Moses continues his speech in Deut. 29:5,
5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot.
It is hard to know whether one should take this literally or metaphorically. Did the Israelites have only one garment and one pair of sandals when they came out of Egypt? If so, then it would be a practical necessity that they should not wear out. But it is also possible that Moses was using metaphorical terms to indicate God’s provision for them. In other words, none of them went without clothing or sandals during these forty years.
From a prophetic standpoint, this applies to the church in the Age of Pentecost. From this perspective, the garments of salvation (Isaiah 61:10) and the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15) did not wear out or disappear. These two items represent the whole armor of God that has provided the church all that was necessary to sustain the Christian experience during its wilderness journey. They are singled out to represent our relationship with God and our walk with Him.
No Wine in the Wilderness
Moses continues in Deut. 29:6,
6 You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine [yayin] or strong drink [shekar], in order that you might know that I am the Lord your God.
In the wilderness the Israelites had a nomadic lifestyle. They did no farming, for they could never be certain when the pillar of cloud would move to another location. So they had no wheat or barley to make bread, unless perhaps they were able to obtain some from passing caravans or traders.
Neither did they plant vineyards to obtain wine. Instead, they were fed by the manna and drank from the “rock which followed them” (1 Cor. 10:4). Moses says that the Israelites did not drink wine (yayin) or strong drink (shekar). The Hebrew word yayin can mean either fermented wine or grape juice. The word shekar means fermented juice. Prophetically speaking, Israel’s example indicates that the church is not to drink the wine, or teachings of Babylon, but to eat the manna from heaven (John 6:48-51), which is Christ (as the Word of God). Jer. 51:7 says,
7 Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are going mad.
Rev. 14:8 speaks of this prophecy as well, telling us that Babylon “has made all of the nations drink of the passion of her immorality.” In other words, the wine of Babylon is equated with immorality (porneia, “fornication”). It is not surprising, then, that the goal of Mystery Babylon today is to promote immorality in the guise of sexual freedom. This is the primary lifestyle of Babylon that makes the people lawless and “mad,” from the divine perspective.
Wine also has a positive connotation, for it is used as the drink offering during the feast of Tabernacles (and other offerings). In that case, it is spoken of as “new wine,” that is, the first-fruits of the grape harvest and represents the fullness of the Spirit. In that context, Paul says in Eph. 5:18,
18 And do not get drunk with [literal] wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.
The fact that the Israelites did not have wine in the wilderness was meant to portray the negative side of wine, not the positive.
No Farming and No Land-Rests
The fact that the Israelites did no farming during their wilderness sojourn implies that the laws regarding the seventh-year land rest (Sabbath) did not apply to them until they crossed into the Promised Land. For this reason Moses said in Lev. 25:2-4,
2 Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, “When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, 4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.
Their weekly Sabbaths, of course, were established by the manna which came for six days and ceased on the seventh. Hence, they kept their weekly Sabbath, but not the seventh-year land rest, except perhaps in regard to servants working off a debt.
The church in the Age of Pentecost has also been in the wilderness while the Kingdom is yet landless. The difference is that the Israelites were grouped together as a people, while the Kingdom people under Pentecost have been scattered.
Furthermore, Israel under Moses was no longer under bondage to Egypt, but the Kingdom people since the time of Christ have labored under the succession of beast empires to the present time. So the Kingdom has been without territory throughout the time that the beast empires were given dominion. This will change, however, when the Stone Kingdom smashes the image and then grows until it fills the whole earth (Dan. 2:35).
During the wilderness sojourn, the church under Pentecost has not been held liable for not keeping rest years or Jubilees. Since authority and responsibility go in equal measure, the beast empires carry the overall liability for refusing to acknowledge Jesus Christ and to abide by the divine law. In fact, this is why God has overthrown them, each in its own turn over the centuries.
Even so, individuals do enjoy a certain level of freedom even while in captivity. Within those parameters, men are liable before God to learn the laws of the Kingdom, to learn obedience, and to be led by the Spirit. Each is responsible to do what the Spirit says to him as his conscience is enlightened by divine revelation.
The Sonship Inheritance
Moses continues in Deut. 29:7-9,
7 When you reached the place, Sihon the king of Heshbon and Og the king of Bashan came out to meet us for battle, but we defeated them; 8 and we took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of the Manassites. 9 So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
Moses had already spoken of these battles in his first speech (Deut. 2:32; 3:1), giving the history of the exodus. This land was east of the Jordan River, stretching north to Mount Hermon (Deut. 3:8). Although that land was not part of Canaan proper, it was given to three of the tribes of Israel. Because God had given Israel the victory, Moses implies that this is why Israel ought to “keep the words of this covenant.”
This also foreshadows our own time, for we too are at the conclusion of the forty Jubilees in the wilderness. This is the time when the giants, represented by Sihon and Og, are to be overthrown. It is time to take back Mount Hermon, the Mount of Sonship. Mount Hermon is also known as Mount Sion (Deut. 4:48). It is the place where Jesus was transfigured (Matt. 17:1, 2) in the mountain near Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13).
According to ancient sources, this mountain was originally the site of the incident in Gen. 6:4, which produced the “giants.” As I explained in Speech 1 of this series in Deuteronomy, the ones bearing children by the “daughters of men” called themselves “sons of God.”
I suspect that this was like the name of their organization and is not to be taken as an accurate representation of who they were. They came to Mount Hermon to try to fulfill the prophecy which somehow they knew. Yet they did so in an unlawful manner, and so they established a counterfeit sonship movement.
In the New Testament Mount Sion becomes the symbol of the New Jerusalem, as we see in Heb. 12:22,
22 But you have come to Mount Zion [Greek: Sion] and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels.
This is the Mount Sion of Deut. 4:48, where it is identified as Mount Hermon.
Israel overcame the giants and occupied the land to Mount Hermon, or Mount Sion, at the end of their forty years in the wilderness. I believe that this foreshadows events today, as the overcomers defeat the descendants of those giants who escaped long ago. The counterfeit “sons of God” must be displaced by the true Sons of God who have been patient enough to await the appointed time and to attain Sonship in the lawful manner.