BIBLE STUDY SERIES #530, 531 and 532

20 January, 2002

DEUTERONOMY 29:1-9

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies on the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is steadily drawing His Creation towards the perfection of His Kingdom reveals that this plan centres upon the formation of one selected line of people chronicled in The Scriptural Record, which descends through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thence through the whole history of the nation of Israel, and therein to provide, in the person of Jesus Christ, the focal point of His mighty purpose. This series has brought us from the call of Abram in Genesis 12, down to Deuteronomy 29.

In a previous Study, in Deuteronomy 28, we had seen the splendour of the glorious blessing which would come upon the righteous nation of Israel, but afterwards we had seen how Israel's deviance from God's Laws would result in many grievous Curses descending upon the people.

You might wish to have your Bibles open to that 29th Chapter of Deuteronomy, and follow as we read today's Bible Study Scripture, the better to understand the comments based thereon.

We ought, perhaps, to introduce the study with some words from The New Bible Commentary, which sets the stage, so to speak. That reference introduces the passage under the heading "VI. Moses' Third Discourse", and a sub-heading which applies this to Chapter 29:1 to 30:20. [I should note in passing that The Companion Bible takes 29:1-17 as the beginning of Moses' "sixth address", and thus appears to differ in the numbering of the sections of Deuteronomy from that in The New Bible Commentary.] Of the contents of Chapter 29 and under the further sub-heading "Renewal of the covenant", The New Bible Commentary states: "A new discourse opens with this chapter and continues through the next. Moses calls on the people to renew the covenant made at Horeb, and predicts the declension and punishment of the whole nation. The blessing and the curse must both be experienced, but in the end divine grace will open a way for repentance and the remission of sins." At the words in verse 1, "These are the words of the covenant", it compares this with the words in Deuteronomy 1:1n and 31:9n, stating "The phrase denotes the commencement of a new section.

Let us now consult Keil and Delitzsch with regard to their introduction to this and the following chapter, taken together, which they head "Conclusion of the Covenant in the Land of Moab." "The addresses which follow in chap. xxix, and xxx. are announced in the heading in chap. xxix. 1 as 'words (addresses) of the covenant which Jehovah commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel, beside the covenant which He made with them in Horeb,' and consist, according to vers. 10 sqq., in a solemn appeal to all the people to enter into the covenant which the Lord made with them that day; that is to say, it consisted literally in a renewed declaration of the covenant which the Lord had concluded with the nation at Horeb, or in a fresh obligation imposed upon the nation to keep the covenant which had been concluded at Horeb, by the offering of sacrifices and the sprinkling of the people with the sacrificial blood (Ex. xxiv.). There was no necessity for any repetition of this act, because, notwithstanding the frequent transgressions on the part of the nation, it had not been abrogated on the part of God, but still remained in full validity and force. The obligation binding upon the people to fulfil the covenant is introduced by Moses with an appeal to all that the Lord had done for Israel (chap. xxix. 2-9); and this is followed by a summons to enter into the covenant which the Lord was concluding with them now, that He might be their God, and fulfil His promises concerning them (vers. 10-15), with a repeated allusion to the punishment which threatened them in case of apostasy (vers. 16-29), and the eventual restoration on the ground of sincere repentance and return to the Lord (chap. xxx. 1-14), and finally another solemn adjuration, with a blessing and a curse before them, to make choice of the blessing (vers. 15-20).

At this point, we ought to read the passage of Deuteronomy 29 together, starting at verse 1, and noting the words of that New Bible Commentary along the way as we read.

1. These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.

Here reference to the land of Moab draws a note which compares those words with chapter 1:5, adding "It was so called because it had formerly belonged to Moab, although taken by the Amorite king." I would further add that it was land which became the tribal territory of the Tribe of Reuben when wrested from those Amorites in turn, and hence those who dwelt therein were Reubenites, not Moabites by race, although the land was to retain its designation as the Land of Moab. [Consult your Bible map showing the Old Testament allotments of each of the tribes to confirm this if you wish.] This is a most important detail to be kept in mind when we read the Book of Ruth, where she, dwelling in that land might be termed a "Moabitess" by domicile, although she would in all probability be an Israelite by genealogy, and a Reubenite by tribe. It would have been most natural for Israelite families living farther west when famine came, to make a temporary move to an area of congenial fellow Israelites, rather than to the area farther south, inhabited by alien racial Moabites.

With regard to the words "beside the covenant", the New Bible Commentary draws a connection with 4:13n, stating "The original covenant was made in Horeb but was quickly broken. Now at the end of his life, in the true spirit of the gospel, Moses calls on them to make a new beginning. The curses of the law are not the last word, for the land of promise lies ahead. In a later age, Jeremiah develops the thought of the 'new covenant' (Je. xxxi. 31-33; cf. Lk. xxii. 20)." (Luke refers to the Cup at the Last Supper.) It might not be out of place to quote the words of Jeremiah: "31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD; 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." Continuing at verse 2:

2. And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land;
3. The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles:
4. Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

Here, The Commentary says "In attributing their dullness of heart to Jehovah, Moses only adopts the mode of thought, which runs through the Old Testament, of attributing all things to Jehovah as their ultimate source. See Ex. iv. 21n. Paul reproduces these words (Romans xi. 8; cf. Mt. xiii. 14)." The Romans verse refers to God giving the spirit of slumber, while Matthew 13:14 reflects the prophecy of Esaias to the same effect. I might add a thought on those Israelites who were hearing the words of Moses. Most had not known the days of those Signs, Wonders and Plagues which The Almighty had visited upon the Egyptians, but they had known the acts of God during the subsequent years, and miracles had occurred within their own times also, so their understanding would have been obtained in part second hand, from members of the older generation who had all but passed into death during the wilderness journeyings of the past forty years but they ought to have been aware and convinced of the power of The LORD. That Moses could make the reference to them as those "not given ... an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day" therefore does speak to their lack of spiritual awareness of the greatness of the signs which God had provided in their own time. Let us now read to verse 9:

5. And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.
6. Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.
7. And when ye came unto this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us unto battle, and we smote them:
8. And we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance unto the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh.
9. Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.

I might interject that I find it noteworthy that shoes and clothes had not worn out through the years of wilderness wanderings. As it is mentioned, in context, the implication is that this was a miraculous provision for the people. The New Bible Commentary continues with the words in verse 5 "I have led you" noting a connection to Chapter 8:2-4, and then says "These words are repeated by Amos (ii. 10). The desert discipline was the pathway to the knowledge of the Lord (6), which is the supreme good."

We shall leave the remainder of the chapter for consideration on the next Study.

27 January, 2002

DEUTERONOMY 29: 10-29

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies on the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is steadily drawing His Creation towards the perfection of His Kingdom reveals that this plan centres upon the formation of one selected line of people chronicled in The Scriptural Record, which descends through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thence through the whole history of the nation of Israel, and therein to provide, in the person of Jesus Christ, the focal point of His mighty purpose. This series has brought us from the call of Abram in Genesis 12, down to today's study which moves to the second portion of Deuteronomy 29.

In a previous Study, in Deuteronomy 28, we had seen the splendour of the glorious blessing which would come upon the righteous nation of Israel, but afterwards we had seen how Israel's deviance from God's Laws would result in many grievous Curses descending upon the people. We had then moved to the next two chapters, Chapters 29 and 30, which form what some commentaries term Moses' Third Discourse, and in the 29th chapter, we had come down to the end of verse 9. Today we continue with the chapter from the tenth verse.

You might wish to have your Bibles open to that 29th Chapter of Deuteronomy, and follow as we read today's Bible Study Scripture, the better to understand the comments based thereon. Keil and Delitzsch note that at verses 10-15 there is a summons to the Israelites "to enter inwardly, to make the covenant an affair of the heart and life." We shall interleaf quotations out of The New Bible Commentary as we read:

10. Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel,
11. Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water:
12. That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day:
13. That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
14. Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;
15. But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:

The Companion Bible notes that all three Patriarchs are named at verse 13. The New Bible Commentary, speaking from verse 10 and following, states: "'All of you' (10). The covenant of grace is all-embracing, from heads and elders (xix. 12n.) to little children and the menial slaves. Cf. Acts ii. 21. [That verse reads: "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."] 'Enter into covenant' (12). See Gn. xvii. 7, 8...." [That passage states: "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.] The Commentary continues: "...'Also with him that is not here ... this day' (15). That is, their posterity. 'Their abominations, and their idols' (17). See vii. 25n. Lit. 'detestable things (see Je. xvi. 18) and idol-blocks'. Moses speaks of the idols with contempt and derision." Jeremiah 16:18 says "And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things."

16. (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by;
17. And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:)
18. Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;

"In Heb. xii. 15 [which says: "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."] the writer may refer to verse 18, quoting from the Alexandrine version of the LXX."

19. And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:

"'I shall have peace' (19). The idolater knows the curse, but thinks he can sin with impunity. 'To add drunkenness to thirst (19). 'To destroy the moist with the dry' (RV). This appears to be a proverbial expression, meaning that none shall escape. It should then be read with what follows as Moses' comment upon their folly."

20. The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.
21. And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law:

"'Written in this book of the law' (21). See xxviii. 61n. [That verse 61 reads "Also every sickness, and every plague which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed."] The curses are not only a warning, but recorded as a testimony to the sure judgment of God upon those who despise His Word. (Cf. Heb. x. 29.)"

22. So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it;
23. And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:
24. Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?
25. Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:
26. For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:

'Admah, and Zeboim' (23). The destruction of the cities of the plain became a standing illustration of divine judgment. This verse is alluded to by Hosea (xi. 8), whose prophecy shows acquaintance with Deuteronomy. 'Gods whom they knew not' (26). See vi. 14n., [which says "Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you."] and xi. 28n. [which says "And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known."] Moses sometimes treats the heathen gods as quasi-realities, and at other times with scorn as vanities. According to heathen ideas each race had its gods, which they looked upon as almost a tribal possession. Hence even the heathen would judge it wrong for Israel to forsake Jehovah to worship gods of another nation., 'whom they knew not'.

27. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:
28. And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.
29. The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

'The secret things belong unto the Lord' (29). The chapter closes with a call to lay to heart the things plainly revealed, the covenant and its blessings, and to leave the rest to God; a wise and practical counsel."

The Companion Bible, at verse 29 would give a different translation from the Hebrew. Noting that the italics of the AV denote an interpolation placed by the translators who were not sure of the meaning, that reference gives the opinion that the words in italics should be dropped, thus rendering a translation thus "The secret things, even the revealed things, [belong] to us and our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law; i.e. the revealed things, and the secret things which have not been, but will yet be revealed." I place both opinions before the hearer, without expressing a preference.

We shall conclude by, once again, reminding our listeners that we, of the British-Israel-World Federation assert with evidence, that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today form the vast bulk of the literal genealogical descendants of the ancient Tribes of Israel, and thus have particular reasons for investigating these Old Testament verities and laws dictated by God through Moses so long ago.

3 February, 2002

DEUTERONOMY 30: 1-20

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies on the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is steadily drawing His Creation towards the perfection of His Kingdom reveals that this plan centres upon the formation of one selected line of people chronicled in The Scriptural Record, which descends through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thence through the whole history of the nation of Israel, and therein to provide, in the person of Jesus Christ, the focal point of His mighty purpose. This series has brought us from the call of Abram in Genesis 12, down to today's study which moves to the portion of Scripture found in Deuteronomy 30.

Deuteronomy 28, has shown us glorious blessing which would come upon the righteous nation of Israel, but Israel's deviance from God's Laws would result in many grievous Curses upon them. The next two chapters, 29 and 30, form what some commentaries term Moses' Third Discourse, and we had considered the first of these on the last Bible Study. Today we continue with Chapter 30.

You might wish to have your Bibles open to that 30th Chapter as we read today's Scripture.

Introducing this second portion of the Third Discourse, The New Bible Commentary uses the sub-heading "The way open to repentance (xxx. 1-14)" and goes on to say this: "Moses, knowing the sinfulness of human nature and its inevitable consequence, issues a call to repentance which is closely bound up with the covenant for the title 'the Lord thy God' is used no less than twelve times in verses 1-10. He emphasizes the nearness of God's word, and the simplicity of faith. We shall consult further of this reference after verse 14.

Keil and Delitzsch indicate right at the start of this chapter the fact that the rejection of Israel and its dispersion among the heathen were not to be the close. If the people should return to the Lord their God in their exile, He would turn His favour towards them again, and gather them again out of their dispersion ... where the extremity of their distress would bring the people to reflection and induce them to return. We shall interleaf quotations out of various Commentaries and related notes as we read:

1. And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
2. And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
3. That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.

The Companion Bible notes of the words in verse 3, "turn thy captivity" that they are an Hebrew idiom, meaning "relief from any trouble", while "nations = peoples." Keil and Delitzsch note that allusion to the blessing here "may be explained on the grounds that Moses was surveying the future generally, in which not only a curse but a blessing also would come upon the nation, according to its attitude towards the Lord as a whole and in its several members, since even in times of the greatest apostasy on the part of the nation there would always be a holy seed which could not die out; because otherwise the nation would have been utterly and for ever rejected, whereby the promise of God would have been brought to nought, - a result which was absolutely impossible."

On the basis that Palestine could not contain the numbers promised to a regenerated fleshly Israel as described, and totally ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Israel's descendants are not found among the Jewish line of descent at all, The Commentary is thus reduced to a typical re-interpretation of God's promises in the emergence of "spiritual Israel." We, of the British-Israel-World Federation see God's literal outworking of His Word in both flesh and spirit as simultaneously mandated to the same people because any re-interpretation involving only a "spiritual" substitute makes God essentially into a liar to the Patriarchs. We often find those who lack our insights, reduced to such substitutions when seeking to avoid a more obvious dilemma. See Jeremiah 31:31-37 for proof of our contention, which states clearly that the New Covenant is to be written on the hearts of the literal fleshly descendants of their Israelite fathers who had received the Old Covenant at Sinai..

4. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
5. And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
6. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
7. And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
8. And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
9. And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
10. If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
11. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
12. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
13. Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
14. But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
15. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

Of those words "life and good, and death and evil", The Companion Bible notes "put for the good things which end in life, and evil things which end in death. Cp. Amos 5.14.

The New Bible Commentary notes on the passage are most useful. It states: "Return (2). See 'return' in verse 3. Verses 2, 3 are quoted by Nehemiah (i. 9). The return from Babylon began under Zerubbabel, and Zechariah prophesied a further fulfilment. (ii. 6, 7). With all thine heart (2). A threefold appeal (2, 6, 10). Gather thee from all the nations (3). See iv. 27n. Christ, in announcing His second advent, united this with other prophecies and promises of the old covenant (Mk. xiii. 26, 27). The Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart (6). Jehovah will do for His repentant people what before they were bidden to do themselves (x. 16). The evangelical note grows clearer as he proceeds. (Cf. Rom. ii. 24-29.) Written in this book of the law (10). These are not the 'secret things' (xxix. 29), but those that are 'revealed'. Moses calls them the 'voice of the Lord' (8), as clear a claim to divine inspiration as could be made. We need not therefore hesitate to speak of this book as the Word of God. (Cf. Mk. vii. 13.) This day (11). See iv. 40n., xxvi. 16n. This note of immediacy occurs more than sixty times in Deuteronomy. Cf. Heb. iii, iv. It is not hidden from thee (11). 'It is not too hard for thee' (RV). Verses 11-14 should be carefully compared with Rom. x. 5-8, where Paul expounds them of Christ, the incarnate Word. Moses states that the word did not remain in heaven where men could not reach (12), but that God had come down (cf. Ex. iii. 8) to their level in simple speech. Beyond the sea (13). As the word was not above them, so it was not beyond their horizon over the western sea. Paul slightly varies the metaphor to suite his purpose; but the meaning of inaccessibility is the same. But the word is very nigh unto thee ... in thy heart (14). The appeal to the 'heart' (i.e. man's inmost nature) is a marked characteristic of Deuteronomy (the word occurs forty-four times). It is the heart that matters (Mt. xv. 18), and when that is right with God, obedience follows. See iv. 29n.

16. In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
17. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
18. I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
19. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
20. That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

At verse 18, The Companion Bible notes of "denounce = declare" and the words of verse 19 "to record = to witness." Also, the words of verse 20 "in the land = on the soil."

The New Bible Commentary continues its contribution to our understanding of this chapter using the words "The choice between life and death (xxx. 15-20)" to introduce the following thoughts: "Over Jordan (18). As the end approaches, Moses' references to the crossing of the river grow more frequent. (Cf. xxxi. 2, 13, xxxii. 47.) I call heaven and earth (19). Cf. iv. 26 and Is. i. 2. Therefore choose life (19). The door is still open. To Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob (20). See i. 8n. We shall continue these Studies next week.

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