Deuteronomy 29:13. – GOD ESTABLISHES THAT ISRAEL WILL BE GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE – FOREVER AND REMOVES THE CONDITION OF THE PREVIOUS COVENANT OF EXODUS 19:5-6 THAT THEY LIVE IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS WORD1. In Genesis, God had entered into eternal and unconditional covenant to Abraham, extended to Isaac, and extended to Jacob, and now extends this covenant to include the whole nation of Israel. There is a whole branch of Theology that deals with covenants2. The focus here will be only God’s covenant to Abraham, extended through Isaac, extended through Jacob, and now extended to the whole of the nation of Israel.
You are standing today all of you before the Lord your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is making with you today, that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
The key features of the covenant to Abraham3, to Isaac4, and to Jacob5 are that they are eternal, and that they bind God alone (that is, unconditional). There is nothing anyone has to do in order for this class of covenants to remain in force. God promises – conditioned on His character alone – to establish Israel as His covenant people forever (implied as an extension of the covenants to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob). On this basis, Paul can write with confidence in Romans 11:2, “[Even though God’s dealings are now with the Church], God has not put away [Israel].”
Deuteronomy 29:27-28. God prophecies that He will one day execute the curses of disobedience outlined in Deuteronomy 28, and uproot Israel from her land. History records this as fulfilled in the year 70.
Deuteronomy 29:29. God prophecies the Church age. OK, what He really says is that something is going to happen that He’s going to keep a secret until we reach Matthew 16:18. God foretold the Church age, yet at the same time deferred to give ammunition to the scribes that would expose Jesus’ foreknowledge when Jesus offered to establish the Kingdom in Matthew 11:14.
Deuteronomy 30:1-8. Israel repents of her sins, and is then regathered. And don’t lose sight of the order of events. The first half of Deuteronomy 30:1 was fulfilled long ago.
1. Deuteronomy 30:1b – God will initiate the repentance process AFTER He has completed work on His then-secret project in Deuteronomy 29:29.
2. Deuteronomy 30:2 – Israel will repent.
3. Deuteronomy 30:3 – God will regather Israel.
4. Deuteronomy 30:4 – All Israel will be regathered, not just the 8% that was regathered in 1948.
5. Deuteronomy 30:5 – Israel’s prosperity will set new record highs.
6. Deuteronomy 30:8 – Israel will live in obedience to God.
1948 was a non-prophetic event because the only part that bears resemblance to a fulfillment even remotely is #4. And even then, it was man-accomplished, and only partially fulfilled.
Ezekiel 37 depicts the regathering most vividly. God walks Ezekiel through a valley of lifeless dry bones – just like in the song “Dry Bones,” and the dry bones represents Israel’s current state of affairs. [I’ve stated before that I am skeptical of finding symbolisms in God’s word. But when God Himself says, “these bones are the whole house of Israel,” (Ezekiel 37:11), I yield to the Author.] Ezekiel watches as the bones become covered with sinew and flesh (Ezekiel 37:8); as the bones breathe; as the bones rise to their feet (Ezekiel 37:10).
These bones are the whole house of Israel. If God had meant to say 8%, then He would not have used the word “whole”.
1This is a huge statement from God, and remains in force today and eternally. Romans 9-11 describe Israel’s role in God’s plan during the Church age, climaxed in Romans 11:25 with “a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” God’s plan with the gentiles will one day be fulfilled, at which time Israel will be regathered, and His plan with Israel will be resumed.
2The study of covenants in the Bible is a huge branch of Theology, and will only be touched in this comment. There are several categories of Covenants in the Bible, a fact that will explain why the focus in this note will vary from the focus presented in last week’s sermon – even as I testify to you that both foci are correct.
3(Genesis 15:5-6) – “And [God] brought [Abram] outside and said, ’Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then [God] said to [Abram], ‘So shall your offspring be.’ And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Repeated and extended into eternity in Genesis 17:4-8.
Though the cynic may detect a condition, the so-called condition is not of the nature that we would expect a risk of non-compliance, and therefore should not really be considered a condition at all. United States contract law works much the same way. Contract law will only be enforced in the United States to the extent that all parties are bound. You and I may enter into contract that you will pay me $20 if I mow your lawn, and the law will enforce that contract. However, the law will not enforce the same contract whereby you will pay me $20 if I sign on the line below. It will be judged that there is nothing in the contract that binds me, notwithstanding I did have to sign on the line below. That God viewed His covenant to Abram as binding Him alone was made evident in Genesis 15:12 and 17. God walked in the midst of the pieces alone – while Abram was asleep – indicating He was the only party bound.
By contrast, the covenant with (not “to” but “with”) Moses bound both God and Israel (Exodus 19:5-6). Though Israel had affirmed the covenant (Exodus 19:8), it was not a reasonable expectation that Israel would comply. So in Deuteronomy 29:10-13, God is essentially re-writing the covenant with Moses to enter into unconditional covenant to the people of Israel.
4(Genesis 17:9-14) – Verse 19 declares it for eternity. Circumcision should be comprehended as a sign that the covenant is in force, and not as a condition for it to remain in force. The significance of this sign is that Abraham in fact had eight sons in total. Abraham circumcised Isaac as the sign that the covenant would pass through Isaac alone. And God acknowledged Abraham’s choice when He cited Isaac by name in Exodus 2:24.
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