Monday, February 21, 2011

New Year: Dt 4-6 for Feb 21

Deuteronomy 4-6 well describes the glory of the Old Covenant with Israel.

The teaching of the "statutes and judgments" is indeed cyclical, not just repetition. In Deuteronomy, much more is described concerning the purpose of the giving of the these, and the results, both of keeping and failing to keep them. We might say that Dt 4-6 puts the Old Covenant with Israel in context, or places an overview of it before us. It is not just the Law, but God taking for himself a nation (4:34), and goes back to "because He loved your fathers" and forward to "He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them" (4:31).

We can use the word "it" of the statutes and judgments now, because not only are there individual statutes and judgments, but they are given some structure and prioritization, as well as context. For example, the little phrase in 5:22, "and He added no more," is referring to the "Ten Commandments" on the tablets (4:13). They assume a high place. The context is the love of God for their fathers (4:37) and all the activity of God that accompanied that (4:37-38). Taking to heart (4:39) that activity of God is the immediate concomitant of keeping the commandments laid out (4:40).

There are so many things which are all related in this covenant: God's love for the patriarchs, His actions toward their seed, bring them from Egypt (4:37), and not forgetting giving them the land of nations greater than them (4:38), and the giving of "His statutes and His commandments" (4:40). All these are done by God. The purpose of that is for things to go well with them and their children in the land His is giving them "for all time." (4:40).

In this covenant on their part is the keeping of the commandments put forth (4:40): it involves watching themselves (4:23), not forgetting it (the covenant) and making a graven image (as had already happened, but that is not mentioned here). This not forgetting, and remembering, and watching themselves in that way is mentioned repetitively and cyclically (4:9-10,15,23). The actions are described as the result of that (4:15-16; 4:23-25); watching, remembering, not forgetting, and taking to heart is set forth as preventative of acting corruptly (4:16).

All this on their part is not to be thought of as being given one chance. When they fail ("when you ... act corruptly..." 4:25), and consequences come upon them (4:26-28), it says that from the nations where the Lord drives them, "from there you will seek the Lord your God (4:29)." ! That part is not conditional, but is an unconditional prediction. They will seek their God. If the search is with all their heart and all their soul (4:29), they will find Him.

Success in returning to God and listening to His voice is also given as an unconditional prediction (4:30): "you will return." The reason for this is God, on His part, will not forget (4:31).

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