Deuteronomy Lesson 55
Deuteronomy 12:1–16:17 – Review
06 September 2011
© Charles A. Clough 2011
We are going to be reviewing both this night and the next night because it’s been so long since we’ve gone through this material. I want to cover some of the major ideas that are in the book of Deuteronomy and in the whole theocratic nation that existed so long ago. Let’s look to the Lord first.
I’ll direct your attention first on the handout, the overall outline that we’ve been following. I want to point to some major structural things with this. You’ll notice that there are two bold fonts in that outline. One of them goes from chapter 1:6 to chapter 4:40, which is entitled the Exposition of the Torah; then from chapter 5:1 to 26:19 is the second exposition. The book of Deuteronomy we want to remember is unlike the book of Leviticus and Numbers, Leviticus particularly. Leviticus goes into the details of the Law but appears to have been addressed to the priesthood. It gets into all of the fine minutia. The book of Deuteronomy is different. It’s an exposition to the entire nation. So this was preached as it were to the common man. There are illustrations in it. It isn’t complete. It doesn’t deal with all the details Leviticus does; but it gives us the sweeping scope of the Law. That’s why this book is so important.
I started this book because we had some discussions with some of the young people who are going to our school system (secular school system) that basically suppresses anything of God consciousness and is presenting them with this word “social justice.” It’s a buzzword. It’s very popular in the literature, in the media and on college campuses. But what they are talking about when they use the words “social justice” is not what the Bible is talking about when the Bible uses the word justice. It is the same word used two different ways. We have to be careful of that.
Social justice today is largely articulated within a Marxist socialist framework. Social justice means stealing property in the name of the government and giving it to people who don’t have property. That in the Bible is theft, pure and simple. Socialism, the desire to redistribute wealth, violates the 8th, 9th and 10th commandments. It violates the 8th commandment because essentially it’s theft. It violates the 10th because it teaches envy. It teaches class warfare. This is basically the mental attitude sin of envy. So it violates the 10th commandment.
Then it violates the 9th commandment because what in effect happens is that when all this redistribution goes on you debase the currency. That’s a violation of the Mosaic standard of weights and measures which violates the 9th commandment of perjury. It bears a false witness. The dollar twenty years ago is not what the dollar is today but it is still called the dollar. But the value behind the dollar has changed.
Now you would never allow that, say, when you fill up the gas at the tank and you see the little seal on the gas pump that says it’s inspected by weights and measures—you wouldn’t expect that when it says a gallon that the gallons are going to shrink so you get less gallons today for one gallon than what you did 20 years ago. Everybody would see that as a violation of the 9th commandment. But when the dollar declines in value because it has to because it isn’t anchored to anything real. That being the case, fiat currency is always a means—in the Roman Empire they clipped the coins—debasement of currency. Debasement of currency always follows empires because they can never finance themselves.
So the book of Deuteronomy is a model for us because this book explains how God ruled a nation. So when talking politics, we’re talking society. We’re talking social structures. It’s all in the book of Deuteronomy.
It’s not written like Adam Smith or Karl Marx or Plato or Aristotle. It’s not written as a philosophy of life, it’s written as an exposition from God the creator of life. When God ruled the nation, this is how He ruled it. Therefore, it is this book and the heritage that comes out of this book that has been one of the foundations of law in Western civilization at least. This can be shown quite easily. It’s undeniable that this book has had that kind of influence.
We want to look seriously at this because if we really believe that the God of the universe disclosed His will to run a nation then we ought to pay attention to how He ran the nation. In the Age of Israel, the nation was tasked with a certain mission. Part of that mission was that Israel had was to do things that ordinary nations aren’t to do and weren’t designed to do. It is that Israel was designed to be a testimony to the kingdom of God. It was designed to show people physically, historically things that would eventually and still have yet to come that this is the way God wants people to live. So Deuteronomy is important from that point of view.
Of course as your outline points out verses 1 to 5, God’s spokesman is the prophet Moses. Moses is the most important historical figure politically. It’s not Julius Caesar like you learn in secular school. It’s not Augustus Caesar. It’s not Mark Anthony. It’s not FDR. It’s not George Washington. The most important person politically in history is Moses because Moses obtained his political policies from God Himself.
So when you study history and when you study social studies, you’re like me. I was trained in the public school system. You’ll never get that because the public school system particularly in our day is basically polytheistic and pagan. Because it is, teachers can’t articulate these issues. So we are basically ignorant in a vast area of history because we’re not allowed in the educational process to learn truth.
So Moses now in 1:6 to 4:40 that first exposition of the Torah – we won’t go into great detail tonight except in that exposition he is giving. If you’ll open the Bible, I want you to see 4:40 so you can see how the book is divided. It’s obvious that it has these sections in it. In 4:40 you’ll see where Moses is talking. It finishes up that first exposition. He gives history.
Then in verse 41 of chapter 40 the subject changes. See what happens? You look all the way in chapter 44 and you see verse after verse after verse. You can see verse 39. In verse 40 it’s all Moses teaching. It’s all Moses explaining things. Then in verse 41 it’s an act of Moses. So the exposition stops there. You have this editorial comment from verse 41 to 49.
Then in Deuteronomy 5:1 now Moses calls all Israel together so now here’s the beginning of the second exposition. The second exposition goes on through the 26th chapter. It’s quite a long exposition.
This also shows you something else that’s interesting. This is not Scripture-light. This is the way people taught in this time. These people were not necessarily literate in the sense they could read the Hebrew because many of these people were probably illiterate. So that’s why they relied on oral teaching a lot. The very fact that they could sit there as families and listen to Moses go from chapter 5 all the way to chapter 26 shows you they had a span of concentration. They weren’t texting. They weren’t having all the distractions. They could actually think for themselves and track what somebody was saying for quite some time. In an orally based society you have to do that because in an oral society you don’t take notes. The only thing you have is memory. You just have to rely on your memory. You can’t rely on your memory unless you are focused. So right away you see the kind of culture in which Moses is teaching.
If you’ll look now in the outline you’ll see from chapter 5:1 to 11:32 loving Yahweh with all the heart. Then in chapter 12:21 to 26:19 loving Yahweh with all the soul. The reason I broke the book up that way is because – expositors always break at chapter 12. It’s not new with me—the idea there is that those first chapters (5, 6, 7, and 8) are an exposition largely of what goes on in the heart. It’s an exposition of the battle of the mind. It deals with how we think about God and our relationship with Him. So it’s all relationship centered.
Beginning in chapter 12 and if you’ll turn to 12:1, I want you to see the break. We’ll come back to chapters 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in a minute; but I want to show you the large structure of the book. At the end of chapter 11 – actually in the outline - I can see I didn’t put 11 in there. I should have. As you go to the end of chapter 11, you’ll see for example verse 29.
NKJ Deuteronomy 11:29 “Now it shall be, when the LORD your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.  Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, …” So obviously this is being taught to people east of the Jordan. He’s looking west because they haven’t gone into the land yet. So this geographically fixes this. So they are on the other side. “… beside the terebinth trees of Moreh?  For you will cross over the Jordan and go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and you will possess it and dwell in it.  And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.”
That ends that chunk of Scripture where he’s talking about attitude. He’s talking about the fight we have to believe in the Word of God in that situation. Now beginning in verse 12:1 and very abruptly, it says there: “These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land…”
So beginning in chapter 12 we go into the statutes and judgments. These are the details. Last spring when we finished we still were working our way through that almost to the end of it. We will go through some of that tonight. But before we get to that point I want to go back now to chapter 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 and review some of the major points.
So let’s go back to chapter 5. In chapter 5 Moses recounts the anchor point in history of God speaking - a very important chapter. In chapter 5 this separates the men from the boys because chapter 5 gives you a yardstick, a measurement, about what revelation really looks like in the Scriptures.
This gets back to the idea – you know, today we have religious syncretism and polytheism. I was just reading an article about the 911 ceremony at the National Cathedral. No evangelicals were invited of course. It’s just the Buddhists, the Hindus, and Muslims. We have a few Episcopalians who run the cathedral; but we don’t want evangelicals. After all only 40% of the American public is evangelical. But, we have this interfaith thing in our national cathedral.
Well, metaphysically what that statement says is that all religions are speculative. None of them have real truth. You have to kind of to go through the cafeteria. That’s a metaphysical statement. See people think that’s tolerance. Yes, it’s tolerance; but it’s only tolerance only because you’ve relativized truth. If there were really truth then we’d be concerned about which religions are true. But, we are not concerned about what religions are true because our society has already decided in advance that you can’t decide what religion really is true. Maybe there is no truth at all in which case a relatives and everybody gets together at the club.
So here you have a problem then. The typical secularist today comes to Deuteronomy 5. He can’t believe this. This is absolutely unbelievable that the God of the universe spoke to over a million people audibly in the Hebrew language so that if you had a DVR you could record it. Now no one that accepts religions relativism can accept that. It’s unacceptable to think that the God of the Universe spoke audibly in Hebrew these words. But if He did, if the God of the Universe spoke these words as this text says; there is no discussion about what religion is true or false. None; there is no discussion. There is only one and that is the religion that God has self-disclosed.
Chapter 5 is where you’ll see we have the Ten Commandments. Of course we are so ignorant in our country today that you can go on the college campus and the average student can tell you ten brands of beer but can’t give you any of the Ten Commandments. So this is where billions dollars of education have produced this wonderful product.
So we have the Ten Commandments that we go through here, beginning in verse 6. It’s not an abstract God of some theologian. We are not talking about the idea of God. We are talking about a God who acted in history and you can verify the claim. Did they or did they not?
He said: NKJ Deuteronomy 5:6 “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Well did they come out of Egypt or didn’t they come out of Egypt?
That raises another question about biblical faith that we have to connect. The Bible insists that certain things happen in history because God says so. If those things did not happen in history, you can toss the Bible. The Bible is predicated on the fact that its historic claims are valid. That’s why a study of history is important. That’s precisely why social studies and the history that you get on a secular campus is so lethal to the spiritual life because what it is, is a picked over conglomeration to avoid all the true events that would validate the God of the Scriptures. So what you get is a chewed up sloppy presentation of what actually has happened in history. If you continue to take that in as a diet, you’ll never be strong in the Christian faith. You can’t be. So right here we have an historic event. God says it was an act.
“I brought Israel out of Egypt in time and space.” Then He goes on and says He has these commandments. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:7 “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Now obviously this collides with political correctness, doesn’t it? How do you reconcile verse 7 with what we’re getting in our society today? Just reconcile it. That’s the first one. Obviously we cannot agree with PC when it comes to relativizing religious truth. We’re sorry; but it’s either God’s truth or man’s truth. We’re more impressed with God than we are the PC people. That’s the 1st commandment.
Then we have the second commandment. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:8 ‘ You shall not make for yourself a carved image”. He’s talking about artistically and in life reflecting what God has spoken. In other words we have to in how we depict Him, we have to adhere to His own self-revelation.
When He says, “I don’t want you making for yourselves carved images,” the reason He doesn’t want us to do that is because a carved image represents somebody’s speculation, somebody’s human speculation, about what God is like.
God says, “I don’t want you messing with your speculations of what I am like. I am telling you what I am like. So bug off and let Me tell you what I am like. Don’t try to manufacture this yourself.”
Then we come to the third one in verse 11. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:11 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain”. What that’s talking about is the integrity of language, the idea that when you take the Lord’s name in vain you’re communicating a false picture. We’ll see the implications of the third commandment as we go on.
Verses 12 through 15 all deal with labor. And it deals with the Sabbath ratio, the ratio between work and leisure— between work and rest actually. You’ll see that there is quite a bit of work in there. It says it’s patterned because in this exposition is patterned after the 6 days you will labor and so forth.
NKJ Exodus 20:10 “but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work”. Moses, when he explains this, doesn’t actually quote what Exodus 20 says about it’s built on creation week; but he has another idea he wants to bring in here. To Moses following in verse 14 the important thing was he had observed the first generation of people getting sloppy about the 6:1 ratio. So He wanted to emphasize this.
That’s why he says: NKJ Exodus 20:10 “but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” In other words what God is saying here is, “I want all business shut down. The stores are not going to be open on the Sabbath.” Nobody makes a buck on the Sabbath, nobody. There is a reason why God says that. He wants labor to cease. That labor has a purpose. It is to finish something; then it is to rest in God’s provisions. It’s a whole battle of faith to do that.
Then in verse 16 we come on the 5th commandment. We will see some of the implications in a moment. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:16 “ Honor your father and your mother”. So right here we deal with parents and the family.
You’ll notice so far – which of these commandments has been addressed to the state and civil authority? You can’t find it. None of the Ten Commandments are addressed to the state! They’re all addressed to the people. They are addressed to families. Obviously this tells you something important.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:17 “You shall not murder.’ There is the protection of life. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:18 “You shall not commit adultery.” There is the issue of the protection of marriage. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:19 “You shall not steal.” This is the protection of the fruit of labor. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:20 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” That’s the same thing that protects the integrity of language which goes back to “take not the name of your Lord your God in vain.”
Then in NKJ Deuteronomy 5:21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” This is collides with socialism that somehow we are entitled to the produce of people who have honestly gathered money and saved it; they worked hard for it. People sit in envy and they throw people into office that can rip these people off. It is the wealthy that are supposedly the evil people. Private property and wealth are evil in the eyes of Marxist-socialism. It always has been. You just have to read Karl Marx and you know this.
So that’s the Ten Commandments.
Now we come to chapter 6 in the flow. We won’t go into detail here like we did with chapter 5. In verse 4 of chapter 6 here is the core of Jewish theology. Here is the core creed. NKJ Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” Immediately after chapter 5. It’s all logical. Remember Moses is expositing this before a group of people listening to him – men, women and children. So he follows a logical train of thought. “I told you,” he says, “what God told you at Mt. Sinai.”
Now those are words, those are language (propositions). Now if you are going to walk by faith you’ve got to have them in your heart. So right away, the practical question: how do you get it in your heart? Well, let’s continue the sentence. NKJV Deuteronomy 6:7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” That’s how you get it in the heart. So chapter 6 deals with getting the Word of God into your heart.
Then chapter 7. We have to deal with the fact that this is a fallen world and they’re going to have to conquer the land. We covered this. Remember we went into joining Yahweh’s war. It is not Israel’s war. It is not the Jews’ war. It is Yahweh’s war. So here we have the genocide that every critic loves to throw in your face – that this is genocide. “This is evil. There is the God of the Old Testament.” That kind of approach… Yeah, it is genocide. It’s genocide that’s justified. “Oh, you mean there is justifiable genocide?” Of course there is. God justified it and He justified it because you had a group of people who were on negative volition toward God and they hardened their hearts themselves like Pharaoh. So they’re judged.
What we said was that holy war or genocide in the Old Testament is confined only to the lands that are the outline of those lands that are defined in the Bible. It is not random genocide. It is not universal genocide. It is not like the Moslems who want to specialize in killing Christians. It is narrowly defined genocide. Why? The ethical answer to the criticism of genocide in the Bible is simple. Genocide in this context is an exposition of what the Second Advent of Jesus Christ is going to look like when genocide will be worldwide. Genocide is good news in that what it’s doing ultimately is it’s separating good and evil - eternally. So if you don’t have history with some sort of a judgment in it, you have no answer to evil. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. So that’s chapter 7.
Then in chapter 8 Moses deals with the problem there of – what are we going to do when we go into the Land and God blesses us? Now we have got a new kind of spiritual problem. Now we have the prosperity test. Now we have the problem of after God is blessing us we get our eyes off the blessor and onto the blessings. So this is why it’s all carefully constructed in verse 2.
You will remember – there again it is an element of biblical thinking people. We’ve got to see this—the Bible is talking about history. You cannot separate history from ethics. You can’t teach ethics as some set of abstract principles. It doesn’t work that way. God you remember enters into contracts. Entering into a contract means people watch the terms of the contract. Is the contract being obeyed by the parties to the contract? God is one of the parties to the contract. Well then, how do you determine whether somebody is breaking the contract or whether somebody is keeping the contract? How do you do that? You monitor performance. What is performance, but history? That’s why history has no meaning and purpose outside of the Scriptures.
When I went to secular schools, all I learned was Thucydides and Herodotus; those were the first historians. Thankfully I’ve straightened my mind out as got rid of that false education as I began to study the Bible more carefully and realized that the teachers told me a lie. Herodotus and Thucydides were not the first historians. The first historians were the prophets of Scripture. The reason the prophets of Scripture were the first historians is because they were patterning and trying find out whether or not this contract was working. They had a view of history that history had a reason, a rhyme and purpose to it and they wanted to see rhyme and purpose to it. That’s why in secular history you learn regurgitating dates for an exam. That’s silly. It’s like playing with beads. What a silly way to approach history. History has a purpose to it and we know the purpose because God Himself revealed Himself. He has told us the purpose of it as the Lord of History.
That’s why he says: NKJ Deuteronomy 8:2 “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you…” That’s why we have communion. Every communion ever done in the 20 to 21 centuries of Christianity, what do we have? NKJ 1 Corinthians 11:24 … do this in remembrance of Me.” … as Jesus said. Why do we keep doing it? For 21 centuries we have been doing the same thing over and over and over. Why? So every generation remembers the structure.
Then it says: NKJ Deuteronomy 8:2 “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” So that was a lesson in dependence upon God. That is chapter 8.
In chapter 9 he deals with another mental attitude issue among the people. That is after God blesses them they can get self-righteously arrogant that somehow that they were better than everybody else and they merited all these blessings. So this is spiritual fat headedness.
So he says in chapter 9—when you go into the Land… NKJ Deuteronomy 9:4 “Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land’. He goes on to tell their national failures spiritually.
So then we have in chapter 10, it goes through and talks about failure at Sinai. He’s narrating this to the end of chapter 11. Moses is narrating the history of the nation and its moral and spiritual failures. He does that not to make them feel bad. He does that to show them that, “You are here because of God’s grace. You are not here because you earned brownie points and you got more brownie points than the Canaanites. That’s not true. You are here because God is gracious to you—period.”
Now we want to go back to a slide here. That is in the Ten Commandments we have emphasized again and again that these commandments have a pattern to them. It is a chiastic pattern. That is if you look at the first two commandments – you blend the first two commandments together because they deal with worship of God and not making an idol. So if you do that, God alone is worthy of worship and service. Then you contrast that with the 10th commandment, thou shalt not covet. Those are related because if we love God with all our heart, we’re not going to covet. If we love God with all our hearts and we really believe He provides; why would we be coveting? We covet because we are dissatisfied with what God has given us. So those two are related and they are related to our central heart, worship and service.
Then we come down to the 3rd commandment. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:11 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain”. We look and low and behold the 9th deals with language. In judicial proceedings: NKJ Deuteronomy 5:20 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Thou shall not lie. Both have to do with languages.
Then in verse 12 to 15 we have the management of labor and property. Low and behold in the 8th commandment we have property is to be protected. So those are related.
So then we have that society depends on the function of marriage and family. NKJ Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother”.
And then: NKJ Deuteronomy 5:18 “You shall not commit adultery”. So those two have to do with marriage and the family – stability.
Then in the middle is life is to be respected. So what we have done is if you take this chiasm and you turn it on its head; you’ll see that at the bottom is the heart allegiance. I think this is an exposition in sort of subtle form of how God has designed human society. I think this is a very important implication of the way the Ten Commandments are articulated. That is the basic stratum of society is what is that society’s heart allegiance to. And, that is what God is getting at here. The citizens of the theocratic kingdom had to obey the first and second commandments. They were not to covet.
Then on top of that, if that’s valid there is the foundation that makes or breaks the society. John Adams said this: “We have given you a Constitution; (I think he is the one who said that) but it’s not good if you don’t have a religious spirit”. By that he meant the Christian faith. It’s not going to work. Of course we see that today. The Constitution only means what the judge said it meant last Tuesday afternoon.
So now we have the integrity of communication. The third commandment, what does it say? NKJ Deuteronomy 5:11 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain”. The other commandment: NKJ Deuteronomy 5:20 “You shall not bear false witness…” So there is the integrity. Both have to do with language. Here consistently states the truth; here we deceitfully profess truth for different agendas. You can see our society is shot through with this. Language today is just a tool of manipulation. Who can say the media sound bite? It is not viewed as something of a conveyor of truth.
So you have got to have this in order to get to the next step which is labor and property and business. How do you have a business if you are going to cook the books? How do you have a business if contracts are going to be broken? Business and work and labor and wealth thrive in an environment where there is integrity in language. So there are building blocks here. You have to see the order of the building blocks. This is why evangelism is so important in the social order. If we don’t have this corrected, this other stuff just falls apart. And, we are seeing that. So then we have labor and property.
After that we have marriage and the family. You can’t have marriage and family functioning if you don’t have some money from labor. I mean this is what kids don’t understand. It’s not just going out and shacking up. The idea is that you’ve got a business. Families are business. By the time the time a kid gets to college parents have already put a quarter of a million dollars into the kid. So the idea here is that marriages are business and they depend on this labor and property. Then finally marriage and family is the nest that protects life. Then when we get into the details later I’ll point this out to you that there are some very nice material that has just been published to show the structure of the Scriptures.
I thought this statistic was interesting talking about business and integrity. A guy did a study of the ten top performing stocks in the year 2000. Of the top ten, the average CEO ownership was over 20% in that company. Of the companies that went bankrupt, the average CEO ownership was less than 5%. Does this tell you something? What’s going on here? The companies that thrive, the CEO owns a vast portion of it. Of the companies that fail, the CEO doesn’t have any flesh in the game. What is this saying? See? It says that property and labor are a function of ownership. When you don’t own it; you don’t care about it. Who takes better care of a home? Somebody who owns it or somebody who rents it? See? It’s easy to see this principle. This is not rocket science. It goes back then to these basics.
So now what we want to do is we want to move on to the outline of Roman II, and we’re going to go through these for the rest of the time. We’ll go through these pretty fast. Now what I want to do is we’re moving to the second part of the exposition. Moses has gone through the mental attitude issues – loving the Lord with all our heart. Now he is going to show what the Ten Commandments look like in the society. This is necessary; and it’s necessary because of the way Moses teaches. I think we can learn so much from how he presents his material.
In chapter 6 and chapter 7—those chapters where he is dealing with the family training to get the Word of God in the heart. Then in chapter 7 he’s dealing with the men. “Gee, what are we going to do when we go into genocide and we have to kill people?”
So these are crucial things. It is interesting when you break those chapters apart that Moses has two streams of approach. One is that he teaches the relationship issue – the relationship issue between the believers and Yahweh. But then he also has a sandwich. See the verse structures there? Look at the verse structures. See verses 10 and 19? Then verses 1 to 9 and verses 20 to 25 that are like the bread. And this is what is in the sandwich. See the way that is constructed? It’s interesting. In the center is the relationship with Yahweh. But there are also commands and specific procedures. So he wants people to understand.
“I’ve given you the command – the overall relationship issue.” But in order that you see how to do it, he has specific how-to’s – you talk about them in your house and so forth and so on. So Moses is full of these procedures because he knows that we only learn by watching specific things and procedures.
So now in chapter 12 if you look at Roman II, what the 1st and 2nd commandments look like in practice. In chapter 1 he starts in and going through chapter 13 he deals with that first and second commandments. In verse 2 look at what he immediately says. NKJ Deuteronomy 12:2 “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.”
Obviously in the kingdom of God there no longer is tolerated pluralism and polytheism. This is the complete elimination of any vestiges of anti-Christian thinking. Now obviously we are not in a theocracy so how do you take the lessons of chapter 12 and 13 and apply them to the Church Age – because again we are not in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is yet to come because Israel turned away from it. So what do we do? Well, obviously the first and second applies to us because they are reiterated in the epistles. So we know that the command hasn’t changed in the sense of its core value. So here are some illustrations of collisions that we face culturally. If the people back here, they actually had to go back and physically remove vestiges of false religion across their land. Moses said, “I don’t want this stuff here. If you allow this stuff here, you are not obeying the first and second commandment. This is what obedience to the first and second commandment looks like.”
Well for us, here are some suggestions of what it looks like for the Church Age. We are going to have a collision with the unbelief over origins. There is no getting around that. There is cosmology. You either start with naturalism and deny the Scriptures or you start with the Scriptures and deny naturalism. It’s very simple. It’s either one or the other. It defines your whole idea of cosmology and cosmogony. So you have a collision over origins.
We have a collision in our society of epistemic authority. And, you’ve seen this chart. We are talking about we have a collision metaphysically about what the nature of creation is. Is it a creation or is it an accident? One or the other; it has to be one or the other. It’s either designed by God the designer or it isn’t. It’s a mindless purposeless thing. People always want a kind of have a halfway house here. You can’t have halfway houses. It’s one or it’s the other. That’s your metaphysical foundation for everything else you do in life. So you’ve got to make a decision here.
Then you come up here. What is our ultimate authority? If you look at chapter 13, that’ s exactly what they were doing. NKJ Deuteronomy 13:1 “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder”. He is a mystic. He gives you all these things. And then his theology is let us go after other gods. NKJ Deuteronomy 13:2 “and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ – which you have not known – ‘and let us serve them,’  you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death …” …eliminates him.
So here is. What is epistemic authority? Is it the Bible or is it naturalism? Is it empiricism or is it revelation? We are bound to be in collision with our environment. We can’t be embarrassed. We can’t avoid the conflict. It’s there.
The third example of this would be the ethical authority. Do we have relative ethics or do we have transcendental ethics? Do we have the Bible ethics or not? We can’t avoid that – and so forth. So we have that.
We also have the fact that we either in your outline you’ll see verses 5 to 7. The people were authorized to worship at only one place: where God had put His name. So in our Church Age, where’s the Temple? The Temple is the church collectively – not the building. We are temples. There is only one place where people come to know the Lord. They come to know the Lord through believers. They don’t do it through the trees. They do it through believers who are in some ministry – same thing.
Now you’ll see in 12:32 through 13:3 in your outline the Word of God is over all experience. It’s not experience. It’s the Word of God. You’ll see that in chapter 13. NKJ Deuteronomy 13:12 “If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying”. That gives you the same thing like a false prophet; then you go after the city. This is why in the priority of allegiance to the Word of God Jesus said: NKJ Matthew 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me”.
You say, “Oh, what a nasty thing for Jesus to say.” He is just articulating the third commandment – or the second commandment here. He is doing the same thing that chapter 13 does. So looking at the second and third commandment, that is what it includes. It includes allegiance to the Word of God over even the closest family people. That’s just the way it is. It causes ruptures. It causes friction. You’ve got all kinds of problems in families. Sorry, but that’s the first and second commandments. It’s doing in the Church Age what it was doing in the Old Testament the theocratic kingdom.
Now Roman III, what the third commandment looks like in practice. That’s taking the Lord’s name in vain. We said chapter 14 deals with that. Moses wants us to see - what does that mean? You remember, that dealt with how they dealt with death – how they dealt with the death of animals, how they dealt with death of men. You say, “What in earth has that got to do with taking the Lord’s name in vain?’
It also talks about diet. The attitude that people have toward life and death and diet shows their culture. God called Israel to a unique theocratic culture. They had a distinctive diet. They had things they could and could not do at a funeral. They had things that when they killed animals they had to recognize certain protocols because killing animals is a post-fall event. It’s not there from the original creation. It’s there because we need the protein apparently after the flood. But it’s also a remembrance that those animals are giving their lives for our lives. There’s a transaction there. God has an attitude toward that. So these are distinctives.
So to the Church Age what does that mean? It means that in our lifestyle we need to bear testimony to the uniqueness of the Christian faith. It’s up to how the Holy Spirit leads you in different situations. In the Old Testament these people had a lifestyle that was to bear testimony to Yahweh – over against Baal, over against the Egyptian gods and goddesses, over against the Mesopotamian gods and goddesses. They had to do things a certain way that distinguished their lives from the pagan lives. So it’s the distinctive. It’s the distinct life pattern.
In Roman IV, now we come to the issue of work and labor. This has to do with evil. Labor did not start with the fall. Now I know some kids think so, but work started with creation. The first time that God is seen in the Scripture He is working. Think about that. Genesis 1 is a depiction of a laboring God. God labors to bring forth something. It’s creative labor. It’s enjoyable labor. When that labor is finished God sits back and says, “This is good.” There is satisfaction in that. Labor gives satisfaction because labor is an expression of dominion. So God has designed us to do something, to make something, to build things and to take pride in the accomplishment. If we never do anything – people talk about self-esteem. Well self-esteem comes from doing something that’s worth esteem. So labor has that primary function. That was before the fall.
Now after the fall, what does God do that messes up labor? Remember? He curses. What agriculturally is the expression of that? Thorns and thistles. What does that do for energy that you have to expend to produce one unit of labor? It increases the amount of energy, doesn’t it? The fall renders labor inefficient.
Now you have to ask yourself, why would God do something in cursing to render and make difficult our labor? One speculation that people have speculated is because it keeps us busy. If we had leisure, leisure hands lead to more and more evil. We have less time for evil because we have to devote so much time and so much effort to survive and to flourish. We don’t have time to engage in a lot of evil things. This is why the leisure class is always screwed up because they have too much time on their hands.
This is what happened to Rome. Who did all the work in Rome, this great classical culture that everybody talks about as the great model? It wasn’t a great model. It was a slave society. Slaves did all the work. Slaves did the education. The result was the whole civilization eventually capitulated because nobody was doing any work and there was no leadership. So the leaders were people who got into high office never had a job. They never dealt with reality. The result was they never learned and they made foolish leaders.
So the 4th commandment – what does it look like?
In chapter 14:22 if you notice when he starts out it says: NKJ Deuteronomy 14:22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year”. Immediately we get into tithing issue. What has that got to do with labor? For the simple reason that God wants us to labor to create things and part of our resting - we rest in order to acknowledge that our labor is necessary but it is not sufficient. We need His provisions to produce things. After we produce things to acknowledge back to Him that He had a role in what we were producing, we give back to Him. We give a portion. So immediately you have this whole thing in Deuteronomy 14 about giving. You can’t give if you don’t have anything to give. It says, “Giving your grain.” Where did the grain come from? It wasn’t a government subsidy program. The grain was a result of those guys working, plowing the fields, tending the fields, taking all the work, work, work it took to raise the grain.
Then God says, “Now I want you to do two things. I want you to stop your business on the 7th day and by the way every 7th year I want you to shut your business down. That’s going to force you to understand that you must trust Me to provide for your needs. I want you to labor, but your labor is not sufficient for the blessing. It’s got to be labor done as unto Me. To make that clear, after you’ve done your labor, I want you to give Me a portion of it.”
So that’s the cycle you see in Deuteronomy 14 and on through 15. Dip into 15 a minute. See 15:1. It is still expositing the 4th commandment about labor. NKJ Deuteronomy 15:1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.  And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother…” What is that all about? We have gone from tithing. We never thought of tithing related to the 4th commandment about labor. Now we’re into debt services. What is going on here? The idea is that God does not want us to labor as slaves. When we owe we have to labor to get rid of the debt. What God wants us to realize is that the labor is bigger than getting rid of a debt. You can see how this applies.
In your outline you’ll see: NKJ Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender”. That’s the universal issue. God does not want us to labor that way. Of course Sunday I spoke to some of these issues; but I want to take you to Ephesians 4:28 to show you how Paul picks up on this and how deeply related labor is to how we act – not only how we act, but how we think about it.
In Ephesians 4:28 – a little verse here tucked in here along with evidences filling with the Holy Spirit and the implications of walking with the Lord. NKJ Ephesians 4:28 “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need”. That verse is loaded with wisdom. That verse should be applied in our penal system and is not.
Let me show you how this goes. Look how it starts. NKJ Ephesians 4:28 “Let him who stole steal no longer …” Stealing was endemic in the Roman society at the time in Ephesus and everywhere else. He is saying that they probably came to Christ and they were still stealing. So that’s why he had to say this. Stealing was a way of life. Stealing, if you think about it, is disregard for private property.
We don’t have time tonight to go into details, but it’s on the website if you want to see the exposition of the Deuteronomy section. In there you’ll see that one of the ways Moses tries to get his point across is that he says, “If you see your neighbor’s donkey, keep that donkey. If you can’t find the owner, keep it until you can find the owner.” Now that goes beyond thou shalt not steal because he would normally think, “I see the donkey and it’s finder’s keepers losers weepers as the saying goes. I didn’t really steal it from the guy. I didn’t take it from him.” But Moses says, “Yes, you did.” The donkey somebody owned. The donkey is somebody’s property. You don’t just accumulate; grab hold of somebody’s property. See private property is central to the whole 8th commandment. It’s central to the 4th commandment because property is the result of work, wealth and labor. So what Paul does, he takes that same biblical principle.
NKJ Ephesians 4:28 “Let him who stole steal no longer …” So he says that’s illegitimate. “… but rather let him…” Now look what happens here.
“let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that [purpose] he may have something to give him who has need.” He is arguing there to work so that it not only fills your needs but you have enough beyond your needs (not wants) to be able to share it.
Think about the end result of verse 28 at the end versus what you see at the beginning of verse 28. What’s going on at the beginning of verse 28? Thievery, disregard for private property. At the end of verse 28, what is the transformation? The transformation is that labor is honorable. I ought to labor not only for myself but so that I have something to give to others. Now you talk about a mental attitude change – from thievery to sharing. Look at that. What a lesson! See we have thieves in prisons and there is no correction. It is called the Department of Corrections. It’s not correcting. This is correcting. This is what the Word of God does to correct. It’s almost like labor is a therapy. It is a therapy to teach people that you can do it. And you should be able to do it and then share. These are some of the ideas that we’ve dealt with in Deuteronomy up to this section.
We’ll end tonight by looking back at page 1. Again, so we see on the map where we are going. What we have done is we have looked at the outline and we’ve gone all the way down to the fourth commandment there, 14:22 to 16:17- the theocentric in God’s economic order. That’s as far as we’ve come tonight.
But what I want you to see is – don’t forget the structure. Each one of these sections from to 26:19 is expositing details and examples of what those Ten Commandments look like. That keeps us from thinking of those Ten Commandments in too restrictive of terms. Those commandments have a lot of implications across the board. The only way you can see the implications is through the examples of Moses.