Deuteronomy 1-34 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight DEU01
The Bible from 30,000 feet, soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Would you turn in your Bibles to the book of Deuteronomy, please, in your Old Testament? I trust you brought a Bible, yes?
I love that. I love it when you do that. That's what we live by. It's what we stand for. Turn to the book of Deuteronomy, please. That's the book that we want to cover in our flight over the Bible this evening.
Harvard University was named after a minister of the gospel named John Harvard. It started as an institution that would train men for ministry. Likewise, Yale University was started by a Puritan clergyman, and Princeton University in New Jersey has ties to the Presbyterian Church. They have those things in common, all three institutions. In fact, the motto, the original motto for Princeton was the Latin [LATIN], which means under God she flourishes. It was all about training people to be able to preach the gospel more effectively.
Well, fast forward to the modern age, and you have in those institutions something vastly different than what they started with. They started with the right spiritual intent. You'd be lucky to find a spiritual emphasis anywhere on those campuses. They have become very secular in their reasoning, very liberal in their belief system and in their worldview.
How did it happen? Two words-- incremental change. Incremental change. Didn't happen overnight, it happened slowly over time. It was incremental change. And history demonstrates that what happened with those institutions happens with any institution, potentially, and any individual, potentially. I call it spiritual entropy. Those of you that have a science background, you're familiar with the second law of thermodynamics, which is entropy, that in a system, over time, things tend toward decay and disarray and confusion. Energy is lost.
It happens spiritually, as well. This is why the apostle Paul wrote to a young minister of the gospel named Timothy, 2 Timothy chapter 4, and he announced in the New Testament the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.
Now, all of that introductory remark is to set up the book of Deuteronomy, because Deuteronomy is Moses saying what he already said again. He is repeating himself, though in a shortened version, of the first four books of Moses, he is shortening that to one book, the book of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy is a Greek word that means the second law. [GREEK], second, or two. [GREEK], law. It is the second giving of the law. Thus, like you might expect, it covers some of the same ground of the first four, especially the previous three books of Moses that we have already covered.
There are 250 references in the book of Deuteronomy to the first four previous books of the Pentateuch. What we have essentially in Deuteronomy is Moses, at the end of his life, saying his goodbye to the children of Israel, this time a new generation. Deuteronomy is composed of three farewell speeches given over a single month in the midwinter as the children of Israel have settled on the plains of Moab overlooking the Jordan River, overlooking the valley toward Jericho before they enter the land under Joshua.
Moses is speaking this to a new generation. What happened to the old generation? They died. They kicked the bucket. Their corpses are strewn in the wilderness. They disobeyed what God had said. They lacked the faith to go in according to his promise, so their corpses were littered in the wilderness.
Thus, with the new generation-- so Moses has been the pastor of their mom and dad's generation, and now the next generation-- there is the need to reiterate some of the salient points of the law, and to review the last 38 years of their history-- 38 years, 39 years, 40 all together-- and to reinterpret the law for the new generation.
You might want to call it a briefing. Though it's not a brief book, it really is Moses giving the briefing to the new generation before they enter the land. One of the key verses that I already mentioned during our communion time is chapter 6, verse 12, which says "beware, lest you forget."
Now, why would he say that? Because he remembers their moms, their dads, their aunts, their uncles, the ones now dead forgot what God had done and lacked the faith to go ahead with the promise. He doesn't want that to happen to the new generation.
Something else. Some scholars, interestingly, have nicknamed the book of Deuteronomy the gospel of love. And that is because, unlike the other books, there is a repetition of the word love in the book of Deuteronomy some 21 times. And what he is telling them is that you need to love the Lord your God. It's not just about keeping rules and regulations, but it needs to be filled with a heart of love, a motivation of love, which will then prompt obedience.
It's a terrific book. Adam Clarke, a great commentator, said "it may be safely asserted that very few parts of the Old Testament scriptures can be read with greater profit by the genuine Christian than the book of Deuteronomy." Now, Deuteronomy will be mentioned in the Old Testament or referred to in the Old Testament, the rest of the Old Testament, 350 times. In the New Testament, it will be referred to 95 times. So about 445 times this book is pointed back to in the rest of the Bible. Did you know that Jesus will quote from the book of Deuteronomy more than any other of the books of the Torah?
Now, I said there are three farewell speeches, right? Easy to remember them. One deals with the past, one deals with the present, and one deals guess what with?
The future. That sums up the book of Deuteronomy. Chapters 1 through 3, he reviews the past. Chapters 4 through 26, regulations for the present. And chapter 27 to the end of the book, readiness for the future. So it's what God did, what God is doing through their obedience prompted by love, and what God will do for them in the future.
Another way to look at it, first part is historical, second part is legal-- the laws, the regulations-- and the third part is prophetical. Or if you prefer to be more accurate, one is historical, the second is pedagogical because it's him teaching these laws to them, and the third is prophetical. Whichever word you prefer.
Let's begin with chapter 1, verse 1. He begins by reviewing their past. This is what God has done. It's the historical portion. Verse 1, "these are the words--" let's stop right there, if you don't mind. The name of the book is?
Deuteronomy. If this were a Hebrew Bible, the name of the book would be [HEBREW] or [HEBREW]. And that means the words. Because it's interesting, the Hebrew Bible names the books after the first few words of the book. And because notice verse 1, "these are the words," the name of the book is called The Words, or These Words, [HEBREW].
"These are the words which Moses spoke to all of Israel on this side--" that is, the east side-- "of the Jordan, in the wilderness, in the plain opposite Suph, between Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. It is 11 days' journey from Horeb--" that's the mountain where Sinai is-- "by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea," that entrance point of the new land. "Now it came to pass in the 40th year, in the 11th month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him as commandments to them."
And once again, I mentioned this last week, but here we look at the text, verse 2, how long was it supposed to take from Mount Sinai, Horeb, to the promised land?
11 days. They managed to turn an 11-day march into a 40-year meander. Right? They went from walking to wandering to whining to wailing. That sort of captures their history. Now, distances in the Middle East in ancient times were not measured by miles or kilometers. They were measured by hours or days. Now, if you're a Californian, you get this, because when I was in California, people said, well, how long is it from here to there? We never answered the question. We'd say, oh, it's about an hour.
Now, the question, the question is, how far is it? They're thinking of miles. But there, it doesn't matter how the distance is. It matters how long it takes, because we have something there that is very, very unique to that part of a country, that's called congestion 24/7. So it just depends on when you're traveling from here to there, it could take you 20 minutes. It could take about two or three hours. It just depends on the traffic. So they would measure by hours and by days.
Now, it would take about 20 miles you could cover in a day by walking in ancient times. That's how they would reckon a journey, 20 miles a day by foot. If you were to do it by camel, you could cover about 30 miles. If you were to go by caravan, split the difference, you could cover about 25 miles. So it's measured that way.
Remember in the book of Jonah? Jonah gets to Ninevah. And it says Ninevah was an exceedingly great city, about three days' journey in extent. Because that's how long it would take to cover it by foot. So the children of Israel are out wandering, walking, and moving at a slow rate.
Verse 6, Moses continues. "The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying, you have dwelt long enough at this mountain." Horeb is the mountain range. one of the mountain peaks of the Horeb range is Mount Sinai. I love that God says, you've been here long enough. Don't you love it when God says that? You've been here long enough.
And sometimes God may say that to you. You've been here long enough. It's time for you to move on. It's time for you to pick up and move to a new place in your life and stir things up and get out of your comfort zone. He says that to them. They had been at Mt. Sinai.
Verse 7-- "Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains, in the lowland, in the South, on the seacoast, to the Canaanites and to Lebanon"-- that's far north-- "as far as the great river, the river Euphrates." He's telling them the land that he has marked out for them to inherit.
If you were to get a map and a pencil and a little ruler and figure it all out, you'd discover that originally, God promised the children of Israel a significant landmass of 300,000 square miles. That's what God said he would give to them. The condition was they had to walk and take and possess the land God promised to them, right? That was always the condition. It's yours, but you got to walk through it and lay claim to it.
At their very pinnacle of their history, under King David and King Solomon, when the kingdom was expanded, and they became very strong, at their best, at the utmost, at the highest, Israel only occupied 30,000 square miles. God said, this is what I'm giving you. But this is what they took. They took at their pinnacle 1/10 of all that God promised them that they could possess. Sound familiar?
God's promises must be appropriated. They do no good just lying on the pages of your Bible. Oh, you can underline them, and you can memorize them. Good for you. But you got to say, they're mine. I'm going to walk in them. I'm going to take that land.
Verse 8-- "See, I have set the land before you. Go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them and their descendants after them." I remember a story about a father who wanted to bless his son when he graduated from school. His son wanted a brand new car. Dad could afford it. But instead, Dad gave him for his graduation a Bible.
How excited do you think that boy was, a teenage boy, all excited? Not so much. He was so unexcited, he took the Bible and threw it across the room, walked out of his dad's office. Never saw his father until his father died. When his father died, he came back home. There was that Bible on the shelf. He took it out. And as he took it out, out fell a car key to the other gift that you had to open the Bible to receive. And that was the car he wanted. You had to take the sweetness of the Word to get the second gift.
God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness to the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue. Those were the words of Peter in the New Testament. All that God has for you is found in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the plan God has for your life. Be sure that you follow that plan.
Now, verse 26, he has brought up the 12 spies that enter the land. And he says, "nevertheless," verse 26, "nevertheless you would not go up"-- we read that last time, verse 34. "And the Lord heard the sound of your words, and he was angry. And he took an oath, saying, surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land of which I swore to give to their fathers."
This is all review. Moses is saying, your parents are dead. Your uncles are dead. Your aunts are dead. The old generation died, because they refused to take the promises that I had for them. "Except"-- verse 36-- "Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, he shall see it, and to him and his children, I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the Lord."
Now, we can't be sure, but I think this is a conservative estimate. About 1.2 million people of the old generation died in the wilderness, 1,200,000. Now, that would average out to be 85 funerals a day. I'm not saying that it all happened that way, that it was spaced out that way. It could have been several at once. We don't know, exactly know. but it would average out to be 85 funerals, or 7 deaths every waking hour year after year after year. You know what that would be a constant reminder of? The wages of sin is death. This is the wages of sin, every day the wages of sin, the wages of sin.
So you can see that Moses wants to review this with the young bucks before they enter the land. I don't want you to forget this very important component. The wages of sin is death.
Chapters 2 and 3, Moses reviews some of the places that they had been, the events that took place in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, armies that were defeated. And there were two kings that are constantly brought up in Israel's history that they defeated. Sihon was one of them, and Og, O-G, was the other. Og was the King of Bashan, up north.
Look at chapter 3, verse 10-- "All the cities of the plain, all Gilead, all Bashan"-- this is all east of the Galilee, up north-- "as far as Salcah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan." OK, pause there for a moment. Remember there were 2 and 1/2 of the 12 tribes that did not want to settle where God told them originally to settle, west of the Jordan River. They saw the highlands up north, the grass fields, great pasture lands for their flocks. And they said, we would like to settle here.
That was a compromise. They shouldn't have done that. The very first tribes later on in Israel's history to fall to idolatry where these tribes. They're largely unprotected, isolated from the rest of the community, surrounded by paganism. Those were the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of the Manasseh. But something I want to notice, verse 11-- "For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants." Notice that. "Indeed his bedstead"-- that is, his bed frame-- "was an iron bed frame. Is it not in Rabbah of the people of Ammon?" To which you say, yes. It's a rhetorical question, because it is, it was.
Notice it says nine cubits is its length and four cubits its width, according to the standard cubic. The standard cubic was 18 inches. The bed frame was 13 and 1/2 feet long. So it brings this up and wants you to note that, because this guy was one of the giants.
So Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun. King-sized beds are not a modern invention. I have a bed at home called a California King, because it's a little bit longer, and I'm a little bit longer. And it was developed in the 1960s, I think. A furniture firm in Los Angeles said, hey, let's extend it to 84 inches instead of 72. We'll call it the California King. I'm glad they did. I fit in that property. This baby was a king-sized bed, and he was a king. So it fits.
But he was called a giant. And it bears record to something those 12 spies saw when they checked out the land. They said, hey, there are giants still in the land. Now you know how big. And this is why the 10 came back and said, we are grasshoppers in their sight and in our eyes, as well-- even though that really wasn't the truth. According to Joshua, Rahab said, the people of the land are melting in fear because of you. That's what they thought because of these giants.
If you were to compare yourself to Og-- let's say you were up against an army of giants like this, you would look at the giants, and you would look at you, and you would say, poor us. But if you saw how big God was in compared to the size of the giants, you'd say, poor them. Again, like we said last week. It all depends on your perspective. What are you measuring according to? Are you measuring according to your strength, your height, your stature, your size, your ability, or God's?
See, John said, greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Measure that way. Only two did, and they lived to tell about it. Martin Luther said, with God, one is always a majority.
And that's how David lived his life. David saw a giant named Goliath. David was up a runt in comparison to Goliath. But he approached Goliath, and he said, "you defy the armies of the living God," not "you defy the armies of the nation of Israel." You defy the armies of the living God. God's going to get you. And he did. He measured correctly.
In verse 5, continuing on-- oh, wait a minute. Let's go back to chapter 4. We come now to the second speech, the second farewell speech. Shifting from the historical, we deal with the legal, that is, the laws that they were to follow, going from what God did in the past. This is what God is doing now in the present. These are the regulations you were to follow now, so from the past tense to the present tense.
By the way, you and I must always do the same. You and I have a history. We are to do what we did tonight in remembrance of Jesus. We are to look back to the night we were saved and all of those great remembrances of our early faith. But we must always convert the past into the present. We must always take the past experiences and make them a present expression.
Because if we're always looking back to the past-- go, oh, I remember what God did when I was this age, or when this church was at that stage, or I remember, I remember, I remember-- what about now? Are those still valid for your present-day experience? If they're not, something's wrong with your Christian walk. God should be as vibrant and as real and as changing things in your life as he once did and once was.
So they're to take the past and pivot now to the present. Verse 1-- "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments"-- these are all rules and regulations, "which I teach you to observe." And here's why-- "that you may live and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you. Shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
It sounds like God doesn't want people to mess with his word, mess with his scripture, doesn't want you to add to it. That means we can't come along and say, well, I like this part, but I don't like that part. I like Psalms and I like the red words, but I don't like the Book of Revelation or the Book of Hebrews. And I notice a lot of people selectively love the Bible and quote the Bible to fit their own ideology. They use it, not finding out what it says to them, but finding verses they like that will say what they want to have said.
That's so good.
Jesus said, concerning the law, concerning the Old Testament, I have not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. That's why I get bothered when one of the premier Christian leaders of our day and age says that Christians must unattach themselves from the Old Testament, just completely do away with it. Yet, if you read the New Testament, they didn't seem to follow that advice. They seem to quote the Old Testament and build their theology, using that as the platform from which to build. Jesus said, I didn't come to destroy it. I came to fulfill it.
In Revelation 22, some of the last words of the Bible, God says, "if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book." I don't want to be that guy. "Whoever takes away from the words of this book, God will take away his part from the book of life." So don't mess with my words. I'm giving you the revelation of who I am. It will be a progressive revelation. Wait for it. The rest will come. Don't change it.
Verse 9-- "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren." Now, this is one of the singular most important parts of the book of Deuteronomy. Because God says through Moses, I don't want you to forget what God has done, and I don't want you to forget what God has said. I want you to obey them, but hold that thought. Don't just obey them. Teach your children, your next generation, to also listen to them and obey them. It's one of the great themes of the book of Deuteronomy. We're going to dip into a couple of these verses.
Now, the rest of this section is a recap of the law. Let me sum it up. And then I'll just poke at a couple of scriptures. Chapters 5 through 11 is an exposition of the decalogue. Do you know what a decalogue is? 10 words, that's what decalogue means, 10 commandments.
The 10 commandments given in Exodus 20 are recapped and expounded on in chapters 5 through 11 of Deuteronomy. He's making sure the younger generation has a good understanding. And so he gives sermons on it. Chapters 12 through 16-- ceremonial law. Some of that we've touched on; Chapter 16 through 20-- civil law; and then 21 through 26, social laws, many of which we have looked at in previous books.
Look at Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 1. "Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you, a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one!"
This is, of course, the great Jewish confession of faith, called the Shema. It's called the Shema, because shema means hear, or listen. And that's the first word of this commandment. Shema, Israel, Adonai Elohinu Adonai echad. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Now, I want you to look at a word. The last word of verse 4 of that sentence in verse 4 is one. The Lord is one. The word one is the Hebrew word echad, echad. And some of you know the word. That's how you count in Hebrew. [COUNTING IN HEBREW] et cetera. So that's the first counting word that a child learns, echad.
However, the word echad means one, but it doesn't mean an absolute singularity. It rather means a compound unity. Let me explain. There's another Hebrew word, yachid. Yachid means an absolute singularity, one and only one. Whereas, echad is a combination that forms a unity. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
So for example, it is used in Hebrew to talk about one bunch of grapes, echad bunch of grapes. It's a compound unity. Or the nation of Israel is one nation, all the different people one nation, a compound unity. It is used in the Old Testament when God brought Eve to Adam and said, for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother, be joined unto his wife, and the two shall become echad, one flesh, a compound unity.
This is important to those of us who believe in a trinitarian theology, that God exists as one God in three distinct personalities, three distinct persons, not modes, not one at a time, all at the same time, co-eternal, coexistence, all of them God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Hebrew allows for that possibility even here in this great statement of faith.
Verse 5-- "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength." Remember when Jesus was asked, what is the greatest commandment? This was his answer, Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 5. That's the greatest commandment.
But do you remember what he did? He then pivoted and quoted something out of Leviticus and said, aah, but there's a second commandment, which is also as great, and that is, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself. And on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." He summed it all up-- love God, greatest commandment; love your neighbor as yourself. That's Leviticus 19.
Verse 6-- "And these words which I command you shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children. You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." We're to teach them. A more literal translation-- we're to repeat them. We're to repeat them. Great educators will tell you that people learn things by repetition. Let me say that again. Great teachers--
Got you caught up with that one. I do these things just to see if you're paying attention. But sometimes people will say, yeah, I am too old to learn another language. I should have done that when I was younger. Actually, you're not. According to Cambridge University, in England, they said, all you need is to see a word 160 times in 14 minutes, and you will know it, no matter what age you are.
They said, and I'm quoting, "learning is simple when you repeat." They call it memory traces. You form these pathways, memory traces that are the same in an aged adult, up to a certain point, of course, as somebody who's young. But notice how the repetition is brought forth here. Notice the repetition here is, when you sit, when you walk, when you lie down, and when you rise up-- in other words, when you live.
Because I just described what you all do. Right now, you're sitting down. In a little bit, you'll be walking out to your car. Later on, you're going to lie down in your bed. And then tomorrow morning, you're going to rise up from your bed. All those things, you're going to be doing in the next 24 hours.
If you have children who live at home, they're going to watch you do those things. And they're going to watch you do those things, and they're going to hear what you say during those things and watch your example during those times. And the question is, are you repeating the same behavior and words to stimulate their taste for godly living? That's how you teach them.
The most often quoted scripture I hear when it comes to raising children-- you know it probably all by heart-- is Proverbs 22, which says, "train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Did you know the word train is the word hanach. Hanach is the word to train. And it literally means to put something into the mouth.
A very similar Arabic word which comes from that same Semitic root, the Arabs have a word for taking date honey and putting it on the lips and on the palate of infants to stimulate the sucking reflex, to get infants to learn how to feed from their mother's breast, by putting date honey as that sucking reflex. That's the word hanach. So when he says, train up your child, you could translate that stimulate a taste for godliness in your child by when you lie down, when you walk, when you rise, your daily activities. By the way you live, you repeat what you believe, what you hold to, what your value system is. Your kids are going to watch it, and you are either, by your lifestyle, going to stimulate a taste for godliness or drive them away. So children are very, very important here in this book.
Verse 8 continues-- "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand." What? The commandments, the words. They shall be as frontlets between your eyes. If you go to Israel, you'll see these things. These are called phylacteries. And see that little thing on the top of the head? That's a leather box. And inside that box are scriptures that are written. There's the scriptures inside that little box. They're placed on the head. They're placed on the arm.
They take this very literally. If you wonder, how do they translate their own Bible? Do they see it as figurative? Not really. They take it literally. They actually put a box of scriptures on their head. Why? So they would remember the scripture on their arm. So they'll remember the scripture. So they are fulfilling this literally.
A good question to ask yourself, what are you putting before your eyes? What are you setting before your eyes? What are you looking at a lot? I can answer that for a lot of you. It's in your pocket or your purse right now. It's that little phone. It's that little screen. It wasn't true 10, 20 years ago. But it is now. Well, put that aside. I don't want to pick on that.
What TV shows, what entertainment, what things do you read and look at? What are you setting before your eyes to remember? Make sure that you do the scripture as well or more.
Chapter 8, verse 1-- "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these 40 years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you, and to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." Memory is the diary we all carry with us. And so God tells them, remember what I've done. Remember what I said.
Chapter 10, verse 12-- "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord." Again, notice all those verbs. "Love, or serve the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and to keep His commandments, the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes which I command you today for good."
This brings up a little phrase, the fear of the Lord. And I would just say that's a very misunderstood phrase. What does it mean, the fear of the Lord? Let me tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that you cringe before God. It doesn't mean you wake up and go, God, I'm so afraid of you. Are you going to zap me? You're not the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. That's not the relationship God wants with you.
Fear of the Lord means a reverence or a respect for him. The Hebrew word is [SPEAKING HEBREW]. It's the idea of reverence. In fact, the Message translation translates verse 12, live in his presence in holy reverence. I like that translation because it rhymes. Live in his presence in holy reverence.
So here is the fear of the Lord. It's a reverential awe that produces humble submission to a loving God. That's the working definition of the fear of the Lord, a reverential awe that produces a humble submission to a loving God. The only fright, the only being scared part, is that you love him so much, you respect him so much, that you don't want to do anything to displease him. You're afraid that would do something that would displease the one that you love. That really sums up the fear of the Lord.
Now, before we get into the last section, let me dip the airplane down a little bit and get close to what is called the scarlet thread of redemption. You've heard that phrase before? I had just finished a book that we're going to release at the beginning of next year, called Bloodline, which is tracing the scarlet thread of redemption from Eden to eternity, all the way through the scripture.
And I want you to look at chapter 18, verse 15. "The Lord your God will raise up for you a"-- what? "Prophet"-- and notice it's a capital P, it is in my Bible-- "raise up for you a Prophet"-- capital P-- "like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear." In other words, sometime in the future, a Moses-like spokesman is going to come, "a Prophet like me."
Verse 18-- "I will raise up for them a Prophet"-- capital P-- "like me from among their brethren, and He will put My words-- and will put My words in his mouth. And He shall speak to them all that I command Him." God will send many prophets in the future, but this is a singular prophet. This is a singular pronoun, and it emphasizes the ultimate prophet, interpreted, obviously, by the translators as the Messiah, hence the capital P.
Now, this is why, when John the Baptist comes on the scene, and John is baptizing people by the Jordan River and making crazy pronouncements and eating bugs and wearing weird hippie robes, and they think he's Elijah, so they say, are you Elijah? And he says, no. And then they ask him this question. Are you the prophet? Remember that? What are they referring to? They're referring to this, the Prophet. I will send a Prophet. They interpreted this to be the Messiah. Are you the Prophet? He said, no, I am not.
Philip, in the book of John, said to his brother, "we have found the one who Moses in the law said would come." Where did Moses say he would come? Deuteronomy chapter 18, verse 15 and verse 18. Jesus and Moses share some similarities. Let me explain.
When Moses was a baby, they tried to kill him. Right? When Jesus was a baby, they tried to kill him. Moses left the royal court of Egypt to identify with his people. Jesus left the royal courts of heaven to identify with his people. Moses interceded for the people of Israel while they were still in their sin and rejection. Jesus made intercession, it says, for sinners, Isaiah 53, as seen on the cross.
Moses was the mediator of the old covenant. Jesus was the mediator of the new covenant. And interestingly, Moses was not received by the Jews, the nation, until he approached them the second time. The first time, they rejected him. Who made you a ruler over us? And he fled to Midian. When he came back the second time under God's anointing at that time, then they received him, very much like Jesus. The first time, he was rejected. He came unto his own. His own received him not. But he will be received when he comes the second time.
So Moses and Jesus share many similarities. However, Moses was great. Jesus was greater. "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
Let's look at chapters 27 through 34, final section, past, present, now the future. This is all about readiness for the future, what God will do. It's looking ahead. Moses, in these chapters, predicts the history of Israel coming up, what's going to happen to the Jews in the near future and in the far future, including the Babylonian captivity. Chapter 27, Moses says, look, once you guys cross this river, the Jordan River, and you're in the new land, I want you to go to the very heart of the land, the very middle of the land, which is Samaria, and there are two mountains there. You're to get some tribes on one mountain, some tribes on the other mountain. One mountain was Gerasene. The other is called Ebal.
And the tribes on Mount Gerasene will shout out the blessings that God writes here. The other tribes will shout out the cursings that God speaks here. And the Levites will be in the middle saying, amen, as those blessings and cursings are read-- which they did in the book of Joshua.
Chapter 28, verse 1-- "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all of His commands which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God."
Now, there's a huge word that I don't want you to miss. It's actually a very small word to us, but it is the big word of the sentence. It's the word if, if. I'll do this if and only if you do certain things. I'm setting you up to understand something. The big word here is if.
Verse 15-- "But it will come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all of His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you." Verse 20-- "The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed, until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me."
Now, notice those phrases, the phrase, until you are destroyed-- shamad is the Hebrew word-- and until you perish-- avad is the Hebrew word. What does that mean? Does it mean the nation will end forever and ever and ever? No. He is not predicting the end of the nation. He is predicting the end-- listen carefully-- to that generation's relationship to the land. This is so important.
You will not understand the covenants-- and I'm going to just touch on this before we close tonight. The covenants are so important to understand in the Bible. There's two basic kind of covenants-- an unconditional covenant, a conditional covenant. Easy, right? An unconditional covenant means there are no conditions. We call this a unilateral covenant. A person declares what that person is going to do, irregardless of what you do. It's the covenant I make with you. I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that. That's a cool covenant. It's an unconditional covenant.
There's another kind of covenant, bilateral. It's a conditional covenant. And the word if is used a lot in this covenant. That's where both parties have to fulfill roles in order for that covenant to stay in place. If you do this, then I will do that.
So there is a covenant we saw in the book of Genesis in the Garden of Eden. We call it the Edenic covenant. The Edenic covenant is a conditional covenant. God says, I will bless you, Adam and Eve, if you don't touch that tree. If you do this, then I'll do that. If you don't do that, you're out. What happened? They were out. They disobeyed on the condition that they failed keep. So that's a conditional covenant, the Edenic covenant.
Let's look at another covenant, Genesis chapter 15. Don't turn to it. It's the Abrahamic covenant. It is an unconditional covenant. God even cuts up an animal in that one. The unconditional covenant, God says, I'm going to give you the land. I'm going to give you and future generations of the nation of Israel a land, and it is not conditioned on your obedience. I'm just going to do it. That's the Abrahamic covenant.
We get to this covenant of the law at Mt. Sinai. We call this the Mosaic covenant, not because the children of Israel made little mosaics. It's named after Moses, hence Mosaic covenant. OK, so a the Mosaic covenant is a conditional covenant-- if, then, if, then. If you obey, then this will happen. If you disobey, then that will happen.
If we move a couple of chapters ahead, chapter 29 through 30 is what theologians called the Palestinian covenant. The Palestinian covenant is tied to the Abrahamic covenant, which says, even when you guys disobey and blow the Mosaic covenant-- I'm going to kick you out of the land-- I'm still going to be bringing you back. I'm going to bring you back, because I made a covenant to Abraham that I would give him and his descendants this land, period, irrespective of their obedience or not.
If you don't see the covenants, you'll get all goofy in your eschatology. You'll become amillennial. You won't see Israel's place. This is Israel's place. God made an unconditional covenant in Genesis 15, reiterated several times throughout the Old Testament.
So their tenure in the land is conditioned on their obedience, but their possession of the land ultimately is conditioned purely on the inheritance that God promises they'll have. That's how it works. Yeah, I'll kick you out. But then I'll spank you really hard and bring you back.
Chapter 31 is the end of Moses's life. The entire Bible up till now has been written by Mose, we believe, I believe. Now he is on Mount Nebo. He's about ready to kick the bucket. You'll see why in a moment. He gives a farewell speech that is the longest farewell speech in the Bible.
Chapter 31, verse 1-- "Then Moses went and spoke these words to all of Israel. And he said to them, I'm 120 years old today." Wow, can't we at least say, happy birthday, Mo? "I'm 120 years old today. I can no longer go out and come in." It means, I'm slowing down. "Also, the Lord has said to me, you shall not cross over this Jordan."
So Moses has two statements. I'm old, and I can't do what I used to do. I'm impaired because of my age. He is facing a transition. Those of us who are aging are experiencing that, maybe not quite as much as Moses, because I doubt we're going to live to 120.
But here's what I love about Mo. He's 120 years old. He's still leading the children of Israel. He started his ministry at age 80. I want to encourage people of any age, it's never too late to start serving the Lord. You can just say, Lord, use me. I'll take that baton. I'll be faithful right now, tomorrow, today, whatever days I have left.
Did you know Michelangelo-- if you went to the Sistine Chapel-- some of us were there on our tour to Rome a few months ago-- the Sistine Chapel on one end has what is considered Michelangelo's greatest work. It's called The Last Judgment, very detailed, huge painting. He painted that at 89 years of age; John Wesley, 88 years old, still riding on horseback, preaching sermon after sermon very articulately; Thomas Edison still researching and inventing at age 90.
There's an old English proverb that says, the older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune. I think Moses at 120 was vastly different than he was at age 60, 70, 80, 90. Yes, he was even growing till then.
Verse 7 or chapter 31-- "Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all of Israel, be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it." Why Joshua? He was the other one of those two spies-- Caleb was one, Joshua was the other. Joshua was a faithful man, and Joshua was a man of faith.
He was a faithful man. He didn't try to make a name for himself, didn't try to say, Moses, you're getting really old now. We need to kick you out, get out now. He didn't try to push for that or build his own kingdom. He was a faithful man. And he was a man of faith. He was one of the guys who said, we can take this land, even though the 10 said you can't.
Moses will die. Joshua will take the reins. God's plans never depend on a singular leader. In a movement or a church, when the leader dies, God never goes, oh no. God says, I've been waiting for this. I've got it all planned out.
Chapter 32 is called the Song of Moses. It's a really long song, a lot of verses. There's 34 verses. It's like a Bob Dylan song, just keeps going. Right? But it kind of sounds like a country song, because it talks about a bunch of bad stuff that happened, and much more bad stuff is going to happen. So it's kind of like country music and Bob Dylan mixed together. Israel's failures, God's judgment, are interwoven in this.
What's interesting about this is the dude writes a song at 120 years old. Come on, you got to hand it to him. And it's a long song. I don't know many 80-year-olds that could write a song like this. But he puts this song together. And Israel is told to latch onto this. And it sort of becomes their national anthem. This bad, country, Bob Dylan song becomes their national anthem. They're to learn this Song of Moses.
Chapter 33-- let's get rid of the song for a moment-- chapter 33, blessings are pronounced on the 12 tribes. It's Moses's last public act before his death. Now chapter 34, verse 1-- "Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah"-- it's a mountain that you can go to today and overlook the land, still to this day, it's in the country of Jordan-- "which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan." It must have been a clear winter day. You can see snow-capped Mount Hermon all the way to the north, the undulating hills of Gilead. You could look left, and you could see the Jerusalem mountains spread out.
Verst 4-- "And the Lord said to him, this is the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, I will give it to your descendants. I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there." Isn't that a bummer? After all that Moses has done, put up with, you can see it, but you can't get in it. Hold that thought.
"So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord." It ends on a sad note. Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian, New Testament era, writes this account. "Amidst the tears of the people, the women beating their breast, the children giving way to uncontrolled wailing, Moses withdrew. At a certain point in his assent, he made a sign to the weeping multitude to advance no further, taking with him only the elders, the high priest Eliezar and the general, Joshua. At the top of the mountain, he dismissed the elders. And then as he was embracing Eliezar and embracing Joshua and still speaking to them, a cloud suddenly stood over him, and he vanished in a deep valley." Close quote.
Is that true? I have no idea. It's just what Josephus wrote. It's not in the Bible. Just thought you wanted to hear it. Here's the great news. It's not the end of the story. The New Testament gives you the rest of the story. Moses died. Jude said that the archangel Michael contended with the devil over the body of Moses. Remember that scripture? It's a weird scripture. Why does the devil care about Moses body? And why would God dispatch Michael, the big dude, to wrestle him down over it? Must be important.
I believe it was. I believe it was. Because when Jesus was transfigured on Mount Hermon in the gospels, who appears with him? Moses and Elijah. Moses appeared with Jesus on that mountain in the land. He made it. He didn't get to see it before, but he was in it in the New Testament.
Where am I going with all this? What the law couldn't do, grace did. Under grace, Moses came in the land. Under the law, he could only see it, but not go in. The law couldn't bring Mo into the land, but the Lord Jesus brought him in.
He was talking with Moses and Elijah about the future. And I believe, personal belief only, one of the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11 is none other than those two, Moses and Elijah. God was keeping the body of Moses for a future use, still our future, during the tribulation period. I think Moses is coming on the scene, and God protected that body for that purpose. That's the life of Moses. Now it's over. Next time, we'll have the book of Joshua.
Father, we want to thank you for your word. Thank you for the second law. Thank you for repeating things that we often forget or neglect. And that phrase keeps coming back, beware, lest you forget. Do these things in remembrance of me. Take this meal in remembrance of me.
Lord, I pray that we would place mile markers in our lives that would recall your grace, your goodness, our transformation, our learning. And that's why you not only said that the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine. A verse before that, you said to Timothy, preach the word. Preach the word. That's how we don't forget. We expose ourselves to the truth of your word. So thank you for hungry hearts who do that every week in Jesus' name. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit Calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible From 30,000 Feet.