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Deuteronomy - Lesson 5

Grace of Torah

The Law was given to the nation of Israel after they had been freed from Egypt as the way to respond to God’s grace. God gives them the boundaries for right and wrong and a process to restore relationship when it is broken.

Daniel Block
Deuteronomy
Lesson 5
Watching Now
Grace of Torah

I. Introduction

A. Three graces

B. Synopsis

C. Reformers view of the Law

D. Contemporary views of the Law

II. Moses' View of the Law

A. Life and flourishing in the land

B. Normative status of Torah

C. Life sustaining

D. Ethical significance

E. Privilege of being a Torah people

III. Conclusion

A. The problem

B. Israel’s privileged answer

1. God introduced himself by name

2. Standards of right and wrong and provision for sin

IV. Ode to Torah


Lessons
About
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Transcript
  • The book of Deuteronomy contains the gospel message. Even though there are some laws mentioned, the essence of the book is prophetic preaching. Your presuppositions and principles for interpretation that you use will make a difference in how you view the meaning and significance of the book of Deuteronomy.

  • Deuteronomy is primarily a collection of sermons but its structure is covenantal. The structure of the covenant was commonly used in other cultures in the Ancient Near East during this time period. God tells the people of Israel that he is their God and the people say that they are God’s treasured possession. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same thing. They are used interchangeably)

  • God gave the Decalogue to Moses so they have authority as Scripture. The book of Deuteronomy as whole is also Scripture. It contains the speeches of Moses and narrative passages. It’s the lense through which we view the other books of the Pentateuch.

  • Moses begins by recalling events that happened during their wandering in the wilderness, then recent events as they have gotten closer to entering the promises land from the east. Moses is idealized in the Old and New Testaments and in the writings of historians. You get a different picture when you read his first address. It shows Moses as faithful but flawed.

  • The Law was given to the nation of Israel after they had been freed from Egypt as the way to respond to God’s grace. God gives them the boundaries for right and wrong and a process to restore relationship when it is broken.

  • With the privilege of salvation and covenant relationship comes the call for a righteous response, demonstrated in joyful obedience to the Savior and Lord. A covenant is a formally confirmed agreement between two or more parties that creates, formalizes, governs a relationship that does not exist naturally or a natural relationship that has disintegrated.

  • God’s people are a privileged people; they have been graciously redeemed, and set apart as his special treasure, his holy covenant people. God acts graciously to undeserving people and they respond joyfully with obedience. The is the end of the first speech of Moses, Deuteronomy 4:32-40.

  • The Decalogue is the bill of rights of the people of ancient Israel. It is the ten principles of covenant relationship. It creates a picture of covenant righteousness and provides a foundation for later revelation. The Decalogue contains the features of a typical covenant and conditional and unconditional laws. The addressee is the head of the household because they can be a threat to others.

  • When Moses recites the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5, there are parts that are similar to the passage in Exodus, and there are some significant differences. He begins with getting the attention of the people of Israel and appealing for covenant fidelity, restates the Decalogue, then ends with a document clause, using covenant language.

  • The Shema is a call for whole-hearted, full-bodied commitment. This passage is a theological exposition and pastoral proclamation to impress on the minds of the people of Israel the special relationship they enjoyed with YHWH. The grace God showed them must be embraced with grateful and unreserved devotion to their redeemer and covenant Lord.

  • God chooses the covenant partner, sets the terms, declares the goal, identifies the sign and determines the consequences of disobedience of the covenant. After Moses explains the purpose of the Law, he explains to the children how the Law was given and that learning it and putting it into practice will bring them life.

  • Moses talks to the people of Israel as they are entering the land, about how they will respond to the external test of confronting and dispossessing the surrounding nations. He reminds them of their special status with God and the covenant that he offers them unconditionally. He challenges them with the theological, ethical and missional significance of the test.

  • How can you worship a God that asks the people of Israel to wipe out the Canaanites? The reason for Israel taking the land is so the people of Israel as a holy people will be preserved so the world will be preserved. God is fundamentally compassionate and gracious, he does what is right and God offers us grace and mercy.

  • When everything goes right, what do you do then? The message of this passage is, “don’t forget.” YHWH provided manna in the wilderness to feed the people of Israel. God was also teaching them in the wilderness that life comes from every word of the mouth of God, not just by eating physical food. Moses challenges the people to respond to prosperity by praising God, not by taking the credit themselves.

  • The enemies in the Promised Land are formidable. God promises to defeat them. Moses warns that people to acknowledge that God is responsible. Even though the Canaanites do not follow God, the reason God chose the people is not because they are morally superior to the Canaanites.

  • Israel’s covenant with YHWH is based entirely on his grace and they don’t deserve it. Moses interceded on behalf the of people of Israel to ask God to not judge them and God is described as, “changing his mind” and renewing his covenant with them.

  • “What does YHWH ask of you?” Moses answers this question, then gives a doxology to confirm it and an application to illustrate it. God wants you to have a soft heart toward him, to live in an attitude of trusting awe and to act in a way that honors the covenant that God has established with you.

  • Moses has given a profound theology of land. He gives the people of Israel instructions for what God wants them to do when they enter the land to confirm their covenant with God. This included using uncut stones and plastering them and writing the Torah on them and then praising God. The land is an integral part of the covenant. The people shout blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal.

  • As the people of Israel enter the land, God has instructions for them on how to live in relationship with him and worship him so that it may go well with them and their children. They are to reject the false worship practices of the surrounding nations and accept God’s invitation to come and worship him in the place and in the way he has designed for them.

  • The Levites represent a barometer on where the people of Israel are in their ethical religion. They are not given land as an inheritance so it is the responsibility of people in the other tribes to support them. Moses presents a theology of worship but doesn’t go into detail.

  • This is a warning to the people of Israel to not imitate the materialistic preoccupation and the brutal rituals associated with the worship practices of the surrounding nations when they worship YHWH. There are warnings against following false prophets, someone in your family or people in your community if they are promoting seditious religious practices. The apostle Paul uses similar language in the New Testament when warning people about following people who teach heresies.

  • In contrast to worship with the purpose of satisfying the gods, YHWH delights in fellowship with his people and for them to celebrate in his presence. YHWH encourages his people to eat in his presence and with other people. His guidelines about which foods are acceptable to eat set the people of Israel apart from other nations.

  • A main purpose of the national festivals was to keep alive the memory of God’s grace and maintain their faith in god and their covenant with him.

  • Moses describes the key offices and roles that keep the society going by providing political and spiritual structure. The primary concern is righteousness. The king is to be the embodiment of Torah righteousness. Moses outlines specific steps to achieve this and describes what it will look like.

  • Moses, in his role as prophet, is the commissioned envoy of righteousness to the people of Israel. Moses was a mediator between God and the people of Israel. He warned the people of Israel about false prophets and the danger of adopting the worship practices of the surrounding nations.

  • Moses provides a picture of covenant life and godliness in a way that you can apply it to every situation in life. It’s important to care for the poor and the resident alien and to show justice to them. The resident aliens were invited to participate in the feasts and covenant life.

  • The ideal for the people of Israel was a patricentric society but in often the reality was a patriarchal society. In a patricentric society, the male head of the clan will provide resources and security in a way that gives his family and the community opportunities to flourish. The vision for women in Deuteronomy is different than the world that is described in Israelite narratives.

  • Celebrating God’s goodness and grace in the Land. Bringing an offering from the firsfruits of the harvest is a time to remember how God has provided for the people of Israel in the past, both as individuals and as a community. There are lessons we can learn about worhship and living faithfully. This is the Deuteronomic creed.

  • Some people view the curses in Deuteronomy 28 as a stumbling block to accepting the Old Testament as Christian Scripture because they say it represents God as vengeful. However, this was a common way of writing covenants in the Ancient Near East, they follow a list of extraordinary blessings, they serve a pastoral function and there are similar curses articulated in the New Testament.

  • Deuteronomy 29 begins with Moses recounting how YHWH brought the people out of Egypt and gave them victory in the land east of the Jordan River. Then he describes the curses they will experience when they turn away from the Lord. Chapter 30 describes the eschatological restoration. Deuteronomy 29:29 refers to the mystery of divine grace. (The movie and book series that Dr. Block is referring to is Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. The prequel to this series is The Hobbit.)

  • This is the final altar call of Moses to the people of Israel to appeal to them to choose life by living in covenant relationship with YHWH. The revelation of YHWH given through Moses is to be memorized, recited and used as a guide for conduct. It is understandable and doable.

  • The Torah that Moses has been preaching was written down. This is the introduction to the song of Moses and contains the commissioning of Joshua, who will take over after Moses dies. Part of the book of Deuteronomy is the death narrative of Moses.

  • This passage is a poetic witness to the people of Israel of the faithfulness of YHWH and the faithlessness of Israel. Moses was told to teach it to the people of Israel so they could pass it on to their descendants. People could sing it throughout the day and it could be presented as a musical drama at national celebrations.

  • At the end of the sermons of Moses, he pronounces a benediction by saying something specific for each tribe. Deuteronomy 33 and Genesis 49 have some similarities and differences in the way the sons of Jacob and their descendants are blessed. The exordium and the coda frame the blessings by describing YHWH’s care and provision for the people of Israel as their king.

  • This is the last narrative story about Moses in the Old Testament. God tells him to go up on Mt. Nebo where he is able to see the land. Joshua takes over as the leader of the people. There is a eulogy for Moses at the end.  

The Gospel according to Moses. This is a collection of sermons of Moses as the people of Israel are poised to enter the promised land after being in the wilderness for 40 years. Deuteronomy is a special book, calling God’s people to celebrate his grace and demonstrate covenant love for him with action that glorifies his name. Until we recognize the gospel in this book, we will not read this book. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same mountain. They are used interchangeably)

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ot608-05 
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Lesson Transcript

 

[00:00:00] We're shifting attention in this session to Deuteronomy chapter four. There is a lot more that could be said of one, two and three, but because of limitations of time and space, we're going to chapter four and we will have three sessions on this chapter and they will be on the grace of Torah, first eight verses, then the grace of covenant, the up to verse from 9 to 31, and then the grace of redemption, salvation, 32 to 40. Those will be our next three sessions. Three. Grace's Amazing Grace is that I'm sure many of us have never recognized, but I have learned to celebrate these. The first grace we're talking about is the grace of Torah. Or if you want to use the word the grace of law, you won't hear me using the word law very often because I'm reacting against such serious abuse. But in any case, in this case, the issue is and I have a short synopsis in contrast to other peoples whose gods are silent, Yah has graciously revealed his will. Indeed, knowledge of the will of God was Israel's supreme privilege. They knew the will of God. So let's set the stage where we are. We are still in Moses. First address. We're at the tail end of the first address. We've had the recollections up to this point. But now in chapter four, he signals a new beginning with the Hebrew particle ATAR. And now. And when you see this particle in Scripture, he is signal that signaling a transition from one type of, shall we say, address to another type of address. And you can see immediately what he's talking about. Now, Israel, listen to the statutes. It's a sham to hear the statutes and ordinances, but then look at other texts like verse nine only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, verse 15.

 

[00:02:23] So watch yourselves carefully. This is what's now characterizing this whole chapter. Moses is pleading with his people now. To watch out. And don't forget the memories. Because if you lose the story, you lose your soul. And that's what's happening here. But he starts this, these recollections with your grace to the Israelites in the Torah. And again, we need to remind ourselves why it's important for us to take a closer look at these eight verses. And that is primarily because of the neo mask cynicism that plagues our world. And we know where this comes from. It comes from statements like Paul's that he makes in his polemics with the Judaism. And he feels obligated to correct their views of these issues. And he presents an alternative to the Judaism system. And so in Galatians, it's about Judaism, who think that Gentile believers have to become virtual Jews in order to have full table fellowship here. And so he will talk about the issues of law. Before, with faith came, we were kept in custody under the law being shut up to the faith, which was later to be revealed. Therefore, the law has become our accuser. Or Mount Sinai bears children who are slaves in contrast to Jerusalem. Our mother, who is born free children. Really? Mt. Sinai bears slaves. Where does that come from? It's a liberated people that were at Mount Sinai. But of course, he's talking to Judy ideas who, in my interpretation, have never left Egypt. And it's as if the law was given in Egypt, but it wasn't given in Egypt. The law was given to a redeemed people. It was not given as the way of access to God's grace. It is the way of responding to God's grace. But this has led to all sorts of issues.

 

[00:04:41] Before we talk about this text, more particularly, we need to remind ourselves of the three functions of the law that the reformers talked about Luther and Calvin. Though I understand they talked about them sometimes in a different order. But the three functions of the law. One apart from the work of salvation, the law restrains sin and stands apart from the work. It is it represents God's general revelation and serves as a common grace for unbelievers, as believers, so that ultimately all will be held accountable for the law. So it's general revelation. Second, the law serves as a pedagogue, which, through fear of punishment, forces us to confront our sin and points us to Christ. That is it. The law demonstrates our need for the cross, for Christ, because apparently we can't keep it. And third, the law serves as a guide for believers teaching the way of righteousness. But it has no power to condemn. And this one, a guide for believers. When I read Luther, I find especially the middle one, gets a lot of emphasis that we need the law to prove that we are sinners and can do it ourselves. And so I keep asking, Uncle Martin, will you go talk to Moses about this? What would he say about that? So that's the reformers views of the law. Contemporary views of the law. When you read the laws of Deuteronomy and numbers and Leviticus, what do you think? And so we have different views of the laws. To many people, the laws make no sense. I mean, you shall not you shall not eat the meat of any animal that doesn't chew the cud. What's the point of that? Or secondly, and this one is very common. The Israel's law represented a heavy burden that God demanded the people to bear.

 

[00:06:42] I used to feel so sorry for the Israelites because God loaded on them the law, which in any case, supposedly you can't keep anyhow, but he hold you accountable for. That's wrong. And I felt sorry for Israelites who were given the law. But we and Christ free from the law o happy condition. Now I can sin without fear of perdition. That's twisting it a little bit. I know, but I. I grew up with some Lutheran friends like that. You know, positionally. We are free, but we can live like whatever. Third, there's a third view of the laws, and that is form an academic point of view. The laws offer a window into the social world of ancient Israel, and we put the laws of Deuteronomy or Exodus or in Leviticus alongside Hammurabi or Hittite laws or Egyptian laws, and we do our sociological analysis of the different cultures. That's a very common view these days or force. This is actually where I grew up as well. Israel's system of laws provided them with a way of salvation. If you ask a lot of people today, how were ancient Israelites saved? The answer will be. By keeping the law, even though we know that Paul says nobody is saved by keeping the law, but we can't imagine salvation by any other way before Christ. And so, yeah, it provided them with a way of salvation. No, it didn't. God didn't give the Israelites the law in Egypt and then tell them, All right, here are the laws. As soon as you keep them all, I'll get you out of here. No, he got them out first. And having redeemed them, he gave them this package of instruction. He revealed to them his mind. That's a totally different system.

 

[00:08:51] But let's talk about Moses answer to that question. What's the significance of the law? He will actually give us to the answer in two different parts, in four verses 1 to 8 and lazier tomorrow or the day after will come. There's 620 to 25 where he brings up this topic again. But let's focus on chapter four verses one eight. One of my favorite texts in Scripture. So now Israel, of course, people ask me, What's your favorite text? Whatever I'm working on. And that's the way this one is. So now Israel here, the ordinances and stipulations I'm teaching you by putting them into practice that you may live and enter in and possess the land that Yahweh, your God, has given you, the God of your fathers. You may not add to the word that I command you and you may not subtract from it. You are to keep the commands of Yahweh your God that I am charging you your own. I saw what Yahweh did at Belper that every person who went after bale of property destroyed from among you, but you who held fast to the Lord your God. All of you are still alive today. Look, I have taught you ordinances and stipulations just as the way my God commanded me, that you may put them into practice within the land you're entering it to possess, to possess it. So keep them, that is, put them into practice. For this is the mark of your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations who will hear of these ordinances and say, Wow. This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people. Look, there's that ubiquitous hidden a behold we never use behold any more in our tribe in everyday life.

 

[00:10:36] I mean, you're going to look to the drugstore and you need a new toothbrush and you want a blue one and you can't find a blue one. And all of a sudden you see one. Behold I go. People will look at how many heads have you got? So in my view, any translation that continues to behold and it is not a modern translation is an archaic. You're creating a barrier between the text and your reader. So look, see? Check it out. Which other great nation is that? That has a God as near to it as they are. We are. God is to us whatever we call on Him. And which other nation is there that has righteous ordinances and stipulations like this whole Torah I am presenting you today? This is amazing. But let's start with the goal of Torah life and flourishing in the land. So listen, Israel, here are the ordinances. Put them into practice that you may live and enter and possess the land that Yahweh, your God, your father's, is giving you. This is God's plan. This is his vision for Israel, life, entry, possession and flourishing. And of course, now we need to think in terms of this relationship between Yahweh, the people of Israel, and the land of Cain. And this is what I call the Covenant Triangle. Every member of this triangle is doing what that member is supposed to do within this relationship, and the goal of Torah is flourishing in the land. And in this case, you've seen some of this before, But here it is here that you may learn, that you may do, that you may live, that you may enter, that you may possess. It's a slight variation of the other thing we saw where living is at the end.

 

[00:12:29] But here living is the beginning of the end, which means entering into the land and claiming the land. And he'll use an illustration yet of why he puts living at this point rather than at the very end. So this is the Deuteronomy formula for flourishing as opposed to this one that we have been seeing before. Of course, this this whole picture recognizes two things. One, God's covenant with Israel is eternal and irrevocable. But second, access to the benefits of the covenant is conditional. And it always is. So that it fidelity and faith or or should we say faith demonstrated in fidelity to Yahweh means that the vast soul has access to the benefits that come. On the other hand, should the vassal choose to reject his covenant Lord and become unfaithful, the curses will replace. And this is not because the covenant is off. It's because the covenant is on. And the blessings and curses are part of the covenant. They're part of it. So that win in the end. 586 Judah is schlepped off to Babylon. It's not because the covenant is off. It's because it's on. God said he would do this to keep his word. He does it. But the good news is, as we'll see in chapter 30, that's not the last chapter that God anticipates. There's always a story after the judgment. So the goal of Torah life and flourishing and what is the key lesson? We need to bring back the old word hearken, which is not just hearing the tone and the sound. It means acting upon what you hear. Hakin. That's like, behold, isn't it? You can't do that. Listen. And through the statutes and you listen by doing them and they're given to you in order that they might govern how you live.

 

[00:14:51] And, you know, contrary to what is often proposed these days, God doesn't look at what I do. He sees my heart. I've got news for you. You are what you do. And the assessment of what is in the heart. Is based on what comes out. Well, let's look at the second point, the normative status of Torah. This is verse two. Don't add anything. We talked about this already to the word that I command. You may not subtract, but you are to keep the commands of Yahoo! Your God that I am charging you to keep. This is Norm. Moses is setting the paradigm here, which is why later on he will say, Look, if anybody comes along and preaches another gospel different from this, he is anathema. And of course, Paul picks up on that one. The Torah is normative by definition. We see this all also in 1232. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do, don't add or subtract from it. And we already alluded to Revelation 2218, but and these other extra biblical texts, we also need to adding and subtracting to the text. Here's a Hittite version of the same idea. A duplicate of this tablet of the Covenant treaty is deposited before the sun Goddess of order. In a sense, the sun goddess of arena governs kingship and queenship, and in the land of myth, a duplicate is deposited before the storm. God, Lord of Katrina, whoever before the storm, God, Lord of the Corona, have had altars this tablet or sets it in a secret location. If he breaks it, if he changes the words of the text of the tablet. In regard to this treaty, we have summoned the gods of secrets and the gods are guarantees of the old.

 

[00:16:38] They shall stand and listen and be witnesses. The gods are watching what you're doing, so you better not tinker with that text. Moses knows what he's talking. Moses is keenly aware of his status in God's plan of God's revelation. He is the agent of truth. Third, there's the life sustaining function of the Torah. Did you hear this? Life sustaining, not killing. Your own. I saw what your boy did at bail PR. This is numbers 25. You remember what happened? Had more bites or led them into all kinds of sexual immorality, sense and idolatry and really destroyed from among you many, but you who held fast to Yahweh, your God, all of you are alive today. Guess what? How come you're alive? Because you remain true to God in that very testing or is a testy moment. You're alive today. This is proof that people standing in front of Moses are evidence of the truthfulness of the adage here. Obedience to the Torah is the key to life. Numbers 25. You know the story of the mob, white women who came and seduced them. So that's the life sustaining function of the Torah verses 3 to 4. And then we have the ethical significance of the Torah. Verse five Look, I have taught you ordinances and stipulations, just as Yahweh, my God commanded me, that you may engrave these on nice wooden tablets and hang them on your wall as a model for your life. Or you can buy a nice Bible and put it on your coffee table. No, no, no, no, no. They're given to you to put them into practice, to do them. Now, in English, it doesn't make sense to do laws or to do commands. We keep commands. But there's a different Hebrew word for this.

 

[00:18:48] And in this case, I tend to translate is put into practice. That's how you keep it. You don't keep it by putting it in a museum. You keep it by doing it. That the world may see. That's the ethical and spiritual significance of the Torah to guide people's actions and then the privilege of being a Torah people versus 6 to 8. This is the amazing climax. So keep them and put them into practice. I use if I had if I had composed the book of Deuteronomy according to my theological understanding 30 years ago, I would have written this text something like this and is actually quite familiar. You pick it up, so keep them and do them and put them into practice for that is your duty, your obligation. God has chosen you and saddled you with the law to be a picture to the world of what the law cannot accomplish. And it leads inevitably to your condemnation. That's how I used to think about these things. But this is the opposite of this. So this is a mark of your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations who will hear these arguments say, Wow, this great nation is a wise and understanding people. But what's wisdom if we don't hear the word hawk? More wisdom much in this in the book of Deuteronomy. But Moses is here posing as a wisdom teacher, a wisdom figure. He's not just a prophet. He's also a sage. This is your wisdom. But this word in Hebrew has a wide range of meanings. At the bottom, it means skill in a craft, technical expertise. That's a wise person. Remember, Moses commissioned Bezalel to make the tabernacle, and the Lord endowed him with us with a spirit of wisdom to craft all kinds of beautiful things.

 

[00:21:07] That's wisdom. So we would say somebody who is good at running a video camera is a wise person or whatever skill you have that's at base. It means ability to do something well. At best. But it's more than that. It means intelligence, shrewdness, brains. This is how we talk. Solomon was a wise man. He rolled 3000 proverbs about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees. Amazingly smart man. And he was able to catalog all the observations that people were drawing into a handbook of wisdom. He's a brilliant man. There's academic exercises. These people are really are really smart in that sense, we say. But then it comes in the Book of Proverbs. And Ecclesiastes isn't job. It means having good sense, moral understanding. And this has to do with making the translation from knowing what's right. To applying what's right in the right circumstance so that the goals you set out for yourself are achieved Good sense, moral understanding. And ultimately, of course, it means understanding of the profound issues of life. This is a book like Job, which wrestles with what is the nature of faith and what is the nature of unbelief and what, why, why do righteous people suffer? Or Ecclesiastes says, Where does one find meaning in life? I mean, that's far removed from skill in the craft. This is a person who has a theological view of life and everything is brought into captivity to this theological view. And that's a wise person. So now when there's the nation say, Wow, what a wise and understanding people as wow. It's the whole package. It's the whole package. They recognize you guys have got something that nobody else in the world has. Well, that is the wisdom.

 

[00:23:22] They they are wise because of this. But notice the what? The second favor is the nearness of God. Look, they're not only a wise and understanding people. Which other great nation has a God as near to it as Yahweh, Our God is to us whenever we call upon him. And of course, this is a problem with all pagan religions. They want God near. So how do they ensure that God is near? They create images of himself, of of the gods, and then they go through a special ritual by which this image, which yesterday was just a log out there, now becomes a living god. And they got special rituals by which that piece of wood is transformed into a seeing, hearing, speaking. Divinity in dwelt by the spirit of its God. But the nations look at Israel and say, Wow, we don't have any. None of us has a God like you have who is near to you and under what circumstances whenever we call upon him. He is a responsive God. He hears when they call. He hears when they pray. He hears when they praise. Only Israel has a God like this. And the interesting thing he is we'll talk about this in a moment. He's introduced himself by name. And, of course, that's a mark of nearness. We'll talk about that in a moment. The possession, though, of the Torah. This is the other thing, the climactic thing, or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole Torah that I am setting before you today. Now we have real trouble with this one. Having the laws to us doesn't seem like much of a privilege, but we need to interpret this in the light of the ancient world out of which and to which Moses is speaking.

 

[00:25:40] And so now I'm going to introduce you to a text which I have found so helpful in understanding what's going on here. It's a prayer to every God. Different translations have some others have a prayer to any God, a prayer to every God. And it's an amazing text from the second Millennium B.C.. Or is it even third Millennium B.C.? But they discovered it and Ashurbanipal tells Library in, in, uh, in Assyria. And I mean, this is not eight the eight hundreds, but it was treasured. It's written in an old Sumerian dialect, but it's treasured deep into the first millennium as a special canonical text. But listen to this. And it's quite repetitive. You think the scriptures are repetitive? Try this one. May the fury of my Lord charge be quieted toward me. May the God who is not known be quieted toward me. May the goddess who is not known, be quieted toward me. May the God whom I know or do not know, be quieted toward me, be the goddess whom I know or do not know, be quieted to me. May the heart of my God be quieted toward me, made the heart of my goddess be quieted toward me. May my God and goddess be quieted toward me. May the God who is become angry with me be quieted or to me, may the goddess who has become angry with me, be quieted toward me in ignorance. I've eaten that forbidden by my God in ignorance. I've set foot on that prohibited by my goddess. Oh Lord, my transgressions are many great are my sins. Oh my God. My transgressions are many great Are my sins. All my goddess, My transgressions are many great are my sins Oh God. Whom I know or do not know.

 

[00:27:34] My transgressions are many or goddess whom I know or do not know. My transgressions are many. Great are my sins the transgressions I have committed? Indeed, I don't know the sin which I am done. I do not know the forbidden thing I've eaten. I do not know the prohibited place on which I have set foot. I don't know. But the Lord, in the anger of his heart, looked at me. The God in the rage of His heart confronted me. When the Goddess was angry with me, she made me become ill. The God whom I know or do not know has oppressed me. The goddess whom I know or do not know has placed suffering on me. Although I am constantly looking for help, no one takes me by the hand. When I weep they don't come to my side. I offer laments but no one hears me. I am troubled. I am overwhelmed. I cannot see. Oh my God. First of all one, I address to you the prayer ever incline to me. I kiss the feet of my God as I crawl before you. How long will my God is whom I know or do not know where your hostile heart will be Quieted. Good manners, dumb. He knows nothing. Mankind, everyone that exists. What does he know? Whether he is committing sin or doing good? He doesn't even know. Oh, my Lord, do not cast your servant down. He is plunged into the waters of a swamp taken by the had the sin that I have done turn into goodness. Oh God is whom I know or do not know. My transgressions are seven times seven. Remove my transgressions, remove my transgressions and I will sing your praise. May your heart like the heart of a real mother.

 

[00:29:24] Be quieted to me like a real mother and a real father. May it be quieted toward me. That's pathetic. It makes you weep. Wow. What's the problem? Oh, my God. Whom I know or do not know. And the problem here? They haven't reveal themselves. I mean, this person knows he is responsible to the gods for this behavior. That's more more enlightened than men in our world are. He knows he's a sinner. He doesn't know what the sin is. He knows the gods are angry. But which God? It's a problem. Three big issues here. The person doesn't know who the God is that he has offended because he introduced himself or herself. Oh, my God. Whom I know are doing. Oh, my God. This. The person doesn't know what the offense did I eat something that was for Bolton or did I step on a sacred bug or step on a piece of soil that you had reserved for yourself? How would you know? The problem is everything in pagan religion is experimental. And you never know if you got it right. You witness an event that's either good or bad and you connect it to something that just happened the day before and you think there's a correlation between the two. And so you draw up a principle you hope is right next time you try and live by it and it turns out to be wrong. And anyhow, the problem is the gods don't reveal themselves. They don't reveal where the boundaries of right and wrong are. And so you're left entirely to guesswork. You go figure it out. What will please your gods. You go figure it out. Which God is, is angry with you. And third, the person doesn't know what it will take to solve the problem.

 

[00:31:29] I crawl before you. I kiss the feet of my God as I pray. Nothing works. What are we to do? It's a pathetic it's a pathetic situation. This is the world into which God speaks his Torah. Israel's privileged answer. The offended God has introduced himself by name and committed himself to being there. God, I am your way, your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery to be your God and to thank you for my people. I mean, this is so radical. He introduces himself by name, Jacqui. Well, we don't know how to pronounce that. And you've heard me say sometimes the Lord very seldom, though, about a yacht or whatever. It's a Tetro Grim. Often in my writing, I have stopped putting in vowels, but I cannot say the Lord anymore because the Lord is not a name. The Lord is a title. And there's something different between a name and a title. We have friends who. We're very close friends. We were together for many, several decades, working together. But when he talked about. His wife. I won't say her name because this is being recorded. When he talked about his wife, even when we were by ourselves, we're closest of friends. He always talk about my wife. I'll have to ask what my wife says, and I tell and say, What doesn't? Doesn't she have a name? I mean, we're acquaintances, we're close friends. Surely we have first names. There's a difference between calling someone the Lord and when Joel says, whoever will call upon the name of. The Lord will be saved. There's an oxymoron in that because the Lord is not a name. It's a title. It can be applied to any God or God.

 

[00:33:45] Well, Lord, yes. Would be feminine, I guess for any God can be called Lord. This doesn't identify it. Classify somebody as one Susan, one sovereign. But Yahweh came to Moses and said, Here I am. And then he says, Well, the people won't know who you are. He says, I'm the God of your for your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yeah, but what's your name? And he says, Here our share is. Which translated literally means I will be who I will be. I leave it to you to figure out what that name means. Oh, of course we can do all kinds of etymological stuff with this. What does it mean? And here it is. But the name of YHWH consists of four very soft. Consonants. But what the meaning is re cannot be. That is dictionary definition. The Greek interpretation of this is that this is the eternally self existent one, or I am who I am. But it's not actually a present tense verb. It's not how you say I am in Hebrew. A here means I will be. I will be. It's a future tense. I will be who I will be. And it's an invitation to Moses. Keep your eyes open to what's about to happen, and then you'll know what the name means. And God invites the people to address him by name and he reveals the significance of his name, not only in the great acts of redemption. Then they knew that he was really. Moses changes wholesaler's name to your whole sugar. Joshua. After the exodus, not because Joshua is a type of Christ. But wholesale means he will save. And when you give your son a name like that, it is an invitation to fill in the blank with the name of your God.

 

[00:35:56] Now, after the exodus, Moses says we're not that that blank's been closed. The point of the exodus was that they Israel might know that I am Yahweh, that the Egyptians might know that I am Yahweh, that the world may know that I am Yahweh. That's the point. And in the Exodus, you discover what that name signifies. It's not a dictionary definition, but it's the Savior covenant name of God. But it's more than that when you get to the golden calf. Remember? After Moses prayer, he has won the Lord's yo. Change of mind in Exodus version. But after the Golden Calf in Exodus 33, Moses can never get enough of the Lord's glory. So he says, Lord, you know everything about us. But we know so little about you. Show me your glory. And the Lord says, I will let my compassion and my goodness pass before you. That's not how we would define glory, is it? It's it's a strange thing, but what happens? Moses goes up the mountain and then up on the mountain he hears Yehudi. Yahweh. And then you've got this creedal statement. Seven expressions, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abound again has said and proves who forgives every kind of sin and will leave no guilty unpunished. That's scarcely the view of God of the Old Testament many of us have in mind. It sounds like the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we be held his glory. The glory is of the only begotten of the Father, full of said me. I I'm convinced that at that moment John is thinking of Exodus 34, six and seven. Jesus is the embodiment of what Moses saw up there on Sinai. I am absolutely convinced, and when John preaches to none of it, he's totally upset.

 

[00:38:06] When an invites repent and God pulls back his threat. It's totally angry. And the Lord says, What's wrong, Jonah? He said, I knew this would happen. I knew that you were gracious, compassionate and slow to anger and you change your mind about threats. That's what's wrong with God. He's gracious. And so the Lord has read, I am your way, your God who brought you all to the land of Egypt. And in my mind, it was a sorry day. Well, it took it took a long time that the Jewish our Jewish friends, Israelite friends stopped using the name of Yahweh. Pronouncing it, they stop. We don't know how it was run. We don't know what the vowels were. I think Yardley may be the best. We traditionally done Jehovah. Guide me or that great Jehovah. Well, that could be right. It's a combination of the consonants of YHWH and the vowels of Adonai. Could be it. But your hole. Sure. There's your hole in there. The interesting thing is they in the inter test, the mental people, period. They stopped using the name Yahweh. And they replaced it with curios or a nook in Hebrew, Adonai, which is Lord. And that's what the Greeks translated it as, in when they're doing the Septuagint in the in the book, a big deal. You have hundreds of times Adonai, Yahweh, Adonai, yah way. And in the Greek translation in all cases I think except two, they have dropped one of these words and kept only curious. Because I don't I is curious. Literally, that is the translation. That means Lord. Same semantic range. But your way their rendering is curious too. And now you've got Lord. Lord. Which raises all kinds of interesting questions. In the New Testament.

 

[00:40:19] You call me Lord, Lord. And do not the things I say. What's he thinking? I think he's saying you call me Adonai, Yahweh. Lord, Lord, it's common. But throughout the First Testament, they were using the name. They were spelling, but there were no vowels put into the text as the texts were being written. Those were and put in until 1000 A.D. I mean, it's much, much later they put in the vowels. So we lost the pronunciation. But I think sadder than that is we lost that sense of personal relationship. God introduced himself by name and he invited his people to address him. And so Moses prays, O Adonai your way. David Praise all Adonai, Yahweh and it's the name there. He's not saying, Oh, Lord, Lord, you know. Kyrgios. Kyrgios. No, we've lost it. God has revealed He has introduced himself by name. Second God has revealed in detail what the standards of right and wrong are. An interesting experiment. I've done this several times. It works. Every time I was asked to do a session at a men's retreat and there were about 350 men at the retreat, they asked me to do something about how people in the First Testament times were saved. How did it work for them? So what did I do? I went to Leviticus for the only disease worse than Deuteronomy is Leviticus. I went to Leviticus four, Leviticus four, five and intersex is the most boring chapter in all of Scripture to some people. And it's all about I think there are nine, eight or nine different sacrifices that the Lord reveals to Moses here and in detail. And so I read two or three of these sacrifices, and I read the text as boringly as we always read First Testament texts.

 

[00:42:32] And then I asked when I was done, did any of you hear any gospel in here? And there were about 600 hands in the room, not a single hand with off. Where's the gospel in this? And I say, Really? Well, open your Bibles. I mean, what in the world is going on here? Let's pick it up. Adverse Chapter four, verse 818 He shall remove all its fat and permit and offered up on smoke on the altar. He shall also do the same with a bull, just as he did the bull of the sin offering this he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them and they will be forgiven. Verse 26 All the fat shall offer up in smoke and the offerings, as in the case of the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and it will be for good. Verse 31. Thus, the priest shall make atonement for him and he will be forgiven. Verse the last verse of the chapter. Thus the free shall make atonement, you'll be forgiven. Verse ten of Chapter five The Spiritual Minute Atonement forums. You'll be forgiven. How many times do we have to say it? That is brilliant gospel. Don't feel sorry for the Israelites. How shall we remember all these big ideals? No. Get the gospel. God offers a way of salvation that works. Guaranteed. He revealed it to them, which is why, David, I think it's David and Psalm 31. Congratulations are all the privilege of the man whose sin is forgiven, whose transgression is covered. There is no higher privilege than knowing. My sins are blotted out. The Israelites knew that this poor guy. Knew what he did and didn't know what it takes to solve the problems.

 

[00:44:21] Of course, this guy didn't even know what sin was, where the boundaries and that that's at this point I say the pickier, the laws, the greater the grace. I said that deliberately. The less is left to chance. Experiment. So that when the Scriptures are dealing with picky little issues, bless the Lord, Oh my soul, God lets them know exactly where the boundaries are. Not that these laws are exhaustive. We'll talk about this some more as we get through and the food laws and whatever else. They're not exhaustive, but they are creating a world view for the Israelites through which you look at all of life and learn to live and adapt accordingly. It is an amazing grace, the grace of Torah. Don't feel sorry for the Israelites ever again. And of course, if you don't feel excited about it, then go back to Psalm 119 Ode to Torah. I delighted your statutes. I would forget your word. This poor guy from Mesopotamia, if older, he had had this kind of thing. You know, it is all brilliant gospel in the Torah. I find delight because I know who God is. He reveals himself in his word. I know where the boundaries of right and wrong are. And that's a good thing. And I know what it takes to fix it graciously. God does not expect perfection. I've mentioned this before. Built into the system as a way of dealing with sin. And it's not pretending there is no sin that takes it very seriously. But God says, I've got that covered. I know you won't be perfect. God never expected perfection. I'm sure he would have liked to see it. But you know, a person like Abraham, God says, Walk before me and be Tom.

 

[00:46:28] Him be blameless. Abraham. Yeah. And then he abuses his wife, passes her off his sister to save his own skin. Come on, Abraham. Twice he does that, and then his son does the same thing again. I mean that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. These people aren't perfect. God knows that he never expected. Perfection built into the system was the way of atonement. And that is an incredible grace. Don't feel sorry ever again for the Israelites, for all their loss, because it's the nations around who are saying, Wow, I wish we had that. They're not feeling sorry for them. They are celebrating how privileged you are. How do we get access to that? That's to be the missional function. I set you high above the nation for Praise the Lord or the glory. When when the nations see what I am doing with you, they will know that you are recognized or called by my name, branded by the name of Yahweh. And it's all praise ultimately to God. The grace of Torah. And of course, this comes in the New Testament as well. I mean, you've got commands and laws and the New Testament. You've got you've got blessings and curses. I am the vine. You are the branches. Every branch in me that doesn't bear fruit. What does he do? He cuts it off and that's a dry and then he burns it. What would you call that? I call that the curse. This is exactly the equivalent of the curse, but the one that bears fruit. He prunes that that it may become more fruit. That is the blessing. That is exactly the same vision that Moses has in mind, flourishing for the glory of God. And so the grace of Torah, this is and this is a magnificent grace.

 

[00:48:31] And if I were an Israelite of that day. Well, Psalm 119 is the norm. Psalm one, 19 and 19 represent what the eyes of a genuinely pious Israelite thinks about the Torah. This is not the Judaism of the New Testament times. That's a different world. And the problem, in my view, is that in the Judaism of the New Testament, we've lost Moses. We've got the law, but we've lost Moses. The heart of it is gone. In fact, it is reflected in their rituals. Jeffrey Teague has an and he's a Jewish Deuteronomy scholar, the best Jewish Deuteronomy scholar out there. And he he you can go to the website and you can see what he says about the treatment of the Torah Scroll in Jewish synagogue worship. And he says, We dress the Torah, scroll up as if it were a king, and we dress it in purple and we put a crown on it. And then when we are in procession, it goes before us all in procession. And then he adds, you know, something like other religions do for the images of their gods. And I don't think he realized he knew what he was saying. What's happened is the Torah has become the idol. The Torah has become the idol. There is a rabbinic statement. It's a commentary on on a text in Jeremiah where the rabbi says, If only my people would abandon me and keep my loss. And that's exactly opposite. When God got him out of Egypt, he didn't call them to be a law abiding people. That wasn't the point. Exodus 19. You've seen what I did to the Egyptians, how I carried you on Eagle swings and brought you to myself. That's the point. Brought you to myself.

 

[00:50:55] We've had no laws yet. Not big. No, it's about relationship with God now. But if you will keep my covenant and listen to my voice. Listen to my voice, it's always translated. Obey my voice. But the assumption with that translation is that the only thing that ever comes out of God's mouth is command. But as we go through Deuteronomy, you will notice that command is always preceded by gospel. That's the norm. Well, she is in chapter six. We see it in the Decalogue. I am Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the hands of slavery. You shall have no other gods. Where's the command? You shall have no other gods. But before that you have gospel. And so the command is always of a divinely revealed way of saying thank you to God. For gospel. And so that's the pattern of Moses and Deuteronomy. The grace of Torah. What a magnificent grace.