even the church doesn’t?”

The large majority of the church is asleep at the wheel. Entire denominations are being led astray by truly wicked people. The holiness and sanctity of the word is disregarded. It is relegated to a bunch of myths outside of a few verses that somehow demonstrate that all will be well, and that God accepts what we do, no matter how depraved and vile it is.

This is not the case. Israel failed to pay heed, and even after the millennia of judgments upon them, they still have their heads buried deeply in the sand. The church has – for all intents and purposes – followed suit. And thus, the world has no reason to assume that the contents of Scripture hold any merit at all.

In this state, things will not – indeed they cannot – go well. But you, fellow Christian, I would ask you to take stock of what you have heard, apply it to your life, and not be led astray by those who say, “All is well; the Lord does not see or care.”

They are deluded, and in this, the wrath of God shall come upon the entire world. This is the warning of Scripture, but it is preceded with a mark of grace. God was willing to spend His wrath towards us in His own beloved Son.

The pains and wrath that Christ faced were sufficient to stay the wrath of God that we deserve, because the righteousness He bears is sufficient to remove from us the sin we bear. In Him, and in Him alone, the exchange can be made.

Israel has yet to figure this out, but the people of God – those who understand the significance of the cross – have seen and understood. If you are like disobedient Israel, today is the day for you to wake up from your slumber and reach out to the God who loves you enough to do what He did… just for you. Don’t waste a moment but call out to Him for life and length of days, even to eternity in His presence.

Closing Verse: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.’” Romans 11:25-27

Next Week: Deuteronomy 32:23-34 The majesty of the words will go on some more… (The Song of Moses, Part IV) (96th 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 Song of Moses, Part III

“But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked
You grew fat, you grew thick. You are obese!
———-you disobedient nation
Then he forsook God who made him
And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation

With foreign gods they provoked Him to jealousy
With abominations they provoked Him to anger exceedingly

They sacrificed to demons, not to God
To gods they did not know, they drew them near
To new gods, new arrivals
That your fathers did not fear

Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, sad but true
And have forgotten the God who fathered you

“And when the LORD saw it, He spurned them
———-this disobedient nation
Because of His sons’ and His daughters’ provocation

And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them
I will see what their end will be
For they are a perverse generation
Children in whom is no faith towards Me

They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God
They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols
———-that cannot soothe
But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation
By a foolish nation, I will them to anger move

For a fire is kindled in My anger
And shall burn to the lowest hell, below the deepest fountains
It shall consume the earth with her increase
And set on fire the foundations of the mountains

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
You grew fat, you grew thick,
You are obese!
Then he forsook God who made him,
And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons, not to God,
To gods they did not know,
To new gods, new arrivals
That your fathers did not fear.
18 Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful,
And have forgotten the God who fathered you.

19 “And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them,
Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters.
20 And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their end will be,
For they are a perverse generation,
Children in whom is no faith.
21 They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God;
They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.
But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation;
I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled in My anger,
And shall burn to the lowest hell;
It shall consume the earth with her increase,
And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Deuteronomy 28:45-51 (The Blessings and the Curses, Part V)

Deuteronomy 28:45-51
(The Blessings and the Curses, Part V)

The word shamad, translated as “destroy,” will be used three times in today’s verses. In total, it is used seven times in this chapter. Every time it is used, it is in relation to Israel. But in the very last verse of the chapter, it says that Israel will be offered for sale to their enemies.

One cannot be sold off if he has been totally destroyed, and so the word “destroy” cannot mean utter destruction of the people. We’ll see that more fully expressed during the sermon when a promise from the Lord concerning Israel from Leviticus 26 is cited. That is the comparable “blessings and curses” passage to Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy.

We have to remember that if Israel was destroyed as a people, then God’s promises to the people would be of no value at all. What would be the point of going through all of redemptive history just to destroy the people that got the world through redemptive history until the time when the Redeemer would come?

Where is the glory for God in that? And more, where does the remnant that Paul refers to in Romans 9 (citing Isaiah) and Romans 11 then come from? If the church is now Israel, does that mean that only a remnant of the church is saved? That is a logical contradiction. Being a true member of Christ’s church means that one is saved.

So, Paul cannot be referring to the church, except as that remnant is a part of it. And if the remnant is from Israel, which is exactly what Paul says in Romans 11, then that means that Israel – the nation – still exists.  You can’t have a remnant without a whole to have a remnant from!

Text Verse: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And render vengeance to His adversaries;
He will provide atonement for His land and His people.” Deuteronomy 32:43

The words of the text verse tell the Gentiles to rejoice with His people. The implication is that the Gentiles are additional to “His people.” Paul cites that in the New Testament, in Romans 15, clearly indicating that the Jews (he refers them as “the circumcision”) are His people and that we, the Gentiles, are now a part of what He is doing.

So, we have a remnant from a whole, the remnant is not “from” the church, and that Gentiles are a part of what God is doing. It is rather clear that there has been, and there still is, a role for Israel the people today. As such, it means that Israel the people, who are in the land of Israel today, have a part in that role. It cannot be otherwise.

Their disobedience to the Lord’s word doesn’t negate God’s faithfulness to it. Rather, it highlights the magnificence of God’s faithfulness, despite man’s unfaithfulness. Remember that when someone tells you that you can lose your salvation.

Transgression, violations of the law, faithlessness, and so on, will all be dealt with by God, but He will uphold His word to His people through every single one of our failings. Trust in that and be reassured that if you are in Christ, you are in the sweet spot – for all eternity.

Great things, such as the eternal and infinite grace of God towards His people 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. A Sign and a Wonder (verses 45 & 46)

A distinct section of Deuteronomy 28 is seen with the coming of verse 45. As such, some scholars take these sections and divide them into epochs of Israel’s history. For example, Joseph Benson says –

“Here some critics have made a division of these prophecies and have interpreted the preceding part as relating to the former captivity of the Jews, and the calamities which they suffered under the Chaldeans; and the remaining part as referring to their latter captivity, and the calamities which they suffered under the Romans. But “there is no need,” says Bishop Newton, “of any such distinction; there is no reason to think any such was intended by the author; several prophecies of the one part, as well as of the other, have been fulfilled at both periods; but they have all been more amply fulfilling during the latter period; and there cannot be a more lively picture than they exhibit of the state of the Jews at present.”

I agree. It is an oversimplification of what has occurred in Israel’s history to say that verses 15-44 belong to one epoch of time and the next section (45-68) to another.

Further, this would dismiss the obvious division of the people between the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah and what occurred to each. Moses repeats and builds upon his previous words, but not necessarily to prophetically refer to separate epochs of time. Rather, it is to show that the Lord’s judgment will lessen or increase according to Israel’s return to Him, or departure from Him.

The second exile occurred after their rejection of Jesus. As such, the punishments would be great, lengthy, and almost ubiquitous among the people. But the judgments ultimately come from rejecting the Lord, Yehovah, regardless as to whether it is prior to His incarnation or not. Moses is continuing the same main thought now, even if this new section is clearly defined from the last.

45 “Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you,

The thought has been expressed twice already in this Chapter –

Vs. 2 “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you.”
Vs. 15 “that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”

The words are the same as verse 15, except Moses adds in the word “pursue.” In this, he adds to the intensity of the thought. It is as if the curses are alive, like wild dogs, chasing their prey. No matter how fast Israel runs from them, they will catch up, and in their catching up, they will overwhelm like a flood.

In this state of being so overwhelmed, Moses next says…

45 (con’t) until you are destroyed,

This is the third of seven times that Moses uses the word shamad, or “destroy” in this chapter. It means just that, to destroy, bring to naught, perish, and so on. However, it does not have to be taken in its absolute sense, nor should it be here. The Lord has already said as much in Leviticus 26, using another word, kalah, which signifies to bring to an end –

“Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them;
for I am the Lord their God.” Leviticus 26:44

As such, the word “destroyed” here simply means the destruction of the people without the annihilation of the nation. And there is a reason for this. Moses tells us in the Song of Moses –

“I would have said, ‘I will dash them in pieces,
I will make the memory of them to cease from among men,’
27 Had I not feared the wrath of the enemy,
Lest their adversaries should misunderstand,
Lest they should say, ‘Our hand is high;
And it is not the Lord who has done all this.’” Deuteronomy 32:26, 27

The Lord’s name is at stake in the preservation of Israel. He has given His word. To fail to keep it would demonstrate that He was incompetent and not worth following. If He failed, none of His other covenant promises could be considered sure.

It is a note of absolute security for the believer. The preservation of Israel confirms the doctrine of eternal salvation. When the Lord speaks forth His guarantee, it is an eternal decree. This is exactly why the Song of Moses ends with a note concerning the Gentiles, as we saw in our text verse.

The Bible early on teaches us core doctrines concerning faith, hope, security, and so on, if we will simply pay heed to the template set before us. The template is disobedient Israel. How the Lord has faithfully treated them should give each of us a great deal of assurance when we also fail to measure up.

However, we are still in the curses section of Deuteronomy 28, and so we must continue with evaluating the bad news as well. It will come upon Israel…

45 (con’t) because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God,

ki lo shamata b’qol Yehovah elohekha – “for no you did hear in voice Yehovah your God.” To “hear” means to obey. This is what it all comes down to. The voice of the Lord speaks forth His words, and it is His words that His people are to obey.

On the day I typed this sermon, someone emailed concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage. “We aren’t under law, and so how can it hurt for a person to do this.” The answer is, “Because the Lord has spoken.” In Christ, we are not imputed sin, but we will still be judged for our actions concerning rewards and loss.

Eternal salvation does not mean “no consequences.” Some will come in this life. One divorce often leads to another, finances are ruined, children are destroyed in heart and in proper direction, people get shot over jealousy, and so on.

And some consequences follow later. Standing before the Lord hearing, “Yes, you willingly disobeyed me in this, and because of it you will not receive a full reward,” will be a point of true sadness.

What could have been, never will be. When we fail to hear the voice of the Lord our God – be it Israel under the Mosaic Covenant, or us now under the New Covenant, we will suffer consequences for our failure…

45 (con’t) to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.

The voice of the Lord is that which utters forth what He wills. When God said, “Let there be light,” the light came forth. But light is not an entity with free will. It simply obeys the command.

When the Lord says, “A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10, 11), it is as a decree – “This is how it is to be.”

As surely as the light shines out of the darkness at the word of the Lord, so should we hold to our marriage because the voice of the Lord has so spoken. And this is true with each command set forth in the context of the covenant in which it is spoken.

For Israel, statutes and judgments were set forth by the Lord and they were to be heeded accordingly. Failure to hearken meant the promised curses would follow after, overtake, and consume.

However, there is the ongoing truth that though Israel was deserving of the curses, Christ took them upon Himself in their stead. Jesus, in His humanity, was destroyed. He obeyed the commandments and the statutes set forth, and yet all of the curses clearly came upon Him as well. In this, Moses says…

46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder,

The words more literally say, “And they shall be in you to sign and to wonder.” The word “they” is speaking of the curses. What happens to Israel (in you) in fulfillment of the word, and as is displayed in the curses upon them, are what will be a sign and a wonder.

The oth, or sign, is something that points to something else. As such, the curses will be a sign of the surety of the word of the Lord. In seeing what happens to Israel, it confirms that the Lord has spoken and performed. Hence, the nations are as much without excuse in rejecting the Lord as is Israel. Both are guilty of failing to heed the sign of the curses.

The mopheth, or wonder, is the thing itself. It is the event that occurs. Together, they are a sign and a wonder. As such, those who are wise will see and understand –

“Because My people have forgotten Me,
They have burned incense to worthless idols.
And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways,
From the ancient paths,
To walk in pathways and not on a highway,
16 To make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing;
Everyone who passes by it will be astonished
And shake his head.” Jeremiah 18:15, 16

Those who pass by will see the wonder that has been brought upon Israel. The wise among them will then understand the sign. The wonder is given and the sign – the surety of the word – is confirmed.

46 (con’t) and on your descendants forever.

u-b’zarakha ad olam – “and in your seed until forever.” The words here are taken by scholars, in one degree or another, as referring to the effects upon Israel. In other words, Cambridge says –

Forever. This, though it may imply the final and utter rejection of Israel as a nation, does not preclude the hope of restoration of a part of Israel as individuals, or as a remnant remaining in or returning to faith and obedience (cf. Isaiah 10:22; Isaiah 6:13; Romans 9:27; Romans 11:5).” Cambridge

Likewise, Lange argues about the scope of the effect upon Israel in contrast to what Keil had said –

“The term forever cannot, with KEIL, be limited “to the generation smitten with the curse.” It is rather to be limited by thy seed in distinction from the holy seed. Thy seed, seed of evil doers, involving themselves in iniquities of their fathers—upon such the curse rests forever. There is a remnant here also according to the election of grace.—A. G.” John Lange Commentary

These analyses ignore the obvious subject of the verse – “And they [the curses] shall be upon you.” Israel is the object. As such, it is not referring at all to the people, but the curses. They are the sign and the wonder.

All Israel has to do, forever, is to look at their history, and what has occurred to them, and they can forever know that their own disobedience brought the calamities upon them. This exact thought is expressed by Daniel –

“Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:11, 12

Despite the curses being for a sign and a wonder on Israel, even forever, Christ was willing to intervene and become His own sign and wonder to the people. Isaiah refers to this, using the same words –

“Bind up the testimony,
Seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait on the Lord,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him.
18 Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the Lord of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.” Isaiah 8:16-18

Christ took the curses of the law upon Himself on behalf of His people, those who believe. They received what He had done to join to Him in this state. The curse of the law is lifted from them, and they have become signs and wonders in Israel.

The author of Hebrews cites Isaiah, demonstrating that this is exactly what is being referred to –

“And again:
‘Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.’
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:13-15

As far as the curses upon Israel being a sign to them, Moses will continue to explain this in the verses ahead.

The Lord has given His command, and it is what you are to do
It is that which you cannot see heaven without
He has spoken the word which is faithful and true
In doing that thing, He is pleased – have no doubt 

Jesus spoke the word and it is exactly what He meant
When He said, “This is the work of God”
It is “that you believe in Him whom He sent”
With this gospel of peace, be sure that you are shod

Believe in Christ Jesus, that He died for your sins
Believe that He was buried after that
Believe that He rose the third day – Yes, over death Jesus wins!
In your belief, it is as an eternal feather in your hat

The law couldn’t save anyone, this much is true
But in Christ’s fulfillment of it, there is granted life anew

II. Until You Are Destroyed (verses 47-51)

47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God

takhat asher lo avadta eth Yehovah elohekha – “Under which no you did serve Yehovah your God.” The word takhat, or under” signifies “in place of.” One can think of something coming up, like a son replacing his father.

Thus, the words here are not based on what was said, but what will be said in the next verse. In essence, the thought is, “Instead of this…” The word “serve” can also mean “worship.” The two thoughts are so closely connected that either is used at times.

The idea is that the people fail to express themselves positively toward the Lord. As such, Moses continues this thought saying…

47 (con’t) with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything,

b’simkhah u-b’tuv l’vav me’rov kol – “in joyfulness and in gladness to heart from abundance all.” The preposition is b’, meaning “in,” and it should be translated as such. It is the same preposition rightly translated repeatedly in the next verse.

The Lord is showing a contrast in the two states. The Lord promised the blessings. In receiving them and being grateful for them, and in serving the Lord in joy, in gladness, and the like, Israel would prosper.

If one looks at the record of Christ, He did exactly what was expected of Israel here. He served the Lord with joy and gladness of heart for all of the Lord’s blessings. The record of Israel, however, shows that they were not found serving in this way. As such…

48 therefore you shall serve your enemies,

Instead of serving (worshipping) the Lord in joy and gladness, Moses says Israel would serve (it is the same word) his enemies. It is one or the other, and the choice was solely up to the people, but the response would be at the hand of the Lord. As Moses says…

48 (con’t) whom the Lord will send against you,

This can come about in various ways. In times of prosperity, the people would be well fed and well defended. In such a state, because of the Lord’s blessing, the enemy couldn’t prevail. The blessing would result in further blessing.

However, in a state of prosperity mixed with overindulgence and neglect towards the Lord, the people would be unprepared. Thus, the blessing would result in receiving the curses and the enemy could prevail.

Or, in a state of lack because of no rains, high heat, or other adverse weather conditions, the people would lack food, wealth, the capability to defend themselves, and so on. Thus, the curse would lead to further curses and the enemy prevailing.

However, such a state of lack could result in the people turning back to the Lord. As such, the curse could lead to renewed blessing. The assumption of this verse, though, is that the Lord is not served, and the people have not turned to Him. In this, He has withheld the blessing. Therefore, Israel will serve his enemies…

48 (con’t) in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything;

As seen in the examples just noted, the hunger, thirst, nakedness and need could come directly from the Lord prior to the coming of the enemy, or it could come as a result of the enemy coming against them. It doesn’t matter which way it comes, in failing to serve the Lord, the result is lack, want, and need of everything.

In such a state, and with the enemy over the people, they will serve man rather than the Lord whom they failed to serve. In this state…

48 (con’t) and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.

The question here is, “Who the subject of the action?” The NKJV capitalized “He,” indicating they feel it is the Lord. Other translations recognize it as the enemy –

“They’ll set a yoke of iron upon your neck until they have exterminated you.” (ISV)

The ISV is clearly wrong as the Hebrew is in the singular, “he,” but their intent is to indicate that it is the enemy and to not confuse the translation by simply saying “he.” Other versions, like the ESV, don’t capitalize the pronoun, even when speaking of the Lord, and so one has no idea which they think is meant.

In the Hebrew, the Lord is the nearest antecedent. That makes it probable it is the Lord. But, letting Scripture interpret Scripture, we can confirm that it is most surely the Lord being referred to –

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. I have given him the beasts of the field also.’” Jeremiah 28:14

What is seen in this verse is the continued contrast of Israel to the Lord. He faithfully served the Lord, and yet, He received the deprivation Israel deserved and the weight of the unyielding yoke of the enemy upon Himself, meaning the law.

This doesn’t mean that the law is from the enemy. Rather, it is from God. But the enemy uses the law against the people because of their inability to perform it. This is exactingly referred to by Peter in Acts 15 –

“Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:10, 11

In exchange for His work, including bearing the impossible burden of the law upon the people, Jesus offered them a happier state –

“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

But for disobedient Israel while under the law and under its curse…

49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar,

The words of this verse are closely followed in Jeremiah 5 –

“‘Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar,
O house of Israel,’ says the Lord.
“It is a mighty nation,
It is an ancient nation,
A nation whose language you do not know,
Nor can you understand what they say.” Jeremiah 5:15

At that time, Jeremiah was referring to the Chaldeans of Babylon. The point is that Israel wouldn’t just be targeted by her neighbors, but from any country the Lord determined would be the rod of His anger and vengeance. As such, distance was of little matter, even…

49 (con’t) from the end of the earth,

miqtseh ha’arets – “from extremity the earth.” The word erets, or “earth” can speak of the land of Israel, or it can extend to mean the earth itself. In this case, it is referring to the furthest parts of the earth. Despite the distance, they will come…

49 (con’t) as swift as the eagle flies,

ka’asher yideh ha’nesher – “according to which darts the eagle.” It is a new word, daah, meaning to fly swiftly, or to dart through the air. It will be seen just four times, in Psalm 18:10 and in Jeremiah 48:40 and 49:22. The point of these words is that the nation will be unaffected by the distance, obstacles, or difficulty of the journey.

They will dart on the land as easily as an eagle does in the sky. As such, they would retain their strength, order, and discipline when they arrived at the borders of Israel. The prophets use such terminology when referring to Babylon, such as –

“Our pursuers were swifter
Than the eagles of the heavens.
They pursued us on the mountains
And lay in wait for us in the wilderness.” Lamentations 4:19

Despite this theme being repeated concerning Babylon, it is certainly not limited to them. Rather, the eagle was the symbol found on all Roman standards as well.

Thus, the symbolic nature of the eagle representing Babylon becomes a literal symbol of Rome, even if the symbolism continues in regard to the Roman armies. That continues to be true for both nations in the next words…

49 (con’t) a nation whose language you will not understand,

go asher lo tishma leshono – “Nation which no shall hear tongue.” Again, this is in accord with what Jeremiah 5:15 said a moment ago, “A nation whose language you do not know.” Though Aramaic and Hebrew are cognate languages, the variations in them made it beyond the ability of the nation, meaning Israel as whole, to understand.

This is seen, for example, in 2 Kings 18. Though this is referring to the Assyrians and not the Babylonians, it is the same Chaldee (Aramaic) spoken by both –

“Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, ‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.’” 2 Kings 18:26

Here, it does not say “Hebrew.” Rather, it says Yehudith, meaning “the language of Judah.” At no time does the Old Testament use the term “Hebrew” when referring to the language of Israel.

Despite that, those trained in diplomacy would have learned the language of Assyria, but the common people would not have understood it. Hence, these men petitioned for the Rabshakeh to speak to them in Aramaic.

However, his response, though crude, showed that he wanted all of the people to be warned, hoping they would rebel and surrender without a fight. And so, he continued in Yehudith –

But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?” 2 Kings 18:27

From there, the Rabshakeh continued warning the people and promising them peace if they would come out and surrender. As this was the case with a cognate language, how much more is it the case with the Roman language, Latin. The structure and idiomatic expressions would have been completely foreign to Israel.

And further, both the Babylonians and the Romans can easily be associated with the next words…

50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young.

The description is well reflected in that of the Chaldeans of Babylon as seen in 2 Chronicles –

“Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand.” 2 Chronicles 36:17

Jeremiah, in the Lamentations, speaks in similar words –

“Our skin is hot as an oven,
Because of the fever of famine.
11 They ravished the women in Zion,
The maidens in the cities of Judah.
12 Princes were hung up by their hands,
And elders were not respected.
13 Young men ground at the millstones;
Boys staggered under loads of wood.
14 The elders have ceased gathering at the gate,
And the young men from their music.” Lamentations 5:10-14

It is evident based on the words of Jesus in Luke 21 that the Romans would be equally hard on the people, something confirmed by later secular historians –

“For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations.” Luke 21:22-24

It is not hard to see the comparison to Christ in this. Israel is the disobedient, and Israel deserved the curse. And yet, Christ – who perfectly submitted to His Father’s will, and who served Him with joy and gladness – had the terror of the Roman nation brought against Him. The penalties of the curse came upon Him in place of the people.

The nation of fierce countenance that did not respect the elderly, nor show favor to the young, treated the One more innocent than any other with the cruelest of tortures. As for disobedient Israel, Moses continues telling them what they deserve because of their failure to serve the Lord…

51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land,

This is still speaking of the nation of fierce countenance. As such, and despite most translations repeatedly saying “they” in this verse, the Hebrew is in the singular. “He [or it] shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land.”

Concerning these things, verse 4 and verse 18 made a contrast between them –

“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.” Deuteronomy 28:4

“Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.” Deuteronomy 28:18

Now, it states that whether blessed in increase or not, whatever they have – be it much or little – will simply be taken from them and consumed. The one with much will see much taken from him. The one with little will see what little he has taken from him. All of the efforts of the land will be taken away by the invading forces…

51 (con’t) until you are destroyed;

It is the third time in our few verses today where the word shamad, or destroyed, is used. Israel’s efforts will be brought to nothing, and in turn, Israel will be brought to nothing. The words speak of futility of effort leading to futility of life.

This futility will include all of the things that are accounted as necessary for a normal life. In other words, the next two clauses are set in parallel to the first clause. The “produce of your land” is explained by the words…

51 (con’t) they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil,

The grain, new wine, and oil are the commodities of the soil. They are used for consumption, storing up, and for selling. But none of this will come to pass for disobedient Israel. Instead, all of the efforts of their labors will be taken from them by the nation of fierce countenance, leaving them nothing except empty hands and empty stomachs.

Next, Moses explains the meaning of the words, “the increase [fruit] of your livestock,” saying…

51 (con’t) or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks,

Two words here are seen for the last time in Scripture, sheger, or increase, and ashtaroth, or offspring. Both words were used in the same four verses in Deuteronomy and are now retired from Scripture together. What issued from the cattle and from the flock together make up the fruit of the livestock.

Again, like the previous clause, that which Israel worked for will be taken from them and consumed, leaving nothing left for them to eat. It elicits the thought of complete futility and a state of absolute destitution. This will be wrought upon them by this nation…

*51 (fin) until they have destroyed you.

It is a poor translation. Three times in our verses, the word shamad has been used. Now, it uses the word abad. It signifies to “perish.” Thus, the words should say, “until he (it is singular) has caused you to perish.”

The idea is that Israel will be destroyed until they are caused to perish. Everything will be against them, every burden will be upon them, and everything will be taken from them until they simply wither away from the strain of it all.

One can see the contrast between Israel and Christ in this. Both suffered under the law. One for its own sins. Everything was taken from them, and they were destroyed until they perished. Those that remained were exiled from their home.

Only because of the Lord’s faithfulness to them because of the covenant were they not utterly destroyed. Their time of exile is over, even if their time of destruction is not. Their future is set only because the Lord has preserved them to bring them into the New Covenant.

Christ also suffered under the law, but it was for the sins of His people. Everything was taken from Him, and He was destroyed until He perished. He was exiled from the land of the living. But He was restored because of His faithfulness to the covenant.

Because of Him, Israel’s future is set. It is His faithfulness under the Old Covenant that will, in fact, bring them into the New Covenant. With each step of both the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy, the work of Christ is highlighted.

He is the basis of any true blessing, and He is the bearer of and remover of the curses. We can see that where they failed, He was able to pick up and continue forward. It is the lesson of the law. What man is incapable of doing, Christ was willing to do in our place. In Him is the victory, and in Him is restoration and renewal for the human soul.

For any who will come to Him now, simply trusting by faith that He is capable of saving us from our sins, such will be saved. And for Israel as a nation, they too will someday be saved and they will receive the wonderful covenant promises made to them under the Old Covenant, but which speak of their favor under the New Covenant.

Jesus Christ is the hope set forth for mankind, and He is the covenant-keeping Lord who will fulfill every promise He has made. Nothing will fail because He is our God who cannot fail. Thank God for Jesus Christ.

Closing Verse: “The Lord has sworn by His right hand
And by the arm of His strength:
‘Surely I will no longer give your grain
As food for your enemies;
And the sons of the foreigner shall not drink your new wine,
For which you have labored.
But those who have gathered it shall eat it,
And praise the Lord;
Those who have brought it together shall drink it in My holy courts.’” Isaiah 62:8, 9

Next Week: Deuteronomy 28:52-61 Another dose, as if vaccines from nurses, in order to help you get your Deuteronomy 28 fix… (The Blessings and the Curses, Part VI) (82nd 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 Blessings and the Curses, Part V

“Moreover all these curses shall come upon you
and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed
———-this fate to you will be handed
Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God
To keep His commandments and His statutes which He
———-to you commanded

And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder too
And on your descendants forever, such He shall do to you

“Because you did not serve
The LORD your God, and praises you did not sing
With joy and gladness of heart
For the abundance of everything

Therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD
———-will send against you
In hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything
And He will put a yoke of iron on your neck
Until He has destroyed you, such catastrophe He will bring

The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar
From the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies
———-yes, He will have brung
A nation whose language you will not understand
A nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly
———-nor show favor to the young

And they shall eat the increase of your livestock
And the produce of your land, until you are destroyed
———-so He will do
They shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil
Or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks
———-until they have destroyed you

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

45 “Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever.

47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you. 49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. 51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you.

 

Revelation 22:21

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Revelation 22:21

As a note, various manuscripts say –

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

These are just a few of the variations. Also, the word “Amen” is not included in all manuscripts. With that noted, the Bible ends with these words. Jesus has spoken, and John completes the chapter, book, and canon of Scripture with the words, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace is unmerited favor. Grace cannot be earned. Grace is a gift.

Each of these explains God’s giving of Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. We were set on a path to destruction with no hope of changing that, but God sent Jesus. We could never work our way out of this dilemma, but God sent Jesus. We could never pay our way out of the mess we are in, but God sent Jesus. Our situation was futile, but in the giving of Christ, the grace of God has changed all of that.

And this gift is universally offered. Regardless of the translation (as noted in the differences above), the offering of Jesus Christ is extended to all. The NKJV says, “be with you all.” Others say, “be with all.” Still others, “with all the saints.” The fact is that a saint is simply someone who was once “not” a saint. He heard the gospel, accepted its premise, called out for God’s saving provision, and was saved.

But the grace then extends beyond the salvation. There is the continued grace of God which is the assurance of that salvation. There is the instruction of God found in His word which guides us for sanctification.

There is the hope of glory, there is the fellowship of the saints, there is the joy of release from our debts, and so on. All of this is tied up in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. All of it exists because of what He has done, and none of it would exist without Him. The fulness of the grace of God is found in the giving of Christ to reconcile us to Himself. With that in mind, John completes Scripture with the word “Amen.” So be it. Yes, and may it be so.

Life application: With tears of joy and the eager expectation of the fulfillment of every promise God has spoken to His people, we have arrived at the last verse of His word. At this time, let us return to the first verse of the Bible, the last verse of the Old Testament, and the first verse of the New Testament. By doing so, let each of us call to remembrance in our own minds everything we can which has been given between these verses –

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

“And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:6

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:” Matthew 1:1

The Bible begins under the assumption that God exists, that He is the Creator, and that the heavens and the earth are a part of what He has created and therefore they are both good and have an eternal purpose within His mind.

The Old Testament ends with the promise of a curse unless the people take to heart the warnings and admonitions given to them. A curse is obviously contrary to the original intent of the creation and therefore the warning is given – there is both a hope and the possibility of avoiding the curse.

The New Testament immediately enters into the subject of the Person of Jesus Christ. From then on, He takes center stage. The anticipation of Messiah, through the direction of Yehovah (the Lord) of the Old Testament, culminates in the unveiled and glorious Lord Jesus of the New.

There is no point that He isn’t the center and focus of what is being conveyed because “it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19, 20).

The resounding and continuously noted concept of the grace of God is found throughout the pages of the Bible. From the covering of Adam and Eve after the fall, to Abraham’s declaration of righteousness for taking God at His word, to the choosing of a ruddy young shepherd boy from the hills of Bethlehem to lead the people of Israel – and in countless other stories of normal people who are given what they don’t deserve, simply because of the goodness of God. It is grace that draws these people near to Him.

This concept of God’s grace is then personalized in the New Testament. Jesus is the heart of what God is trying to tell us. If we will only listen. Nothing could be clearer, and yet it is completely missed by far too many. For every person who stands up and tells of God’s grace, there are a dozen behind him telling us that this grace only goes so far and that we need to step in and do something more to earn what is freely offered. How can we escape this trap?

First, we must understand what grace is. It is the unmerited divine assistance given to us for our redemption, justification, sanctification, and eventual glorification. It is a virtue coming from God, externally and without our assistance. It cannot be earned because it is unmerited. This is the heart of the gospel message. What we couldn’t do for ourselves, God did for us through the giving of His Son. To attempt to earn God’s grace through works then is an affront to God because it says to Him that what He has done is insufficient.

Second, once we know what grace is, we simply have to accept it; reach out, grab it, and then not waffle in our belief that what we have received will lead us throughout our lives and even through all eternity.

This is what John conveys one last time as he closes out the book of Revelation and the Bible – “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” In an amazing display of the very concept of grace, we see it in these words. Jesus, our Creator, left it to a man, His beloved apostle, to finalize His word to us.

Imagine the honor bestowed upon John to personally close out the Word of God. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God has allowed him, a mere man, this eternal treasure. And for each of us who comes to know Jesus, we have a similar precious honor – that of telling others of the glorious Lord who came to walk among us, die on a cross for us, and then to resurrect to eternal life that we may, by grace through faith, be called children of God. Thank God for His provision. Thank God for JESUS!

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 22:20

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

As a note, many manuscripts omit the word translated as “Even so.” With that understood, the verse is a follow-up to the warnings just cited in verses 18 and 19. It is a statement of surety, saying, “He who testifies to these things.” The verb is a present participle and is better translated as –

“he saith — who is testifying these things” (YLT)

It is the final witness of the book of Revelation, given by Christ Himself. What is stated about adding to or taking from the word is called forth to be considered. The words have come from Christ to show what is coming upon the world, and they are to be considered from that position of His authority. And His final words to His audience are, “Surely I am coming quickly.”

It is the same thought as verse 22:12, and it is a warning against slackness or doubt. It is a warning to those who would deride the thought of His ever coming again due to the passage of whatever length of time may pass. Christ Jesus has spoken, He has witnessed to the certainty of the matter, and those who hear are to be in constant vigilance as they await the promise of His return.

With that stated, the apostle follows up with his excited words of anticipation, beginning with, “Amen.” It is a confirmation of the words just expressed. The word itself means “a truth,” “so let it be,” “most assuredly,” and so on.  John is essentially saying, “As You have spoken, so may it be.” He then follows up with, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

As noted above, various manuscripts leave off the words, “Even so.” Either way, the expression directs the mind to the final words of petition. John, despite all of the many horrors that must come upon humanity as described in the book, still makes his appeal. Those who are unjust, will be unjust. Those who are filthy, will be filthy. Those who are righteous, will be righteous. And those who are holy, will be holy.

The masses of humanity will follow the course they choose, and delaying the inevitable beyond what the Lord determines would serve no purpose. And so, John calls for Him to come.

“Make haste, my beloved,
And be like a gazelle
Or a young stag
On the mountains of spices.” Song of Solomon 8:14

Life application: Based on the content, structure, intricacy, and continuity of this book in relation to the rest of the Bible, we have every confidence that Revelation is the authentic received word of God and the end of the official canon of the Bible. Jesus’ statement in this verse is the final note of authenticity given for our assurance of this.

It is important to consider that because Genesis shows us what was lost and the curse man could expect from His disobedience, and then immediately begins to show us what God is doing in and through history, that there must be a set and definite plan to return mankind to the paradise he had lost. There must be an end that will be revealed to show us what and how God would accomplish that goal. It would make no sense to show us the entrance of sin into the world and the consequences of that disobedience if nothing further was planned to resolve the breach, or if nothing else was expected for or of man after it occurred.

In other words, if man was fallen and separated from God, why would it matter what occurred or what man did after that point if the fall was irreconcilable? “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32).

The early Genesis account would simply be an executioner’s statement, lording the matter over the condemned. But right there at the fall, even during the sentencing of the crime, the plan of redemption was hinted at –

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

Every word of the Bible is given as a testament to the fact that man is worth redeeming and that God will redeem him. And so, the Bible unfolds in a manner that shows every imaginable permutation of how it could come about by our efforts and how at every turn we would fail in the task. But with each story, there remained the underlying hint that these failures were given to lead us to something better; to Someone far more capable. Like all of Scripture, the Law of Moses was to direct us to our utterly fallen state and to call our attention to God’s grace as the only possible way to be reconciled.

That grace of God is found in the Person of Jesus Christ, and it is He who testifies to us of the things set forth for us to consider. The reconciliation and restoration have been accomplished, and the eternal bliss that was intended for man has been restored through Him. And so, God – the Lord Jesus Christ – personally testifies that this is His plan and that it is true and reliable. It is important for us to realize that because all is accomplished with this verse, then nothing else can be added to it and nothing else can be considered in the plan.

This leads us to the assurance that any prophecy which somehow attempts to add to the Bible, or any book which has supposedly come after Revelation to reveal more of God’s will, cannot be true. In Revelation, Jesus Christ is revealed. In Revelation, Jesus’ plan is accomplished. In Revelation is the fulfillment of the ancient promise. And therefore, in Revelation is the completion of God’s prophetic word. Nothing is to be held as comparable and nothing is to be expected. Nothing from God will amend it, add to it, contradict it, or further clarify it.

Understanding this, we can reject any written utterance which claims to be authoritative concerning the redemption of man – either within or outside the confines of Christianity. No other religion is acceptable (John 14:6) and no other gospel can be considered (Galatians 1:6-9).

This is the warning and the admonition for those who look to God for restoration: stand firm on the Bible and nothing else. We cannot accept as inspired the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the writings of Buddha, or any other religious or philosophical text which points to reunion with God outside of the confines of Christianity. And we also cannot accept as inspired supposedly “infallible” Papal utterances, the Book of Mormon, the “prophecies” of Ellen G. White, or any other writings or claims which come from within the context of the Christian world. The Bible stands alone and complete.

And then, after testifying to the received word, Jesus adds His final spoken reminder to the people of the world, Nai erchomai tachy, “Yes I am coming quickly.” The last words uttered by the Lord of Creation – our Redeemer, Savior, King, and God are an admonition and a warning. Be alert, be ready, and be vigilant with your life, your doctrine, and your conduct. The time is soon, meaning that the Lord’s return is imminent. We, therefore, need to have our eyes lifted and our lives in order.

In response, John jubilantly turns around and writes using the same expression used by Jesus – Amen. Nai ercho kurie Iesou. – Amen. Yes, come Lord Jesus. One can feel the anticipation in the flowing ink as he writes to his Lord, God, and Friend on behalf of all of those who, like him, so desperately look forward to the coming glories described in the book. The final prayer recorded in Scripture is given, and it is a prayer of acknowledgment that Jesus Is Lord, and it is a prayer of petition – “Amen. Even so, come, Lord JESUS!”

Lord God, my Lord God, how wonderfully great You are and how beautiful are the promises You have given us in Your precious word. Thank You, O God, for the surety that those things which have been promised will come to pass exactly as they have been spoken. Give us the presence of mind to stand fast on them as we await what is coming. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Revelation 22:19

Monday, 20 September 2021

and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:19

Two differences in source texts are found in this verse. The first is that rather than “God shall take away,” one text says, “may God take away.” Also, one says, “Book of Life” and all others say, “Tree of Life.”

With that noted, the words continue from the previous verse, saying, “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy.” It is just as wrong to take away from the word of God as it is to add to it. Such a person would assume the place of God, knowing better than He does what should be conveyed to the hearers of the word. What this is surely referring to is an intentional striking out of words, thoughts, or verses with the intent of changing what is presented.

It is without a doubt that scribal errors will come into any text unintentionally. Further, things are lost in translation. A translation of a translation will only increase that error. This must be attributed to unintentional human error, but not intentional manipulation. For those who would willingly manipulate the word, “God shall take away his part from the Book of Life.”

As noted, the words here either read “Book of Life” or “Tree of Life.” The latter certainly seems more likely based on the fact that it has been mentioned in connection with New Jerusalem in verses 22:2 and 22:14. Either way, the meaning is basically the same. This brings in an obvious problem with the doctrine of eternal security – a doctrine clearly taught in Scripture.

One explanation is that based on the source text, the words (as noted above) correctly read, “may God take away.” If this is so, then it is an appeal by John for it to be so, but it does not logically follow that God will do so. The calling down of an imprecation by a human does not necessitate that God will respond accordingly. If one is eternally saved, only a loss of rewards would be the result.

Another option is that such a person was never saved and never will be saved. A person may intentionally change the word of God while thinking he is already secure, but who has been following a false gospel (see Galatians 1:6-8) all along. To follow a false gospel, such as Mormonism, is to never have been saved in the first place. A person who is saved, and who simply forgot that it is so (e.g., see 2 Peter 1:9), would have no reason to change the word of God. He isn’t even thinking on such things. A person who is truly saved would also have no intention of purposefully changing the word.

And finally, with the word now complete and in the canon of Scripture, the word is sealed. It cannot be changed. As the most published document in human history, there is always suitable evidence concerning its contents.

Despite being a difficult thing to pin down, the doctrine of eternal salvation is clearly defined elsewhere in Scripture, and it is that which must be considered first when then considering the intent of this warning. And the warning next continues with, “from the holy city.”

The promise of access to the Tree of Life presupposes access into New Jerusalem where the Tree of Life is. To be restricted from the city means that the Tree of Life is denied to that person. The verse then ends with, “and from the things which are written in this book.” This speaks of all the other blessings promised to those who “overcome,” and who are deemed as saved believers of the Lamb of God. Whatever sure and blessed promises are given to God’s people, they will be withheld from such a person being referred to now.

Life application: The promise of eternal life stands for those who call on Jesus, but for those who have hardened their hearts and falsely manipulate God’s word, there will only be death. Jesus is the One through whom eternal life is granted. It is the Bible that reveals Him to us. Should someone purposefully change the very word which reveals Him by adding to it or subtracting from it, then a faulty view of Jesus may be the result. Therefore, those who then receive what has been manipulated will call on a false Messiah through a false gospel. This is the severity of what may occur when God’s word is misused.

The consequences are immense, and the warning has been given. Let us always be careful how we handle this precious gift. May we never twist or manipulate what He has given to us. Let us live in His presence and cherish the beautiful word of God all of our days. It is the word that tells us of God in Christ. Yes! It tells us of JESUS!

Lord Jesus, Your word is glorious and it is what we need in order to know You and Your wonderful gospel message. Help us to hold fast to it and to stand firm upon its precepts. May we rightly handle it and carefully present it to others all our days. Thank You for Your precious and eternal word. Amen.