From Deuteronomy 30-31
What did the LORD say he would do when Israel returned from exile?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The blessings and curses end with a prediction Israel would be cursed and sent into exile. Moses picks up from here assuming that they will be sent into exile and now he describes what will happen then.
30 “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. (Dt 30.1-3)
Israel in exile will remember God said he would curse them. Israel returns to the LORD and obeys his voice (the LORD’s ‘voice’ is normally associated with the commands he gave at Horeb). The LORD will restore them, have mercy and gather them back to the promised land.
4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 5 And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. 6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (Dt 30.4-6)
It doesn’t matter how far away Israel is when this happens, the LORD will still gather them back. Blessing them with more and more children. God will circumcise their hearts. What this figuratively means is that he will chop the evil bit off their hearts so only the good is left. As a consequence they will love God with all their heart. They will live.
7 And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. 8 And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Dt 30.7-10)
We may not normally expect this turn, but the LORD will then curse those who persecuted them. God is acting on Gen 3.3. Cursing those who curse Abraham’s offspring. He again emphasizes their newfound heartfelt obedience and the LORD’s delight in prospering them.
11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Dt 30.11-14)
Moses says the commandments he has given them, the ones they will return to are not to hard for them. Israel will again be faithful to the LORD. I finish off today’s reading here and I will discuss it further below.
Story of Israel
This is a really nice picture of what will happen to Israel, but it doesn’t happen when they first return from exile. They still seem to be under the LORD’s punishment. When does it end you might ask?
Story of Jesus
With Jesus of course. Paul has this section of Deuteronomy in mind in Romans 10-11 saying,
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); (Rom 10.5-8)
Paul has just paraphrased Dt 30.11-14. But consider the way he understands the return. Its no longer about obeying the Jewish law.
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Rom 10.9-11)
Rather the return to the LORD prophesied in Dt 30 is about heartfelt belief that Jesus is the risen LORD. Everyone who believes will be saved.
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