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Deuteronomy: The Second Law - Speech 2

A commentary on the second speech of Moses in Deuteronomy 5-8. The book of Deuteronomy is a series of 12 speeches that Moses gave just before his death at the end of Israel's wilderness journey.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 18

Blessings of the Kingdom

Deut. 8:7-9 says,

7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.

The Old Covenant type was the physical land of Canaan, contrasted to the wilderness out of which they had come. Whereas the wilderness was a time of Israel's testing through hunger and deprivation (8:3) and discipline (8:5), the Promised Land was to be the reward of faith, humility, and obedience which they had learned through hardship and deprivation.

So it is also with the promises of God under the New Covenant in relation to the “better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16) that Abraham sought. This is the true basis of Prosperity in Scripture. Those of the so-called “Prosperity Message” often try hard to avoid the wilderness training that precedes the abundance of the Promised Land, because their flesh man hopes to skip the discipline and go directly to the inheritance. They seem to think that if they have sufficient faith, God will allow them to leap over the wilderness and go directly to the Promised Land. But if God were to allow this, their spiritual immaturity would certainly be a problem.

Even so, there is indeed a promise of prosperity and abundance. Those who are beloved of God are the sons who are disciplined before receiving that abundance (Heb. 12:6). These are the ones who learn patience and obedience and are thus able to enjoy the blessings without forgetting God and squandering their inheritance merely to satisfy the flesh. This is Moses’ topic at hand as he concludes his second speech.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. 11 Beware lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

Moses' instructions are a warning that God's blessings do not come unconditionally.

Israel’s Example

During their years in the wilderness, most of the Israelites still did not learn the lessons necessary to come into spiritual maturity. For this reason, Moses knew that they would degenerate into disobedience and violation of the covenant. Moses knew that God would then judge them and ultimately bring them into captivity (Deut. 31:15-18). In fact, Moses wrote a song on account of this revelation (Deut. 31:22, 30).

The book of Judges tells us that the next generation of Israelites adopted the culture of the Canaanites instead of adhering to Kingdom Culture (and Law). God then brought them into captivity.

The same warning applies to us under the New Covenant, except that we have the advantage of knowing that the overcomers—by definition—will not adopt the lawless practices of the modern “Canaanites.” God has worked in their hearts for a long time, teaching them obedience—how to follow the leading of the Spirit so that the law may be written on their hearts by experience in a living, practical relationship with Christ.

Because we are at the end of the New Testament church's wilderness experience, we can say with confidence that even though not all believers are overcomers, God has certainly raised up overcomers at this time who will fulfill the promises of God and will also take heed to the instructions of Moses. These blessings, I believe, will include spiritual with the physical blessings, for otherwise, the physical blessings would only cause men to forget God.

Hardship Prepares us for the Blessings

15 He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, “My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.”

God deliberately led Israel through hardship and deprivation to prepare them for the abundance of the Promised Land and “to do good for you in the end.” Let no man say that poverty is the result of a lack of faith. Let no one despise the fiery serpents and the scorpions that teach us to be alert to His leading.

His way is not to avoid hardship, but to lead us through it. As long as we follow the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day, we will be led safely through all difficulties. As long as we gather His manna six days a week, instead of expecting to be served manna once a week in church, we will be sustained even in dry places.

When our time of testing is complete, we will never think that “my power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.” Such prideful thoughts are driven away by our failures. We seldom pass God's tests with an A+ and most tests end up humbling us. Yet we make spiritual progress as well, for our failures serve to teach us not to depend on the flesh or human reasoning. It is only flesh that fails. God's wilderness training is designed to break our confidence in flesh. Only then can we truly know what it is to be led by the Spirit.

Confirming the Covenant

Moses says in Deut. 8:18,

18 But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm the covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

Confirmation is done by means of a double witness. In this case, the spiritual blessings provide the first witness, while the physical blessings provide the double witness. The prosperity that God gives after our training under Pentecost confirms the covenant. That prosperity is part of the Birthright, the “double portion” given to the Birthright holder as his inheritance.

Under the New Covenant, the inheritance is not a piece of land but the glorified body, the inheritance that Adam lost through sin. The New Creation Man is both heavenly and earthly. Like Jesus, he is both son of man and son of God, having authority in both realms. The earthly confirms and establishes the covenant by the double witness.

Moses’ Final Warning and Promise

Moses then ends his second speech with a final warning to the Israelites, a warning which is just as applicable to the church today:

19 And it shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God, and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.

God was no respecter of persons. He vowed to judge the Israelites in the same manner as He judged the Canaanites. The promises of God are conditional upon obedience. They are only unconditional in the sense that God has promised to work by His Spirit in our hearts through discipline and training, so that we will NOT forget the Lord our God.

In that way, we have a great advantage over the Israelites who were attempting to inherit the promises through the Old Covenant. That plan could never really work, because the covenant blessings of God were conditioned upon their obedience. The problem is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

But under the New Covenant, God takes responsibility to work within our hearts to make us law-compliant (Heb. 8:10). Moses knew that this was Israel’s only hope, for in Deut. 30:5 and 6 He prophesied,

5 And the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 6 Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.

This is the promise of the New Covenant that He would yet make with them, by which the promises of God could be established.