Welcome to Expound, our verse-by-verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Deuteronomy? Fifth book in the Bible from the beginning, Deuteronomy, chapter 29. Let's pause, and let's pray together. And we'll get started.
Father, these are my brothers and sisters, but these are your sheep. They're your people. You bought us with your blood and so, Lord, we delight in the fact that you own us, that you want to control our every move and impulse. But, Father, we also realize that we are us, that we are flesh. And we do struggle. And we do so every single day. The flesh wars against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.
Nonetheless, Lord, you love us with an everlasting love. And in that, we rest. We rest, Lord, though we are reading about the older testament, the older covenant. We rejoice that we are not under that. Certain principles still apply, but we are under a new covenant that you have made not predicated upon what we can do but predicated upon what Jesus has already done for us. So, Lord, that gives us great rest, great peace, great joy because of your great grace.
Reveal to us, Lord, what are those eternal principles as we examined a period of history where another group of people-- still your people-- needed to be encouraged for a difficult task ahead of them. Help us to enter into that scene overlooking the Jordan River on the plains overlooking a land that would soon be theirs. Lord, banish distractions during this time as we focus upon this setting and these principles. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Back in the 1700s, when George Whitfield was preaching, a young man came to faith in Christ through his preaching. His name was Robert Robinson, very talented young man. And at the age of 23, Robert Robinson wrote a song to celebrate his conversion, to give thanks for the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing him from his sin.
The words of that song you're familiar with. "Come thou fount of every blessing. Tune my heart to sing thy grace. Streams of mercy never ending." You know the song.
It was a great, great celebration of praise, an anthem written by a 23-year-old worship leader, at the time, giving praise for what God had done in his life. He was at that fount. He had been blessed. He had been cleansed.
But as years went on, Robert Robinson moved away from the intimacy he enjoyed with his Savior. He fell into a dismal state, a backslidden state. And one day, when he was riding the stagecoach, which was the public transportation of his time and era, sitting next to him in that stagecoach was a young lady who was reading a book. He didn't know what she was reading, but she was reading the words of the song he had written.
And her heart, as she was reading it, was so filled and overflowing with what she read that she had to share it with someone. And she turned to him and just said to everybody in the car, oh, listen to how beautiful this stanza of this worship song I'm reading. Listen to what it says. And so she quoted, "prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love."
And she said, isn't that just beautiful? Tears started welling up in the eyes of Robert Robertson. And he said, Madam, I am the poor, unhappy soul that wrote those words many years ago, and I would give 10,000 worlds if I had them to enjoy the feelings I once had.
He had wandered away. He was prone to wander. He was feeling what that was like in that moment.
We have discovered in our study of Deuteronomy last time, and will again this time, that the Lord knew how prone his people were to wander. He knew that just like the generation before them, this new generation would have their own bent, their own proclivities, their own being prone to wander. He anticipated it, and he predicted it.
And their wanderings would end up to be far worse than the previous generation's wanderings. Except they had wandered 40 years in the desert. That's pretty substantial. Talk about being prone to wander.
But why were they wandering? Why were they in the desert that long? Well, there was a very important moment of decision that they had to make. And in that decision, that decision actually was a hinge, a fulcrum, that consigned an entire generation because of that choice to wander through the desert and suffer the consequences for an entire generation.
Of course, I'm talking about what we have already read when we were in the book of Numbers-- how many millennia ago that was. Last time, we were in the book of Numbers. In chapter 13 and 14, we discovered the children of Israel perched at Kadesh-Barnea, the gateway to the Promised Land. They had sent in 12 spies.
The 12 spies came back. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb, said, let's go for it. The Lord has given us the land. But 10 of them said, no, the giants are big, and we'll never make it, and we're dead meat. You know the story.
So that fear spread. And on that day, they decided, we're not going in. And God said, all right. Then you're not going in for 40 years. In fact, all of this generation 20 years old and above will die in the wilderness while the younger generation-- that the older generation said they were worried about-- God said, I'll protect them. And they, those young bucks and buckesses, those young kids, they're going to get the land. They're going to enjoy it.
Well, years have gone by, and that new generation is now at the land. But they, too, have a choice. They, too, are given the choice of God's covenant with them. Will they abide under the covenant, the agreement, that God is making with them or not?
That is the setting we find ourselves here in Deuteronomy, chapter 29. It is the third speech of Moses. Moses, you remember, is 120 years young. And good old Mo knows that he won't go into the promised land. He can only look at it. But this group will go in, so he gives a series of speeches. That is the book of Deuteronomy. This is the third speech.
Some believe there were four speeches. Whatever you're into. I just see it as the third speech that Moses gives on the plains of Moab. Verse 1, chapter 29, "these are the words--" by the way, that is exactly how Deuteronomy begins. Right? Deuteronomy 1:1, "These are the words."
And so this marks, like the beginning of the book and like another portion of the book, the third portion, the third speech given by Moses. "These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab besides the covenant which he made with them at Horeb." Now let me just explain that briefly.
Horeb was the mountain range where Mount Sinai was. He's speaking of the covenant that God made with them when Moses and the generation before them was perched at Mount Sinai for that one year. He received the law. Now this is sort of an addendum to it, not really an addition, but a reiteration, a recapitulation.
So let me just help you understand what we're looking at. This is a summary of a summary. I know that may not help you, but think of Deuteronomy as a summary of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. That's the summary. He summarizes that experience and those principles for the new generation.
This is the summary of Deuteronomy. Summary of the summary. "Now Moses called all Israel and said to them, 'You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all of his servants, and to all his land, the great trials, which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.'"
Now let's consider for a moment what he just said here. This is a new generation. The old generation has passed away. Yet he says to them, your eyes have seen what God did to Pharaoh and what happened in the miracles through the wilderness. And it's true. Some of them had.
Now most of them had been born in the desert, not in Egypt. But some of them had been in Egypt and were there during the exodus. Remember what God said, everyone 20 years old and below will see the land. Everyone 20 years old and above will die in the wilderness, which would mean that when they were at Kadish-Barnea, when they sent the 12 spies out, that there were some 20-year-olds that survived and have grown up through the wilderness and are there that day. Which means, since they were at Kadish-Barnea for two years after the exodus, that means that the time of the exodus itself, leaving Egypt, some of them were 18 years old.
So if you're 18, you're sort of an older teenager at that time. You remember what it was to see the Red Sea open. You remember the incredible signs and wonders of the Passover et cetera that brought the children of Israel-- you included-- out and the impact that would make that person.
They saw the signs of the glory of God, the Shekina glory of God, that pillar of God leading them through the wilderness. Some of them remember the signs of the manna appearing every day in the wilderness. They could just pick it up.
They remember the water that would come out of the rock. Incredible signs and wonders that they had seen. All of them had seen some of them, but a few of them had seen all of these that is mentioned here.
So this generation, the ones that survived, the older ones are between age 39 and in the upper 50s, almost 60 years old. Because remember, it was 20 years old and below that survived. So they have grown up. Some of their little kids have been born and raised in the desert. But they themselves would have remembered the exodus and the trial at Kadish-Barnea.
So your eyes have seen them. And these great trials, again, verse three. "But your eyes have seen the signs and those great wonders."
How cool would it have been to hang out with Jesus and see the signs and wonders which he did? I don't know a Christian-- I've never met a Christian who hasn't said something like, man, that would have been so cool. It would have been so awesome.
What would it have been like to watch this guy that, to you, would be just a guy at first? But then, he does these incredible tricks with fish and bread and a few other things that you start thinking, this is no ordinary person. Who am I dealing with?
What would it have been like for you-- after a period of time after studying Jesus and seeing signs and wonders-- what would it have been like for you to discover, I've been hanging out with God. How would you describe that?
Well, you would probably describe it like the apostle John described it in 1 John chapter 1, verse 1. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which our eyes have studied, gazed steadfastly upon, which our hands have handled concerning the word of life." That's how you would have stated it. Just, man, we were there. We heard. We saw. And now we declare this unto you. 1 John chapter 1, verse 1 and 2.
For John and the apostles, it wasn't some second-hand information. It was first-hand participation. They were there. They heard it. They saw it.
Peter said the same thing. 2 Peter, chapter 1. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. But we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
I'm encouraging you to have that kind of encounter with the Lord if you haven't already. For some people, it's just second-hand information. They've heard about it. For other people, it is first-hand participation. It's a real encounter that you have had with the Lord himself. You have personally received him. He has changed your life, your way of thinking, your way of living. So it's good to think back and to remember how the Lord has brought us through that.
And by the way, you can tell when somebody has had that encounter. You don't have to talk to them long. You talk to somebody, and you can tell if they talk about their Lord and walking with the Lord or if it's just sort of this, well, you know, the good Lord or the big guy upstairs. Or they talk about their church or their church experience, but they have a hard time talking about their Lord, and their Savior, and what the Lord is doing in their life, and what God is speaking to them. Because God isn't speaking to them. And the Lord really isn't doing anything because they're just not in that place yet.
And you can tell if it's personal or if it's just second-hand information. So Moses is saying, hey, you guys were there. It is first-hand, experiential, relational knowledge you've had with the Lord. Remember that. Your eyes have seen it.
Yet verse 4-- interesting verse, intriguing really. "Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear to this very day." It is possible to have an experience and yet not allow that experience to leave a lasting impression upon you.
I just mentioned the perfect example. Some of the children of Israel had seen the miracles of the Red Sea, had seen the miracles that happened in Egypt. And yet, they wouldn't go in the land. They wouldn't trust God to, at Kadish-Barnea, take the land because there's giants and stuff. And anybody with a logical mind would think, if God can open up a Red Sea and kill an Egyptian army, he can take care of the small stuff in Canaan. But they were overcome with fear.
So it didn't make a lasting impression. Yes, you saw it. But the Lord didn't give you the heart to perceive it.
Do you remember Jesus would speak, and then he would often say this to his disciples, whoever has ears to hear let him hear, which indicates to me that not everyone really heard the message. Isn't it amazing how two people can sit side-by-side, and one of them can get the message and the other, they don't even have a clue. It doesn't even penetrate. It doesn't move them.
With one person, the spirit of God works actively, intrinsically, internally, in reality. With the other person, it's just sort of like, yeah, we kind of hung out in church. And that guy said stuff. But what? It's amazing how you can get two different experiences when it's the same experience. But it depends on the condition of the heart. "Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."
"And I led you--" verse 5-- "I have led you 40 years in the wilderness." I've always loved this verse. It's been mentioned before. "Your clothes have not worn out on you and your sandals have not worn out on your feet." How cool would it be to have a set of clothes and a pair of shoes that last 40 years. Not very cool for a lot of people.
I've seen some gals going, oh man, that is like hell. Are you kidding? But for men, this is heaven. They're out there in the wilderness. And she says, honey, I need a new dress. No, this looks as good as the day you bought it. And you don't need a new pair of shoes because look at the tread on those babies.
But that was one of the miracles of the wilderness. That set of clothes didn't wear out. The sandals didn't wear out on their feet.
So what is old Mo doing? He's getting them to look back at the provision of God. Have you ever just paused in your quiet time in the morning-- whenever you have it-- just to think back at what you've come through and where you are today? And what have you lacked? Now think back to the time you were worried that you might lack something. Oh yes, there were things you wanted that you didn't get, but the Lord always promised to take care of your needs not your greeds.
And so there were things you wanted that you didn't get. And there were times and you thought, I'm not going to make it through this. This is just too incredibly hard. But here you are today remembering.
David said, I never seen the righteous forsaking nor God's people begging for bread. No matter what we've been through, we've been through it. We're at the other end of it. Some of us may be in the middle of it right now, but one day, you'll be on the other side remembering this moment. And it'll be part of your testimony.
But it's good to remember. We've talked about this before. He tells them, remember, don't forget and keeps pointing back. And they will keep doing that forever. You know that, right? The Jews always look back to the deliverance from Egypt. To this day, at Passover, they recall what happened with their forefathers in being delivered from Egypt.
So it's always tapping upon the memory to recall what God has done. It's a very important principle. When your mind becomes forgetful, your heart becomes ungrateful. So engage the mind.
Stop sometime, and just evaluate, and think back where you've come from, what the Lord has done up to this point. So then, it turns you into a thankful person, returning thanks and praise to God. Your worship experiences in church won't be this unless you're forgetful.
When you're not forgetful, but you're grateful, it will be an experience like, the Lord has done it again. He's brought me through, and I'm in this place.
"You have not eaten bread--" verse 6-- "nor have you drunk wine or similar drink that you may know that I am the Lord your God." You weren't able to plant vineyards. You weren't able to plant grain. You weren't able. You were on the move. You were a Bedouin society. You were a nomadic culture.
You're about to enter into your land. And you'll plant vineyards et cetera, but the Lord took care of you during that time.
"And when you came to this place--" now this place is that place. It's where they were that day. They were on the eastern side of the Jordan River. If you have a Bible map and you look just north of the Dead Sea, on your right-hand side of that page, looking toward the left, that's where they were perched and looking that day. So they were there in that place.
And on the eastern side of the Jordan River, there were two kings. He mentions them again. "Sihon, the king of Heshbon, and Og, the king of Bashan, came out against us to battle, and we conquered them. We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenite, the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh."
So you remember two and half tribes wanted to settle east. The eastern part of the Jordan River-- Jordan River is below sea level. It rises up to a plateau, and there are some beautiful pasture lands. If you get up to northern Israel to the Golan Heights and it's lush and green, you start understanding why a couple of those tribes wanted to just stay there and hang out there.
But that was occupied by two kings. Sihon was a king-- and this is really poetic justice-- who stole that land, the land of Moab, from the Moabites. From the Arnon River to the Jabbok River, he stole it. So now, the Lord says-- you know, poetic justice-- I'm getting it from you and giving it to my people.
Og was an Amorite king who also controlled a piece of the eastern side of the Jordan River. And it's interesting about that King Og-- talk about king and king-sized-- he had a bed that was nine cubits long. A cubit is 18 inches, so 13 and a half feet long was the bed that he slept in. Talk about a king-sized bed. That a big bed.
Now it could be that he himself was a tall man. Or it could be that he just wanted a big bed. You know? It's like sometimes the shortest people drive the tallest trucks. So I don't know what's up with Og, if he was really king-sized himself or if he had a short man's complex and he wanted a big bed. Couldn't tell you that.
"Therefore--" verse 9-- "keep the words of this covenant, and do them that you may prosper in all that you do." You get the correlation? Do you want to prosper in all that you do? Then keep the Lord's commands. Very simple.
But here's what I want you to note. Please take note of certain words in the Bible. Don't just read over them and pass them by. Stop and analyze and ask, why is that there?
Notice the word "therefore." And you know the principle. Every time I teach you this, I say it again because I wanted to be firmly fixed in your mind. Wherever there is a "therefore" find out what it's there for.
He is making a point based upon a past action or activity. That's what "therefore" means. That's why you use the word. You wouldn't just walk up to somebody and say-- having never met them before-- therefore and start saying something. You have to use that word if you have done or said something. Because you are basing the principle upon something that went before the word "therefore."
So what I want you to see is that the Lord is not calling them to blind faith. Just do what I say, and just believe in me, and just do this. He's telling them to do this based upon what he has done for them. Because I've done this for you, therefore, if you want to prosper, then obey me. You see how that works?
Now in the New Testament, Jesus Christ came out of heaven, came to this earth, went to a cross, took the penalty for my sin and your sin. He did that. And then I would say, therefore, he is the safest person for you to commit your life to. It's the safest and best. It's the smartest decision you could ever make.
And that's how Paul thinks in the book of Romans when he spends 11 chapters talking about what God has done. Then he begins chapter 12, "therefore, brethren, I beseech you, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies to God holy acceptable, which is your reasonable service." It's the smartest, wisest thing you can do. It's reasonable to commit to God, who has already committed to you.
Now let me ask you that question. Are you willing to commit your life to the God who has already committed to you. He's committed to you. He's totally committed. He is all in. He came here and died for you. He's all in. He's committed to you.
Are you willing to commit yourself to the one who is already committed to you? So he's not just telling them to do stuff. He's saying, because of what God has done for you, and because of where God is taking you, therefore, keep the words of this covenant and do them that you may prosper in all that you do.
"All of you stand today before the Lord your God." Now they're there before Moses. But Moses is saying, no, you're really standing before the Lord. You're entering into this covenant. "Your leaders, and your tribes, and your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones, and your wives, also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water, that you may enter into a covenant with the Lord your God and into his oath, which the Lord your God makes with you today. That he may establish you today as a people for himself. That he may be God to you just as he has spoken to you and just as he is sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
Notice the repetition three times in that paragraph of the word "today," "today," "today." There is something to that word. Whenever God is entering into a covenant with people, he will say, now that you know this, do something about it now, today. The book of Hebrews says, today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion-- pointing back to the Old Testament. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 6, now is the accepted time. Behold, today is the day of salvation. So do it today. Don't wait. Enter into it today.
Oh well, I'm too busy today, maybe tomorrow. You're only guaranteed today. You have now. And while you have today, do it that he may establish you as a people for himself.
Verse 14. "I make this covenant and this oath not with you alone, but with him who stands here with us today before the Lord our God as well as with him who is not here with us today." Those who are present and those who will come later on when you enter into the land and have wives and husbands and babies et cetera. "For you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through the nations which you passed by. And you saw their abominations and idols, which were among them wood, and stone, and silver, and gold."
Please notice how God describes other religious systems. Not as nice as our politically correct culture would want you to describe other religious systems. Well, there's different ways of believing, and everybody has their own religion, their own god. It's interesting that God-- and he has the right to say this-- "when you saw their abominations." That's what he calls them.
And their idols. Now why would God say that? Because it's true. If God is God and if there is only one true and living god, it then follows that by necessity every other God is a false and dead god, made up by people's minds, made up over time or in the midst of time, superstitions that people follow. But there is one true God. He's revealed himself dramatically, unmistakably.
"So that--" let's continue the thought. Sorry I keep interrupting it, but some of this just needs to be massaged and explained so we get it. "So that there may not be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of these nations and that there be not among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood."
Wormwood was actually a plant that grew in the Middle East. It exudes a dark green very strong pungent oil. The Greek word-- the Septuagint, the Hebrew translated into the Greek language was the Septuagint version, thus the Greek word in this text is "apsinthtas." And the term absinthe, which-- if you're familiar with pharmacology, you know what absinthe is comes-- from this idea of wormwood. So the meaning behind this odd-sounding Hebrew principle is that the poison that starts in the root system can spread to the whole organism.
You can be poisoned in idolatry, the toleration in your own life of certain activities. When you sow certain seeds, you make certain choices, evil choices. You're planning a seed that's going to grow. Because the Bible says, you will reap what you sow. That's a biblical principle. You will always reap what you sow in some regard.
If you sow to the flesh, you will reap corruption. If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap everlasting life. So you always reap what you sow.
If you plant a seed that is a bad seed, it can grow up. And sometimes, it can be an activity where it takes over. You lose control. You don't have the control over it you once had. It takes over your life. It alters your life.
You will leave the practice of it. You'll say, I'll never do it again. I'll never, never do it again. And then, you'll do it again. And you'll keep saying thousands of times, I'll never do it again. So the importance of planting the right kind of seed in the soil of your heart lest it grow and become like bitter wormwood that would infect the entire plant.
The New Testament principle that correlates with this-- you're familiar with-- a little leaven leavens a whole lump. Exactly. Verse 19. "And so, it may not happen when he hears the words of this curse that he blesses himself in his heart saying, I shall have peace even though I follow the dictates of my heart, as though the drunkard could be included with the sober."
Boy, I would love to just do a sermon on that verse. There is so much in that verse. He is warning of the person who hears these admonitions that Moses is giving that day but immediately, as he's preaching that message, begins to marginalize in his head, starts thinking in his heart, saying, oh well, yes, these are truths that apply to everybody else. But there must be some exemption for me.
And so he hears Moses say these things. And he goes, oh yeah, right. Keep the law. Well, that's just legalism, man.
You know there's so many ways. We have an infinite capacity to rationalize our behavior. We have so many excuses. And we're so good at pulling them out.
And Moses is warning. God is warning through Moses. Some of you, in hearing this, may immediately rationalize and think, oh, this doesn't apply to me. And I can do whatever I want to do. Well, there was a group, a generation, that will do whatever they want to do. It says in the book of Judges, "and every man did what was right in his own eyes."
So the future generations are going to blow it even worse than the previous generations because they thought this precisely. And so many people hear sermons, hear messages, come to church, and they hear it, but immediately go, well, OK that's good stuff. But I'm going to do whatever I want to do no matter what. I'm going to see what I want to see. I'm going to drink what I want to drink. I'm going to smoke what I want to smoke. I'm going to hang out with whoever I want to hang out with because nobody can't tell me what to do. That's legalistic.
OK. You want to live that way? You want to think that? You want to do that? Stay tuned.
"As though the drunkard could be included with the sober." You're just punch drunk with bad thinking, bad theology. "The Lord would not spare him, for the anger of the Lord and his jealousy would burn against that man. And every curse that is written in this book would settle on him. And the Lord would blot out his name from under heaven. And the Lord would separate him from all the tribes of Israel for adversity according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in the book of this law."
I won't turn to it, but I commend to you, when you go home tonight or tomorrow morning, read Judges, chapter 2. You get described there what is called the sin cycle. The sin cycle is when God's people in years to come would rebel against God, go their own way. God would send a group of people or a nation to come and bring them into bondage. They would be oppressed by them and cry out to God in repentance. And then, God would send-- number four-- a deliverer. And then the cycle would start all over again, all over again, all over again.
They're all happy, and they're back in the land. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. I'm going to church now, God. Here I am. I'm worshipping you. And then, pretty soon they start getting a little bit antsy. The sin cycle continues through the book of Judges as every person does what is right in his own eyes.
"So that the coming generation--" verse 22-- "of your children who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a far land would say when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses which the Lord laid on it, the whole land is brimstone." This is what they're saying. "The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning. It is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there." That rhymes even.
"Like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and his wrath. And the nations would say, 'Why has the Lord done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?' Then the people would say, 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that he had not given to them.' Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against this land to bring on it every curse that is written in this book."
Now back in verse 23, there is the mention of salt on the land, brimstone and salt. Very interesting. We talked last week about the prediction made in the previous chapter that God made of the Babylonian captivity and also of the Roman occupation. And here, I see a hint at least that comes to my mind of the Roman occupation, which happened during the New Testament times. OK?
The Romans occupied the land. They were the oppressors during the time of Jesus. The Roman government was in charge.
In 70 AD, the Roman armies under Titus Vespasian came in and circled Jerusalem just as Jesus predicted. Burned the temple, leveled Jerusalem, especially the temple area. Killed about a half a million Jewish people. Killed them and just brought devastation. Not one stone was left upon another of the temple, as Jesus predicted. That was 70 AD.
A few years after that-- and that's sort of where people stop in their history thinking. But they need to go further because a few years after that, a rebellion broke out among the Jewish brethren under somebody who claimed to be the Messiah. Not Jesus. After Jesus had died, been raised, and ascended into heaven, around 130, 132, 135 AD, was a guy by the name of Bar Kokhba.
And the Bar Kokhba revolt-- and that's where people went down to Massada-- I mentioned that last time-- against the Romans. So when the Bar Kokhba revolt-- some thinking he was the Messiah-- rebelled against Rome, Rome crushed it. And the guy who came in and crushed it and ruled Jerusalem was the Roman emperor named Hadrian, 135 AD.
Hadrian leveled whatever was left of the city, made the temple not just a bunch of ruins, but built an altar to Jupiter, renamed the city Aelia Capitolina, and put two streets in it that you can see to this day-- the Cardo Maximum and the Decumanus. I'm not going to even go there, but we'll show you when we're in Jerusalem in a couple weeks, those who are going. So Hadrian, once he decided to do that, he killed about 600,000 more Jews. 600,000.
He salted the farmlands around Jerusalem so that they could not bear anything for generations. Ruined it. And that is when the Jewish nation ceased to exist until May 14, 1948, when the nation was reborn, as the prophets predicted, in a day, in a day. And the UN sanctioned it as the land of Israel. So from Hadrian to the date of May 14, 1948, there was just this dispersion of Jews all over the world. And this literally was fulfilled.
Now verse 28 and 29. Let's finish out this chapter. "And the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation and cast them into another land as it is this day." And then the chapter closes with, to me, one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I've quoted it on many occasions. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God. But those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever that we may do all the words of this law." The secret things belong to the Lord. There are certain things that God keeps to himself. And there are other things that God reveals.
Now, before you think, well, God is sort of stingy with information, let me quickly say, if he gave you all that he knows, what good would that do you? I mean, unless you think you are capable of retaining what the infinite mind of God can know and retain. But that's ludicrous.
Jesus said to his disciples in the upper room, I have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. You can't handle what I have to give you now, but you can't take it. So the Lord knows what we can take, and he gives us what-- we're on a need-to-know basis. And you couldn't, as I say, retain or contain all that God is and all that God knows.
It's like telling your 10-year-old son or daughter, go down-- if you're at the beach-- go down and take this cup and put all of the ocean into this cup. Stupid. That cup can't contain the ocean. It can contain a cupful.
You and I are the cup. God is the ocean. How can that which is finite contain that which is infinite? So God gives us what we need to know. And he's revealed a lot. I'm having trouble understanding what he has revealed. I don't need anything else.
Well, I want a new revelation from God. I don't. I want a fresh application of the old revelation. That's what I need. I need to know what he has written.
So these are the parameters and the purpose of God's revelation in that verse. The secret things belong to the Lord. By the way, God, though he hasn't given you everything he knows, he has given you enough for what you need to know. He's given you enough to be saved. And he's given you enough to be serving him.
And there are certain things that were kept secret in the Old Testament that are revealed in the New Testament. Right? Paul calls them mysteries. "Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep." He speaks of the mystery of Christ in us. He speaks of the mystery of the church, the blending of Jew and Gentile into one body of Christ, things that were kept secret in the Old Testament, but now revealed, those mysteries that are unlocked. So the Lord knows how and when to unlock the mysteries.
"Now it shall come to pass when all these things come upon you, the blessings and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you--" wouldn't you say that God is anticipating that they're going to disobey and be driven to other lands? "And you return to the Lord your God and obey his voice according to all that I command you today, you and your children with you, with all your heart and with all your soul that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there, the Lord your God will gather you and from there, he will bring you."
Now let me just touch on what I talked about last time. Remember I talked about the Palestinian covenant and that God gave them the allotment of the land of Israel unconditionally? The allotment is unconditional. This is your land unconditionally. However, the arrangement in that land is conditional. You guys disobey me, you're going to get punished by the nations around you. And I'm kicking you out of that land. I'll bring you back when you learn your lesson. I'll have compassion on you.
But your tenure in the land is conditioned upon your obedience to me. It's an unconditional and everlasting allotment, but the arrangement will vary from time to time.
"Then--" verse 5-- "the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed. And you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, that you may live. Also, the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on all those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you will again obey the voice of the Lord and do all his commandments which I command you today. Then the Lord your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good.
For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as he rejoiced over your fathers. If you obey the voice of the Lord your God to keep His commandments, his statutes, which are written in this book of the law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, for this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you nor is it far off. It is not in heaven that you should say, who will ascended into heaven for us and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it? Nor is it beyond the sea that you should say, who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it? But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it."
I love that about God. He's so simple. He's saying, don't make this too complicated. It's not some mysterious thing like I need to have some altering circumstance or I get caught up and get a vision of heaven so I'm kind of going up into heaven. Or I don't need to make a pilgrimage to a far off place. And there, I'll have a mystical experience.
He says, I'm making it simple. The word that I just shared with you, the review of the review, just keep the word in your heart and in your mouth. Rehearse it on your lips. Now Paul uses this verse in the book of Romans when he says, you don't have to go up into heaven. You don't have to go far. The word is near you so that if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved, using this principle to say, that's how easy it is for you to come to know the living God.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and you believe in your heart, you will be saved. You, at that moment, will become a child of God. You, at that moment, will have a ticket to enter heaven eventually by simply believing the truth about who Jesus Christ is.
"See, I have set before you life and good, death and evil." Interesting construction linguistically. I'd love to talk about it. Don't have time. "In that, I command you today love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, to keep his commandments, his statutes, his judgments, that you may live and multiply and the Lord your God will bless you in the land in which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear and are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I announced to you today that you shall surely perish. You shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life that both you and your descendants may live."
Fabulous section of scripture. So which is it? Are you listening? Or are you ignoring? Are you walking with him and worshipping him or are you withholding his presence? Which is it?
"I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing." Choose one or the other. Then he says, now, I'm telling you to choose life because I want you to be blessed. Remember, we talked about last week God's blessing will chase you down. God's saying, that's what I want for you. My blessings will pursue you. I'll just like work you over with my blessings. They'll come after you. But choose life.
I've heard about this interesting building somewhere in the Midwest. I read about it years ago. It's a courthouse. And it is so situated that rain falling on that pitched roof, if it falls on one side of the pitched roof, the rain will run down, make its way into the rivulets, go into the Great Lakes, and end up in the Atlantic Ocean. Rain falling on the other side of the roof will find its way into rivulets, get drained into the Ohio River, and make its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Just a breath of wind one direction or the other will make the destiny of that water worlds apart.
I set before you life and death-- worlds apart. Blessing and cursing-- worlds apart. But that fulcrum, that rooftop where the rain is falling, on which side will it fall? What will you choose? Life or death?
Christ, thus eternal life, or will you push him away and experience cursing death? You say, well, I haven't accepted Christ. I'm doing pretty good. You haven't even entered into the longest phase, called the eternal phase, yet. This is a blip on the radar screen compared to eternity. So make those choices now, today, and think about where that will lead you eternally.
"That you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice--" verse 20. "And that you may cling to him." I love that. You know, sometimes life is just-- I don't understand it. I don't understand why. I can't give you a rational explanation. It's just I can only cling. I can just grab a hold of him. It's like the woman who grabbed hold of the hem of his garment. Just like, where is it? I'm just going to touch it. [GROANS]
You know, it was not cool. It wasn't according to protocol. It got a lot of people upset. She didn't care. I'm just clinging. I'm holding on. Cling to him. Be a "cling on." Be like those little pieces of cotton, the lint, that just sort of clings to the clothes. Oh, that's on there. But God won't do this. He won't fling you away, like get rid of it. He likes you to cling to him. "For he is your life and the length of your days. And that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."
When a couple gets married, they plan for weeks, for months, sometimes for years. The wedding is the culmination of all of those plans, all of those dreams. She has the dream of being the bride in white and being swept off her feet by some handsome dude. And now it's the wedding day. It's the culmination of it all.
But it's really not the culmination is it? It's really just the beginning. Well, yes, it's the end of the planning for the wedding, but the marriage comes after the wedding. And too many people just plan for the wedding and not the marriage. So you've only just begun, as the song goes.
And so for this new generation, they were just now beginning. They would soon, in a matter of just weeks, cross over with Joshua into that land. And all that Moses said would either go in one ear and out the other or into their heart. And they would choose life, and they would be blessed in that covenant. So choose life.
Let's pray together. Father, thank you for the privilege we have had-- well, first of all, that we have-- to live in a country where there is the freedom of expression, and the freedom of religion, the freedom to believe what we want. Moreover, we feel the blessing that we have the freedom to believe what you've said, what is right, what has been revealed, not just what we want, but it's what we want based upon the reality and the truth of who you are and who you have revealed yourself to be.
Thank you for that privilege. Thank you for the privilege of being able to gather together as your people, your flock, your body, and read these sweeping chapters of history so that we might get not only an understanding, but an appreciation that would turn us into a heart of worship for all that you've done, not only for them, but for us. Lord, I want to just close by asking your blessing upon your people as they leave.
The things that they've been going through, dealing with, deciding upon, struggling over, I pray that you would give answers. I pray that you would release resources. I pray, Lord, that you would speak blessing into their lives. I pray that they will see it soon. I pray that you will heal those who are sick. I pray that you would strengthen those knees that are weak and feeble.
Then I pray, Father, for those who aren't under the new covenant yet. There under the old covenant or they're under their own assumptions or a different system of belief. But they're sensing that you are setting before them today, right now, life or death, blessing or cursing. And you would say to them, right here, right now, choose life. Choose life.
Jesus said he was of a light of this world. He's called the light of life. He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man comes to the Father except through me. I want to give you an opportunity, if you don't know Jesus personally, if you are willing to turn from the past, your old way of doing things, your old way of life. The Bible calls that repentance. You're willing to turn from that and turn to Jesus, to entrust your life into his hands based upon what he has done for you and based upon his love for you.
Whether it's for the first time or you are coming back after wandering away from him in some captivity and you need to come back home, back to the land of his blessing. If you're willing to come back and receive Christ, I want you to raise your hand right now as we close this service. Raise your hand up in the air. Keep it up, so I can see it. You're just indicating, Skip, here's my hand. Pray for me. Raise it up, so I can see it, so I can acknowledge you.
God bless you to my left. And you, again, yes, sir, to my left. Raise that hand up. Two of you in the very back. God bless you, folks. Again, in the very back. To my right. Is there anyone else. I don't want to bypass anyone. Yes, sir. God bless you. Toward the front. And you, right in the middle. Thank you, Father.
Now Lord, transform, speak life, blessing, forgiveness to these in Jesus' name. Amen. Let's stand to our feet. As we sing this final song, I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands, whether you were in the very back or toward the front or in the middle, say, excuse me, if you're in the middle of the row. Get out of your row. Walk right up here. Let me have the privilege of leading you in a prayer to receive Christ right now. Let this be that monumental time in your life.
Come all the way up to the front. Some of the counselors are coming as well.
Just kind of to show you where to come and how it's done. Love this. Love it. Yes, congratulations. That's awesome. God bless you guys. God bless you.
(SINGING) To him I freely give. I will ever love and trust in him, his praises daily live. I surrender all. I surrender all. All to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
For those of you who have come forward, I am so stoked, so thrilled, to see you standing up here right now. I commend you on the courage. And like Moses, I call heaven and earth to witness this day, this grand event. You're about to enter into eternal life. Whether you feel something wonderful or not isn't the issue. The issue is you're coming by faith and saying yes to Jesus Christ.
Because the Bible says he calls you. And the Bible says he loves you. And the Bible says he'll forgive you. So I'm going to lead you in a prayer. And I'm going to pray it out loud. I want you to pray this prayer out loud after me. Sort of like wedding vows. You say them out loud so we can all hear it. And you're asking Jesus to take control. Let's pray right now.
Say, Lord, I give you my life.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know that I'm a sinner.
I know that I'm a sinner.
Please forgive me.
Please forgive me.
I believe in Jesus Christ.
I believe in Jesus Christ.
That he died on a cross for me.
That he died on a cross for me.
That he shed his blood for my sin.
That he shed his blood for my sin.
And that he's willing to forgive me.
And that he's willing to forgive me.
I also believe he rose from the grave.
I also believe he rose from the grave.
And that he's coming again.
And that he's coming again.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I want to follow him as my Lord.
I want to follow him as my Lord.
In Jesus' name.
In Jesus' name.
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
So give it up for the Lord.
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