Reading The Law
Deuteronomy 30:12. Human habitation of heaven is a New Testament doctrine. It was a blessing we received when Jesus paid the sin debt. The Old Testament does not even consider it. And when it makes allusion to it, it is only in hypothetical terms, such as “Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” – Deuteronomy 30:12.
Very familiar passages should disclose this, but the language somehow always seems to be re-comprehended as heaven. When an Old Testament believer died, he was sent to Hell: a benevolent compartment of Hell, but Hell nonetheless. Luke called it Abraham’s bosom. Jesus on the cross called it Paradise. Jesus could not have promised the repentant thief “Today, you will be with Me in Heaven.” because it would be three more days before man’s ticket to Heaven was punched.
This generates a new understanding of Matthew 16:18, when Jesus says, “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against [the Church.]” Gates are not instruments of battle. Wars are not won because one side has more gates. Gates serve two functions: They keep people in, and they keep people out, and for the moment let’s rule out that there is a long line of people are trying to get into Hell without authorization, but they are not able to because of the gates. Let’s instead consider that the Old Testament believers were, even as Jesus was speaking, kept IN Hell (being prevailed upon) by the gates of Hell. Jesus will rescue them from Hell as part of His three-day burial plan. But the gates of Hell will never prevail upon anyone who is a member of the Church built by Jesus Christ.
In the eternal state, identifying fellow Church agers will be easy: we will be the ones who were never locked in by the gates of Hell.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20. Conversational speaking speed is about 150 words per minute, but presentations to large audiences can slow you down to 100-120 words per minute. Moses’ final pep talk had likely exceeded three hours, maybe four, and perhaps was making serious aims at hitting the five-hour mark. Not bad considering he is age 120. But the sermon was coming to a close1.
The words that close the sermon still resound:
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;
· choose life, that you may love the Lord your God,
· choose life, that you may obey His voice,
· choose life, that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and
· choose life, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.
1Deuteronomy 31-34 includes a post-service announcement that Moses is retiring, an announcement that Joshua would be their new leader, two hymns to close the service, and an account of Moses’ death.
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