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A commentary on the ninth speech of Moses in Deuteronomy 29-31. 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
In Deuteronomy 30 Moses speaks of Israel’s captivity in foreign lands as if it were a foregone conclusion, even though he lived 700 years before this would happen. He knew the hearts of the people, because he had observed them forty years already. That is more than enough time to get to know people. And so, when he reminded them of the law in this series of speeches, he well knew that regardless of the good intentions of that generation, the day would come when the Exodus covenant would fail, due to their disobedience.
Captivity was thus assured. Deut. 30:1 says,
1 So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you,
Moses does not say if this might happen, but “when.” This is the final result of the Exodus covenant, which depended upon the ability of the people to fulfill their vow. But Moses also prophesies of both “the blessing and the curse” that was to come upon them. The curse could only come through the Exodus covenant, while the blessing could only come through the Deuteronomy covenant.
The Hebrew concept of repentance is expressed as turning or returning to God. For this reason, when the prophets speak of Israel “returning to their own land,” it does not necessarily mean a physical move from one location to another. In fact, the most important factor is repentance. In verses 2 and 3 Moses speaks of the fulfillment of the Deuteronomy covenant and the oath that God had sworn to make them His people:
2 and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.
Moses’ confidence that the people’s vow would be broken is equally matched by his confidence in God’s ability to turn the hearts of the people, so that the New Covenant could be implemented. This was to be a two-step process. The first was that the people would “return to the Lord.” The second was that “God will restore you from captivity.”
This order of events is stated again also in Lev. 26:40-42,
40 If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— 41 I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies— or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.
In the law, to turn or return to the Lord means to repent of their hostility against Yahweh (Jesus Christ). Not all are openly hostile to Him, but if they cast aside the law and substitute the traditions of men so that they may continue in sin, they are God’s legal enemies.
Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30 agree that such “enemies” will not be restored from captivity until the people confess their iniquity and agree that God was right after all. The traditions of men were wrong. Sin is wrong. They must adopt the mind of Christ in this matter. They must agree to adopt God’s way of thinking and His culture, rather than try to make God adapt to our preferred way of life.
A century ago, Christian teachers understood this. Even though they mistakenly believed that the Jews were Israelites and were destined on that basis to return to the “Holy Land,” they believed that the Jews would return as a repentant people. They believed that the Jews would return as a Christian people. However, when this conversion did not take place prior to 1948 (when the Jewish state was founded), they quickly dropped this biblical requirement in their teaching.
In other words, they questioned the Scriptures or assumed that their interpretation of Scripture was incorrect—though the Bible is plain enough for all to see clearly. They should have questioned whether or not Zionism was truly the restoration of the House of Israel that was prophesied in Scripture.
Mainstream Judaism even today teaches that Zionism is “heresy.”
“Zionism is not only a violation of the law and the prophets, but it is also a violation of Judaism itself, as a multitude of Jewish rabbis have said.
“There are in fact many Jewish movements, groups and organizations whose ideology regarding Zionism and the so-called ‘State of Israel’ is that of the unadulterated Torah position that any form of Zionism is heresy and that the existence of the so-called ‘State of Israel is illegitimate.
“No one has had to create any antagonism between our Torah and Zionism because antagonism exists by virtue of the essence of Judaism itself, which can never tolerate the heresy of Zionism.
“Zionism is wrong from the Torah viewpoint, not because many of its adherents are lax in practice or even anti-religious, but because its fundamental principle conflicts with the Torah.”
I fully agree. Zionism fundamentally conflicts with the Torah (law). Church leaders seldom speak of this, and for this reason the majority of Christians are unaware that Zionism is “heresy” to the majority of Jews. There are many who recoil in horror when they learn that I am not a supporter of Zionism, nor do I believe that the Zionist state is the fulfillment of the biblical prophecies of Israel’s restoration. Some think that God will curse me for daring to teach this. They do not understand that in this particular case I am in agreement with the majority of world Jewry—which is not Zionist.
The law of God makes it clear that the foreign captivity will end only after the people repent and confess their sin.
In another article, Judaism goes further, showing why Zionism is heretical:
“FIRST—Because this is diametrically opposed and completely contradictory to the true essence and foundation of the people of Israel, as it [is] explained above. Because the only time that the people of Israel where [sic] permitted to have a state were two thousand years ago when the Glory of the Creator was upon us. And likewise in the future when the Glory of the Creator will once more be revealed, and the whole world will serve Him. Then He Himself (without any human effort or force of arms) will grant us a kingdom founded on Divine Service.
“However, a wordily [sic, ‘worldly’] state, like those possessed by other peoples, is contradictory to the true essence of the People of Israel. Whoever calls this the salvation of Israel shows that he denies the essence of the People of Israel, and substituted another nature, a worldly materialistic nature, and therefore sets before them a worldly materialistic ‘salvation.’ And the means of achieving this ‘salvation’ is also worldly and materialistic, i.e., to organize land and army.”
I agree with most of this analysis and differ only in a few details. Zionism conquered Palestine by violence and force, using terroristic tactics in driving people from their farms and destroying their villages. Traditional Judaism repudiated such tactics, having learned from the Roman war that this was not the way to do it. But modern Zionism reverted back to its earlier violent nature that resisted the nation that God had raised up to judge them for the sins of their fathers.
In the article above, it is said that Judaism believes that the Glory of the Creator was still upon them two thousand years ago and only left when the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. In actuality, it left them more than 600 years earlier, as stated in Ezekiel 10:18; 11:23 just before the Babylonian armies destroyed Solomon’s temple in 586 B.C. The Ark of the Covenant also disappeared, so when the second temple was completed, they placed a stone in the Most Holy Place where the Ark should have been. The glory of God did not return to it. Hence, the Glory of God was not present in the second temple.
Yet it is true that, biblically speaking, the “State” (i.e., Kingdom) is only possible when the Glory of God is present. That Glory was last seen on the Mount of Olives (Ezekiel 11:23) as it departed from Jerusalem, and it remained there until Jesus Christ ascended from that place (Acts 1:12), taking the Glory back to heaven with Him. The Glory returned ten days later on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). But instead of filling Herod’s temple, it filled a new temple made up of believers in Christ (1 Cor. 3:16).
Judaism does not recognize the validity of the Pentecostal event in Acts 2, because they do not recognize Jesus as the Christ. They think the Glory will return to mainstream Judaism, rather than to the followers of Jesus Christ. So here is where we differ in our view of its fulfillment.
In my view, the Glory has already returned and has continued to be poured out since Pentecost. This will continue until the fulness of the Spirit is poured out through the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. Pentecost was sufficient to prepare a people to be His temple, housing His glory, but Tabernacles is necessary to lay claim to the earth. This is the main prerequisite to the “State” being established, which we know as the Stone Kingdom of Dan. 2:35. But first the Stone must strike the image of Babylon on its feet. This is happening today, now that Babylon’s time to rule the earth has been completed.
I also agree with the mainstream position of Judaism when it says that the true State or Kingdom will not be established in a worldly and materialistic manner with armies using force of arms. The Glory of God itself is the force that will allow the Kingdom of God to emerge in the earth as nations with territory (land).
Zionism is something entirely different. In my view, it is an Edomite state, not true “Israel.” Its roots are in Isaac’s promise to Esau (Edom) after Jacob obtained the blessing by deception. Edom was absorbed into Judaism in 126 B.C., and the Zionists are now the portion of Edom within world Jewry that is fulfilling the promise to Edom. But Edom has a spirit of violence and force (Ezekiel 35:6) that motivates them to try to fulfill prophecy by force. In the end they will fail, as Scripture says (Ezekiel 35:7).
The Zionists came to the old land without repenting of their “hostility” against Yahweh—who is Jesus Christ. Although some individuals have indeed repented, the “State” itself remains hostile to the Mediator of the New Covenant. They continue to adhere to the Old Covenant, which is actually the Exodus covenant, even though it is impossible for them to receive the promises of God by the power of the flesh. They have not fulfilled the requirements for the restoration of Israel under the New Covenant.
We are left, then, with one of two choices. Either Moses and the prophets were wrong, or the Zionist state is not the Israel of Scripture.
In my view, as set forth in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright, the Zionist state will be destroyed, and Jerusalem (the “bondwoman” of Gal. 4:30) will be cast out. There is only one way to return to God, and that is through Jesus Christ. No one needs to immigrate to the old land—or even to a new land—for the Kingdom of God has blown past those limited borders and now is poised to fill the whole earth.
When the glory of God emerges beyond the borders of our bodily temples, the truth will be validated and confirmed for all to see. The greatest time of world evangelism will then begin, not led by 144,000 Jewish evangelists, as men have taught, but by the overcomers housing the fulness of His presence. These overcomers will be comprised of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).