Deuteronomy Lesson 59
Conclusion of Moses’ Second Exhortation (Chapters 4–26)
18 October 2011
© Charles A. Clough 2011
On the handout tonight you’ll see I’ve collapsed that thing that I usually start with (with all the subsections in it) because tonight we’re finishing the last part of that second exposition of the Torah. The Torah - Moses from 5:1 all the way to 26:19 is his second exposition. These are sections of the book of Deuteronomy. You can tell they’re sections because they stop, and then there’s a historical narrative for a few verses, and then it says, “And Moses said.” So that’s why the text in the book of Deuteronomy is broken up by these expositions.
It’s good to go back to that chart because tonight as we end that second exposition which is an exposition of all the implications of loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Loving the Lord with all your heart is that inner heart attitude. Those verses chapter 5-11 basically deal with the battle of the mind and the battle of the heart.
Then from chapter 12 through 25, it’s loving God with all your life. The Hebrew word for life there is nephesh. That section of the books deals with “if this situation arises then you should do this; if that situation arises then you should do that.” It’s like case law. It has some case law in it. But it also has social situations.
I think if we learned anything going through chapters 12-25, what that section does is it teases out of the Ten Commandments implications, which we’ve probably never thought about.
A favorite one of mine is to think about the 8th commandment, “thou shalt not steal.” You see that 8th commandment, “thou shalt not steal.” Well, it is easy to walk away with the idea that “thou shall not steal” and think because you overtly haven’t stolen something that you are in conformity with the 8th commandment. But then when you look at all the social situations that Moses covers, he’s talking about things like if you see a neighbor’s donkey out in the road that you have to get it and hold it until you find out whom it belongs to. You normally wouldn’t think if you don’t do that, “I’m not touching that donkey. Why should I? I’m not stealing it.”
But behind that 8th commandment you see when you see the implication of it is something there’s very positive. It’s not just a negative thing. It’s a respect for ownership. It’s a respect for property. So there is a positive aspect. So that is the value. People don’t really get into this, into the Old Testament to see these social situations.
As we’ve gone through the details we’ve also tried to alert you to the economic implications. There are also all kinds of economic implications.
Dr. North who’s an economist who has studied extensively the book of Deuteronomy points out that if Israel had only obeyed Yahweh she would have economically conquered the world. The interest rates in Israel were trivial compared to the 20, 30, 40 percent interest rates in the pagan world. The interest rates in the pagan world had to be high because they had an inflated currency. They were basically coin clipping and using silver with dross. So you had an inflating currency, which drives interest rates up. You had lack of integrity for bankruptcy, which drives interest rates up. Those things weren’t going on in Israel, shouldn’t have because remember there were weights and measures. We talked about that last time. You were to have a weights and measures that were calibrated. So, your money was metal. It was silver and gold. You had to have a standard weights and measures. So if you had a coin, a shekel and it was silver, the shekel should not change value with time.
These things people don’t think about when they read the Bible. They think it’s a nice little religious story. This is more than a religious story here. This is actual, real, political, natural history. This is a time when God ruled a nation. So it’s almost like it’s a laboratory from the 14th century on down to the 6th century. People don’t think about history that way. We need to go back and look at a nation unique. You want to always remember the two key unique things about biblical Israel, the first one, which was utterly unique in history. No nation ever had this characteristic; they were locked into a contract with God. No other nation has ever had that situation because no other nation including America has ever been a theocracy.
The second thing about Israel that marks it off from all other nations is a sequence of living prophets over centuries of time. It wasn’t like Islam with just Mohammed. It wasn’t like Zoroastrianism with just Zoroaster; Buddhism was just Buddha, Mormonism was just Joseph Smith or Jehovah Witnesses with Russell. It wasn’t a group that started with one man. It was Moses and the succeeding prophets over centuries and centuries and centuries of time that had a coherent message. That is unique.
What is so sad in our secular society is that children go through the public school system learning history and there’s never a peep about the nation Israel and its uniqueness. The one unique nation in all of human history, and it’s totally omitted. “Forget it.” It’s poverty. It is poverty inside the educational system. Then we wonder why kids come out so screwed up. We have Christian schools like Gerry here who teaches there. Thank God we have a Christian campus once in a while.
So let’s look at our outline. Turn to Deuteronomy 26 and we’ll look at the first section, verses 1 down to verse 11. If you’ll follow me, let’s look at those 11 verses in 26. By the way, if you look ahead in 27:1 you’ll see that verse 1 of chapter 27 is a historical narrative. It’s not an exposition. The exposition ends at the end of this chapter.
NKJ Deuteronomy 26:1, “And it shall be, when you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, 2 that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. 3 And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the country which the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’ 4 Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God. 5 And you shall answer and say before the LORD your God: ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. 7 Then we cried out to the LORD God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. 8 So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”; 10 and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O LORD, have given me.’ Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God. 11 So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.
This is a ceremony. It appears from the way it’s handled that this was the firstfruits. In other words firstfruits was something imbedded in the Jewish calendar. That’s why we have this little chart here. Israel had a unique calendar. The church down through the centuries has had church calendars of different events. But in Israel’s calendar, the thing that is fascinating about it is that it’s predictive. The calendar recalls past history, but the past history is going to be a pattern of future history. So Israel’s calendar is broken down into the spring cycle and the fall cycle.
Liberal critics of the Bible have always grabbed this and said, “Oh gee. That shows you that the Jewish people developed their whole theology from agriculture.” It’s actually reversed. They were an agricultural people before they got into the land. The calendar preceded their agriculture. They came into the land and became farmers, but the calendar had already preceded that kind of a business. Yes, the calendar has a cyclic nature to it; but that’s because nature is cyclic.
So we have then in the spring cycle, we have the first thing – Passover, to remember the Exodus and judgment salvation. The fulfillment is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We have the Feast of Unleavened Bread to dramatize the cultural break from Egypt. The analogy for us Paul uses that “let no leaven be among you,” so forth. He picks up on that same idea.
The firstfruits, which we are looking at here is to rejoice over the first spring harvest. In other words the first part of the crop was to be brought and offered to God. That, we’ll get into that in a minute—fulfillment. Pentecost, which was later in the spring, was the end of the spring harvest. That’s all of the spring cycle.
Now what’s fascinating about this is what day was Jesus Christ crucified? He was crucified on Passover. So here Christ centuries later it just “happens” that He dies and is crucified on the Passover. And then it just happens that He rises from the dead as the Firstfruits. And it just happens that the Holy Spirit comes on the Day of Pentecost. Are these accidents, statistical probability propositions here? Or, is this evidence of a sovereign God who is surgically precise in history pulling events off right on schedule, right to the very day. And it gives you that confidence that what looks like chaos out there, beyond it, somebody is in charge here. There is a pattern and there is an order to history.
So the color down here for the fall is that there were three things that we’ve just gone through with the Jewish people: the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) and then The Feast of Tabernacles – there has been no fulfillment of that fall cycle. So that’s why we believe that the fall cycle when it’s fulfilled will happen on those days.
In the future, some October, on Yom Kippur, we believe that the nation Israel will understand Isaiah 53. When they understand Isaiah 53 and they recite it with their hearts prompted by the Spirit of God, then it fulfills the condition of what Jesus did when He came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
He said: NKJ Luke 13:35, “… I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ” By fulfilling that, Jesus will return and the Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled and that will be the Millennial Kingdom and the reign of Jesus Christ. So the spring calendar has already been fulfilled, the fall calendar has not.
We’re going to zero in now on the firstfruits. This is going to be the first firstfruit because they hadn’t had any firstfruits before. This is the thing, after you get in the land. This whole theology from verses 1 to 11 is analogous to – what do you think in the New Testament as far as our attitude goes? They’re going into the land. They produce the crop. They take up pieces, chunks parts of that crop and they go to Jerusalem and they offer it. What in effect are they doing? Giving thanks. The Bible tells us: NKJ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This is a formal liturgy of thanksgiving. It’s very formal. If you look at the structure of the text you’ll see that there are certain things you have to do. These are instructions. See what it says. It says, “You’ll have to get a basket and you go to the place where the Lord puts His name.”
Now firstfruits—on your handout I mention Romans 8:23 and 1 Corinthians 15. In Romans 8:23 Jesus, the redemption of our body, is the First fruits. In Corinthians 15 Christ is risen to become the Firstfruits. It has to do with the resurrection. You have a blank there. I’ll try to be a good boy tonight and go through it. This is very important application of firstfruits. If you don’t see this you don’t grab the impact, the powerful idea behind firstfruits. We have what no other religion or political program can produce. We have a really existing piece of the future.
Let me stop a moment and tell you why that’s so important. I’ll use Marxism as an example. Marxism, Leninism, Maoism in China, your social radicals that are actually still down influencing this “Occupy Wall Street” all over the world. It’s all the same Marxist socialist stuff. The kids don’t know what they are getting into. I saw the same stuff in the ‘60s. The young people because of the education system don’t understand what they’re doing.
The Marxist viewpoint is this. Marx saw ills in society, genuine problems. His coming out of an atheist background – which by the way he was Jewish and he knew about the Bible. But he rejected that. He wanted a solution to the problem. So Marx very cleverly came up with a program that’s analogous to the Scriptures. In communism you have evolutionary origins, an old earth type thing, natural evil. But then you have a real fall. The Marxists think of the fall of man as that moment in history where the hunter-gatherers stopped and farming began.
What changed when you go from hunter-gathering to a farming situation? What do you think happens that the Marxist finds very profound? You go to agriculture. What does the farmer have to have that a hunter doesn’t? He has to have seeds but the hunter is out there too. The farmer needs ground. He needs property. So with the rise of farming, according to the Marxist, you have the beginning of private ownership. That is the fall of man in Marxism—the idea of owning property, a capitalist who owns property, because Marx said the factory owner (and he had laborers come into his factories in the Industrial Revolution. The factory owner – see he’s a capitalist) is bad. He’s bad and he can’t even help it even if he’s good personally; he can’t help it because he owns property. That does all kinds of things. It distorts real life. So the Marxist solution was to try to destroy property.
That’s why we have the death tax. People don’t realize it but the idea that you have to pay taxes or your descendents have to pay taxes on your stuff that you’ve already paid taxes on—estate taxes aren’t there to raise revenue. Estate taxes don’t raise that much revenue—estate taxes are there for one real purpose: to wipe out strong families. It’s an anti-family legislation; always has been. Research it. Look for the origin. Where did it start? So Marxism has always been against family and private enterprise.
Their solution however is to do what? Proletariat: the idea is that nobody owns anything. Well, if nobody owns anything what incentive do you have to take care of something? Trying going to the post office and claim your brick. You can’t do it. So the Marxists were extremely naïve in the sense that they think people can go on and labor when they don’t have property and their labor doesn’t result in any acquisition. It’s an extremely naïve view. And it falls apart. Marxism has never worked anywhere that’s it’s been tried. It’s so sad that we have people in this country at this hour of our nation who are trying to bring Marxist principles back. Didn’t you ever see what it did to Russia, the Soviet Union, with more natural resources than any other nation on earth? They couldn’t run a hotdog stand efficiently. So this is the story of Marxism.
Now here is the difference with firstfruits. Karl Marx labored to describe the ideal dictatorship of the proletariat. But he was bound up in an intellectual problem. That was because in his mind the way we think is determined by the economic context in which we live. So because we are contaminated mentally, we are all fallen. We are all part of a fallen human race. We can’t understand what the dictatorship of the proletariat is eventually going to look at. So the irony is Stalin with all his destruction of millions and millions of people all of this was to bring in some sort of a millennial kingdom. But you ask Marx: “What does your Millennial Kingdom look like?” The real knowledgeable Marxist will tell you, “We can’t tell you what that will look like because we ourselves are bound in to our economic categories.”
So now let’s go to firstfruits. What do we have that gives us something the Marxist can’t have, never had, and will never have? We have a resurrected human being who was instantly raised from the dead. His body is now no longer a mortal body. It is a resurrected body. It was seen by people. It is not a spirit. It was touched. He could eat food with that resurrection body. The resurrection body looks somewhat like His mortal body, which by the way should challenge our whole idea of DNA. Today it’s said that all DNA, all the instructions for all the genes is our bodies are wrapped up in information in the DNA. That’s true.
Question: When you die, the DNA goes away. How then can you be resurrected with a body that looks similar to your existing body without the information being somewhere besides the DNA? Somewhere there’s a database. And, it’s not just in the DNA. There’s a database that God has somewhere for each one of us so that the resurrection body occurs. It’s patterned after the mortal body. We have that. We know that happens because we’ve seen it happen in history.
“Okay Marxist! Show me what your millennial kingdom looks like. You can’t tell me and you’ll never be able to tell me because it’s total imagination of your depraved heart.”
We Christians have the truth. That’s the power of the firstfruits. It’s a tremendous idea that we have an existing piece of the future. We know something about the eternal state; and it’s not speculation. It’s not a dream. It is something that existed that people like you and me were there and saw it with their own eyes. As the Apostle John said, “We reached out, and we touched it with our hands.” That’s the future.
Now the rest of this says: NKJ Deuteronomy 26:2, “… which you shall bring from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide.”
There is a theme, and I mentioned it in your handout. There is the sacred space. Using Eugene Merrill’s Old Testament theology book he has a great discussion of the sacred space. Now let me go into this a minute. God is omnipresent, is He not? He is present everywhere. That’s His attribute. But it’s also true that God has spaces in space and time where He meets people – example, Eden. When we transgress, the sinners are ejected from that property. Adam and Eve were ejected from the sacred space of Eden. He put a capital punishment guard, lethal weaponry, and a band of angels to keep anybody from that.
Accompanying the idea of sacred space is that every sacred space God has, has an approach protocol. You have to go through the approach protocol - the example being Mt. Sinai. When Moses at the burning bush was on Mt. Sinai – remember we mentioned it last time or the time before. What did God tell Moses to do? “Take off your sandals.” Because sandals as we pointed out in Ruth and the other book, that was the vehicle for claiming property. You walked with your sandals around to claim property. The implication wasn’t he had smelly dirty sandals. There was a theological reason why he had to take the sandals off. That is, God said, “This is My property, not yours Moses. You are here by My invitation. This is My meeting place and I dictate the terms of this meeting.” You have the sacred space in Bethel. Jacob, remember he takes the rocks around and remembers it.
You have also now coming to Jesus, when He says, “The Comforter has been with you; He will be in you.” Two little prepositions, but it means a transfer of the sacred space. During the gospels, Jesus was the sacred space. He was with you. He was with the disciples. With the indwelling of the Spirit at Pentecost, now the church is the sacred space on earth of the Holy Spirit. Is there an approach protocol for the church? Of course. It’s the gospel. You can’t become regenerate without trusting in Jesus Christ. It’s the Way, the Truth, and the Life. People don’t join the real church I mean, the body of Christ. It has to be by divine invitation on God’s terms and God’s terms are: NKJ Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” … with all due apologies to political correctness. So God has a right to dictate the approach protocols to His meeting place.
So here they say: NKJ Deuteronomy 26:2, “… go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide.” That’s the tabernacle. That was the sacred space. Remember, in the tabernacle, you couldn’t approach the tabernacle without the laver, without going through protocols. It’s always been that way. Now when you get there, here’s what you are supposed to do. See Moses is spelling this all out into a formal liturgy. The liturgy is you have to say this. You go to the one who is the priest and you say to him (here after you get your first garden fruit of your crop - your business), “I declare today (See it’s a formal thing. Yahweh your God it’s a textual problem here whether it’s our God or what.) that I have come to the country which our Lord swore to our fathers to give us.” What is that talking about? Abrahamic Covenant.
Now why do you suppose in this formal liturgy the person who brought the firstfruit had to include that little sentence. “I thank you, oh Lord, that I have come to the country that you promised the fathers.” What is that a testimony to? God’s historical faithfulness. This is what it looks like to glorify God. Here is a simple little action and you can see what worship looks like because God is getting the credit. “Thank you, oh God, I am here.” You are holding the firstfruits. You are holding the physical stuff. “Here it is Lord. I’ve got it in my hand.” What does this talk about—fulfillment? God has done it. So He requires the individual people to come. “Bring what I’ve given you. You’re in that land. You conquered the land. The land is yours; and you’re producing something. See how physical economic things are in Old Testament law? It’s so neat. This is business. You are able to make a profit. This is your first profit. It is because the Lord has been faithful.
So then it goes on with another protocol. NKJ Deuteronomy 26:4 “Then the priest shall take the basket…” Apparently the priest then turns and holds the basket before Yahweh because he hears the priest working again by the way. 5 “And you shall answer and say before the LORD your God…” The individual is standing there, before the sacred space. And now how would you characterize from verse 5 to verse 9? From verse 5 to 9 what is all that telling about? It’s talking about history.
Now here’s a little tip. In the Old Testament one of the most repeated verbs is zakar – remember, remember, remember. You see it again and again and again. You see it in the prophets over and over, over and over. Here’s why. Let’s make an individual example. Many of you have old people in your family. What happens in senility and when you have Alzheimer’s? What happens to people’s identity? When they lose their memory they also lose part of their identity, don’t they? They could remember their childhood; but they don’t remember the last 5 years of their life, the last ten years of their life. It’s like part of their very identity slips away. We’ve seen that in our families.
Now here’s what happens corporately: a group of people who lose their history, lose their identity. This is why I believe Satan is so good at revising history. Think of what he’s done to nature. You go to every museum on earth and you have a fabricated natural history. And what does that fabricated natural history do? It’s an interpretation of the fossil evidence. It’s the interpretation of geological strata. The end result of this reanalysis, this natural history, is that we are part and parcel of a casual meaningless nature. We are the accidental by-products of impersonal processes. It has to follow, doesn’t it?
People have such a hard time with this. Why are young people committing suicide, being discouraged about their life? Well, they’re learning their lessons for heaven’s sake. What have you been teaching them? What’s their natural history? Then you wonder why they act that way? No, no! The kids are more consistent than the adults. The adults are trying to have it both ways. They’re trying to say you’re pond scum evolved but don’t act like a human. Huh? How does that follow? So by manipulating history, we change people’s identity.
Consider American history. Why is there an attack on the Founding Fathers to destroy them? “Oh, they are slave owning white men deists.”
Why is that an attempt at revising American history? So we’ll forget our identity. We can discard the Constitution. It is an evolving document. It’s living now, evolving, changing. I can’t use a literal hermeneutic. It’s not alike a contract. Oh really! The Constitution is not a contract? Since when?
So attempts at destroying history or fabricating – because Satan doesn’t eliminate. It’s not like he gives us amnesia. He always reconnects the history. This is why history is so important. Think about the history you guys got in secular schools – the history I learned. When we were learning history about the 1st and 2nd century, how much did we learn about Jesus Christ, the most important person of the 1st century? Zero! We learned about Augustus Caesar. We learned about Julius Caesar. We learned all about the Romans. Nothing about Jesus, except He was some Jewish carpenter somewhere.
Coming out of that idea of history, where is your identity? Why do we have problems with the gospel? Because we don’t think that we’re made in God’s image. We don’t think that we’ve fallen. We don’t think we are fallen people who have a depraved nature and we need a Savior. Because we have been fed a false natural history, a false American history, a false church history.
Now see when you come here God required (verses 4-9) that they had to go through and repeat again and again. Same thing at the Passover.
When your son comes to you in Deuteronomy 6, here’s what you tell your son. This Passover is because boom, boom, boom happened.
So what do we do? We have an analogy to this in communion. Whatever church you go to, do this what? Do this in what of Me? Do this in remembrance of Me? See? Zakar— remember, remember, remember ... because history is that important.
So he goes through the ceremony and tells about history. And then he says: NKJ Deuteronomy 26:10 “… Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God.  So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD your God has given to you and your house, you”. The worship is to be enjoyed. There is an enjoyment here. You are mentally prepared to do this now. “you and your house”. The house, by the way, means your family. This, by the way, tells you something else: the primary social entity involved in the worship was not the tribe. It was not the nation. You don’t see those two words there, do you? What you see is you and your house, your family. So obviously the family was the key social entity in worship here.
“… and the Levite and the stranger who is among you”. The stranger was the gere. We have these different classes of people. The other person there, the Levite, doesn’t have any personal property. That’s why they have to tithe. The stranger that’s the gere. The stranger was somebody who acquiesced to living under Yahweh’s rule even though he wasn’t a Jew. So religiously he was part and parcel of the nation and therefore he was part of the worship. That’s the whole thing about first fruit.
Now if you’ll look at the notes I wanted to review the tithes. Then we’ll go to the last part of the chapter. This is a repeat of lesson 34. If you remember we had three tithes in Israel. If you’ll look at the handout, they were all based on production. Now this is another little wisdom principle in the Bible. Today we have a sales tax. We talk property tax; we talk about income tax; we talk about this tax and that tax. The way God taxed was on the production, the income. He did not tax property. The reason you don’t tax property is because if you have a widow or a poor person who has inherited their property but they aren’t able to work and produce; they have no money to pay the property tax. This is why with farms the kids inherit a big chunk of land and they can’t be productive with it. They may be arguing among themselves or they have to divide it up or something happens. The husband may die. The mother’s left there. She’s a widow. So what is she supposed to do with all this acreage? Well, she has to pay property taxes, and the only way she can pay property taxes it to sell off the property. This is a violation of the whole idea of inheritance in the Bible.
When you see the word inheritance in the Bible, think money. The Old Testament is very economic in structure. The very idea of imputing value is a theological idea.
So Israel had three tithes. Production of wealth is exercise of dominion. The principle to remember is government cannot produce wealth. It can only tax it, take it and redistribute it and most of the time - waste it. The government doesn’t create wealth. You say, “Well, they can make some jobs in government.” That’s not net increase in the economy. The only increase in the economy are individuals who are laboring to sell products that they have a profit on. That’s where you get your gross domestic product. You don’t have it because somebody taxed something and then they pay a government worker. The government worker’s money came from the tax. It didn’t come from anything being produced.
So here we have an insight. The tithe structure expresses the creature dependency principle. It forced people. The idea of a tithe, we forget this. Think about the firstfruits for just a second. Go back to that in a minute. If you were in Northern Israel, how much do you think it would cost you to go all the way down (100 miles) to Jerusalem and back again? Do you think the cost of that travel exceeded the cost of the firstfruits? It probably did, didn’t it? What you were bringing before God was really a token compared to the cost of making the trip.
Now it would be easy for you, for me, for anybody to say, “Ah, gees. You know the budget is tight. I can’t really afford the trip. I don’t want to bother with that. Why can’t I just offer it to God here?” It didn’t say that. It said, “Go where His name is.” So that was a test of commitment. If you weren’t willing to put out the money for travel, then you weren’t committed to thanking God for the blessing.
Well, here in the tithe is another example. That’s ten percent – 10% of your profits are gone. So there was the first tithe for the Levites, Numbers 18. There was a second tithe for a national celebration. A big long party is basically what the second tithe was. So now you’re talking 20% of your income. Then every third year you had another tithe. So basically the tax rate was about 23% a year. So this tithe went local. See it went locally.
At this point what does God say? It says: NKJ Deuteronomy 26:12, “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year – the year of tithing – and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates …” Gates means towns. This wasn’t a federal program. It was a local program. “… and be filled  then you shall say before the LORD your God …” This third tithe was what we would call a social welfare tithe, and it was because these people were not landed people. The gere, the stranger, could not inherit land in Israel.
The other people are mentioned there.
It says: “the fatherless,” that’s the orphan, “and the widow,” they didn’t have access to property. They were dependent on someone else. Think of Ruth. Think of that book. So here’s God taking care of the people who aren’t landed.  … so that they may eat within your gates and be filled,  then you shall say before the LORD your God…” So here’s another confession. Some commentators think that this is the first third tithe. In other words this is the first third year they went into the land. So this would be their first experience of doing this. So they had this special thing. “… I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.  I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead …” Now there is a little problem with that verse because we’re not sure what those practices were. The guess is that those were pagan practices. We know for example in archeology that food was often given to the graves of the dead. The Egyptians did that for sure. They were feeding the dead people.
Well, God did not want the food wasted on these kinds of things. But pagan religion would do that. So He said, “That’s not for you. Your lifestyle is to be different. You are a unique people in the world; and you’re not supposed to live like you’re a pagan. So forget that kind of pagan stuff. You don’t give food to the dead.” Apparently at funerals they tend to use it. This is not to be used for that. It is to be used to help the widow, to help the Levite (the local Levite), to help the stranger. That’s what it’s for.
So you confess that. NKJ Deuteronomy 26:15, “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.” So there is that swearing to the Father again. There’s that Abrahamic Covenant coming in. So again, see how the history goes. It’s a corporate blessing you’ll notice. The blessing is upon the corporate, the whole nation. The individuals are doing it, but the blessing comes on the people as a group.
I have spun by this last slide, but I did want to show you. Here’s Tobit, one of the inter-testamental pieces of literature. But here’s a guy and this tells you what life was like. He says (I showed you this back many lessons ago.):
But I alone went off into Jerusalem for the feast as it was ordained for all Israel by everlasting decree taking the firstfruits and the tithes of my produce and the first shearings. I would give these to the priests, the sons or Aaron, at the altar. Of all my produce I would give a tenth to the sons of Levi who ministered in Jerusalem. The second tithe I would sell and I would go and spend the proceeds each year in Jerusalem. The third tenth I would give to those to whom it was my duty as Deborah my father’s mother had commanded me for I was left an orphan by my father.
So there’s an individual Jew in the inter-testamental period telling about a happening of the time.
The thing to take away from this is the battle of faith that they must have had because there’s no penalty here mentioned if you don’t do it. You have no monarchy here with soldiers walking around knocking on your door. “Did you give the tithe?” So a person could say, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to do it this year. I’ve got other things to do with my money.” The battle is that you had to trust the Lord in giving this tenth that somehow He would take care of you. Do you see how much the money and the faith come in here? Over and over again, a lot of business money things are going on in the Law. I think that’s because it’s a battle of faith.
So we come now to the third tithe. Then we come to the last section of chapter 26, verses 16 to 19. Here is Moses now concluding. Moses is concluding this section. Look at the style of writing. Let’s read it. Follow me as I read from verse 16 to 9. Look as we read through these verses. See if you notice a certain stylistic structure to these verses.
NKJ Deuteronomy 26:16 “This day the LORD your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. 18 Also today the LORD has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the LORD your God, just as He has spoken.”
Don’t you gather, first of all, that there’s a formal thing going on here? This is almost a covenant renewal that Joshua’s going to do later when he gets there. But Moses is anticipating that final time when they get into the land and they renew the relationship with Jehovah.
We said before in this Deuteronomy series one of the profound differences between the Old Testament way of looking at relationships and the way our society today looks at relationships. Think of the young people. “I had a relationship. I lived with my girl friend so-and-so, for three years, and then we broke up and I have a relationship with some other girl now.” Think of the use of the word relationship in those sentences. There’s no structure to it is there? Aren’t those relationships casual? Are they structured with any kind of a marital contract? We all want freedom. We want to kind of do our own thing. The problem is doing our own thing doesn’t have structure. It doesn’t have stability. So here when you get into the relationship between Israel and Jehovah, it’s structured in terms of a contract.
If the God of the universe can lower Himself (condescend) to come down here and sign a document with you and me (with Israel) isn’t that kind of saying that if He can do it why can’t I do that. Relationships in the Bible are contractual. That’s why the word covenant keeps occurring. It’s lost its meaning. Nobody thinks of it as a contract anymore; but that’s the original.
Look at this text. NKJ Deuteronomy 26:16, “This day the LORD …” So here we come to this thing. Now what do you notice about verse 17 versus verse 18? Look carefully. Ask yourself if you look at verse 17 and verse 18 - who’s doing the declaring? In verse 17, who’s doing the declaring? Israel. In verse 18, who’s doing the declaring? Yahweh See? It’s a relationship. It’s a personal relationship. They’re talking to each other. Israel is proclaiming that they will do something, and Yahweh is promising that He will do something. That is the heart and structure of the Mosaic Law. It is a contractual agreement. It is conditional. And notice the promise in verse 19. It’s a powerful promise. It says that if that you keep His commandments and that He will set you. See it’s contingent on the keeping of commandments. NKJ Deuteronomy 26:19 “and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made …” Then he tells you how. “… in praise, in name, and in honor…” So this is Israel’s special place in history.
What are the three things that Israel has contributed to world history or will contribute to world history? It goes all the way back to the Abrahamic Covenant.
So here Israel is the anchor of human civilization. We have it trivialized. There’s not a history course going that covers this. Yet that’s what God says. That’s the backbone of history—Israel.
So Moses concludes now. “… in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the LORD your God, just as He has spoken.” See there He goes again. All this is according to a plan. What’s so encouraging is in all the chaos that we see there are reason and purpose behind it. That’s relaxing. We can get so upset with different things going on, but we can be spiritually relaxed in the sense that history has a purpose. It’s going there. God has spoken it. It’s going to happen.
The blank on the last one under 5 - conclusion to Moses’ second exhortation contains the responsibility of both parties to the Mt. Sinai contact.
Where? Let me go back to sacred space. In the box with the principle – as we gain our identity through revising natural history and American history. Then the next one is no resident alien could make this confession nor can we. Our participation in God’s redemption comes only through our union with Christ as the Son of Man. That’s our blessing. We get the blessing because of our union with Christ. Does everyone see that? Union with Christ as the Son of Man.
… revising natural history and our American history so true temporal experience revealed in the eternal God is altered to suppress that revelation.
Remember history properly understood is His story. Romans 1 says people labor to suppress revelation; so naturally they’re going to suppress His story, rewrite it.
Any discussion tonight?
That’s a good point that Mike’s making that you’ve got passed down from parents to sons. If that’s broken which it is in history … later Jews did break that. The younger Jews were not trained. That’s what happened to the exile and so on. You’ve lost it. That’s why go back to Deuteronomy and see how it’s all connected?
In you go back to Deuteronomy, in chapter 6 the central passage for the Jewish faith is “The Lord our God is one God.” Immediately (within a couple of verses), what is the next instruction? You’ll get them in your heart - Mom and Dad by talking in terms of them with your children. Think – it follows quickly.
That is why the spirit of the Bible is that education is fundamentally a parental right and responsibility. It is not the right of the state. The state gets into it only because the state usurps or is given the role of a surrogate parent. That’s what happens. We lose our freedom by allowing the state to assume our family responsibilities. When we have to depend on the state for social security, for medical care, for education, what have we done? The state has become a surrogate parent.
Then as a surrogate parent it demands, “Give me some money. I’ll be your surrogate parent; but it’s going to cost you something.”
Then we fuss about the taxes. There is a dynamic here; and it’s something you want to see about because in America right now the most significant social thing that Christians are doing in this country right now is home schooling movement. I am amazed that the left has not attacked more forcibly the home schooling because the home school movement is an open revolt against state education. It’s great that it’s doing it.
Does everybody know the guy that she’s talking about? She just talked about Time magazine with Joe Salva. This is a farmer right down here on I-81 in Virginia. Her son works there. Your boy’s name? He made Time? Well congratulations Donna! In the October 24th edition of Time magazine, Donna’s son is mentioned.
But see what that man is doing; and we don’t have time to go into the details. In a nutshell, here is a Christian family that got a farm; and they started researching. How do you raise animals and how do your farm respecting the design that God has put into these things? He has students from Penn State and Virginia Tech coming to his farm to figure out how is this guy doing this? Like your son says, he only has two tractors and it’s a very low-tech farm. His costs are way down. It’s true he doesn’t produce as much per acre as perhaps your industrialized farm. But as he points out, he doesn’t have vet cost. He doesn’t have all the medical costs and so on. So his profit is still there. Here’s a guy who started it on his own farm. Going along with what you said, this is the way to think biblically and I’m going to throw a question out at you after I go to the second one.
My wife was reading – where was it sweetie you read that thing about the soldier, the Iraqi. In the Parade section of this week’s Sun, there is a vet who was severely injured in Iraq. He came back to this country and he was trying to get his act together from posttraumatic syndrome. He had brain damage from the shrapnel. He started farming and lo and behold he realized that soldiers had built in discipline. In farming you need discipline. So now he’s expanded the farm and getting traumatized veterans to come and work his blueberry farm. They’re finding it is fantastic therapy for these guys.
Now just think of these two examples. Where in the Bible would you go to explain the power of these agricultural things on people’s hearts? Go back to creation. What was the context of Adam and Eve’s home? The garden. God had told them to take care of the garden. Now in our environmental thing that we are doing on Sundays that is a bone of contention.
This is not a nice little story and “Oh, isn’t that sweet that they had a little farm and they grow vegetables?” It’s more profound than that.
What does the word culture come from? Cultivate - and what do you do when you cultivate? You work the ground to produce something from it. In other words you touch nature. You have dominion over nature. This is absolutely an unpardonable sin with modern ecology. Modern ecology as we’re learning is resist the green dragon…considers the human race the enemy of nature. It’s completely backwards; absolutely completely backwards.
So the thing to remember folks…I keep hammering at this. There are basic ideas in God’s Word. If you follow these basic ideas you will be in collision with the world. And it doesn’t mean we’re looking for a fight. It just means that the world is seriously structurally screwed up and deceived - absolutely deceived.
The results of deception are spelled out economically. We pay prices when we don’t live according to the design of ourselves and of nature. We are economically less efficient and we pay a price.
So in this time of economic depravation and crisis, the thing I think Christians ought to think about is how much of this crisis is frankly due to sin? What would our economy look like if we didn’t have divorce and unwed childbirth? Remember the report? An extra $12 billion per year in the gross domestic product of the United States. What if we didn’t have a war on drugs, all the crime cartels and so on? It’s only because we buy the drugs.
Do you know the answer to that – war on drugs? It’s in the book of Acts. What happened to the silversmiths in Ephesus? They were all involved in the big industry of making idols. Everybody bought idols. What happened when the Christians started evangelizing Ephesus? They had a big riot. I mean this wasn’t a union protest. This was a merchant protest against Christians.
“Didn’t buy any more of our idols. Put us out of business.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we got blamed for putting people out of business? That’s the power of the gospel. So we need to think about our lifestyles and living consistently with the Bible in spite of all the ridicule we get. That’s all right. In the final analysis we are on the winning side.
Any other questions?
That’s a good question - the statutes and judgments implemented in the Millennial Kingdom? Apparently there’re going to be statutes and judgment in the Millennial Kingdom because there are protocols. God’s sacred space again is going to be Jerusalem. His protocols - every nation must have a presence at Jerusalem. Any nation that does not appear in Jerusalem is disciplined. So that alone insinuates that there are international global world law statutes and whatever else statutes there are. Jesus is the one. We forget this, but who do you think Yahweh is? It’s Jesus Christ pre-incarnate. So that’s the way He rules. Yes, I would expect He is going to have statutes and protocols and judgments because He holds us accountable.
In one sense we’re not under Old Testament law. That’s correct. But there is something like what Dr. Ryrie always points out. There is the law of Christ. Every time you read in the New Testament an imperative verb, isn’t that a law? So where you have imperatives this side of Pentecost, those are the laws of Christ. So we obey or disobey, same thing as they did in the Old Testament. It’s just that we live in a supra racial entity called the body of Christ so the statutes and judgments aren’t anchored culturally because God the Holy Spirit wants us to be able to express this. I mean in Honduras they are going to live out their Christian life differently than they are in Maryland. People have that freedom to do that. But there are absolutes, moral absolutes. So it may work out a little differently from culture to culture. Yeah I’d expect to see statutes and judgments.
Oh I see. There are post millenialists who argue that you can bring in the Millennial Kingdom by convincing people to keep the Old Testament law. They’ve got it backwards. One of the problems with that approach - I appreciate some of the work they do because what they’re doing is study the Word of God. I mean I’ve quoted Dr. Gary North in this series a lot. He is one of those men. I study him because they are so serious about implementing the Word that they tend to be better students frankly of the Old Testament. They see things in the Old Testament a lot of our people just kind of skim over. I use them because they show God’s design.
But where postmillennialism is somewhat naïve is the other factor. What was the factor when Jesus was tempted? What was one of the temptations? Remember? What was the relationship between Jesus and the kingdoms of this world? Satan offered the kingdoms of this world. Did Jesus deny that he had the ability to offer? He didn’t – which implies what? That Satan is the God of this world. He wanted Jesus to bow down and he Satan would be able then to give authorization to take the kingdoms of this world.
Think of what was going on in that temptation here. So the principalities and powers in the dark unseen areas are as much of a problems as human beings are. We can’t see them thankfully. We would probably be scared if we did. We can’t see these principalities and powers.
Every time we obey the Word of God and trust the Lord, we’re opposing him.
John the Apostle said, “You overcome them. You overcome them with your faith.”
Yet we don’t see them. But in some way every time someone is won to Jesus Christ, they’re POW’s, right? They’re prisoners of war. They are taken out of the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of light, Ephesians 4.
So you have a war going on. We are kind of like insurgents inside the dark kingdom. So we witness; we lead people to Christ. That’s an insurgency. That’s sort of an IED on Satan’s part. Every time we trust the Lord and we grow and we learn to discern the truth from error – victory. Now how that plays out, I don’t know. But somehow that’s what’s going on. That’s why it’s taken 20 centuries so far before Christ has returned.
If you look at church history, there has been heresy after heresy after heresy. It changes from century to century.
I submit that when the church is finished, every major deceitful thing that Satan has engineered will have been answered. He is throwing everything at the church. That’s why we’re going through the environment because that’s the thing because that’s the thing being thrown at us today in preparation for his attempt at global government. No one else is doing this. It’s only you and me on our individual personal lives unheralded, not in the news, just day after day going through our lives. We’re the ones who are the insurgents. Somehow our insurgency eventually eats away at the legal claim of the powers of darkness so that by the time you get to Revelation 5 Jesus is able to walk in there and take that scroll and start to tear away the seals. Then the great musical piece starts.
NKJ Revelation 5:9 … “You are worthy to take the scroll …” And then is lists why Jesus could do that. “… have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
See that’s a thing for missions. That shows you that somehow the church has to be representative of every people group. When that’s finished, bingo! Jesus’ body is finished. He is clear then to take the scroll. Then He introduces the judgments and brings in the kingdom. But see the post millenialist doesn’t see all that spiritual stuff. He thinks we can do it on a human level and it’s naïve.