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Deuteronomy: The Second Law - Speech 9

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

Chapter 9

Land of the New Covenant

Speaking of Israel’s restoration, Moses concludes in Deut. 30:4, 5,

4 If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 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.

This passage is one of many assumed to validate the Zionist position. But there are difficulties with this.

The Appointed Place

First, Moses was speaking to “you,” which we know to be not only the biological Israelites (Deut. 29:10), but also the aliens with them (Deut. 29:11), and “those who are not with us here today” (Deut. 29:15). In other words, it extends far beyond the Zionist Jewish people.

Second, when we consider that the term “Jew” is just a shortened version of Judah, then it is clear that the Jews today are not the only beneficiaries of the promise of regathering. The house of Judah consisted only of Judah, Benjamin, and parts of Levi. The majority of the Israelites were not Jews. Yet “Israel” today is a self-proclaimed Jewish state. Citizenship is forbidden for most biological Israelites, simply because they are not Jews! (Recall that the Israelites of Scripture were taken to Assyria, and after Assyria fell, these Israelites immigrated to Europe and beyond.)

Third, Zionism presumes that the Old Covenant is still in force. Christian Zionism awkwardly tries to validate both covenants at the same time, applying the old to the Jews and the new to the “gentiles.” Some even think the New Covenant is a renewal of the Old Covenant. Those who espouse these views tend to deny or to discredit the book of Hebrews and many other New Testament writings.

Fourth, God promised David—at the height of his kingdom—that Israel would be given a new land where they would no longer be afflicted, nor would they be deported to other lands. God made a covenant with King David in 2 Sam. 7:12-16, promising him—or rather, his “son” and his descendants—an enduring kingdom that would not end. Part of this promise appears in 2 Sam. 7:10,

10 I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly.

David recognized that this was a promise for the “distant future” (2 Sam. 7:19). It is evident from history that the biological Israelites migrated into Europe, America, and other places, where they soon outgrew the possibility of squeezing back into the old land. Yet most of these places have been afflicted by countless wars fomented by wicked men. The best that can be said is that these nations as a whole did not go into any foreign captivities—mostly because they were already in a foreign captivity.

When America and other nations were put back into captivity to Mystery Babylon in 1913-1914, this was a “wooden yoke” captivity. The people have served their sentence within their own borders and have paid the tribute to the foreign banks that foreclosed upon the original Republic in 1933. Because Americans submitted to this yoke peaceably, God did not impose an iron-yoke captivity upon us. Hence, we were not “disturbed” or removed into some other distant land.

Nonetheless, all of these ex-Israelites in the dispersion have certainly been afflicted by wicked men. And so, the promise given to King David was only partially fulfilled in a physical way in territories where God sent them.

The New City and Country

There is a greater level of fulfillment that God had in mind, one that would apply not only to Israel but also to all men. Abraham sought a heavenly country and a “city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

This is neither the old land nor even a new land on earth. Ultimately, it is the land that was promised both to Abraham and to King David. Both died without receiving these promises, we are told in verse 13. Abraham confessed that he was a stranger in the old land of Canaan, and the writer of Hebrews extends this promise to all of the men of faith.

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles [parepidemos, “strangers, foreigners”] on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.

In other words, all of the men of faith throughout the Old Testament sought better promises than what the old land of Canaan had to offer. That was, in fact, the nature of their faith. Like Abraham, the model “man of faith,” they were all foreigners, even in their own land. Canaan was only a type that served as a temporary inheritance until that which was better should come. The better promise would also be inclusive of all men, for in that sense all men have been aliens to the heavenly country and the New Jerusalem. Hebrews 11 continues,

15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out [i.e., Canaan], they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

In other words, if the prophetic goal was to return to the old land, i.e., “that country from which they went out,” they might have found some way to immigrate back to Canaan. However, they were not to return to Canaan (Palestine), because “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” The heavenly Jerusalem is the place where Israel, along with the whole world, must return to God and be restored to its final resting place.

Paul makes it clear from Galatians 4 that Hagar and Sarah served as prophetic types of the two Jerusalems, and that the true inheritance is only through Sarah, who portrays the New Jerusalem. The earthly city is Hagar, who is incapable of bringing forth the promise, even though she bore a child of Abram himself.

Modern Zionism seeks to re-establish the glories of the past. The apex of its vision does not reach beyond the land of Canaan and the old city of Jerusalem, except in its final goal to enslave the rest of the earth. It claims Sarah as its mother, not knowing that in reality, its mother is Hagar who is in bondage with her children even now (Gal. 4:25). The only way to escape this bondage is to claim a new spiritual mother and to honor her as the Fifth Commandment teaches.

The scope of the New Covenant, as Moses reveals in Deut. 29:14, 15, is all-inclusive. It is not possible to fit everyone into the old land of Canaan. Canaan was only an early model of what God intends to do with the whole earth (Num. 14:21). This is why the book of Hebrews is a “book of better things.” The “better” has replaced the original model. The real has replaced the type. We have a better covenant, a better priesthood, better sacrifices, and a better land and city. The better will never be replaced by the old model, for the better promise is permanent and endures forever.

The Transitional Monarchy

The promise to David was that he would have an enduring dynasty to sit on the throne. 2 Sam. 7:16 says,

16 And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.

David wrote Psalm 89 to express his gratitude and awe about this promise. God told him that if his successors on the throne should forsake God’s law, God would chastise them (Psalm 89:30-32), but yet someone of his seed would always rule over the Israelites. Psalm 89:35-37 affirms this,

35 Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. 36 His descendants shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun forever before Me. 37 It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.

We know, of course, that these are prophecies of Jesus Christ, for the angel prophesied to Mary in Luke 1:32, 33,

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.

The problem was that when Judah’s last king was killed, and the Babylonians destroyed the city and its temple, the promise might have had opportunity to fail. Solomon understood the promise to mean, “you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 2:4). Hence, when the last king of Judah was killed, how was the promise of God fulfilled during the six centuries from King Zedekiah until the birth of Jesus? Did David lack a man to sit on the throne for six centuries?

Not at all. There was an interim monarchy that was called to fulfill God’s promise to David. King Zedekiah had daughters who not only survived but who were also under the care of the prophet Jeremiah. They are mentioned in Jer. 41:10 and again in Jer. 43:6. History gives their names as Scota and Tea Tephi.

History shows that Jeremiah brought the king’s daughters to Spain and Ireland to marry the kings of those countries. These were first settled as Israelite colonies. We do not know their precise form of government, but by the time Israel and Judah fell, they functioned as independent nations with monarchs of their own. When Jeremiah left the old land, he sailed first to Spain and then to Ireland, transplanting the throne of David to those nations via the daughters of Zedekiah.

And so the promise to David did not fail during the six centuries when no one of the seed of David sat upon the throne.

When Jesus was born, the right to succeed to the throne belonged to Him. However, His right was contested by the religious rulers in Jerusalem. They killed Him and usurped His throne for themselves (Matt. 21:38). Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to the throne in heaven, awaiting His second coming, when He will indeed be enthroned over the nations of the earth.

Meanwhile, however, the monarchies of Spain and Ireland served as interim monarchies to the present day. The throne of Ireland was transferred to Scotland in 534 A.D., along with the Coronation Stone. Through marriage, the throne was then brought to London, where it is presently occupied by Queen Elizabeth II. Like her predecessors before her, she has confessed that she is a mere custodian of the throne of Jesus Christ and will give it up to Him when He returns.

That throne never returned to the old land and the old city. The new capital of the Kingdom of God is the New Jerusalem, for He is now revealed to be the God of the whole earth (Isaiah 54:5). No longer is He merely the God of Israel, but He is the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16), having universal dominion over all that He created.

Meanwhile, the true King rules from heaven, while the custodians rule on earth. Most of those rulers have made little attempt to rule by the laws of God, and many have ruled by violence and force over the centuries. In other words, they have continued in the same path as their forefathers, the kings of Judah. Nonetheless, they are accountable to God for their actions, and at any rate, He will replace them when the appointed time comes.

The New Covenant Kingdom

Once we understand the big picture, seeing how Canaan was only an Old Covenant model for a worldwide New Covenant plan, and how Abraham himself saw better promises than just the land on which he walked, then we can truly understand how prophecy is being fulfilled today. The model failed because it was meant to be temporary, while the second, based on the promises of God, is permanent.

When Moses promises in Deut. 30:4, 5 that “God will restore you from captivity” and “bring you into the land which your fathers possessed,” we cannot assume that we understand the manner in which this promise was to be fulfilled. As the promise unfolds throughout the prophets and is revealed further under the anointing of Pentecost in the New Testament, we gain greater clarity.

Moses gives us clues, mostly through the universal scope of his message in Deut. 29:10-15, but David speaks of a new land. Isaiah shows that God is not just a local deity, nor is He merely the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The New Testament brings the two Jerusalems and the two countries into clear focus, showing that the promises of God have come in two stages. The first was only the model, the prophetic type; the second is the “better” promise, for it is greater and is permanent.

Heart Circumcision Prophesied

Moses continues in Deut. 30:6,

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.

Such heart circumcision was not a feature of the Exodus covenant. This non-physical circumcision was revealed in the second covenant, first in Deut. 10:16 and again here in 30:6. It is also significant that the first revelation in Deut. 10:16 came in the context of the second law that was to be written after the first tablets were broken (Deut. 10:1-5). Heart circumcision, then, is the main feature of the New Covenant. It is then no surprise that Moses would speak of it in his ninth speech.

Heart circumcision is something that God alone can do, for it is a work of the Holy Spirit within us. Its purpose is to cause us “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Our flesh may fear God through the first covenant, but we truly love Him through the second covenant, because such love is a gift from God.

Deut. 30:7 gives the contrast, saying,

7 And the Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies on those who hate you, who persecuted you.

In other words, those who hate the people of the New Covenant are the ones who are yet under the curse of the law for disobedience. Recall that “enemies” are defined in the law as those who are hostile to Jesus Christ and remain in disagreement with His law. Even the Israelites were God’s enemies during their time of rebellion (Isaiah 63:10). Moses knew that Israel would later become God’s enemy, so he worded his prophecy to include all “enemies” in general.

Moses then continues in Deut. 30:8,

8 And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today.

Because this is a statement within the context of the New Covenant, where God was circumcising their hearts, we must read this as a promise, not as a command. The promise tells us that when God circumcises our hearts, we shall obey the Lord and observe all His commandments. Why? Because our obedience is the result of His work of circumcision within our hearts.

9 Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body, and in the offspring of your cattle, and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10 if [kiy, “because, surely”] you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if [kiy, “because, surely”] you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.

At first glance, this appears to be a conditional promise, for both the NASB and the KJV render kiy by the word “if,” not being able to distinguish between the two covenants. But this is a different word from what is used in Exodus 19:5, where “if” is from the Hebrew word im, or eem. Gesenius Lexicon shows that the Hebrew word im indicates the start of a conditional clause:

Hence, the word im is used in Exodus, but kiy is used in Deuteronomy. The word change shows the distinction between the two covenants. The meaning of kiy is “because, certainly, surely,” etc., as we are told by Gesenius Lexicon:

We see then that Moses was given the precise wording that would describe the New Covenant as something God was doing in the hearts of the people, causing them to be obedient and to love Him with their whole heart and soul.