Deuteronomy - Lesson 17
The Heart of Covenant Relationship Deut. 10.12-11.1
“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.
The Heart of Covenant Relationship Deut. 10.12-11.1
The Heart of Covenant Relationship (10:12-11:1)
I. What does YHWH Ask of You?
A. Micah 6:8
B. Structure of Moses' answers
C. First Response: Fearing God
D. Second Response: Walking in all His Ways
E. Third Response: Demonstrate Love for YHWH
F. Fourth Response: Serving YHWH With your entire being
II. Motivational Doxology
II. Answer Two
A. Doxology for answer two
B. Application for answer two
IV. Answer Three
A. Doxology for answer 3
V. Theological and Practical Implications
A. Abraham’s faithfulness
B. Corrects the misperception that the OT religion is primarily external
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 Heart of Covenant Relationship Deut. 10.12-11.1
[00:00:00] We come now to the heart of covenant relationship, and I use that expression extremely consciously. If you forget any text that we've talked about. May this be the last one you forget. In fact, I think this is the anchor text of the whole book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 1012 to 11 one. Again, by my understanding, the chapter division is off. Just one verse. Chapter 11 one, I think is the summary I call a phonic conclusion to what has come before. So let's look at the structure of Deuteronomy 1012 to 11, verse one. Again, we have a very interesting structure. It opens up like the Shaba did, Somalia. Israel. Yeah. Well, that's the thesis statement here. It opens up with a question where ATAR and now Israel. Which means in light of the renewal of the covenant that we have just witnessed, this is still part of that second address. In light of the renewal of the covenant, what does your way, your God ask of you? Which is such a fundamental question. And if you would ask some of us what God asked of Israel, we would have our answer. If you would ask Paul and the Judaism's in Galatians or in Romans, they would have their answers or their answers to the the Judaism would have said, Well, he did. What God asks of those people is circumcision, keeping kosher diet, keeping the Sabbath as defined by the Pharisees, observing purity laws and whatever else. Those are the external markers of covenant relationship. They're all about that. Well, it's interesting that when Moses thinks about that question, they never those answers never come to his mind. What does he require? What he does then is he gives us three answers to the question. Answer number one.
[00:02:30] But the fear, Yahweh and all is raised, and this is the answer. In each case, he specifies the answer, but then he gives the basis of the answer in the form of ad talks ology, and then the practical application to Israel as their benefit that arises from the dark solid G, dark solid G is the purple all the way through three times and then the application. But there are three answers to the question what God requires. He requires you fear the Lord walking his ways, circumcise the foreskin of your heart and do not be satisfied only, only Yahweh, your God, you shall fear and serve whatever else. So those are the three answers. And we need to walk through this. This is an extremely important text. It's the anchor text of Deuteronomy, shall we say. Theology and ethics. Both. They come together. You will see again the docs colleges are the framework or foundation for the ethic. The question now is really what does your way, your God, ask of you? What answers would the Pharisees have given and ones what answers would we give? I used to say, while God asks them to keep the commands and all the rest of that, and especially the circumcision business. But this answer, we've seen something like this question elsewhere in my car. We have all human. What is good and what does Yahweh seek from you? There are two words for this ask, seek, dot, dot rage or rash here. It means what does he see when he's examining a life or or what he does? He requests from you. And Micah's answer is with what shall I come before Yahweh and vow myself before God on how shall I come before him? With burned offerings with calves a year old, will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams, 10,000 rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression? The fruit of my body, for the sin of my soul? And of course, you can see what he's doing is heaping up the same as we do in church.
[00:04:55] Raising the bar, beginning with simply burned offerings of any kind a year old. Thousands of rams. Rivers of oil. Child sacrifice to the ancient pagans. Child sacrifice was not an abomination. It was the height of devotion to one's God. And that's the question. That's the climax. Will God be impressed that I'm willing to give up my child for him? He has told you all mortal. What is good and what does God require of you? But to do justice, to love has said, There it is. And to walk humbly. With your God. Notice he doesn't even say simply to walk with your God. I know of some people who are very proud of their work with God. That's not what we're talking about. To walk humbly. This is how he answers. This is the prophet's answer. Well, let's look at Moser's answers to this. You will see that his answers are in three parts. They are in a be a pattern. There is a literal call for covenant loyalty. 12 to 13. A metaphorical call for covenant loyalty. 16. And then back to a literal call for covenant loyalty. 20. Let's look at the first one. Five Answers to the question What does the Lord, your God ask of you? And before we look at the five, we need to ask ourselves why five? He doesn't tell us why. Five. I mean, we could have expected seven or 12 or ten. But he gives us five. My theory is it's like the Decalogue. The Decalogue is ten because it's easily remembered. And what he's doing here is look at your hand. I'll give you a. This is a catechism. It's a lesson on truth. It's a catechism of true faith. And what does he give us here? Fearing your way.
[00:07:21] Your God. Interesting. That's number one. Fearing God. But of course you're not. That's not new to you. The wise man in Israel. Proverbs. Ecclesiastes is Psalms. As a five or six times we have it. The fear of the Lord is the first principle of wisdom. If you don't start here, you flunk. You start with the fear of the Lord. And when I see this, I. I get it. Biblical wisdom. Literature is not secular. Biblical wisdom is fundamentally covenantal, and it gets the first principle of wisdom from the covenant, from Deuteronomy. Of course, some scholars will turn this around and say that Deuteronomy was produced late in the court by wisdom thinkers. And that's why you have this. You know, I think it's actually the other way around, fearing the Lord your God. And now, again, we have to bring this back. What does he mean? Fearing the Lord, your God. Exodus 20. Moses said to the people, This is after the Decalogue has been revealed. He said, Do not be terrified, Yara. That's the word for God has come to test you that the fear year us all. Same word. His fear may be before you, that you may not sin. So on the one hand it means the left hand on that spectrum. But on the other hand, it's something way over here. Same word. Exactly the same word. So now we have to ask, what does it mean in this context? I think here Genesis 2212 is our key. Abraham When we talk about Abraham offering Isaac, the Lord tested Abraham saying, Take now your son, your only son whom you love, and go offer him as a whole bird offering. Isaac whom you love. Offer him. This is a test. What's it? The test stuff.
[00:09:35] Well, in the previous chapter, after these things, he tested Abraham. In the previous chapter, he had said not Ishmael, but Isaac. Your name shall be preserved. Isaac is the key to the ongoing covenant. Andrew, Having just said that, he asked him to give up Isaac. And when Abraham is about to smite his son with his knife, the the angel of the Lord grabs his head. If you've been to St Petersburg and to the Hermitage Museum, you've seen the Rembrandt painting of the angel holding his hand and the knife falling. It's an impressive thing there. I sat and looked at that for 20 minutes, just in silence. What a picture. What action, What emotion in that one? What is the Angel of the Lord say? Now I know that you fear God. Seeing. You have not withheld your son. Your only son for me. What does he mean by fear? It's not just. You're not afraid of me. I would have been terrified. You're not afraid? No. It means you trust me. You trust me? Abraham believed God, and he counted. And Tim for righteousness. Well, that was when God gave them the stars. Your descendants will be like that. But now he doesn't use the word a mean to believe. He uses the word fear. And in Deuteronomy, in these contexts, this is a virtual synonym for the word for faith. Trust. Walter Moberly in several writings makes the same, same point. But the interesting. Well, yeah. Psalm 115 oh House of Aaron Trust by Attack in Yahoo! He is the help and there shield you who fear your way fear there it is trust in your. So the two are very close. So in Deuteronomy what Paul will speak of as sisters faith. That equivalent word M.O.
[00:11:47] na Hebrew for faith happens I think, only twice in the book of Deuteronomy. It's not his favored word. His favored word is fear, meaning trusting or. And that's what we've got here. Isaiah 50. Who among you fears Yahweh and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him, who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of Yahweh and rely on his God. See the combination. This is the semantic world of the word fear. Proverbs one seven The fear of Yahweh is the first Prince of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom are 1426 and are in the fear of your way. One has strong confidence and his children will have a refuge. And so here we have Deuteronomy 1020 only Yahweh, your God, you shall fear only him. You shall serve only to him. You shall cling only by his name. You shall swear this is allegiance of the first uncompromising order, fear of God and all this. It's the thumb. That's where you start. This is what distinguishes humanoids. From other creatures. We got the opposable thumb, and we can't live without a thumb. Scarcely. But it's. It's the anchor of everything. It starts right here. Moses, answer. What does God ask of you? Trust. Fear Jono one nine He said to when they asked him Who are you and what, what, what is your country? He said, I am a Hebrew. I fear Yahweh, the God of heaven who made the sea in the dry land. Well, really Now this is his passport. My identity is defined. My Yahweh is the God of Israel. I fear Yahweh, therefore I'm an Israelite. But of course, you know it's a sham in that case. I mean, he's using it as as the passport of it.
[00:13:58] There, the Phoenician sailors, I fear Yahweh. It's back to our picture. It is the the the Declaration of Allegiance. But of course, you know, with with Jonah, there is a problem in his use of that second walking in all the ways of the Lord. And it's quite appropriate to put this as the second one because. This is the finger we use to point. Which way to go? Walking in all the ways of the Lord. Now, of course, this is ambiguous. What does it mean to walk in the ways of the Lord? It can mean one of two things. It means it can mean walking in the ways God tells us to walk. Those are the ways of the Lord revealed by God within the covenant. Walking in all those ways. But it can also mean walking the way God walks. And we will see this in answer number two. As God has loved the alien. So you must love the alien. God walks this way. We walk this way. It's a it's a brilliant expression, but it presents life as a journey. We're walking, We're headed somewhere. We're on a path. And this path is determined by God, either by him as a mortal or either by him through his revealed will. That's number two. Walking in all the ways, loving your way. Now, of course, by now, you know I shouldn't have said just love in your way. I should have said. Demonstrating love for your. Demonstrating love for you. And of course, on your hand, if you put your hand up like this, you see, that's the anchor. That's the middle. Love Deuteronomy is a book on covenant, love, covenant commitment. You shall be covenantal, committed to Yahweh, your God with all your inner being, with all your body and with all your resources loving Yahweh.
[00:16:24] It's not mere emotion. It has always demonstrated emotion. Serving your way with your entire heart, mind being. And now, when we talk about serving to God, we often think in terms of, well, worshiping him, only him in church. You know, liturgy. Bringing sacrifices to him and whatever. But I think serving in these contexts should not be held that limit limited only. We should view serving here as being the vassal of God. Living as his vassal bearing his name. Everywhere we go, we represent him. We are agents of his mission. You shall have no other gods. You shall not bow down to them, and you shall not serve them over and over again. We'll see this when we get to chapter 12 and chapter 13. You shall not bow down to them. And you shall not serve them. Only your way is yours, Susan. And of course, in our cultural context, this works too, because it's on this thing. If you're if we were European, it would be on this right hand finger. We wear this. Why do we wear this? Because I want everybody to know that I belong to somebody. She's a boss. I serve her. And so within a marriage relationship, you know, be submissive to one another and whatever. This is what it is. It's always about the other person's well-being. We serve your way with the entire my heart, mind and being nothing left over in our hearts for another allegiance. That's idolatry. That's betrayal. It's spiritual harlot tree in Israel. And finally, Oh, he does actually get to it. Keeping the statutes in cupboards, really. Keeping the law. But notice that's the last one and it's the little finger. If there's one finger without which you can live, that's it.
[00:18:47] If I if somebody were demanding of me, I would have to give up one finger for some whatever reason. That's the one I'd let them have. Because it's the weakest finger. It's like it's it's the least help. They're all helpful, but it's the least helpful. But you know this. It's the end. You know, we tend to turn this thing upside down. And what does God. What does Jacqui the God ask of Israel? Keep the commands. No, no, no, no, no, no. Even if you did have the little finger, you could survive because everything is represented in fearing God. Walking in God's ways, loving you, always serving the Lord. All the commands are wrapped up in that middle one. Actually, Jesus says you should love the Lord, your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. And it's all covered. But he does add it here, keeping the wish that it concretize his fearing, walking, loving, serving. You fear by keeping the commands you walk by keeping the commands you demonstrate love by keeping and you serve by keeping your voice commands. This is anything but legalism, anything but legalism. This is principled faith. We have this notion and some of our very prominent preachers and theologians talk about in the Old Testament, their word in the Old Testament religion was primarily external and cultic. In the New Testament, it is primarily internal and spiritual. Have you never read the Bible? This is the opposite. Micah was asking was, What shall I come before the Lord with all these externals? And he said, Forget that. No, he's told you what is good. But to do just that, to love Hassid and walk humbly with your God. That's it. This is not cultic worship. This is life of worship.
[00:20:54] Life is worship. And this is what God asks of his people. This is Deuteronomy. At its heart, the heart of covenant relationship. Five Answers to the question The common denominator. Allegiance to your way as the God of the Covenant. That's the first answer to the question. But then he gives the basis of the answer in a magnificent toxicology, and he gives context to everything. Look to Yahweh, your God belong the heavens and the earth, the heavens and the Earth with all that's in it. Yet Yahweh set his affection on the ancestors by demonstrating love for them, and he chose their descendants after them. You are of all the peoples as you are to this day. That's whom we're serving. This is not a small god. This is. He's the creator of everything. He's the owner of everything. And everything that's on Earth belongs to him. Yet of all of these people. This God set his affection. You are the object of his particular love. Yes, there's a sense in which God so loves the cosmos, everyone. But in terms of saving love, that's very particular. God has chosen Israel, and this provides context for the life of joyful service. He set his affection on you to fear him. Well, these five, I think this is again, it's a creedal statement. It's like the Decalogue helps you to memorize. It serves on the mnemonic function. Allegiance to God is the common denominator that demanded response involves fundamental dispositions and active expressions. It's not external ism, and the glorious privilege of covenant relationship is grounded in theological realities. Again, history determines theology, which determines conduct. Now he gets back there. Yahweh supremacy overall. Lawrence to your God belong the heavens and the earth and the heaven of heavens.
[00:23:17] I love this expression, the heaven and the heaven of heavens. It's like song of songs. Holy of holies. That's the way of expressing the superlative degree. Whatever heaven is up there, it all belongs to him. And. And don't you love it when they send the Hubble cameras all over the world? And now we're on Mars. And what the pictures are said to offer them. Guess what? God is up there. It's his. And He invites us to explore his world. And that doesn't mean that he shrinks. God becomes smaller and smaller. No, he gets bigger and bigger. God owns it all. But the other side of this one is Yah was gracious affection. Covenant, commitment. And election is focused on Israel. Now, it could be that with Isaiah after in Isaiah 40, where he has this glorious picture of the greatness of God who has created everything is ours and stretched out the heavens like a God's and everything belongs to him. All he needs to do is sneeze and the nations vanish. And then we can get become tempted and think, Well, if God owns everything, I don't count. And he says those who wait upon the Lord shall renew the strength, mount up with wings of the Eagles running up angry because the bigger God is, the more guarantee there is of what you need. He is both transcendently glorious but eminently gracious. Deuteronomy 1015 Yet Yahweh set his heart in love on your father's. This is that word shack to set his heart. It's not a have in Deuteronomy seven. He halves love because he shacked love. Why does God love Israel? Because he loves Israel. It's as close as we can get. The mystery of divine love. He set his heart in love on your fathers chose their offspring.
[00:25:36] And you, above all, people are this day. He does indeed own the universe. But Israel was the special object of his covenant love. An amazing story. In another context, Moses celebration of Yahoo's ownership of the universe might have provided inspiration for worship in and of itself. But here, verse 15, we discover that this dark zoology is a clever rhetorical ploy to set the stage for. The declaration of his election of Israel particularly. This is not a generic deity. And Israel's relationship is not with a generic Israeli. Israel's relationship is absolutely unique. They have him as their guy. His strategy here is like that of the Psalms and Psalm eight, who reflecting on the entire universe. Oh Lord, our Lord, How excellent is your name in all the earth? When I consider the heavens, the stars and all of the big things up there that you've made with your fingers. What is man? What is humankind that you are interested in? And then he says, Yet you have made him a little lower than God and have set him over all things. Well, here, Moses declares, How extraordinary is the fact that although Yahweh owns everything, it is not just humanity in general that is picked. It is Israel particularly. That is the object of his affection and his love. Out of all the families on Earth, he has chosen the descendants, specifically the people standing in front of him. You guys, you know that you are here because God picked you. This is the amazing thing. And of course, now I'm sounding very Calvinist. I do believe in the doctrine of electric. You got it. Apart from the effective election of God, I wouldn't be here. Well, in the light of God's gracious election of Israel, the total devotion called for and versus 12 to 13 is utterly reasonable.
[00:27:43] He is not a tyrant. One's joy in life, in the life of obedience, will be directly proportional to our amazement of having been chosen to be God's covenant people. We never stop saying Wow. Why me? How did I get here? It is that sense of awe. Well, that's answer number one. Answer number two. Circumcise the foreskin of your heart and don't be sick. Well, he's talking about circumcision, but he throws us a curve ball. I mean, we talked about this earlier. If you would talk to Moses about what Paul says about circumcision and the Judaism, who insist on circumcision as the initial and essential marker of membership in the covenant community. Moses would say, Well, I know about circumcision, but. I don't know about physical circumcision. That doesn't interest me. He never talks about physical circumcision. Not once, not here, not anywhere else. He doesn't do it to his son. He doesn't do the is to the Israelites as he leads them. And for 40 years they're not being circumcised. It's obviously no big deal to him. But what is a big deal to him is. Circumcision of your heart. And of course, it's a grotesque metaphor. It is grotesque and in mixed company, which we can admit that that is grotesque. And then he says, Be stiff neck, no more. And if you want to know what circumcised circumcised Heart is like, well, he throws in another metaphor. This is that stiff neck orcs. Remember, we're back to chapter nine. You are that bovine and uncircumcised. Heart is a heart of stone there. That is impervious to outside influences. It cannot be affected. It cannot be touched or moved. Circumcise the foreskin of your heart. Which means that your heart rate with God by submitting to His will stop resisting.
[00:30:11] Soften that neck. Well, it's a it's a spiritual thing. It's a mind thing. The interesting thing is she tells the people to do it themselves. Well. And he assumes that you can. There's no point in commanding people to do something that they cannot do. So don't eliminate this by saying, Oh, well, in chapter 30, he will, as he will say, the Lord will in the end, circumcise the hearts of all the Israelites to walk to love him and to walk in his ways. That is not the answer to this one. This one he assumes that people are responsible for their own well-being. Circumcise yourself elsewhere. The prophets of say get yourself right with us. Get yourself right with God. Ezekiel, who's the most Calvinist of all, will say On the one hand, at the end, he says, the Lord will take out your heart of stone. He says, Get yourself a new heart. They the profits will not leave it simply in God's hands without reference to human involvement. And I would argue that in the history of Israel, there have always been people with circumcised hearts. Caleb was one. Josiah was one. Abraham Not perfect. He isn't perfect. There were times when he is as hard hearted as anybody toward his wife and others around him. But these are people whose hearts are right with God. And ultimately, we would have to say, Well, how did their hearts get right with the idea that God did it? But the biblical text isn't saying that. It says get your. And of course, now we need to remember that the word for heart is also mind. And this is a way of saying think rightly about yourself. Feel rightly about yourself. That's. It's on you. But then look at the dark, solid G.
[00:32:21] He goes back circumcised. Yeah. Let's back up here sniffing the more two different metaphors. One explains the other. Oh, yes. I should bring this up. Circumcised. Therefore the foreskins of your heart. We have no photographs from ancient cave in ancient Israel. We? We've got objects so that their artists produce. And here's one. This one comes from the days of Debra. And it was found. This is the the Megiddo Ivory found near Megiddo. And a little ivory thing. It's in the Israel Museum with this interesting image of people obviously conquered peoples being brought by the victorious army to the Sound of music, cymbals and harps before the general or the king or whatever. This is a celebration of victory. But notice how they portray the defeated people. They are naked. Well, guess what else? They are circumcised. Don't look too close. But in any case. Which raises the question, who are these people? It comes from the time of Deborah. From the world where Deborah lives. Are the Israelites. The problem here is that we know that the Israelites were not the only ones who practiced circumcision. More boys did. Egyptians did, lots of people did. In fact, it was so common that the slur. Don't behave like an uncircumcised feel. Samson's parents ask him, Are there are there no women in Israel that you have to marry this daughter of the uncircumcised Philistines? That is that's that's an intensely negative, caustic statement. To be uncivilized is to be uncircumcised or the reverse to uncircumcised civilized people circumcised. It was commonly practiced. Now, the Israelites have had a unique significance to it. In Egypt, it was it happened later on in life. When you make the transition from from boyhood to manhood or whatever else, you know.
[00:34:40] So it's it's that. But here it has are these Israelites. The point is, circumcision was a common thing. But he makes a metaphor out of this. A figure of speech seems to have been prompted by the reference to Yahweh, his love for the ancestors expressed in the election of descendants of the covenant people, according to Genesis 17. Physical circumcision of males represented the seal by which Israelites declared their acceptance of God's covenant. Remember Genesis seven in Genesis 15. God confirms his commitment to Abraham and his descendants by passing through the two parts. The second half of that ceremony happens 13 years later. When God gives circumcision as the sign of and Abraham obeys it immediately circumcised as is a whole household. This is the seal of their acceptance, the signature I've signed on. The interesting thing is that the Israelite symbol of covenant membership is a totally private thing. You don't advertise to the world that we are the covenant people of God because you're supposed to keep your private parts covered. Only God sees this. The mark of a. Circumcised hearts is the life the person lives. And that's what we're talking about. It's about life. Circumcised are for your heart. Never mind the physical business that can be an empty gesture, a meaningless thing. It's perhaps the private nature of the sign that commend circumcision as appropriate. Mark of the covenant. You don't advertise it this way, or even with a mezuzah on the wall. It's how the people who live in this house live. That's the mark. And so soft hearts. Since outsiders generally would not see the sign, the only evidence of membership would be the life of the person. Well, it's odd that Abraham Moses introduces this metaphor with this generation of Israelites circumcised.
[00:37:01] Therefore, I'm sure some of them were wondering as he was saying this, What? We haven't even been physically circumcised. What are we talking about, Samir? But the assumption is you can be spiritually circumcised without being physically circumcised. Paul could have used this as an argument in enrollments chapter four. He could have used this, but he doesn't actually go quite that way. But here we've had a generation of people who were physically circumcised, but they died. The present clan is seen as spiritually circumcised and their living. The pictures patently ironic. The fathers who came out of Egypt had the physical surgery, but by their faithlessness and rebellion they had proved this was merely an external act. Well. There were others who had misbehaved this way. Moses present audience stands before him as the people about to take the land. Get your heart right with God. Circumcise your. This is a challenge. And of course, the other side of it. This is. This is declared to the individual Israelites. It's all singular here. The whole nation can be uncircumcised. But within the groups that your heart rate with God there nobody is a captive to the environment in which he or she lives. And though the rest of the nation go to hell in a handbasket. The people with a circumcised heart are true to God. Well, surely it would have been more logical and more reasonable for Moses to demand that if they would claim the promises made to the fathers, they should submit to physical operation. Right now. Let's all get circumcised. Guys, it's time before we cross over the Jordan. No, they cross over the Jordan, and then they do it before they launch the campaigns. So they launched the crush. We can't use that word anymore.
[00:39:10] Crusade. They launched the campaigns against the Canaanites after they're circumcised. It is as the people of Yardley. But the appeal for heart first, the physical second. What does God require? Well, Moses doesn't explain at this point what he means by the circumcised heart. Accepted contrasts it with a stiff neck to which we've already talked. We've got a mixing of metaphors involving body parts, private parts, and then the neck. But it's all part of the same picture. A circumcised heart represents a disposition that has ceased resisting the will of God and stopped rebelling against his commands, but his soft and sensitive toward him. We used to sing Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way. That you are the potter. I am the clan and this is what is involved here. Just give in. Let it be, Let it go. Moses will confirm this understanding himself in chapter 36 to age where he explicitly declares Yea, we will circumcise the Israelite lights hearts and when he does, they will love him with all their hearts and with all their being that they may live. But there he's talking about the whole nation. There have always been two Israel's. There's the physical Israel. We'll have a diagram for this later. There's the physical Israel that is all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And then there's the spiritual Israel. It's a two. These are two different categories. In chapter 30, he looks for the forward to the date when the boundaries are coterminous. All Israel will have a circumcised heart. Well, the doc's ology. What's the grounding of this? The basis of Moses Answer for your way. Your God is God of Gods and Lord of Lords, the Great, the mighty, the awesome God who shows no partiality.
[00:41:24] There's that expression who doesn't cover the face? Or he doesn't look at the face. This is a judicial expression when people come before God as a judge. He doesn't look at the face. It's covered with a bag. There's a bag over that. He just shows. No, whether you're rich or poor, weak or strong, and you will not. His favor cannot be bought with a bribe. Absolutely. But then notice not only the dark solid G, but not at the application. He executes what is just for the fatherless and the widow and demonstrates love for the aliens by giving them food and clothing. So you must demonstrate love for the alien as well, because you were aliens in the land of Egypt. Notice that theology, true theology, always leads to true life and true ethics. And here you have it again. You play your God knows his supremacy over all powers. In the previous one, it was his supremacy over all things, all creation. Now its law, God of Gods, Lord of Lords, the Great, the mighty, the awesome ale. But He's not only up there, he's down here taking care of the needy. And guess what? On that count, we are exhibit A. We were aliens in Egypt and the Lord cared for us. It's a magnificent statement of God who is sovereign over all but gracious in his focus, or shall we say, focused in his grace on those whom he has called. This reminds me of Psalm 146. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in Yahweh, his God, the maker of heaven and earth, to see everything in them. Yahweh, who remains fruitful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, Yahweh sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind.
[00:43:28] He lifts up those who are bowed down. He loves the righteous. He watches over the ailing, sustains the fatherless and the widow. These are all Deuteronomy categories. This guy has been having his devotions and Deuteronomy again, but he frustrates the ways of Wicked. Yahweh rains for forever, Your God or Zion for all generations. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Well, it's a magnificent text. That's the second and the third answer. No, now it's not. None of this is new now, except we need to capture the Hebrew emphasis. We tend to translate this the way we talk in English. You must fear only God. You must hold firmly it only to Him. And in both you must swear only in his name. But here the Hebrew is emphatic. Yahweh alone. The alone isn't here. But Yahweh, your God, You must fear Yahweh. You must serve to Him. You must hold firmly. And in his name only you must swear. This is an exposition. In fact, by now you will have caught that this whole thing is an unpacking of the Schama. The whole thing is. And here. Somalia. Cheryl, Jacqui Allen in New York. We're hard. He is the only God to him. We are. This is Yahweh alone. And then in the Dark soldier, He picks up on that. He alone is your praise. He alone is your God who has performed for you these great and awesome wonders and that your eyes saw. There is no other God. You all your existence completely and totally and entirely to Him. You take God out of this picture. You have no body. And that's the dark zoology we have. Then the practical application. Your ancestors went down to Egypt as a clan of 70 persons. And now guess what? Yah.
[00:45:36] For your God has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky. This is how special you are in the eyes of God. Notice that bottom blue level all the way. This is your special Standing with God. And it's not because of who you are. He could have picked an infinite number of other candidates for this, but he picked us. And that's why walking humbly with our God. Micah That's just the response. Why me? And so here, your ancestors run down as a clan. And guess what? The God has made you here. You are the fulfillment of God's promises to the ancestors. His eyes have been on you from the beginning. It is an amazing story. Well, the third answer to the question only Yahoo! Your God, you shall fear only him. Serve only to him. Hold fast. That's all about him. He is your praise. This reminds me. We'll get to this at the end of the benediction of the tribes. And here he is, having blessed all of the tribes, one after the other. He reflects not on who Israel is. But who Israel is in the light of who her God is. There is no one like the God of gesture, Roone. And of course, the word gesture, Rune. This is his pet name for Israel. No, darling. Whatever the word means, straight and one. It comes from the word Yashar to be straight. Right. An upright man is a yashar, the straight one here. This is a passive participle. The one who has been straight. And what does it mean? We often interpret that commentators often interpreted to mean morally straight. Yashar. Upright usually does mean that, but in this case, I don't think it means that. I think it means you were once bogged down with the yoke of slavery on your neck, and you could never walk this way.
[00:47:50] You were always walking like this. And yes, what the Lord has taken that your coffee or that he has straightened you up, you are the redeemed. That's who they are. There's no one like the God of the straight and ones who rise on the heavens to help you on the clouds. In His Majesty, the eternal God is your refuge underneath our everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you saying destroy him. So Israel will live in safety alone. Jacob Spring is secure in the land of grain. A new wine where the heavens drop dew. How privileged you are astray. That's that word. The Beatitudes in in Matthew begins with Blessed are Hebrew has two works, two words for blessed Barack to bless somebody. But blessed are you. Blessed is the man who walk, if not from the council. That's not Barack, that's Ashura. Ah, share the name of the tribe. I've forgotten Leah's. Leah's Handmaids Mother gives birth to Usher. I think that's the way it is. And Leah named some share because it's a happy day for her. It's a happy day. She has another son, Ashura. How happy. And I preferred how privilege. How privileged you are, or Israel who is like you are people saved by our way. And that's what makes Israel really special. It's a wonderful. He is your shield and helper. He is your glory, your sword. Your enemies will cower before you. You will trample down their high places. Conclusion. Chapter 11, verse one. And now again, I think we are summarizing the answer to the question at the front. What does the Lord, your God require of you? He's giving you three answers, but then he concludes, Therefore. You shall soar. You must demonstrate love for your for your God.
[00:50:00] Keep his mandate. That's the word charge. Mishmash. Merritt. His ordinances. His stipulations and his commands. Always. It's interesting that he ends with a reference to the revealed will of God. Remember those five things? It was the little finger and at the end. But nor does it demonstrate love. This is it. Covenant commitment demonstrated in actions. The other thing that's interesting about this verse is the way it echoes Genesis 26 verse verses four and five. And when I read that, you should be puzzled if you're half away. I'll pick it up at three where God is talking to Isaac's sojourn in this land. I will be with you. I will bless you for to you and your descendants. I will give all these lands and I will establish the oath I swore to your father, Abraham. I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, give you your descendants all these lands. And by your descendants, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Because. Talk about unconditional versus conditional. It's because. Because what? Because Abraham listened to my voice. Kept my mandate. Mr. Marathe That's the word here. My commands, my ordinances. And my torah's. Instructions. Really? Abraham. What's wrong with this picture? Put. But the value of the story. Well, I. Well, what commands did Abraham have from God? Well, there's the command of circumcision, that one he had, and walk before me and be blamed. But that is so general. I mean, what is he talking about? These are the words come straight out of Deuteronomy and are applied to Abraham. My brothers and my sister. This is theologically profound in the author of Genesis view. Abraham does not represent an alternative, spirituality or ethic. To that of Moses. The author of Genesis, who has been having his devotions in Deuteronomy.
[00:53:08] I have an essay out. It's in one of the books there on The Triumph of Grace Abraham, the patriarchal narratives and their relationship to the Book of Deuteronomy. I am absolutely convinced that the author, the final author of Genesis, is the final author of the Book of Deuteronomy, and he writes the whole patriarchal story in the light of Deuteronomy theology. And I've got 71 evidences for it. I list them all and at the end I talk about this one, Abraham. How in the world can Abraham be the embodiment of what has not been revealed? To the author of the Pentateuch as a whole. Abraham is the mortal Israelite as defined in Deuteronomy. I know we've got people who say Abraham represents faith and Legum before the law. Moses represents faith. Or is it unbelief under the law? And they contrast the two. Stop it. Stop it right now. In fact, in my view, I've said before, the Abrahamic Covenant and the Israelite covenant are one and the same thing. And then the bands of God are exactly the same. And to the author writing hundreds of years later, he looks at the life of Abraham. He says, This is what we're exactly what we're asking for in Deuteronomy Righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue. And you can unpack that and say he had the Torah of God written on his heart, his office circumcised. He was responsive to the will of God, and he almost naturally did the right thing. While there are exceptions, this is very interesting. He doesn't gloss over the exceptions, but this is the demonstrate love for God by keeping his mandate, his ordinances stipulations and his torah's actually his commands all the days. This is an amazing text. Conclusion. This passage should correct the common misperception of Old Testament religion as primarily external and cultic.
[00:55:33] It's not so that when Jesus tells the woman at the well, the day is coming, when people one will worship me in spirit and in truth. Some people will say when worship will be spiritual rather than external and true rather than false. Really have the never been people who worshiped God in spirit and in truth? Of course they have. This can be something new. In that regard, Abraham was one of these. And so you got that. We've got to rethink what we do with that one. There have always been people who worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Abel's offerings were accepted. Cain's word. You got the contrast there. Moses has a picture of this. Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. And the debate is, where do we worship here on Mt. Gerizim or in Zion? And whatever else, forget that noise that is coming when we're not going to be having that conversation. So let's stop that. Isaiah, Samuel said, has got Yahweh as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in listening to the voice I should have had listening here rather than obey. Look. To listen is better than to sacrifice then. And the fate of Ram's rebellion is a sin of divination. Or Amos five. Here's your text from Amos I hate you. I despise your festivals. I take no delight in solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I won't accept them. The peace offerings of your father. I will not let them take away way for me the the noise of your songs, the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness. This is Deuteronomy said. They said that period of righteousness, righteousness you shall pursue or hosier.
[00:57:25] I desire steadfast love, that said, not sacrifice the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. While there are many other texts, this this is a fabulous text. It's a fabulous text. It's the summary of True Religion First and New Testaments. And this is what the Pharisees had lost. Remember Jesus conversation, you guys, the men then come in and build pickles and everything else, their tithing, everything to a tee. But you've forgotten the weightier matters of Torah. And what are the major matters of Torah? Here you have it. He he uses the word loss, which is the word for hazard and and fidelity. I think it is I've forgotten exactly what it is. But in any case, this is what what does God require of you not tithing of every little stupid thing? Thus the emphasis is all in the wrong place. But the fear the Lord. To walk in his ways to love him. To serve you. By keeping his commands. This is the word of the Lord. For us.