Deuteronomy - Lesson 12
The External Test Deut. 7.1-18
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.
The External Test Deut. 7.1-18
The External Test (7:1-18)
A. Relationship between Deuteronomy 7 and Exodus 23:20-33
B. Anticipation of chapter 7 in Deuteronomy 6
C. Structure of Deuteronomy 7
II. Nature of the External Test
A. Character and identity of the targets
B. Elements of the test
III. Basis of the Test
A. Israel is a chosen people
B. Israel is a treasured people
IV. Background to Israel’s Status
V. Importance of the Test
A. Revelatory significance
B. Practical significance
C. Missional significance
D. Anti-idolatry polemic
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)
The Gospel according to Moses
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Dr. Daniel Block
The External Test Deut. 7.1-18
[00:00:00] We're moving now from Deuteronomy Chapter six into Deuteronomy Chapter seven, which in some ways is the most difficult text to wrestle with in terms of theology and ethics. But I want to look at this chapter under two headings. I'm dividing it into half, into two parts. The first will involve examination of the external test, the grace of elections, salvation and land. And this. It unpacks what we saw in chapter six verses 17, 18 and 19, where the Canaanite population is presented as the test that will face the Israelites. Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord that He it may be well with you and you may go in and possess the good land. He swore you by driving out all your enemies before you. There's the test. And when you read the opening chapters of the Book of Judges, you discover they didn't do so well. They didn't do so well. But in any case, here it is presented as the external test of covenant commitment. Can you trust your sons? Run to deliver the land into your hands and by taking charge of the campaigns. Again, we'll set the context with reference to this charge. We are now in chapter seven verses 1 to 26. You have the external test represented by the Canaanites. I am going to look at this particular from the perspective of why this policy against the Canaanites, what that says about Israel. And then we'll look at the policy after that. But verse 17 turns the corner in this chapter, and it becomes a discussion of that topic from a slightly different perspective. So we're in chapter seven verses 116 here. It begins with a rhetorical presentation of the test verses 1 to 16 before we get into the passage.
[00:02:26] So we should remember that this is not new or original with Moses in Exodus 2322 33, the Lord had described in detail how the Israelites were to handle what they would meet encounter in the Promised Land. And you remember that when Moses, when the people heard that they were still at Mount Sinai. So for the generation at Mount Sinai, the movement into the Promised Land was tomorrow. Virtually, it's the next item on the agenda. So they were preparing to move into the promised land, and the Lord had already given us this sort of speech. But we are now 40 years removed. So before they move into the promised land, it's like Moses has to bring back that message and unpack it for this new generation. And the relationship between Deuteronomy seven and 23, 22, 33 of Exodus is like that of a scripture text to a sermon. Earlier we saw him. We heard him recite the Decalogue as the text for this whole big sermon. But now, for this particular part, it's obvious that ringing in his ears are the Lord's word to him. In chapter 23 of Exodus. He builds on that one by offering a profoundly theological interpretation of what we call the policy of Haram. We'll explain that more fully in the next session. But let's talk about this chapter. The anticipation of Chapter seven in six keep the commands of Yahweh scrupulously. That is his covenant stipulations, ordinances that his charge you put into practice are the Supreme right and the supreme good in the holy site. I have deliberately translated that that way, thus supreme. I mean, it's usually translate that which is right. Or whatever is right. It's not bad. It is a very it has the article. The Supreme Right, the supreme good in the sites, which is your way only as your God.
[00:04:59] That's the supreme. And so that you may go in and possess the good land that the Lord promised on all to the forefathers by driving out the enemies. This chapter divides into two parts the nature of the external test. Then the required response to the test 17 to 26. Apart from these divisions, based on the content, it also exhibits a profoundly high stakes structure. When you look at these texts more closely, you discover these biblical authors were very, very literate. This is not just thrown together. And in this case, you know, is first of all, he begins by talking about the Haram grounded in Israel's holiness, 1 to 6. He ends with the Haram grounded in Israel's holiness versus 26 to 7. So that's the framework. You are a holy people to the Lord your God. Then he has the past victory grounded in Yahweh, his love for Israel and his oath, and then future victory grounded in his presence. So victory is the common theme. The next section, then the character of Yahweh, the ground of Israel's present conduct verses 9 to 10, the character of Yahweh, the ground of Israel's future, hope 12 to 16, and right in the middle Obedience, the response to your command. This is the critical factor. Will you pass the test of covenant faithfulness? Well, this segment 1 to 16 is framed by a detailed description of the test of faithfulness and 1 to 5 and the summary statement. So here are the first verses. When God brings you into the land that you are entering to possess it and drives out many nations ahead of you. The Hittites, the guerrillas, Shi'ites, Emirates, Canaanites, Parasites heavyweights. Jeb you side seven nations larger and stronger than you. And what when Yahweh your God has handed them in over to you and you've defeated them.
[00:07:10] That's at the front end, at the back end, verse 16. You must devour all the peoples that your way, your God hands over to you. Strange language. It's a monstrous vocabulary. You may not look on them with pity and you must not serve their gods. For that would be a trap for you. So that's the framework. They will be a trap. You therefore utter elimination. Well, let's look at the land that we're talking about here. This is the picture of the tribal allotments as they were distributed in the book of Joshua with Judah and the tribe of Daniher, who landed up north of there. But here are the two and a half tribes on the other side of the Jordan River. Who? They. They took care of the emir rights over here. So they took over that territory. But now we're dealing with Emirates, Hittites, parasites, and whatever other rights you find on that side of the river they present, they presently occupy the land. But we begin by noting at the character and identity of the targets. Who are these people? Hittites grew Girgis, Shi'ites, Emirates, Canaanites and whatever else we have here. Who are they? One. He identifies them by name. This is extremely important because this was never to become Israel's military policy in the distant future. We are not talking about the general conduct of warfare so that when David becomes king and he conducts his wars against, you know, the nations out there, this is not in chapter 20, he will distinguish between the policies governing warfare against distant cities. And and those campaigns against the cities nearby you. There are two different policies here. What we're talking about here are the Canaanite towns. These are different. CAIN Tonight, tribes, they each have their own name.
[00:09:33] They're identified by name. They are seven. Which is curious. And as most of Greenberg, Umberto Kazuto said, the Italian Jewish scholar, whenever you see seven. Your ears should perk up. And it's a way of saying all the nations we know there are one or two more. He it isn't exhaustive. But he quits when he has reached seven. They are in the promised land. They are formidable. Now, remember, we are 40 years after that Kadesh Barnea fiasco. 40 years ago, the people said, We can do it. It's a great land. But the the fortifications reach into the sky and we we've seen the anarchy, the Giants. It's a monstrous world. We can do this. Well, the interesting thing is, 40 years later, nothing has changed. God has not waited now until while the Canaanites are weak and now is our time to move in. It is exactly the same issue we had last time. And so the challenge is, will you take the promise of God this time and will you pass the test? Here are the elements of the test versus to be to five. You must not make any covenant with them. Show them no mercy. There's a book out on this is called Show Them No Mercy, and it presents four views on how to deal. Christians can deal with the ethics of the wiping out the Canaanites. It's a real problem. You may not intermarry with them, your daughters. You may not give their sons and your daughters. You must their daughters. You must not take for your sons because they will turn your sons away from following me and they will serve other gods. Then your boys anger will burn against you and he'll destroy you again. If you act like other nations, God will treat you like other nations.
[00:11:41] And intermarriage is the quickest path to that. And so that is it. This is what you must do with them, their altars. You must demolish their pillars, you must smash their Ashura poles. You shall chop down their sculptured images. You shall burn with fire. In other words, get rid of all of the symbols of Canaanite religion. All of this is gone. But then notice the particular application of Haram. We'll talk about this word some more, but it involves no covenants with the enemy, no mercy toward the enemy, no intermarriage with the enemy, no tolerance of the religion of the enemy. Tear down their altars, smashed their pillars, chopped down their ash room and burn, tear, smash or tear down, smash, chop and burn it, demolish it. This is a scorched earth policy. Get rid of everything here. Well, what. What are we talking about? And I've got a few illustrations here. Here is a Canaanite altar from Megiddo. And this one actually dates to a little bit earlier than what we're talking about. But that's a massive altar. You could offer three or four stairs on that altar in at the same time. So this is obviously a very significant one. An altar that's in the ground. And look at the steps. You go up there like that. Smash down. Tear them all down. All the altars. There are other sorts of altars. This is a four horned altar that they discovered at Be'er Sheva. You'd have smaller ones like this. And actually, this one is about this tall. It's not a small altar. There's one. Here are Tell Arad, pillars and incense, altars. This is south of Jerusalem. My guess is maybe 40 miles out in the desert. This was an Israelite establishment before the fall actually dates to before the fall of the Northern Kingdom.
[00:13:49] 706. Yeah, seven hundreds in the seven hundreds. But there they discovered a temple with somewhere in the inscriptions. There was the expression House of Yahweh. And you have to ask, is this really orthodox? Because you're supposed to work worship only at the central sanctuary. But here is this one. And notice it's got two incense altars, one smaller and one larger. But there are two pillars here. Presumably representing a deity each. And you have to ask yourself how orthodoxies this are syncretism like is this. These are what they discovered up at Hot Saw in Northern Israel. The pillars. Notice some of them are in graves. A lot of them are not. We don't know exactly their meanings. This one with a lion head that's a guardian pillar, but the one with a hands upraised to the sun. Or is it the moon? It's hard to tell. That's obviously an expression of devotion. This what we're talking about will have another image in a moment. Here are Ashira. This is the female goddess in the fertility religion and typically carved as a woman with exaggerated sexual features. As we mentioned yesterday, chopping down Ashura poles were typically made of wood. So that's why the verb is always chopped down. Chopped down the Ashura. You don't smash them, you chop them down. So he's putting the ax to it. Well, this is a very strange thing here. You wonder about the the pillars which represent the male principle in the fertility religion. This is the symbol of bail in your worship. And, of course, this stone, this rock is at make cuts. Or is this the phallic symbol that is the male represents the male principle in the fertility religion. It's an intriguing object. There's no inscription telling us what it means.
[00:16:08] But there you have it. So that's what we're talking about. They represent the ungodly, the abominations of the Canaanites. But now notice verses 6 to 8, the basis of the test, Israel's status before God and the nations is now declared for. This is important. It's a key clause in Hebrew key because you have no mercy. You tear down their images, you don't intermarry them, you make no covenant with them because this is the grounds of the Haram policy. You are a holy people belonging to Yahweh, your God, Yahweh, your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people as his treasured possession. This is the gospel according to Moses. It underlies the whole policy. Not well. To float this test is to compromise the gospel or to forget the gospel. But then he goes on and talks about what is it that makes us special to God? And in this chapter, he provides one hypothetical possibility. It was not because your population was larger than all the peoples that he set his affection on you or chose you for your population as the smallest God has the habit of surprising everybody. He doesn't choose the impressive. If I had been God, I would have picked Egypt. What a fantastic civilization. Let's claim it for the Kingdom of God and baptize it with orthodox truth. And then this is to the praise of the glory of God. You can start with Egypt, Ramses the second. I mean, why doesn't God make a convert out of him and use him to proclaim his war? But no. Like he always does, he chooses the scum of the world to confound the brilliant. And here it is again. God didn't call Israel because they were so impressive.
[00:18:25] So obviously such, obviously good candidates for the mission. And there are lots of sermons that come out of these texts. God doesn't call us on the basis of our giftedness, our aptitudes or whatever else. It's always the reverse. He gives us the aptitudes needed to fulfill his calling. Otherwise we set ourselves up for trouble. If you think you have the right to minister publicly because you have the gifts, you're setting yourself up for collapse. That means all the failures will be on you. You can't blame anyone else. But if you're going that way, no. God doesn't call us because we're gifted. God doesn't call us because we're great. He calls us. Because he calls us, we don't know. He contemplates that it's not because your population was larger than it has nothing to do with impressiveness, but it's because Yahweh demonstrated love for you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers that Yahweh has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh King of Egypt. Notice how he keeps retelling the gospel. It's all over the place. And when you think about how you're dealing with a Cain and I don't forget who you are and where you've come from. Don't forget the one who has made you who you are. But from this paragraph, these verses seven and eight, look at the list of graces they have experience. Israel is a holy people belonging to you. Israel is a chosen people. Israel is a special treasure. The object of the Lord's affection. The object of the Lord's love. That's a different verb now and is the object of God's saving actions. It is all of grace. It's not because Israel is so great that God chose them.
[00:20:33] No, it's the opposite. These are arranged rather logically into three pairs. You are your first holy people that is treasured people, He said his affection upon your namely he chose you out of all the peoples. He brought you out with a strong hand. That is, he redeemed you. This is the grace of God. In a nutshell, Israel is what Israel is entirely because of God's gracious actions. Of course, this whole statement is rooted in some a text that must have been ringing in Moses ears from Exodus 1945. You've seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles rings and brought you to myself. Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples of the earth. For all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation. There are all kinds of expressions here in God's first speech at Sinai that are echoed in the passage we just read. Israel is a holy people belonging to your way. Well, before this, that expression was applied only to the High Priest Cuddalore soliloquy. Here's the High priest. You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it like the engraving of the signet holy to Yahweh. That sets the high priest apart from all others. He has been sanctified, consecrated for sacred duty, representing the people before God and God to the people, holy to yea. The interesting thing in Deuteronomy. This same principle is applied to the whole in the whole nation. You are our holy people to Yahweh, the whole nation of Israel has been consecrated as a kingdom of priests, our holy nation, his agents of grace and mission to the world.
[00:22:57] That's why this policy you have been sanctified. That cannot be, shall we say, compromised. Like the high priest within the temple. Israel is the link between a needy people and the resources, the gracious resources of heaven. That's the first expression. Second expression. Israel is your faith, treasured people and single law. Now this word appears, I think, only eight times in Scripture, single law. But what does it mean? Exodus 19 six. If you listen to my voice and keep my covenant, you'll be my single law. There it is. Among all the peoples. Deuteronomy seven six. That's our verse 14 to you are of people holy to Yahweh, a people for his sake. Golda And then Psalm 135 for Yahweh has chosen Jacob for himself. Israel, as is, said Galla and Malachi. 317 They shall be mine, says Yahweh. In the day when I make up my signal and I will spare them as a man spares his son. But what in the world does it mean? There's the only place where it occurs to other times with a completely different meaning, an everyday ish kind of meaning. And when we are interpreting texts like that, you ask what a word means theologically, or you answer what a word means theologically by looking at what it means in everyday language. This is obviously theological application of an everyday expression, but what is it? There are two places we find it. First Chronicles 29 three. In addition to all David is talking in all that I have provided for the Holy House, I have a single law of my own, of gold and silver. And because of my devotion to the house of my God, I give it to the house of my God. What is this? These are the royal Treasuries.
[00:25:17] David is the king. He's got a treasury and he's saying, I am giving all of these Treasuries to the Lords House for building this building. The other text is Ecclesiastes to eight. And of course, you know, the story of Ecclesiastes is this guy spares the experiments with every indulgence and spares nothing. He says. I gathered for myself silver and gold and thus a glass of King's. And provinces. By that he would mean the capitals of provinces, something like that, or that which the provinces contribute to the central coffers. I got seniors, both men and women, many concubines of the life of the sons of men. What is this? Well, I think here we have a picture of single law. It's Royal Treasury's. These are the imperial. This is the Imperial state crown in Britain. It's in the Tower of London, if you've ever been there. We've been there several times. One time we went with our family while they were stationed in Germany, and he's a chaplain in the Army. They came to visit us and at that point they had their their third child, Ella, who has always been a little princess. And she you can tell she's dream and dreamt of being a princess. But in any case, we took the whole clan to the Tower of London and we saw these jewels, amazing jewels, and you could just see her eyes were popping. And she was. The wheels were turning. Someday I'm going to wear that. Well, here's an illustration. This. That Ruby is the largest. Is that the ruby or the diamond at the bottom? The largest of its kind in the world that's worth millions of dollars. These are the treasures in the Tower of London. So now, just for the sake of illustration, let's imagine that every nation on earth is a rock.
[00:27:31] I grew up on the farm and every spring before we went and put in the crops, we had to go and and take the rocks off the fields, especially their hilltops and on the prairies of Saskatchewan. I was convinced that the devil spent the winter pushing up more rocks because every year they were back and you had to do this. You never had them all out. And what do you have at the end of three or four days of pick and rocks? Nothing but blisters on your hands and a sore back. We didn't have front end loaders. That was all handwork and and it was horrible. I mean, it's just a waste of time. Well, what you have to show for it at the end of the day is a rock pile, useless rocks. But imagine that every rock is one of the nations on earth. And so we have an excellent medium size in terms of population. At least it's a medium sized country like my own Canada. Russia is a big one in the background there. And of course USA is a big one and China is massive. And the Ukraine, in terms of population bigger than Canada by double. But right at the top there is this tiny little rock. Now, can you imagine what would happen if one day when you were out there picking rocks and you see glistening over there a sparkle as brilliant as you've never seen before, and you go over there and you think, well, surely that's just caught sight. I've I've seen many hundreds of those. But you pick it up and wow, I've never seen anything as crystal clear as this one. And by now you're really fascinated by it. And you take it to town, to the jeweler, and you ask to look at this.
[00:29:27] And he says, Where in the world did you get that? And you should have found it out on the field. And he tells you, you know what? That's a dime. And. There are diamonds in Saskatchewan. But I didn't see any diamond when we were picking rocks. I never saw any of these. But where you get that? It's a diamond. Let me tell you, if you found a rock that big, it would make three years worth of pick and rocks. Worth it. I tell you, it's precious. It really is precious. Why is it precious? Because it's a rare gemstone. This is what Israel is to God out of all the nations on earth. I handpicked you. To be my holy people, my treasured people. Polished diamond. My diamond. This word speaks of a treasured gemstone. That's what Israel is. Well, in the ancient world, of course. Gemstones were often used for seals and for carving and imprinting, named people's names, and they'd stamp it like this one. The name on there is belonging to you as the NIA, the servant of the king. And the symbol of this guy is the rooster. But it's a gemstone. It's a precious stone. And when it's stamped on a piece of clay or whatever else, it is a mark of ownership belonging to that G Azania. Well, this is in a sense, what Israel was to God. They are his gemstone in a world of rocks, granite and sandstone and useless rocks handpicked. Polished and made into his her into his precious jewel. When we were kids, one of the memories I had was of my mother sitting at the sewing machine and patching pans. We were dirt poor, never had running water in the house. I can remember when we finally got electricity but never had running water.
[00:31:43] But with 12 boys, she was always patching pants and whatever. But whenever she was at the sewing machine and it was a foot machine, she would always sing. And she'd sing the song When You Come, when it comes to make up is true of all his jewels, Precious jewels, his love been his own. Like the stars of the morning, his bride crown adorning they shall shine in their beauty bright gems For his crown He will gather. He will gather the gems for his king In the pure ones. The bright ones is loved and his own Like the stars of the morning his bride crown adorning they shall shine in their beauty vie gems for his crown. Little children, little children who love the redeemer are the jewels, precious jewels, his loved and his own. Like the stars of the morning, his bright crown adorning they shall shine in their beauty bright gems for his drum. I used to think that was a children's song. Well, that last verse really does apply it to children, doesn't it? But it's our song. This is who we are. God has taken a rock and made it his precious gemstone. Israel is the Lord's crown jewel. And this is why you don't mess with the Canaanites. Because they will dirty it, they will be smudge it, you'll lose your identity. You will be transformed back into that. Yeah, that's the opposite of the Cinderella thing. You know, you'll be transformed into a queen and like the rest of them. And you don't want to go there. This is a brilliant story of God's grace taking something that is nothing and making of it. Exhibit A of what Grace can do it. At the end of chapter 26, he'll say, See, I set you high above the nations for for praise, for honor and for glory.
[00:33:49] Now, of course, as you know, diamonds really don't give off any light at all. They don't. When you see the brilliant sparkle of a diamond, it's not because the diamond is creating light. It's always reflective. And that's what this is. Israel in and of itself is nothing. But when polished, when holy, when pure, when uncompromised, when passing the test, when people look at Israel, they will see the brilliance of God's grace reflected in them. That's the mission to which they are called. Well, what's the background to this status? And it is verse eight, because Yahweh loves you, and because he kept the oath, he swore to the ancestors that with a strong hand, he brought you out and redeemed you from the house of Israel through here. Now, so now the question Moses is contemplating is why does God love Israel? And the first answer is, well, he doesn't love Israel because Israel is so lovable. So impressive, so useful for his agenda. No. In the end, Israel God loves Israel simply because God loves Israel. That's as close as you can get. This is the mystery of grace. Why does the Divine Susan choose this group of people to be hers? There's nothing in them that commends them to God. But because he loves you and because he kept the oath, he swore to your answers. He said to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob long before there were Israelites. He said, Your descendants are mine. He picked them without respect to any qualifications. This is the background to the status of Israel as God's special people. So in the end, when we reflect on this, we see that Israel is the object of the Lord's selection. Israel is the object of the Lord's affection. Israel is the object of the Lord's love.
[00:36:06] Israel is the object of his redemption. Take God out of this picture. And what have you got? And just another rock. A puny rock. Insignificant. Utterly insignificant. But God makes of her. Of the nation. This amazing grow la. Well, then we come to versus 9 to 15, where you have the importance of the test. Notice its revelatory significance 9 to 10. So you should know that Yahweh, your God, is God. We heard this kind of refrain early at the end of chapter four, didn't we? God's action in the past was that you might know that I am Yahweh. And so now Moses changes it in the third person. So you should know that Yahweh, your God, is God. He is the faithful ale God who keeps the covenant of has said there's that unfailing love has said to a thousand generation of those who demonstrate love for him and keep his commands. This is the revelatory significance of this test. But he repays those who reject him directly by destroying them. He will not hesitate to repay directly those who reject him. And of course, here you got the words of love and hate. How can you God hate No, in Malachi. Jacob, have I loved it or have I hated? This is actually a misunderstanding and mistranslation of these texts. Love means to choose for or as the object of one's covenant commitment. Israel is the object of God's love because he has chosen her to hate. Hebrew sun doesn't mean I'd like to beat you up and just kill you. That's not what it means. It means to reject from covenant relationship. That's what we're going on. Those who reject God. He's talking about the Israelites. Those who reject God from the human side directly.
[00:38:37] He will read. He will destroy. He will not hesitate to repay directly those who reject him. That's the revelatory. But then, verse 11, he always comes back to the. So what? What difference does that make? And now you've got the practical significance, which we saw in chapter four, verse 40. History, lesson, theology, lesson, practical ethical lesson. So you must guard the command that is the ordinances and stipulations that I am commanding you today by putting them into practice. But then in verses 12 to 15. He talks about the missional significance of this. Verse 12. Now, if you pay attention to these stipulations and you guard them and you put them into practice, Yahweh, your God will keep the covenant of unfailing love. There's that hazard, the hazard covenant that He promised on oath to your ancestors. Then he will demonstrate love for you and bless you and multiply your population. He will bless the fruit of the womb, the fruit of your land, your special grain, wine, oil, the prized calves of your herds, the lambs of your flocks, and the land that he promised on all to give to your father to give you. You will be blessed more than all the people's there. There'll be no sterile male or barren female among your livestock. This is an amazing promise of the good that comes with the covenant relationship. We will ward off every disease from you, and he'll not inflict any of the dreadful diseases of Egypt that you know about. But he'll inflict them on all who reject you. Your enemies. They'll get it. But you are protected. What you have here is shorthand for the blessings we'll hear about in detail in chapter 28. This. This is the passing grade. This is a test to remember.
[00:40:44] The nations are a test. Will you stay true to yourself or will you get sucked into their system if you pass the test? You graduate with a plus, plus, plus, plus. That's what we've got here. A plus, plus, plus. This is the reward for passing the test. But then verse. Yes. Where are we? Let's look at this. Notice that when you look at this promise of the blessings, you see this covenant, triangle, triangle. Everything is functioning like a well-oiled machine. Your way is lavishing the land with his grain. The people of Israel are faithful to the Lord and the land itself in Deuteronomy. Over and over again, it's as if the land is a living thing, a living part of this relationship. And when everything is order, the land it yields gives its fruit and and supports this magnificent economy. Here, the Israelite Covenant Triangle is flourishing exactly as designed. That's the mission more significant. But notice the conditions first while you have the conditions. If you listen to these charge, then keep them by doing them. Then there's the promise, the thesis statement. He will love you and bless you and multiply you. Now this. We have to talk about this. We talk so much and so glibly about God's unconditional love. I think we've got to qualify a lot of what we do with this. In what sense is God's love is unconditional? Because here because you listen to these judgments and keep them the Lord, your God will keep his covenant and his loving kindness. He will love you. I'd demonstrate love for you and bless you and multiply you. That's totally conditional. It is totally conditional. But now notice what we're talking about. God's call to salvation is absolutely unconditional. Hear this carefully.
[00:43:26] God didn't come to Israel in Egypt and say, As soon as you get rid of all your idols, I'll get you out of here. Or as soon as you keep every one of the ten commands, I'll get you out of here. He didn't set any conditions. He just says, Come, I've come to get you out of Egypt. The only condition he put before them is he parsed the waters and invited them to walk through. And all it took was faith that God would hold the waters while they're walking through. That's all it took. No preconditions. So that the call to salvation is never conditional. It is. It's a free invitation of God to which we respond with faith. But now we're talking about something different. These are the redeemed people. They are the called and the chosen. What is what is this? Conditional love. And of course. Fulfillment of the mission to which God has called his people is totally conditional. Totally conditional. A pagan I syncretism that compromising people can not fulfill the calling of God. And in this case he gives the conditions. If you listen carefully to these stipulations and you keep his covenant, he will love you. Of course, make it make it active. He will demonstrate love for you by. And then he lists blessing the fruit of your womb, whatever else. This is the promise that he gives the conditions. If you pay attention to these stipulations and guard them and the promise, Yahweh, you will keep the covenant of unfailing love that he promised on oath. Now, if you look at verses 9 to 15, all together, we find there are three groups of verses here or statements 9 to 10 on the one hand answered by 12 to 13, then A on the other.
[00:45:48] And then in the middle we have the fulcrum. In nine orders. Yahweh, your God is His God. He is the faith of God. He keeps his covenant love to a thousand generations, to those who love him, keep his commands versus 12 to 13. Yahweh, your God who keeps his covenant love with you as he swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. I mean, on both sides of this teeter your daughter, but where's the fulcrum? Verses 11 to 12, therefore. Keep the command, the decrease, the loss that I am giving you today by doing them. And because you listen to these laws and keep them and do them, it will happen. The promise will be fulfilled. This is a different paradigm then than we often think of. And so we we we glibly claim God's love for us is unconditional. Well, what does that mean? That doesn't mean we can live any way we want and God will still love us. Demonstrate love for us. No. The blessing of God is always contingent on the fidelity of his people. There's one other thing to notice here, and that is the anti idolatry polemic versus 13 to 16. Did you notice this? He will bless the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your ground, the grain in the urinal, new wine, your oil, the increase of your herd and your flock in which this is fertility religion. It's exactly that which the Canaanites were all after. What is God here by saying. I am the God. Who provides all of this? The Canaanite gods are nothing. There is no need to go to the gods of this land because I am promising this. You shall be blessed above all peoples, nor male or female, bearing upon you.
[00:47:57] He'll remove all signals. No, the emphasis here is on your way for killing of you powers. He is the one who is the source of your well-being. The fascinating way he assumes jurisdiction over spheres that Canaanites had attributed to the storm. God bail. That's the point. And, of course, this is polemics. God is saying I can be bale at his own game. Don't go there. You want to be fully blessed. Let go. Trust me. Live for me. Be my agents of grace and blessing. And declare to the world what grace does. Be that trophy shine. Let your light shine. But there's another dimension to it. He doesn't use the ordinary words here for grain. And for wine. New wine or oil. He uses very particular words. There's word for grain here is doggone. Remarkably, this was the philistine god of grain they gon remember. And in the story of Samuel, this is the word. What he is saying is that they go on as nothing. I will give you the DA down the drain. I will give you the dart gun. And a dragon is actually very one of Bale's titles in the younger Riddick Kane tonight is son of on. That he is the father of of Bale in Kenya tonight mythology. Well, here's a modern interpretation of dugong as a fish god. You see this in popular literature. But that's absurd. The reason they do this is because the Hebrew word for fish is dog. Dog. That's the Hebrew word for a sea creature. And so this is what dawn means. Little fish, not a scent dog, is a separate word, meaning grain, specialty grain. That's what he is. Here, we saw this fish God, the other day. Here's another illustration. So the names of the products.
[00:50:20] See, he deliberately chooses words that are associated with mythology. It's a polemic against the idolatry of the land. Second, wine. He doesn't use the ordinary word Yan. That's. That sounds like our English word wine. And it's actually cognate to the Greek word oikos wine. Yan That's the ordinary Hebrew word for wine. No, instead of wine, he calls it tea Roche. It's translated as new wine in my new American standard Tea Roche. In the Canaanite literature, we discover this God called QI Rosh, who is the Canaanite God of wine? What is Moses doing here? He said, Forget the idols. The Lord Yahweh assumes responsibility for everything that the Canaanites attribute to them. Then you have all live oil. This is not the ordinary word for all of oil. This is yet far. Related to presumably we haven't found this one yet, but presumably related to Sarkar, the the the shining god of oil. This is deliberate polemics against it. And then finally, the increase of your cattle instead of talking about calves or lambs or whatever. He uses a very strange expression. Sure. Gorilla figure. What is that? Well, the God Shugar is widely attested in the literature. It's the deity probably of the full moon and is associated, for whatever reason, with the fertility of one's livestock. See what's happening here. It's an amazing text. The names of the products. But then also, of course, notice the solution to all the and the issues that inhibit population growth in versus 14 to 15. He talks about this. If you persist in your sin, you will die, you will, you will evaporate, you will disappear. And the curse may your name die out and your seed perish. That's the worst curse you can experience. It means you don't live on in your children.
[00:53:03] But there are two things that inhibit population growth. One is barrenness. Have you ever noticed how common this theme is in the patriarchal stories? It's all over the place. Sarah was barren. She had no children. Of course, that's just a symptom of the cursed world. But then also he will remove from you all the diseases, the sicknesses of Egypt and whatever. This is premature death. The combination of these two. We got problems at the beginning of life, and we got problems at the end of life. That inhibits the population from growing, becoming like the stars of the sky. In the ancient world, these were thought to be the domains of agents of the God of the netherworld near Gaul and Mesopotamia was the God of death in Cain, and Mote is the God of death. He's the king of the underworld, and he sends his agents, his death dealing agents, demons, demonic all over the world to kill people. And what does the Lord say? No fear of those demons. I'm in charge. There will be none of these frustrations in this world. And of course, we have all sorts of images, imaginations of what these creatures might have looked like. Here's an Assyrian demon. Pazuzu. Demon. Here's another Assyrian demon. What's happening here is that the Lord is telling his people, if you are faithful to the Lord your God. If you pass the test and you take care of the Canaanites. No compromises, no mercy. You have nothing to worry about for. I will take complete care of you. And the land you occupy will become a veritable Eden. That's the dream. That's the vision. God calls Israel to be his people. He He gives them the land of Kanan to so that together they can recreate in this fallen world a picture of God's original design.
[00:55:26] That's what we've got going on here. There's an amazing text. Israel's God's grace to Israel. But they. Darren, take it for granted. Don't presume upon the grace of God. I was once when I was teaching a seminary at Bethel, actually one of my stellar students. He came back to campus a couple of years later after he had graduated, and he came back and I said, Well, how are you doing, sir? All this is all well. And then he said, Actually, not everything is well. My wife and I are divorcing, but God will forgive. I say. Really? I. It really. How glibly you use that kind of vocabulary. You know, and this is one of the reasons why the world doesn't respect us, because our disposition towards a lot of these things are no different at all from the way the world looks at it. It's all the same. And so the boundaries have blurred. Conclusion behind the firm boundaries of the of that Moses drew between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world was the conviction of the special status of the people of God. This blessed status is reflected in five expressions here, verses 6 to 8. This is at the core. This is who we are. And of course, this is what Peter jumps on. But you are chosen generation as royal priest of the holy nation, that you might show the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. He's got this tax write down. So what is Israel? There are holy people to your way there. The object of his gracious election. Their election. They are his treasured people. The object of his affection. The beneficiary of his covenant love. God grants this privileged status to Israel as a free gift unmerited, undeserved, unsought.
[00:57:42] You didn't ask for it. You didn't buy it. You didn't earn it. You didn't deserve it. Well, while the rest of the First Testament tends to highlight the holiness of God. In Deuteronomy, we have a reference to God's holiness only once in chapter 32, verse 51, the only time it appears. You didn't respect My Holiness, he tells Moses. In this book. Holiness is attached to his people. Which is really interesting. Whereas the holiness of God is rarely mentioned. The holiness of God's people is rarely mentioned elsewhere. This notion is fundamental to the theology of Deuteronomy. For you are a holy people. Called to be holy. This is the gospel according to Moses. One more time and we'll hear it again. And with that, I end this lecture.